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Major Overview: Health and Fitness Programs

Majors Overview March 25, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in the health and fitness and their coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Health and Fitness Majors

Students that seek admittance to a health and fitness program may consider bachelor’s degree programs in various fields, with wellness and fitness the most commonly sought. Students with a passion for physical activity and healthy living would benefit by enrolling in this major.

Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in wellness and fitness are educated on numerous facets of healthy lifestyles, including healthy behaviors, regular exercise, and proper nutrition. Those who complete these programs can seek coaching and teaching careers in numerous settings, including schools.

Schools offer these programs in online and on-campus formats; online programs are devised to benefit students that wish to earn a degree while employed in full-time jobs, possibly in the wellness and fitness industry.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma, although applicants are not expected to complete any prerequisite high school coursework before they begin core coursework. Graduates from the program can seek employment as nutrition specialists, exercise psychologists, or fitness trainers. Professional credentials are awarded by certifying organizations to knowledgeable candidates after passage of qualifying tests.


Coursework in wellness and fitness programs combines theory-based instruction, with hands-on instruction in the form of internships in the fitness industry and laboratory experiences. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Athletics coaching
•Fitness promotion among special populations
•Exercise physiology
•Topics in nutrition
•Human anatomy and physiology
•Fundamentals of kinesiology
•Managing stress

Career Choices

Those who graduate from wellness and fitness programs can seek employment promoting healthy lifestyles in various settings, such as government agencies, spas, private gyms, and schools. They may choose from career options such as:

•Athletic team coach
•Exercise physiologist
•Fitness class instructor
•Personal fitness trainer
•Nutrition consultant

Job and Wage Outlook

A 13% job growth rate has been predicted for fitness trainers and instructors over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $31,720.

Continuing Education Choices

In the fitness industry, there is a wide variation in relation to certification requirements; various credentials are available through numerous certifying organizations, such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), which offers the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) credential.

Apart from professional certification, certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is also available to many professionals, especially those working in gyms or with athletes. Continuing education may be sought by pursuing master’s degree programs in kinesiology, exercise science, and wellness and fitness.

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