Editor's Note: This post was originally published July 2017 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
When talking about a job in health and wellness, people are likely to think of yoga instructors, fitness class leaders, personal trainers, and dieticians. After all, personal trainers like Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser or Chris Powell from Extreme Weight Loss capture the attention of millions of people who tune in to see them help clients make amazing transformations. However, there are many different ways to pursue your passion beyond helping others lose weight. Careers in health and wellness don’t have to be limited to personal training or nutrition services.
Perhaps you know a lot about golf, running, cycling, or triathlons. Or you have personal experience with recovering from a severe back injury. Or maybe you’re on a mission to help people live a long and healthy life. Look beyond traditional careers, and you might be surprised by what you find. With the right training, you can turn your unique passion into a specialized career path and have a positive impact on a lot of lives.
Check out these 6 rewarding careers in health and wellness you probably haven’t heard of.
1. Back Injury Prevention Specialist
“Oh my aching back” is something an estimated 31 million Americans say on a regular basis, according to the American Chiropractic Association. As back pain can have a significant impact on quality of life, and most back-related injuries can be prevented, the need for specialized services is there.
To become a back injury prevention specialist, you’ll study the anatomy of the back and learn to assess posture and risk factors for back pain. You’ll also learn how to develop conditioning programs for clients to prevent back-related injuries, reduce lower-back pain, and improve back health.
2. Golf Conditioning Specialist
Pro golfing legend Arnold Palmer played a lot of golf during his career and spent a lot of time perfecting every nuance of the game. “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated,” he said. “It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening, and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”
If you like golf as much as Palmer and want to help people improve their own skills, consider becoming a golf conditioning specialist. You’ll learn how to help people improve their golf swing, develop strength and power, improve balance and flexibility, and level up their game. Moreover, you can even further specialize as a golf fitness and wellness specialist and golf injury prevention specialist.
3. Sports Conditioning Specialist
From schools and universities to professional sports, fitness and conditioning are the base of a solid athletics program. A Sports Conditioning Specialist focuses on getting athletes game-ready with preseason conditioning, as well as throughout the season with fitness training. You'll also learn various training exercises and drills for sport-specific performance factors as well as safe, effective reconditioning regimens to bring athletes back from injuries.
4. Running Injury Prevention Specialist
Did you know someone just broke the marathon world record? Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge just clocked 26.2 miles in 2 hours 25 seconds on May 6. (However, it won’t count as an official record. Kipchoge ran the record pace wearing a shoe made with a carbon-fiber plate currently being tested by Nike and in near perfect race conditions.)
While most people won’t be chasing sub-two-hour marathon times, millions of people run marathons, half marathons, and fun runs every year. And it’s no secret that the high impact of running can lead to various injuries, including patellofemoral pain syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tibialis anterior tendonitis, and other overuse injuries.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As a running injury prevention specialist, you can help people improve running performance and address muscle imbalances with corrective exercises. You’ll also learn the best training strategies to help people prepare for a race or run more efficiently, along with proper foot care, shoe selection, and more.
5. Longevity Wellness Specialist
Modern medicine may be helping people live longer, but that doesn’t always mean living better. In the United States, the average life expectancy for 76.4 and 81.2 years old for men and women, respectively. But if you spend the last decade of your life struggling with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or mobility issues, for example, quality of life isn’t ideal.
As a longevity wellness specialist, you can help people make smart lifestyle choices that can have a direct positive impact on their health and happiness. You’ll learn how to help people make time for exercise, improve their diet, and benefit from nutritional supplements as well as teaching them other strategies to live a longer, more fulfilling life.
Though we've only covered a small sampling, there are far more careers in health and wellness than just working in a gym or training clients. If you want to see more options to find your niche, check out these 17 specialized certification programs.
6. Youth Nutrition Specialist Certification
About one in three kids or teens in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the American Heart Association. But it’s not too late to change that. Helping kids learn how to make smart food choices, eat healthy, and prepare healthy meals can help them with weight management, athletic performance, and healthy living.
If you like nutrition and working with kids, being a Youth Nutrition Specialist is a perfect career path for you. One exciting career option is to provide nutrition services to schools or youth sports teams. Teaching kids principles of healthy eating now can help establish lifelong healthy eating habits.
Which health and wellness career path do you envision yourself working towards?