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Your free guide to a career in exercise physiology and exercise science

The difference between a career in exercise physiology / sports science / exercise science

According to Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), there is a distinct difference between these three professions.

Exercise physiologist

An accredited exercise physiologist delivers exercise, lifestyle and behaviour modification programs for the prevention and management of chronic diseases and injuries. Clients may have conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health problems, cancer, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoporosis. They hold a 4 year degree (or equivalent). Click here for more information from ESSA.

Exercise physiologists may work in a range of settings including private or public hospitals, private practice, or contract to insurance companies.

The following articles are about exercise physiology:

Sports scientist

A sports scientist specialises in assisting athletes or sporting teams to improve their performance via scientific knowledge including applied physiology, biomechanics, psychology, motor control and motor development. They work in the areas of training, injury prevention, technique analysis, nutrition, performance optimisation and recovery. Click here for more information from ESSA.

Exercise scientist

An exercise scientist designs, implements and evaluates exercise and physical activity for healthy people, including programs for improving general health, the prevention of chronic diseases, health promotion and enhanced sports performance. They hold an undergraduate degree in exercise & sports science. Click here for more information from ESSA.

Please refer to the ESSA careers guide for more information on the differentiation between an exercise scientist, an exercise physiologist and a sports scientist.

What do exercise physiologists love about their jobs?

Working in an interdisciplinary team, exercise physiologist Anna Roberts shares what she loves about her job, as does Jennifer Smallridge, who works in private practice, occupational rehabilitation and hospital settings. Click here for their article.  

What is the ATAR for exercise physiology and exercise science?

Click here for ATAR information for exercise science courses in Australia, and click here for exercise physiology courses. Please note that these are a rough guide, and that the ATARs / Selection Ranks change every year.

Latest News

Click here for the latest news about careers in exercise and sports science and exercise physiology.

University scholarships

Please read our scholarship listing thoroughly for this information.

How much money do exercise professionals earn?

Please refer to the ESSA Careers Guide for up to date salary information.

ESSA’s 2012 workforce survey suggested that the average full time wage for an exercise & sports science professional was around $60,000 to $70,000.

Career in exercise information from professional association

Click here to go to the Exercise & Sports Science Australia careers guide.



This page was last updated in January 2023.