You are working towards a kinesiology degree or you recently graduated and you want to know "what careers come out of kinesiology?"
A bachelor's degree or a master's degree in kinesiology is a perfect stepping stone into the world of health and fitness. And yes, there are options out there other than more school! But it's not an easy path to find yourself a perfect fit.
So many new kinesiologists endure years as a glorified gym attendant at a corporate clinic, underpaid and overworked. These are not conditions you had in mind when you started pursuing a 4 year degree.
I run a 30 year old kinesiology-only studio, and I've hired many young kinesiologists. With this blog I hope to guide your first steps on your early career path in kinesiology. The following 3 tips should help you find a job that fits.
I'll briefly describe what careers come out of kinesiology, present some tips to find your first job, and then add some pointers on the interview process to help land a great position.
What Careers Come out of Kinesiology
Here are some of the major groupings of careers to consider as you start to look for work. I'll omit some of the longer term opportunities like physiotherapy, medicine and professor to focus on bachelor of science in kinesiology jobs.
- Disability Management
Organize and manage absences, treatment and therapy for folks experiencing disability under a human resources department, usually at a large company or at a consultancy. If the title of the job you're applying for has the word "claim" in it, you'll be working for an insurance company.
- Return to Work Coordinator
You'll be helping folks get back to their jobs after an injury for a large company or consultancy. The term Vocational Consultant means you'll be helping lawyers help folks get back to work.
Great work if you can get it, help your clients make efficient movements with correct posture at work. Within larger organizations you'll report to their Health and Safety team.
- Personal Trainer
Run 1-on-1, partner or group sessions as a personal trainer or athletic therapist at a rec centre, sports facility or with a sports team. In these settings you might find yourself doing anything from strength and conditioning to rehabilitation programs. Call yourself an exercise physiologist with an extra 150hrs of practical experience and an additional certification exam. Many kinesiologists in this industry work independently. With practice insurance and an external trainer card if working in community centres, simply find space to practice and bring your own clients.
- Kinesiologist or Rehabilitation Assistant
Similar to personal training but more on the rehab end of the spectrum. Work with a variety of different populations (special needs, spinal cord injury, chronic pain etc…) either independently, at a gym or as part of a multidisciplinary team. If you choose the latter expect to take direction from a physiotherapist. Many of these companies are constantly hiring but will expect you to build your own caseload over time.
- Researcher or Lab Technician
Find a paid gig at your university in a lab, or start a grad degree.
- Technician or Sonographer
There are so many technician positions at hospitals and health centres, and operating an ultrasound device is within your scope as a kinesiologist.
- Sports Coach, Athletic Trainer, Recreation Instructor
Work in a fitness facility, camp or alongside a sports team with a focus on teams and group fitness programming. These positions might be available through a university, sports club or non-profit, and physical education jobs are found throughout our education system. Fitness Coordinator or athletic director are some more titles you might come across in your search as you move up the chain towards sports administration and public health.
- Wellness Program Planner, Worksite Wellness Coordinator, Exercise Specialist/Coordinator, Health & Wellness Promotion Coordinator
Wellness is a word that businesses use a lot. This type of career is usually available in large companies under human resources or as a contractor helping smaller ones.
Getting Started on Your Career as a Kinesiologist
I've hired many new kinesiology grads, placing job postings to attract the best talent. As an employer I'll share some of the most important resources for you to find work.
Attend Your University Kinesiology Job Fair
Universities are great at attracting businesses to showcase the kinesiologist roles available to new grads during job fairs. These are often student-run events, but sometimes job fairs are organized by your department or even the employers themselves.
If there is an event and you have the opportunity to meet someone representing a kinesiologist employer, go say hi. If it doesn't lead to a job right away your effort could pay off when you start your search in earnest by creating a “touch point”. By meeting a potential future employer before applying, you will increase your chances of being hired by them during a general call for applications.
Your Professional Association Posts Job Opportunities
If you're not already registered with a provincial kinesiology association, make an application your goal. Their newsletters and e-blasts showcase the top jobs available in kinesiology.
Check Indeed Regularly
Tip: use the internet to find job postings. Spend time combing through listings on Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster and other job posting sites to get a handle on exactly what positions are out there. Employers are using these digital job boards almost exclusively so you have a good chance of finding all the opportunities available using a simple google search for "kinesiologist jobs".
Land the Job You Want with a Degree in Kinesiology
Understanding how employers hire will help your resume stand out when seeking employment. Get ahead of your peers by considering one critical factor for employers: risk. Every business decision is weighed by risk: how the employer can avoid wasting time and money.
First consider experience. This is so important to employers because they don't want to waste resources on a new grad who might move on. So get as much experience at university as possible. A co-op program is an excellent way to build experience.
If you don’t have access to a university co-op program, working with sports teams and training athletes and students at the university rec centre is excellent experience. This will prepare you for the job so that you require less training which reduces the risk of hiring you for your employer.
Second is your career path. If an employer is ever asking you about what your career goals are, or where you see yourself in 5 years, the correct answers are "staying in this role, working for you". No employer enjoys hiring, it's expensive and time consuming. So to reduce their risk, let them know you're dedicated to the role you're applying for.
Demonstrate your commitment to the profession and your job with passion. Speaking highly and energetically of your kinesiology experience, undergraduate program and work colleagues will drastically improve your odds of getting hired.
Finally there is fit. Will you fit in with the business, in other words will you get along with the clients, current staff and management? Yes you will. And to prove it you should strive to come across as open minded, friendly, approachable and easy to communicate with.
You can project your good attitude and communication in your resume and cover letter. Cut the wall-of-text back with lots of white space and by simplifying the whole document. Expect your resume to be scanned, so limiting your resume to a few key points in each category, and let your personality shine through in the interests section. Keep your cover letter short, personable and written directly to the person who is hiring.
Contact the Employer You Want to Work With Directly
Maybe the best approach to job searching is to zero in on a position you want and make that your goal. Pick a company that you want to work with and start making inroads now, even if they are not actively hiring. Introduce yourself to the owner or manager, visit in-person and send your resume cold. With enough touch points your preferred employer will know who you are, and when that company is ready to hire, you'll be top of the list.
If you're looking for work and love kinesiology and human movement, getting hired should be easy. From coordinator to sonographer, your passion, attitude, and work experience will boost your odds of landing your ideal kinesiology job. By helping your future employer reduce their risk you will stand out from other new registered kinesiologists applying for the same position.
I hope you found this advice useful. Make sure to check out our blog on the top 5 universities for kinesiology next.