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Career Profile: Exercise Physiologists

Assess, plan, or implement fitness programs that include exercise or physical activities such as those designed to improve cardiorespiratory function, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, or flexibility.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 18,000 people employed as exercise physiologists in the United States. The median annual salary is $50,300. Entry level employees earn approximately $36,070 per year and senior employees earn approximately $78,170 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Present exercise knowledge, program information, or research study findings at professional meetings or conferences.
  • Order or recommend diagnostic procedures, such as stress tests, drug screenings, or urinary tests.
  • Plan or conduct exercise physiology research projects.
  • Calibrate exercise or testing equipment.
  • Teach courses or seminars related to exercise or diet for patients, athletes, or community groups.
  • Mentor or train staff to lead group exercise.
  • Measure amount of body fat, using such equipment as hydrostatic scale, skinfold calipers, or tape measures.
  • Perform routine laboratory tests of blood samples for cholesterol level or glucose tolerance.
  • Supervise maintenance of exercise or exercise testing equipment.
  • Develop exercise programs to improve participant strength, flexibility, endurance, or circulatory functioning, in accordance with exercise science standards, regulatory requirements, and credentialing requirements.
  • Provide emergency or other appropriate medical care to participants with symptoms or signs of physical distress.
  • Demonstrate correct use of exercise equipment or performance of exercise routines.
  • Recommend methods to increase lifestyle physical activity.
  • Interpret exercise program participant data to evaluate progress or identify needed program changes.
  • Prescribe individualized exercise programs, specifying equipment, such as treadmill, exercise bicycle, ergometers, or perceptual goggles.
  • Provide clinical oversight of exercise for participants at all risk levels.
  • Explain exercise program or physiological testing procedures to participants.
  • Interview participants to obtain medical history or assess participant goals.
  • Assess physical performance requirements to aid in the development of individualized recovery or rehabilitation exercise programs.
  • Teach behavior modification classes related to topics such as stress management or weight control.
  • Conduct stress tests, using electrocardiograph (EKG) machines.
  • Measure oxygen consumption or lung functioning, using spirometers.
  • Educate athletes or coaches on techniques to improve athletic performance, such as heart rate monitoring, recovery techniques, hydration strategies, or training limits.
  • Evaluate staff performance in leading group exercise or conducting diagnostic tests.
  • Teach group exercise for low-, medium-, or high-risk clients to improve participant strength, flexibility, endurance, or circulatory functioning.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
18,000
Annual Openings:
1,500
Increase in Openings by 2030:
13%
Annual Salary Range:
$36,070 - $78,170
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree