Exercise Science and the department of health and wellness: still thriving

By Jenay Smith
February 27, 2013

There are a plethora of job opportunities available to exercise science majors, including corporate fitness or employee health promotion.
“It’s very diverse but [students are] pretty much going to be working with people to help them improve their life in some way,” Dr. Maria Hallion, associate professor of exercise science and health promotion, said. “The major prepares them to do a majority of things.”
Jess Huda, fitness coordinator and assistant coach of women’s soccer, got a job right out of college with L&T Health and Fitness after she graduated from Cabrini. She worked at the Vanguard Group in Malvern, Pa.
Other career paths include becoming an aerobics or group exercise instructor, athletic trainer, biomechanist, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist, employee fitness director, etc.
Some students will have to pursue a degree in higher education in order to get a specific job. For an example, if they want to get into nursing, nutrition, etc., they would have to continue their schooling. Also, receiving certifications helps graduates in the job market.
Hallion describes the major as a service to people. Many people who enter the health and wellness field stay committed. They have a connection to helping people; it’s personal for them.
This makes networking so much easier and much more important for students and alumni in this field. Huda was able to obtain a job right out of college because she stayed in contact with her professors who helped her find a job.
“Networking is essential,” Hallion said. “Meeting people, remembering people’s names and creating that network, that Cabrini network.”
A lot of the directions students go in are related to physical activity, but not all. Some go into a different aspect of health and wellness and focus on helping people. They might help someone quit smoking, lose weight, etc.
Cabrini’s exercise science and health promotion grew out of the physical education field. The general interest of Cabrini’s campus changed in 2000 and now the curriculum does not include physical education but incorporates so much more.
Graduates who go right into the job market on average make about $18,000 to $30,000 a year, but they still have to work for it.
“If they want to stay in the industry, there is a job out there for them,” Hallion said. “But they’ve got to do a little work. [Jobs] don’t just flop in their laps.”
Exercise science and health promotion is facing no shortage of jobs.
“I do not see the industry of health and wellness losing momentum,” Hallion said. “As a matter of fact, because of rising healthcare costs and companies having to watch their bottom line, they have to take care of their employees and that’s how we do it, through health and wellness. So I’m not seeing a reduction of jobs for my graduates. As a matter of fact, there has been growth in two areas: the sports conditioning area and [exercise and health promotion] for older adults.”
Now that baby boomers are growing older, more and more of them need medical, health and wellness attention.
“The health and wellness industry is connected in a unique way. People move around in the industry,” Hallion said. “They rarely leave the industry.”
Exercise science and the department of health and wellness have much to offer their students, including alumni advice.
“Recent grads need to understand that most of them will have to start entry-level and work hard to work their way up and get the money they think they deserve,” Huda said. “Be open, flexible and work hard!”

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Jenay Smith

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