Occupational Therapy vs Kinesiology vs Fitness & Personal Training: Career ROI

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Updated: March 25, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Do you want to pursue a career in healthcare and fitness? Occupational Therapy, Kinesiology, and Fitness and Personal Training are excellent options!

While the principles of these professions overlap, you’ll find that they serve distinct purposes aimed at helping individuals become physically healthy and capable of functioning and maintaining their lifestyle. 

Comparing Occupational Therapy vs Kinesiology vs Fitness and Personal Training

KinesiologyOccupational TherapyFitness and Personal Training
Average SalariesExercise Physiologists: $51,350OT: $93,180Fitness Trainers and Instructors: $45,380
Job Outlook (2022-2032)10%12%14%
Key FeaturesInvolves the study of motor control techniques to understand the mechanisms governing movement.Assesses the environmental, psychological, and physical issues that limit an individual’s capacity to engage in routine work-related tasks.Aimed at managing sports and fitness programs primarily in business settings.
Benefits* Addresses focus issues and learning challenges.
* Releases harmful emotional impacts of addictions, phobias, rage, guilt, and sadness
* Aids in the processing of trauma and shock
* Determines the origin of physical symptoms
* Obtain adaptive tools and techniques
* Boost visual aptitude
* Reduce pain and increase strength
* Manage day-to-day functions with disability
* Create a visualized plan for better fitness and health outcomes
* Craft and deliver training programs to achieve health and wellness goals.

How Can You Get Started in Occupational Therapy?

How Can You Get Started in Occupational Therapy - Image

An Associate in Occupational Therapy introduces students to the fundamentals of the discipline. It qualifies you for entry-level work under the supervision of a Licensed OT.

The next step is obtaining a Bachelor’s in OT to gain in-depth knowledge of the many components of the profession. OT courses include Occupational Science, Biology, Health Science, Sociology, and Psychology. The goal of this program is to produce health professionals who are interested in improving health and well-being and are client-centered.

OT undergraduate students engage in a one-year internship for career exposure. Internship programs enable students to collaborate closely with clients of all ages to improve development, prevent disability, and provide occupational performance.

To help people reach their potential and have autonomous, fruitful, and fulfilling lives, OTs also collaborate with many groups and communities to promote a fair and inclusive society for all. 

Essential Skills of an Occupational Therapist

Jobs for Occupational Therapy Degree Holders

With an Occupational Therapy major or degree, you can land these jobs:

Occupational Therapy Degree JobsAnnual Median Pay
Pharmacy Technician$37,790
Rehabilitation Counselor$39,990
Orthotist and Prosthetists $77,070

Opportunities for Advancement in Occupational Therapy

Consider a Master’s in OT to become better qualified for high positions in the field. Graduate-level OT programs enable students to choose concentrations such as Pediatrics, Mental Health, Gerontology, and Stroke Rehabilitation. 

Would-be occupational therapists must obtain a license to practice. A master’s degree from an accredited school is a licensing requirement. Fieldwork is also required to sit for and ace the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam.

NBCOT aims to ensure that occupational therapy practitioners across the nation adhere to predetermined criteria. However, state-specific requirements differ in order to receive a license.

Doctorate in OT programs obtain evidence-based training. It is a research-focused program that takes into account the physical, psychological, social, and environmental requirements of patients. Doctors of OT often land research-intensive careers or teaching professions.

Why OT could be for you:

OT isn’t for you if:

How Can You Get Started in Kinesiology?

How Can You Get Started in Kinesiology - Image

Kinesiology experts assist patients to regain their mobility and enhance their lives via exercise by applying their understanding of human physiology and movement. It is ideal for an outgoing individual who enjoys fitness and is highly interested in fitness and the health sciences.

An Associate in Kinesiology jumpstarts your career in this field! A bachelor’s program should be your next step for finding career options and enjoying career stability.

The basic Kinesiology courses include Principles of Motor Skills, Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Principles of Physical Activity, Physics, History of Exercise, and Geriatric Mobility. Undergraduates must also learn the subjects in a Nutrition and Dietetics degree program.

Most Kinesiology or Physical Therapy undergraduates must complete an internship program.  

Specializations in Kinesiology include Athletic Training, Biomechanics, Sports Medicine, Exercise Science, and Exercise Physiology.

Essential Skills of a Kinesiologist

Jobs for Kinesiology Degree Holders

Kinesiology majors qualify for these careers:

Kinesiology Degree JobAnnual Median Pay
Fitness Trainers and Instructors$45,380
Exercise Physiologists$51,350
Athletic Trainer$53,840
Dietitian and Nutritionists$66,450

Opportunities for Advancement in Kinesiology

To advance your career in Kinesiology, you must earn a master’s degree. Graduate students study the human body in-depth from a scientific perspective. They investigate movement and muscle control, conduct research, and analyze and interpret data related to human performance.

If you have the patience and finances for it, earning a Doctorate in Kinesiology makes sense! In this doctorate program, you spend four to six years in school, focusing on research-based independent study and advanced coursework. You can become a full-time researcher or professor in academic medical institutes and research universities.

Kinesiology Licensure

There isn’t currently a generally accepted generic licensing for practitioners in kinesiology. Nonetheless, a number of Kinesiology-related professional paths do have certain licensing requirements. 

One thing is certain: if you want to work as a sports trainer, you must have a license. Athletic trainers must get licensure in almost all states by either finishing a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs-approved program or obtaining the certified athletic trainer certification from the Board of Certification.

Why Kinesiology could be for you:

Kinesiology isn’t for you if:

How Can You Get Started in Fitness and Personal Training?

How Can You Get Started in Fitness and Personal Training - Image

Fitness and Personal Training involves an in-depth understanding of movement, physical activity programming, and nutrition. Professionals work with real customers, take part in research projects, and complete internships. 

Turn your love for fitness and health into a full-time job! Earn a Bachelor’s in Fitness and Personal Training for expert knowledge of movement, physical activity, health, and nutrition. A fitness and personal trainer should be compassionate, empathic, and patient. They should possess excellent communication skills and marketing knowledge.

Jobs for Fitness and Personal Training Holders

What can you do as a Fitness and Personal Training major? Here are your top career options:

Fitness and Personal Training Degree JobsAnnual Median Pay
Athletic Trainer$53,840
Medical and Health Service Managers$104,830
Health Education Specialists$59,990
Coaches and Scouts$44,890

Opportunities for Advancement in Fitness and Personal Training

One of the best ways to advance your career in Fitness And Personal Training is to obtain a master’s degree in a relevant field. Graduate-level programs investigate human capabilities and the limits of the human body.

Such programs qualify you for more advanced professional paths in the growing field of health, fitness, and wellness. You can assist someone in regaining their health and well-being after an illness or injury.

Why Fitness and Personal Training could be for you:

Fitness and Personal Training isn’t for you if:

OT vs Kinesiology vs Fitness & Personal Training - fact

Key Takeaways

While anchored on similar principles—and often thought of as similar disciplines—OT, PT or Kinesiology, and Fitness and Personal Training differ in many ways, including methodologies, focus, and outcomes.

Regardless, these three programs and career options lead to rewarding careers that impact the lives of people while growing your expertise! 

Additional Information: