What is an Exercise Physiologist

An exercise physiologist is someone who studies and aids in the use of exercise to ameliorate health issues and diseases. This includes the study of pathology, cardiopulmonary function, biomechanics, and skeletal/muscle physiology. They aid most often with rehabilitation functions. For more information on job duties and how to become a exercise physiologist, please visit our exercise physiologist job description page.

Work Environment

Exercise physiologists can be employed in a diverse range of areas. These can include hospitals, industrial facilities, community organizations, or educational institutions. They may also work in clinical settings, aiding physicians with cardiac or pulmonary aid for patients of any disease.

Work Schedule

The work schedule will depend highly on the setting chosen, however most often it will be during standard business hours. Some hospitals, however, may require occasional weekend or holiday work; working in a community organization will quite likely require this, as many community-based activities are outside of regular business times (ie community events occur on evenings or weekends). However, for the most part, the work schedule is one of 8-4 or 9-5, five days per week. 

Mean Annual Exercise Physiologist Salary

The average annual exercise physiologist salary is $47,610. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $31,000 and the top 10% makes well over $70,140.

Exercise Physiologist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$47,610 per year
$22.89 per hour
Top 10% Salary$70,140 per year
$33.72 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$31,000 per year
$14.90 per hour
Number of Jobs, 20125,820

Exercise Physiologist Job Outlook and Prospects

As society moves toward an increased desire for positive health and wellness, the job outlook is increasingly promising. The promotion of good health, as well as leading new physical fitness programs, will fall under the purview of exercise physiologists. Research in rehabilitation of muscle injuries, health benefits of exercise, and the physical well-being of an aging population are further areas of increasing awareness, making exercise physiology a career in increasing demand.

Exercise Physiologist Salary: Factors of Influence

Experience and geographic location are the primary factors affecting exercise physiologist salary. These are further enhanced by specializations, and the industry in which the physiologist works.

The current average annual exercise physiologist salary is $47,610. However, based on the above-mentioned factors, this can rise to as high as nearly $72,000.

Education and Specialization 

Most exercise physiologists have similar educations: that of a master’s degree in exercise physiology. A doctorate can bring some salary benefits, though these are primarily seen in those who pursue an academic career, working in a University.

Areas of specialty include cardiology, sports medicine, and physical therapy. Often these will involve working with other health professionals in the development of rehabilitation programs; these specialties will make one more in demand and desirable, leading to a higher salary.

Experience and Position 

Experience is the main factor influencing exercise physiologist salary. While a starting exercise physiologist can expect to earn around $30,000 per year, one with five years’ experience can anticipate a salary averaging between $47,610 and $56,000.

Position is a factor highly dependent on the milieu in which the exercise physiologist works. Those working in a hospital will often be part of a team of physiologists, and can rise in the ranks to a position of authority and oversight. Those working in their own private practice, while gaining other potential areas for salary increase, are limited in this aspect. 


Industry offers a significant potential for exercise physiologist salary. In particular, those that work for large organizations, such as Universities or the Federal Executive Branch, can receive average salaries far higher than the average, sitting at approximately $58,710 on the academic side, and $69,010 on the governmental. However, home health care services have the highest average salaries with yearly averages of $71,980, or around $24,000 more than the overall average.


Location is another factor strongly influencing exercise physiologist salary. The field is itself somewhat new and uncertain, and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics only has data for 39 states, however those that currently have data available show differences of nearly $30,000.

Nevada, for example, is the lowest-paying state, with an average of $35,420. New York, on the other hand, is the highest-paying, with salaries averaging $65,890. West Virginia ranks second at $63,330, and California third at $56,470. These differences are similarly reflected on the metropolitan level, with New York, New York showing an average salary of $67,840, the highest in the country.

Exercise Physiologist Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
New York, NY: $67,840New York: $65,890Home Health Care Services: $71,980Texas: (540 jobs) $46,610
Los Angeles, CA: $59,340West Virginia: $63,330Federal Executive Branch: $69,010North Carolina: (540 jobs) $46,050
Richmond, VA: $58,360California: $56,470Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools: $58,710Florida: (420 jobs) $44,900
Durham- Chapel Hill, NC: $58,180Oklahoma: $55,070Outpatient Care Centers: $53,360California: (270 jobs) $56,470
Houston, TX: $57,670Louisiana: $53,710Other Amusement and Recreation Industries: $52,050Wisconsin: (250 jobs) $47,420

exercise physiologist salary state by state