How to become a Exercise Scientist

Exercise scientists assist sportspeople to achieve the best possible sporting performance by applying knowledge and techniques from the areas of biomedical science, physiology, biomechanics (the study of human movement), nutrition, psychology and sport assessment.

Personal requirements of a Exercise Scientist

  • Interested in sport and fitness
  • Interested in physical and biomedical sciences
  • Good observation and problem-solving skills
  • Able to work with accuracy and attention to detail

Education & Training for a Exercise Scientist

To become an exercise scientist you usually have to complete a degree in sport and exercise science or human movement. Alternatively, you may choose to complete a degree in a relevant area, such as nutrition, physiotherapy or medicine, followed by a postgraduate qualification in exercise science or clinical exercise physiology. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry or physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at or university handbooks. See the separate entries for Dietitian, Medical Practitioner and Physiotherapist for information on alternative study areas.

Duties & Tasks of a Exercise Scientist

Exercise scientists may perform the following tasks:

  • conduct assessments specific to an athlete’s sport to determine how to improve sporting performance
  • devise treatment and exercise programs that support athletes’ preparation and recovery, and help them return to training or competition
  • conduct research, make observations and interpret data in relation to sporting performances, and communicate findings to officials, athletes, coaches and other support staff
  • design or assist in developing training programs for sportspeople to improve sporting performance and reduce the risk of injury
  • refer clients to sports medicine physicians and other health professionals such as physiotherapists, dietitians, sports psychologists and podiatrists
  • work as part of the athlete’s support team to develop the athlete’s performance.

Working conditions for a Exercise Scientist

Exercise scientists often attend training sessions and sporting events to monitor sporting performances in addition to working in an office or testing laboratory. They have a high level of contact with the public.

Employment Opportunities for a Exercise Scientist

Exercise scientists work at sports institutes (such as the Australian Institute of Sport), professional sports clubs, sports medicine clinics and sporting associations. A number of professionals working in sports medicine are self-employed and may subcontract their services. Clients include professional and amateur sportspeople. Exercise scientists may work as consultants in fitness performance analysis and injury rehabilitation. Some exercise scientists volunteer at sporting clubs.


Exercise Physiologist

An exercise physiologist provides scientific support to sportspeople by studying how their bodies respond to physical activity. This can be done using various methods such as studying responses to exercise and training, analysing heart-rate data and blood samples or measuring changes in a sportsperson's strength and flexibility.

Motor Control and Learning Specialist

A motor control and learning specialist uses their knowledge of motor control and learning to analyse an athlete's perceptual and decision-making abilities during sporting events and devises strategies to improve learning and performance.

Sports Biomechanist

A sports biomechanist conducts computerised analyses of an athlete's sporting technique. This is done using high-speed video, force transducers and other mechanical devices to determine the athlete's mechanical efficiency. Working in conjunction with the coach, they also devise methods to improve the athlete's technical efficiency.

Sports Scientist

A sports scientist works with elite sports teams or individuals in order to improve their performance, using knowledge from the areas of physiology, psychology, biomechanics and motor development.

Additional Information
Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. Graduates from an approved degree course may apply for membership with Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA). Student memberships may also be available.
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