What is a physiologist?
Physiology is the study of the function of living things which can be plants, humans, or animals and as a result a physiologist is one who is trained in body functions of living things. A physiologist is one who can help to diagnosis problems within your body and help in the recovery of that particular function. Basically a physiologist will examine how the body works under normal and abnormal conditions at the molecular and cellular levels. When choosing the career of a physiologist you will choose a specific area of the body to concentrate on during their training to become a physiologist. During this time you will learn the techniques that are used for that specific area of the body that you have chosen.
Job description of a physiologist
The job description of a physiologist varies as to which type of physiologist you have selected to be trained in. Here are some examples of different physiologists and their job description.
- Sports physiologist—in this field you would be concerned with the functioning of the body as it applies to athletes. You would specialize in endurance and performance. In addition to having specific knowledge of physiology you would also have a large base of knowledge of the requirements for that specific sport such as basketball, football, etc.
- Cardiac physiologist—in this field you would investigate the function of the heart in order to help diagnose heart disease and be involved in monitoring and identifying the use of a particular treatment program to measure how effective it is.
- Exercise physiologist—in this field you would create an exercise plan for people and then monitor the metabolic and cardiovascular effects of that particular exercise routine that are necessary for cardiac and physical rehabilitation
- Neurophysiologist—in this field you would be concerned with the neurology of the function of the nervous system and you would be working with patients who have a neurological disorder. They are also known as clinical physiologists.
- Respiratory physiologist—in this field you would be dealing with breathing or respiration and may test breathing and lung function to help evaluate and treat any problems with breathing.
- Pediatric physiologist—in this field you would deal with the diagnosis and treatment of children from birth to 18 years of age.
When working as a physiologist you need to have great communication skills and patience because some of the patients you are treating may be hard to work with because they just do not want to be bothered, they could also be in pain so you need to be looking at their body language to know just how they feel and how much work you will be getting out of them that day.
How to become a physiologist?
The first step in becoming a physiologist is to get your bachelor’s degree in physiology. If the college you have elected to go to does not offer a bachelor’s degree in physiologist you should consider getting your degree in a science major. Try to decide which field of physiology that you would like to major in and take as many courses as you can in that major. One thing you should do before you choose which field of physiology is to check to see how many jobs is in that particular field and the salary range to make sure that you are choosing a field of physiology that has a good salary base and jobs are available.
To become a physiologist in some fields you will need to have a doctorate degree but not a Doctor of Medicine degree. Some physiology jobs, like an exercise physiologist you will only need to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Physiology. Once you have your bachelor’s degree you will have to take the Graduate Record Examination. You must pass this exam before you start to work on your master’s degree. You should choose either a Master of Science (M.S.) in Applied Anatomy and Physiology or a Master of Science in Physiology. Either of these Master of Science degrees will provide you with more specialized education in the field of physiology that you have chosen and will help you begin a practice of research. Some of the classroom work at this level will cover areas like pharmacology, molecular biology, cellular physiology, and molecular physiologist. Most employees will require you to also have a doctorate degree in physiology or another related field. In this field a doctoral degree will offer you research opportunities which in time can lead to securing a full time faculty position or even being published in academic journals.
Once you have your doctorate degree it is time to get some work experience. Many times the opportunities that a physiologist who just got their doctorate degree have are to work in a temporary research position that will have you working with an experience physiologist. In order to advance in the field of physiology you will need to have this valuable work experience. You should try to work on as many of these temporary research projects as you can to establish skill and credibility in your particular field.
In some fields of physiologist you may need to be certified in that field before you can practice. One example is before working as an exercise physiologist you must pass the certification exam through The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or The American Society of Exercise Physiology (ASEP).
Work environment and schedule
The work environment and schedule of a physiologist will vary according to the specific field of physiology you have chosen to major in. Generally many who are working as a physiologist will look for an internship in their field of study to gain some on-the-job training. When working as a physiologist your job could have you working in direct patient care and others may work as a research developer. Most physiologist jobs will have them working a normal work week. A physiologist will practice patient direct care and in some jobs they will also work as a technologist, molecular biologist, or research developer. There are some who will work in a laboratory setting studying life forms like bacteria and viruses to see what effect, if any, it has on reproduction and human life.
Some of the different fields of physiology and their work environment and schedule can include:
- Sports physiologist—in this field you would help to assess an athlete’s performance along with altering habits and behaviors to help improve their physical movements. They will normally work exclusively with the athletes who participate regularly in sporting events. They may also help to develop a diet and fitness plan that is appropriate for their regular activities. They could work for fitness centers, for a sport’s team, etc.
- Cardiac physiologist—in this field you would work at either a hospital or cardiologist office. You would use advanced equipment to perform different procedures that would allow the cardiologist to view different areas of your heart and how it is functioning.
- Exercise physiologist—in this field you would work at rehabilitation and fitness centers and there are also some who work at medical facilities.
- Neurophysiologist—in this field you would be working with patients who have disorders like epilepsy, strokes, and dementia. They would perform procedures like EEG’s (electroencephalography) to record the electrical brain activity, NCS’s (nerve conduction studies) to assess and record muscle and nerve function, and EMG’s (electromyography). They may also perform testing when a patient has a surgical procedure to help decrease their risk of complications like paralysis.
- Respiratory physiologist—in this field you would focus on the respiratory system to help monitor and assess diseases and ailments that may impede breathing. Most commonly you would work with patients who are suffering from asthma, infant respiratory distress syndrome, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema. You may conduct sleep studies, blood gases analyses, and lung functioning tests.
When working as a physiologist you could be working in rehab centers, hospitals, medical schools, universities, or research labs but it is most common for you to be working in a hospital. The general job would be to help diagnosis and then treat injuries or ailments in order to help the patient regain their physical independence. There are some physiologist who works in a laboratory with a variety of organisms from microorganism to plants and animals.
When working as a physiologist in a laboratory you will need to make sure that you are wearing the right protective gear which could be a lab coat, gloves, face mask, or a full protection suit. Some of the work that they do can be in hazardous work environments, which is par for the course. They could also do strenuous activity and the work they do can range from dangerous to mundane. You will need to make sure that you have good writing skills as part of your job to record everything that you have discovered because sometimes your observations or discoveries are printed in academic journals that are peer-reviewed. You will also need to have creative thinking skills because there may be a time where you would have to come up with technically involved and creative solutions to the problems that they face every day in their job.
Pros and cons of being a Physiologist
By becoming a physiologist, you’ll have plenty of work opportunities, and if you’ll planning to work in the field of research then you’ll need a doctoral degree. However, there are any other job opportunities that will require less education.
Physiology has many different career options, and you can find plenty of where to choose from that will suit your needs, and that will meet your preferences. Even though there are some economic hardships this career option is very secure and safe and the rate for average growing is very good.
As a physiologist, you’ll be able to bring improvements in the human life and play an important part in your field of expertise, in which you work daily. Your job is very important in offering people a healthy lifestyle and encourage them to live it.
You can grow easily in this job, and you’ll have numerous opportunities where to choose from and even various specialties as well. You can choose to gain specialization in this field such as in cardiac, plant and even exercise.
The average salary is good with a median income that reaches $68,230 per year more or less depending on the factors that will influence a physiologist salary. The cons gather up when you want to apply for the research field where you’ll be needing a Ph.D.
Depending on the type of employee and the type of facility in which you are working, you sometimes need to accomplish some strict deadlines as a physiologist. If you are going to work in the research area, you’ll have to work at odd hours.
The educational path assumes some years of training. Due to this, in the end you’ll be in some financial debt that can really take from your salary until you’ll get to receive a complete one. Still, the career opportunities of this job offer a required stability you can easily gain and the opportunity for advancement.
Physiologist job growth
For the succeeding ten years or more, the projected employment job growth for physiologists is 10.5% that is estimated to be much faster than the average for all occupations and employment nationwide. Those having a doctoral degree in the applied specialty can expect at great job prospects and plentiful of job opportunities.
For instance, as a physiologist, you can find work in a variety of settings from military facilities up to the universities and government agencies.
As for the job outlooks due to the number of demanding and due to the various career options such as teaching, laboratory research and other, the rate in the increasing percentage has a constant growing. There is estimated a steady increase for these specialists due to the nature of their job and the needs that shape more and more in the healthcare industry.
Physiology is a branch is valued and applied in many cases of the healthcare system that is why at a certain level it will remain on a permanent basis as an excellent career opportunity. There are still other job opportunities in this field that will require less education then a doctorate. Your job is well searched for since it provides people with a healthy lifestyle and will always encourage them to live it as it should be.
As there are many sub-fields or specialties a physiologist can major in it is hard to put a dollar figure on what their average yearly salary would be. As with most jobs there are many factors that go into figuring what the salary should be yearly. In a physiologist‘s salary they take into consideration the nature of the work they do, qualifications, experience, education, training, and their work environment. If you have a government job the average yearly physiologist salary would be $70,000. The average yearly salary for an exercise physiologist is one of the lowest salaries that you can make because they just need to have a bachelor’s degree in physiology. If you are an exercise physiologist that works for the federal government like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this average yearly salary could be as much as $68,750.
Some of the average yearly physiologist salary in various states is:
- $71,000 in New York
- $70,000 in Massachusetts
- $64,000 in California
- $46,000 in Alaska
- $38,000 in Hawaii
Some of the average yearly physiologist salary in cities in the United States is:
- $76,000 in San Francisco and New York
- $70,000 in Boston and Washington
- $59,000 in Philadelphia
- $54,000 in Miami
In addition you need to take into consideration the benefit packages that go along with the salaries. Generally a benefit package contains health insurance that may be for the entire family or just the employee, life insurance, paid vacation, sick, personal, and holiday, dental and vision coverage, pension, social security, 401K, profit sharing, and more. Where you are working and the field of physiology you have selected will depend on exactly what is in the benefit package.
Physiologist Salary in 2016
The income for the year 2016, in the US for physiologists, is also based on the career choice – more specifically the area of the body that you’ll want to concentrate on. With other words, you choose your specialty that will also define the income that you’ll be earning. For instance, those who work as Exercise Physiologists have the lowest average yearly salaries since they will need only a bachelor’s degree in Physiology.
The higher your training and your education are, the higher your income will get to be. Of course, that the starting income for physiologists is a lower amount. However, as they advance in this field, and they gain more practice and work experience, and they develop a reputation so does the earning increases.
In this area, the salary is measured by several factors such as the work that you do and the nature of it, the experience that you’ve gained at the working site, qualification and education, training and it will also be based on the work setting. The middle average salary that a physiologist gets is estimated to range between $52,310 per year and up to $83,510 per year.
Other factors that affect and influence the salary are the demographic factor- the income varies according to each state and city and other factors that linked together. A physiologist salary in the United States is also based on the economic flux that brings out the cost of living that differ from state to state and the living expenses.
Along with the salaries, the benefits package is also to be considered that many times will include health insurance – that can be attributed to the whole family or just for the employee, paid vacations, dental coverage, pension, social security, vision coverage, 401K, the profit sharing and many other.
Physiologist salary in Canada, Australia and UK
The average yearly salary for a physiologist in Canada, Australia, and UK are general salaries. What they would actually make would depend on their field of study.
- Australia—the average yearly physiologist salary is AU$45,781 – AU$88,437 with 1 – 4 years experience
- Canada—the average yearly salary for a physiologist is C$35,000 – C$60,903 with 1 – 4 years experience
- UK—their average yearly physiologist salary is based on their age. In their 20’s it would be up to 20,114, in their 30’s it would be up to 26,282, and in their 40’s and 50’s it would be up to 31,109
Salary of a Physiologist in 2015
In 2015, the salary of a Physiologist will still depend on the various fields of specialization that can encounter in Physiology such as sports physiology, respiratory physiology, cardio physiology and other. Those, who are estimated to work on the top 10 percent in this field, will gain around $102,310 per year. On the other hand, those who gain only $38,785 per year are considered being part of the lowest 10 percent who gain this annual salary.
The average middle salary of a Physiologist is estimated to range from $52,210 per year and up to $83,435 per year in the US. In the States, the salaries are mainly influenced by the economic flux of a state, the geographical location in which one works. Other important aspects are the work experience that one of these professionals has gained over the years, and the education that one has obtained.
A physiologist salary will depend on the area of practice in which one works since there are top industries that pay a greater salary than others. Your salary is also influenced by the metropolitan area or by the location, or the state where you’ve found a job.
Conclusion on physiologist salary
Being a physiologist requires a high skill level so a person would think that the average yearly starting physiologist salary would be much higher than some of the other medical professions but that is not true. On average, a physiologist just starting their career would earn $50,000 a year but again it depends on their field of study. As mentioned the starting salary is approximately one that a person could make in a factory or business without investing in all the years of schooling and training that it takes to become a physiologist.
- First Published Date: 7 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 20 August, 2016