Clinical Exercise Physiologist Job Description and Salary
A clinical exercise physiologist is a healthcare professional who treats individual’s who suffer from cardiovascular or pulmonary issues. Oftentimes, the clinical exercise physiologist will treat patients with both types of ailments, given the layout of the individual rehab center.
There are many different reasons as to why someone would need to be treated by a clinical exercise physiologist. They may have endured some type of surgery where they need inpatient rehab shortly after to help them improve their cardiovascular health. Or they may suffer from cardiovascular disease such as peripheral artery disease, coronary heart failure, stroke, or many other diseases.
If a patient undergoes surgery such as a bypass surgery, they will most likely undergo some sort of inpatient rehab shortly after. Once the patient has “graduated” from inpatient rehab and they are starting to see much better results, they will then move on to outpatient rehab.
As far as inpatient rehab goes, the clinical exercise physiologist will focus on goals that will help them to improve their cardiovascular and pulmonary health, whichever is needed. They may have their patient walk for 2 minutes down the hall and back to their room, or they may simply have their patient sit up and down in their hospital bed. There is a significant grey area when it comes to rehab, especially in inpatient rehab. Their treatment will depend greatly on the type of surgery they had, how bad their condition is, and many other factors.
Outpatient rehab typically occurs in a clinical setting. Most cardiopulmonary rehab centers are typically filled with testing and exercise equipment that are intended to help improve the patient’s heart and respiratory health. This includes treadmills, stationary bikes, EKG machines, spirometers, blood pressure cuffs, and much more.
Clinical Exercise Physiologist Education Requirements
To become a clinical exercise physiologist, you will need to at least have a bachelors degree in a related field. People aspiring to become a clinical exercise physiologist typically pursue degrees in Kinesiology or health science. A masters degree is not required, yet it can help you to stand out from other candidates in today’s very competitive workforce, as well as heighten your overall knowledge. A masters degree may be necessary for you to take on a managerial position, to do research, or to teach at the university level. There are also PhD’s available in this subject as well.
Once you attain your degree, you will then need to pass an exam to become a clinical exercise physiologist. Passing this exam is necessary to become a registered clinical exercise physiologist. There are several organizations that you can go through to take the exam. However, ACSM is one of the best. To find out more, check out ACSM’s website.
Clinical Exercise Physiologist Responsibilities
The clinical exercise physiologist is responsible for many different parameters all aimed at helping their patient to attain a greater level of cardiovascular and pulmonary health. As mentioned before, this is done by using exercise equipment, as well as testing equipment used to monitor heart rhythm and oxygen consumption, among many other things.
One of the first things that the clinical exercise physiologist will have to do with their patient is perform a fitness assessment to see where their patient is at health-wise. Such a fitness assessment may assess their flexibility, endurance, blood pressure, BMI, strength, etc. All of these values are very important for the clinical exercise physiologist as they will be used to determine the type of exercise plan that they will create for their patient. They will work alongside many other healthcare professionals such as cardiologists and nurses to give each patient the best care possible.
Clinical Exercise Physiologist Salary
The amount of money that you can expect to earn as a clinical exercise physiologist will vary greatly depending on the setting, as well as the state that you work in. For instance, you can earn an annual mean wage of about $72,300 in San Diego, CA, while Detroit, MI will allot you with an annual mean salary around $40,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of 2016 :
Mean hourly wage: $24.19
Mean annual wage: $50,310
10th percentile: $15.53/hr $32,290/yr
50th percentile: $22.76/hr $47,340/yr
90th percentile: $35.74/hr $74,330/yr
Similar Careers to a Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Some other careers that are either similar to what a clinical exercise physiologist does from day to day or other positions that work alongside a clinical exercise physiologist are nurses, cardiac rehab technicians, cardiac specialists, personal trainers, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and cardiologists, among others. These professionals all play a very important role in the overall treatment of each and every patient that has to undergo cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.
Though a lot of these professions will have similar duties to that of a clinical exercise physiologist, there are distinct differences in them from not only responsibilities, but education requirements and salary as well. For instance, a cardiac rehab tech may earn around $30,000 annually, while a cardiologist earns around $400,000 annually. Nevertheless, each team member of a cardiopulmonary rehab department all play an integral part in creating an effective treatment plan for their patients.
- “29-1128 Exercise Physiologists.” BLS. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291128.htm