What Can You Do With a Human Movement & Rehabilitation Science Degree?

Industry Advice Healthcare

Before pursuing any degree, it’s important to understand what you can do with that degree once you have completed your studies. Many students considering earning their MS in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Science ask that very question before enrolling in a program.

Students who complete a degree in human movement and rehabilitation science walk away with a thorough understanding of the mechanics behind human movement, which opens many potential career paths, some of which are perhaps surprising.

Common Job Titles for Human Movement and Rehabilitation Science Students

The most common job titles for individuals who earn their human movement and rehabilitation science degrees are related to engineering. They include:

  • Rehabilitation Engineer
  • Field Clinical Engineer
  • Biomechanical Engineer
  • And more

However, it’s important to recognize that the specific responsibilities that an individual will perform will depend on the industry they operate within and the particular career path they have chosen. 

Below, we look at some of the different careers that a degree in human movement and rehabilitation science can prepare you for, regardless of the specific job title you may pursue.


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Human Movement and Rehabilitation Science Career Paths

1. Product Development

One popular career path for HMS graduates is product development, particularly for products related to the human body and its movement. By leveraging a deep understanding of the human body, these professionals can inform and influence the design, development, and manufacturing of products to allow them to perform as efficiently as possible. 

Just a few examples of the types of products human movement graduates may work to develop include:

  • Consumer-facing apparel, such as clothing, footwear, etc. to be used by the average person
  • Sports performance equipment, such as specialized footwear, compression garments, and exercise equipment required by elite athletes to train and optimize performance
  • Prosthetics, such as prosthetic limbs and artificial organs for both utility and research
  • Medical assistive technology, including any equipment that helps a person with an injury or disability carry out normal Activities of Daily Living (ADL), especially related to movement
  • Life-sustaining and protective equipment, such as specialized gear and suits used by military members, police, firefighters, pilots, and undersea or space exploration
  • Video games and animation, where human movement specialists are essential in recreating life-like movement in animation or computer-generated images

2. Therapy Development

Therapies, like products, must be conceptualized and tested before they can be put into practice to improve patients’ lives. The development of therapeutics related to the movement of the human body requires deep expertise, such as what you would gain throughout an advanced degree program. Because therapy development requires research, this can also be considered a related field to the research routes, as discussed below.

3. Healthcare

Healthcare is a good option for those who want to have a clear and direct impact on the lives of others throughout their careers. The healthcare industry employs individuals with a background in human movement and rehabilitation science in various ways. For example: 

  • Field clinical engineers are responsible for maintaining, troubleshooting, and upgrading equipment used to study patient movements and injuries.
  • Healthcare technicians operate equipment such as gait labs in hospitals or clinics.
  • Consultants, in collaboration with physical therapists and occupational therapists, work to evaluate patients and design courses of treatment that will improve their wellbeing

4. Research

Many individuals who earn a degree in human movement do so because they are interested in a career in research into how the human body moves and how it reacts to movement or other stressors. 

Generally speaking, a research career can take one of two paths:

  • Leading research: Lead researchers (also called head researchers, head scientists, lead scientists, or principal investigators) are the individuals who pose the primary question that the research is attempting to answer. They design the experiment and oversee its execution. Becoming a lead researcher will typically require earning a PhD.
  • Supporting research: Supporting researchers are the individuals who execute individual tasks related to an experiment. Common job titles include lab technician or researcher. These positions can typically be earned with a master’s degree. Many individuals will spend some time working in a support role before continuing their education to earn their PhD. 

5. Academia

Finally, academia is a potential career path for MS in HMS graduates. The primary goal of academics is to educate the next generation of human movement and rehabilitation science professionals. This work typically requires a PhD, and will often involve at least some degree of research, particularly for individuals employed at research universities.

Though some individuals will enter academia immediately after completing their education, often it is something of a “second career” for those who have already spent a portion of their working lives in product development, therapeutic development, healthcare, or research.

Your First Step Into a Career in Rehabilitation Science

It should be noted that most of the career paths mentioned above require applicants to hold at least a master’s degree, such as a Master of Science in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Science. Other potential options might include an MS in Exercise Science or an MS in Kinesiology, though there are important differences between these degrees that you should understand before enrolling. 

Likewise, it’s important to recognize that a master’s degree will not be enough for some of these career paths. To pursue a career in academia or as a head researcher, for example, you will most likely need to complete a PhD. 

If you know the specific career path that you would like to pursue, that information should factor into your program selection when choosing a master’s degree or PhD program. Look for a program that offers coursework related to your desired career or employs faculty members currently involved in research related to your desired career. 

Learn more about the MS in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences at Northeastern, and take your first step toward a career in this exciting field today.

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