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Exercise Specialist: Salary, Requirements and Career Info

Exercise specialists create exercise plans designed to improve health for clients at high risk for heart, metabolic, or lung disease designed to improve health. Although certificate programs exist, exercise specialists must earn a bachelor's degree in order to become certified.

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Salary Information for an Exercise Specialist

According to data from Salary.com in December 2013, exercise specialists in the United States made a median annual salary of $40,231. Some exercise specialists may work on an hourly or part-time basis and thus may not benefit from employer-provided health insurance or retirement plans.

Requirements for Exercise Specialists

Education Requirements

Exercise specialists are required to complete an certificate or bachelor's degree program. Related degree programs in physical education, kinesiology or exercise science with an exercise specialist concentration, may also be acceptable. Core courses for bachelor's degree programs include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Exercise science measurement and evaluation
  • Nutrition and health
  • Biology
  • Community health
  • Exercise psychology
  • Biomechanics of exercise

Certification Requirements

The American College of Sports Medicine offers a Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist credential (www.acsm.org). To attain this certification one must complete a bachelor's degree, have over 600 hours of experience in clinical exercise, and have current certification in basic life support.

The American Fitness Professionals and Associates offers a Post-Rehab Exercise Specialist certification for exercise specialists who develop exercise programs for individuals recovering from illness, injury, or who have physical limitations (www.afpafitness.com). These specialists typically work in hospitals or rehabilitation facilities.

Exercise Specialist Career Information

Exercise specialists work with patients of all ages in health care facilities, such as fitness centers, rehabilitation hospitals, and physicians offices. They develop exercise programs based on a patient's health and abilities. Among their many duties, exercise specialists monitor patients heart health by conducting regular electrocardiograms (ECG) and breathing tests and recording ECG and physical exercise data.

Specialists should have strong knowledge of personal fitness, exercise techniques, exercise equipment, body systems, and human behavior. Because exercise specialists work closely with people, they need strong communication and listening skills.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics