November 5, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Henry Ford Hospital
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Clinton Brawner Ph.D.: Hopefully, the individual is graduating from a program that had a clinical exercise physiology focus and culminated in a hands-on clinical internship, not just an observation. They should plan to take the Clinical Exercise Physiology certification offered by the American College of Sports Medicine certification. Clinical exercise internships should be treated as a first work experience and should be featured on the resume. Employment opportunities for clinical exercise physiologists (CEPs) vary by regions across the U.S. and between institutions, so employment opportunities will vary. Over the next 10 years, opportunities for CEPs may improve due to an increased focus on prevention and efforts to increase utilization of cardiac rehabilitation link. However, outside of cardiac rehabilitation and clinical exercise testing, the lack of reimbursement for CEP-led services is a barrier today; however, efforts are underway to address this. The new graduate may have to initially settle for a position that they feel is below their training or not their "dream job." The benefits of working in a less desired position that is in a clinical environment outweigh not working in a clinical environment. Similarly, working in a non-clinical exercise position is better than not working in the field (e.g., exercise) at all. Finally, the new graduate should develop a plan to stay up-to-date in the field by becoming a member of one or two professional organizations, registering to receive the electronic table of contents from a few professional journals, and look for continuing education opportunities, such as webinars and conferences.
Clinton Brawner Ph.D.: The ability to learn and work with task-specific software is critical. This might be the electronic medical record or the software that runs a clinical device, such as an exercise stress test system or an ECG telemetry monitoring system. Considering that progress notes are typed, good typing skills are an asset. Finally, experience with using Microsoft Office applications is important. The individual who knows how to use Excel or Access and how to organize data tables to capture and analyze programmatic data often has an advantage in the workplace.
Clinton Brawner Ph.D.: There is little data specific to the CEP. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not separate clinical and non-clinical exercise physiologists (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/exercise-physiologists.htm). The CEPA has collected salary data from CEPs (attached). In general, starting salary for a bachelor's prepared CEP is likely $42k to $45k, with considerable variability across the U.S.