In an increasingly evolving world, some things remain the same, such as the need to stay fit and healthy. As they say, health is wealth. But do you know you can actually turn your passion for health and fitness into a meaningful and rewarding career? If you want a lucrative career, then you can never go wrong by pursuing some of the highest-paying fitness jobs.
Not only that, the health and fitness industry is ever-growing. In fact, the total revenue it ushers in is expected to reach an annual growth of 6.56%, with a projected market volume of $10 billion by 2027. The demand for health and fitness professionals is understandably increasing, which means salaries in this field are also rising.
Whether you want to work as a sports physician, qualified personal trainer, physical therapist, or yoga instructor, there is a wealth of opportunities for you to pursue your passion while earning from it.
The Pros and Cons of Pursuing a Health and Fitness Career
No matter what industry you are in, there are always advantages and disadvantages. For those trying to pursue a career in the fitness industry, knowing what exactly they are dealing with can help a lot in the decision-making process. They can weigh their options better and choose a job that will fit their professional needs and goals.
Is a career in the fitness industry worth it? It is worth looking at some of the convincing reasons why fitness jobs can be a lucrative and meaningful means of living.
It can be very lucrative to work in the health and fitness industry. Usually, those with enhanced credentials and more specializations will get higher pay than their counterparts. Another factor is the city and state where one lives and resides. There are states that pay higher salaries for professionals working in health and fitness-related field.
Most fitness jobs have a variety of qualifications. Many of them require training, certifications, and licenses. If an individual wants to get better work opportunities and earn more, they will try to develop and grow professionally. They will often take continuing professional development (CPD) units to maintain their certification and keep up with the changes in the industry. They will gain additional specialties and boost their credentials.
Many of the highest-paying jobs in the health and fitness industry can help professionals take complete control of their own time and responsibilities. This means that in terms of flexibility, they have ample room to move around and consider putting up their own business or facility, just like in the case of a gym owner. This way, they will own their time and be their own boss.
The health and fitness industry offers plenty of exciting careers, from occupational therapists and Pilates instructors to wellness coaches and nutritionists. One can work in a variety of settings, which makes for a more interesting work experience. There are even occupations that allow one to travel while working. Those who prefer structure can also opt to work for agencies and secure assignments while maintaining a steady workflow.
Just like other jobs, careers in health and fitness also have their fair share of setbacks. Take a look at some of the challenges that a career in health and fitness entails.
School Can Be Expensive
Earning a degree in health and fitness-related fields can be costly. Physical therapy, for example, can cost up to $90,000 for the degree program. There will be additional costs for training, certifications, and seminars, where applicable. Also, health and fitness professionals may need to specialize so they will earn advanced degrees and take on more costs.
Those who choose to set up their own business will find the market unstable, despite the growth projections for health and fitness jobs. During the peak of the pandemic when health protocols were strictly observed, the number of people going to the gym and going through training requiring physical contact dwindled. It is important to remember that circumstances can easily change, and job opportunities may go up and down.
Inconsistent Work Hours
Even gym owners and independent fitness trainers may still find that while they enjoy flexibility in the work that they do, they can still experience drawbacks in other areas of their lives. This includes long working hours that are often inconsistent and unconventional. Clients for fitness centers often work from 9 to 5, which means they will attend their training sessions after 5 pm. This can limit health and fitness professionals’ social life.
How to Choose the Right Health and Fitness Jobs
Health and Fitness is by no means a narrow field; it is a collection of industries and disciplines that cater to professional clients and corporations, such as sports teams, and the general public. There is a huge selection of careers within the industry, some of which have a relatively low bar for entry for people coming from a wide range of backgrounds, while some require more advanced education and may also have licensing and certification requirements that vary state by state.
This may quickly become daunting for some, especially those who are not yet too sure of which health and fitness career they may want to enter. Before anything, though, it helps to ask a few basic questions about oneself, questions that help narrow down the choice of potential career paths.
First, do you enjoy physical activity, or are you interested in health and fitness? This field necessarily involves or requires physical activity to varying extents. Needless to say, jobs in this field aren’t for those who prefer to sit around. Also, merely having an interest in health and fitness is not enough; the best professionals and practitioners in this field have a genuine passion and deep interest in the subject, to the extent that they want to get not only fit themselves but also be happy to share their knowledge with others and guide others in their fitness journeys.
Another question worth asking is this: what things are you generally interested in? More likely than not, you can tie the things you love with a career in the field of health and fitness. Do you like research, or see yourself with a career in the academic field? If so, there are careers in the field that tie into that, like being a sports scientist. Do you like working with groups of people, or do you consider yourself a people person? If so, you may enjoy being a fitness instructor, for starters, or if you love community work or volunteering for what you see as a worthy cause, you may like a career in Health Education or Community Health.
Since many careers in the field revolve around sports, yet another question that many should ask themselves is: What sports are they into? It may not be possible for everyone, but starting a career in the industry becomes more enjoyable if it’s working with something you love.
Another question is this: What career path/career education can I realistically afford? This is perhaps one of the most crucial ones to ask. Once you know what career/s you want to look at more closely, you can look into the academic path typically taken to get there. Then you can shop around for the schools/universities or degree programs that are most convenient and affordable for you.
The Highest Paying Health Fitness Career Jobs
Education: Degree in medicine with 3 years of residency in sports medicine along with 2 years of specialty training
Annual Average Salary: $206,616
As one of the highest paying jobs among health and fitness career paths, the job of sports physicians often involves performing physical examinations on athletes and recording their medical histories to help them prevent injuries during sports events, physical activities, and athletic training. They are tasked to examine injuries in athletes and provide treatment plans. They are also expected to determine whether an athlete is ready for competition.
Fitness Tech Engineers
Education: Bachelor’s degree in software engineering, biomechanics, computer science, or computer information systems
Annual Average Salary: $98,539
There are real-world problems in the world of fitness. This includes smelly workout gear, sore muscles, and finicky fitness trackers. While the gear themselves is inspired by athletes, they are brought to life by brilliant tech engineers specializing in fitness gear. Their work often involves research into outdoor industries for the latest technology that applies to their product line. They will then be able to discover and prove the science that makes the products better and conduct successful innovations.
Education: Doctor of Physical Therapy with a state licensure
Annual Average Salary: $95,620
Often instrumental in empowering people to engage in their own health and healing actively, physical therapists are responsible for helping patients avoid surgery while reducing their dependence on prescription drugs. They are required to have a deep understanding of human anatomy along with kinesiology to better assist those who struggle with pain and physical dysfunction. They will examine the medical history of a patient. Their responsibilities also include evaluating the symptoms and developing a rehabilitation plan that meets the needs and goals of patients.
Education: Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy with a license from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
Annual Average Salary: $85,570
People with disabilities who want to live independently will need the help and expertise of an occupational therapist. It is their job to conduct an evaluation on a patient and devise treatment plans to help them recover from their injuries, illnesses, and disabilities. Occupational therapists will also aid patients in improving and maintaining skills required for day-to-day living and working. They are expected to help in assessing the clients’ work and home environments and determine whether they are fit for physical rehabilitation plans.
Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Kinesiology or a related field
Annual Average Salary: $81,191
Working with a range of people, Pilates instructors are responsible for guiding clients through fitness programs based on the principles of Pilates. They help clients improve their muscular endurance, balance, stability, and core strength. It is part of their job to ensure clients are safe to participate by doing a screening, often requiring participants to send doctor clearance. They are also expected to design Pilates fitness courses on posture types and ability.
Education: Bachelor’s degree but generally not required as long as one holds a certification to teach yoga
Annual Average Salary: $74,125
As fitness and wellness professionals, yoga instructors often organize yoga classes where they teach students to perform a variety of stretching poses. The class will also often involve meditation practice and mindfulness. Yoga instructors are expected to promote overall well-being through planning, delivering, and conducting yoga classes for groups or individuals. Yoga classes do not have to be done in person. Many yoga instructors conduct their own classes online in real-time or provide the class with recorded yoga courses.
Education: Master’s degree in nutrition or a related field
Annual Average Salary: $68,481
Those interested in helping communities maintain their health and well-being may want to consider a career as a nutrition consultant. They are knowledgeable in understanding how the building blocks of different food affect an individual’s well-being. They are generally responsible for guiding clients in following better eating habits and food intake to help them achieve optimal health. They create and develop eating plans promoting healthy metabolism, healthy body weight, and good immune response.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in public health, nutrition, dietetics, or health education, among many other related disciplines
Annual Average Salary: $65,732
Tasked to lend support for an individual’s physical and mental health goals, wellness coaches design personalized plans that promote healthy habits and prevent diseases. They will need to assess their client’s health status and advise how they can improve their health by devising effective strategies. Wellness coaches are instrumental in helping clients set and achieve their health goals.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and related field
Annual Average Salary: $61,650
Dieticians use their knowledge and skills to help clients address their nutrition issues and develop healthy eating habits. Part of their duties is learning about patient health concerns, goals, dietary restrictions, and more. They will then work with clients to create a healthier diet plan. Dieticians are often found in long-term care facilities, hospitals, clinics, and private practice.
Education: Bachelor’s in nutritional science and related fields
Annual Average Salary: $61,650
Nutritionists, like dieticians, help people find the best diet and food plans to meet their health needs and goals. Clinical nutritionists are qualified to assess the nutritional needs of patients based on their goals and lifestyles. They are expected to create and provide personalized recommendations for diet, exercise, supplements, and more. Nutritionists often make it a point to keep up to date with the latest nutritional dies, industry trends, and research methods. Other nutritionists have specialized training to allow them to work with specific groups or individuals. This includes sports nutritionists.
Physical Education Teachers
Education: Bachelor’s Degree, license required
Annual Average Salary: $52,024
Physical Education Teachers are essentially licensed teachers that are specialized in teaching various sports and physical activities at either elementary or high school levels. Instead of the classroom, they are almost exclusively at the gym. It’s not all about sports though, as PE teachers also discuss the right sports mindsets and habits, and they ensure the safety of students while conducting these activities.
Health Education Specialists
Education: Bachelor’s degree, certification required in many cases
Annual Average Salary: $48,860
Health Education specialists teach individuals and communities about achieving, regaining, and maintaining a state of health and well-being. Health Education specialists take a lot of physical, social, and environmental factors into account in developing their education plans and programs that are tailored to specific target audiences/communities/sectors. They also work with community health workers to advocate for communities’ various health needs, but they play distinct roles.
Education: Master’s Degree
Annual Average Salary: $48,420
Athletic trainers are advanced and specialized licensed healthcare professionals who belong to the field of Sports Medicine, one of the recognized Allied Health Professions. Their main tasks are to prevent injuries to athletes through different strategies and techniques, as well as to provide first aid in case of injuries, and to work with professional athletes in their long-term recovery and rehabilitation from injury. Athletic Trainers are found in a wide variety of settings, including being part of professional sports teams, schools and universities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, community centers, and even in the military.
Health Club Managers
Education: Bachelor’s degree, typically augmented by previous work experience in the fitness industry
Annual Average Salary: $48,301
Health club managers oversee the day-to-day operations of health clubs. Aside from overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the health club’s physical facilities and equipment, they are also tasked with keeping on top of personnel management, which may include staff scheduling, as well as hiring and training. Health club managers typically work their way up, first gaining experience in other positions within the fitness industry.
Education: bachelor’s degree
Annual Average Salary: $47,940
Exercise physiology is one of the Allied Health Professions. Exercise physiologists utilize exercise to help their patients and clients promote and regain their health; in many cases, they help patients who are suffering from various chronic diseases regain and improve movement, flexibility, and cardiovascular function. Exercise physiologists also develop tailored fitness and exercise programs for their patients.
Education: postsecondary nondegree award
Annual Average Salary: $46,910
Massage Therapists utilize soft tissue and joint manipulation (i.e., massage) techniques to promote physical wellness and, in turn, mental and emotional wellness. There is a wide range of massage techniques that are currently in use, and these are often used with a specific health goal/outcome in mind. Becoming a massage therapist requires training, certification, and licensing, and massage therapists often specialize in one or a few types of massage methods/modalities. Those who specialize may also take on the role of a sports massage therapist.
Group Fitness Instructors
Education: High School Diploma or equivalent
Annual Average Salary: $45,870
A Group Fitness Instructor leads groups in various exercise classes, demonstrating how to perform different exercises or how to use specific types of exercise equipment. They also help motivate and guide participants through exercises to better ensure that their participation leads to good physical and mental outcomes. A Group fitness instructor also creates the most conducive environment for group exercise, such as choosing music, for example, and they are also charged with the safety of the members participating in specific exercise groups.
Strength and Conditioning Specialists
Education: Bachelor’s degree
Annual Average Salary: $43,725
A Strength and Conditioning Specialist, or a strength & conditioning coach, is a specialized exercise science practitioner who works with athletes to maintain and develop their peak physical performance. This professional helps develop tailored training programs for both individual athletes and sports teams and constantly monitors their performance, as well as helps develop training and rehabilitation programs for injured athletes.
Fitness Trainers and Instructors
Education: High School Diploma or equivalent
Annual Average Salary: $40,700
Fitness Trainers, particularly those working as personal fitness trainers, work with individual clients, assessing their fitness and developing the appropriate tailored training programs, and monitoring their progress throughout. Many fitness trainers are self-employed, while some work in health clubs. A fitness trainer will oversee an individual’s personal training to help them with their exercise plans and meet their fitness goals.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Annual Average Salary: $38,970
Coaches are found at all sports and at all levels of each sport, from the professional level down to the amateur. Sports coaches can work either part-time or full-time, working with athletes to continually hone their skills and develop new ones to take their game up a notch up. Coaches may also direct overall sports team play and strategy during games, as well as keep tabs on opponents’ own strategies to keep a competitive edge over them. In some team sports, especially in bigger professional teams, there may be coaches that focus on a single member or role in behind-the-scenes training to improve athletic performance, such as a goalkeeping coach in soccer.
The field of health and fitness is a large one and involves a wide range of disciplines and industries, overlapping with professional sports, the health sciences, and more. Accordingly, careers in the field are also highly varied, and each one has its own path, with some requiring minimal training and educational achievements and others requiring more advanced degrees, years in university, and having their licensing requirements too.
It is best for individuals looking to launch careers in this field to look at what they love and tie these into the potential career paths they can choose from before looking at the best options for them to get there. Health and Fitness, after all, isn’t just a job, but a lifestyle, which involves genuine dedication.