How Much Do Kinesiologists Make?

Kinesiology is the study of human movement mechanics and how they affect individuals’ quality of life. Kinesiologists can work with patients in a variety of settings. Your kinesiology salary will depend on where you work and live. This article provides an overview of kinesiologist job duties and salary figures by geographic areas. Discover some of the top-paying cities and states for kinesiologists.

What Does a Kinesiologist Do?

Kinesiologists use rehabilitative exercises and education to assess and treat patients who have movement difficulties, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. Assessment typically involves evaluating patients’ physical abilities and activity to determine the most beneficial treatment. Kinesiologists’ assessments can determine whether patients need assistance in daily tasks, such as walking or getting in and out of bed. 

Based on their assessments, kinesiologists, like many healthcare degree holders, develop customized treatment plans for their patients. Treatment plans are goal-based and combine physical conditioning and education. Kinesiologists can work with patients to develop these plans and should modify them based on a patients’ evolving needs. 

The BLS doesn’t report on kinesiologists specifically. Instead, it includes kinesiologists among exercise physiologists. According to the BLS, “Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve cardiovascular function, body composition, and flexibility.” Exercise physiologists commonly work in self-employed, hospital, government, physician office, and physical, occupation and speech therapist office settings, the BLS reports.

Common Kinesiology Treatments

According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the accrediting body for kinesiology programs, common treatments performed by kinesiologists include:

  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Walking and movement training
  • Rehabilitation specific for elderly patients
  • Aquatic exercise and therapy
  • Modified fitness and stamina training
  • Rehabilitation related to prosthetics and orthotics
  • Mental rehabilitation
  • Training related to driving skills
  • Home-specific exercises

Other duties of kinesiologists may include administrative tasks such as note-taking, ordering equipment and organizing files. You also may assist patients with their nutritional needs related to their kinesiology progress.

What Is the Median Kinesiology Salary?

Exercise physiologists and kinesiologists earned median pay of $49,170 in 2019, according to pay data from the BLS. The top 10% of these professionals earned more than $78,310, while the lowest 10% earned less than $34,990.

Kinesiology Salaries Vary Based on Many Factors

How much money can you make with a kinesiology degree? Given the broad range of exercise physiologists’ duties, kinesiology salaries can depend on many factors, including:

  • Location: Where you live can affect how much you make as a kinesiologist. Some cities might have greater demand for kinesiologists. A city’s average cost of living could also impact kinesiology salaries in the area.
  • Experience: It’s common for experienced kinesiologists to make more than entry-level kinesiologists. As you gain more experience, your earning potential may increase.
  • Education: Your level of education could impact your salary. Based on 2019 median weekly earnings, the BLS reports that doctoral, professional and master’s degree holders make more than bachelor’s degree holders. Generally, according to BLS data, the higher the educational attainment, the higher the earnings (and the lower the unemployment rate).
  • Industry: The industry or work setting you choose to practice in can also impact your kinesiologist salary. For example, BLS data pertaining to exercise physiologists shows exercise physiologists employed in colleges and universities ($63,120) made more than those employed in physician offices ($53,180).

Kinesiology Salaries by Industry

Your kinesiology salary can depend on the industry in which you work. Here are 2019 median salaries of exercise physiologists and kinesiologists in the industries they were most commonly employed, according to pay data from the BLS:

  • Government: $72,440
  • Hospitals: $49,390
  • Physician offices: $48,200
  • Offices of audiologists and physical, occupational and speech therapists: $45,190

5 Best-Paying Cities for Kinesiology and Exercise Science Salaries

To develop a list of cities where kinesiologists earned the most, we used BLS data pertaining to exercise physiologists and their 2018 annual mean wages.

Metropolitan areaAnnual mean wageEmploymentEmployment per thousand jobs
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Other metro areas with impressive exercise physiology and kinesiology salary figures, based on the BLS’ 2018 annual mean wage data, are:

  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: $66,710
  • Richmond, VA: $63,200
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI: $57,880
  • St. Louis, MO-IL: $57,590
  • Madison, WI: $57,530

Top States for Kinesiology Jobs

The chart below, also based on exercise physiologists’ employment and 2018 mean wage data from the BLS, lists states where kinesiologists earn high wages.

StateAnnual mean wageEmploymentEmployment per thousand jobs
New York

The BLS reports the job outlook for exercise physiologists is bright, with employment of these professionals is expected to grow 10% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average of all occupations.

O*NET provides exercise physiologist career data by state. We sifted through this information to find out which states have the highest projected employment increase for this occupation. According to O*NET’s data from Projections Central, a site that makes state’s occupation projections available, the 10 states with the highest projected employment change for exercise physiologists from 2016 to 2026 are:

The 10 states with the highest projected number of annual job openings from 2016 to 2026 are:

If you’re looking to start your kinesiology career, research kinesiologist salaries and jobs in your area. 

Is a Career in Kinesiology Right for You?

If you’re interested in body mechanics and passionate about helping others, a career in kinesiology could be right for you. This versatile job could take you to various workplace settings and cities.

Last Updated August 2020