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 major in rehabilitation sciences and complete a degree walk away with a thorough understanding beyond basic concepts of the mechanics behind human movement and body systems, which opens a wide variety of potential career paths—some of which are 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
Here’s an in-depth look at the top careers in the field and their average salaries. However, it’s important to recognize that the specific responsibilities that an individual will perform in the rehabilitation field 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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Most Popular Career Paths in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Science
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 and physical activity 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’ quality of life. 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.
Healthcare is a good option for those who want to have a clear and direct impact on the lives and daily living conditions of others throughout their careers. The healthcare industry employs individuals with a background in human movement and rehabilitation sciences 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.
- Physical therapists diagnose and treat all kinds of patient pain through specialized developed plans involving physical activity and exercise methods known as physical therapy.
- Occupational therapists use recreation-based treatment programs centered around everyday activities, like tossing a ball or writing, to work on motor skills in occupational therapy.
- Consultants, in collaboration with physical therapists and occupational therapists, work to evaluate patients and design courses of treatment that will improve their wellbeing and everyday life.
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.
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 gaining experience 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 more than an undergraduate degree, but request applicants to hold at least a master’s degree in rehabilitation science, such as a Master of Science in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Science. For students concerned with the timeline of earning a degree, Northeastern offers the Master of Science experiential program in Human Movement and Rehabilitation Science as a fast-track alternative. Other potential options might include graduate programs such as 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 won’t be enough for some of these career paths. For example, if you want to pursue a career in academia or a leadership position in research, most rehabilitation professionals are required to earn a PhD.
If you know the specific career path you would like to pursue, that information should factor into your program selection when choosing a master’s degree or PhD program for your graduate studies. Look for a program curriculum that offers core courses related to your desired career, opposed to one with a wide variety of unrelated courses, or employs faculty members currently involved in research related to your desired career.