Hiring degreed. Part 1

By Oscar

Hiring degreed individuals brings greater credibility to any business, but their selection, training and supervision make special demands.

As evident by the growing number of universities that offer degree programs in fitness/health-related fields, there’s a movement toward professionalizing the fitness industry. An increasing number of colleges and universities are offering exercise physiology, fitness management, kinesiology, sports sciences, recreation management and physical education degrees for people interested in entering a variety of fields related to improving the population’s physical condition and health.

Some of these programs train people to work with the general population and others specialize in training for specific markets (e.g., adults, children, corporate employees, geriatric care, elite athletes). The questions for the manager looking to hire, then, are, “Do I need someone with a degree?” “If so, which degree is best suited for my open position?” and “How do I know which degree means what?”

Some background

Joe Quatrochi, associate professor and department chair of the human performance, sport and leisure studies department at Metropolitan State College of Denver, sheds some light on these questions with a little history. “Various names for the same program/degree came from the parent department of physical education,” Quatrochi explains. “As physical education departments began to offer sub-topics which became more popular, the departments were renamed to more accurately characterize what they were offering and help students select their courses.” Quatrochi adds that most schools still use the department name as the degree title so employers should ask candidates about their sub-specialty or concentration, if not listed on their resume.

Quatrochi says that there are core courses found in most degrees in exercise sciences, and urges employers to obtain specific information based on questions about the student’s internship and other experiences.

Michael Goldberger, of James Madison University’s department of kinesiology in Virginia, says that the “gold standard” for curriculum development at his university and many others are the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines. He believes that the panel that creates the ACSM guidelines and examinations is made up of the most up-to-date leaders in the industry.

What’s in demand

Many employers have the feeling that no two degrees are exactly alike and, in general, what they seek is a degree related to the field of fitness/sport/health and a general degree in management.

Linda Pejchar, owner of the consulting firm H & F Solutions, has been recruiting management personnel for the fitness industry for more than 10 years. Many of her clients, she says, seek degreed professionals with a business degree (marketing, accounting, business management, etc.) or liberal arts degree for general management positions. When looking for someone to head a specific department (e.g., fitness, wellness, nutrition), the degree should be from the related field. The candidate who has practical hands-on experience, as well as a degree, has the best probability of getting the position, she says.

And while degrees are not always necessary if a person has good experience, remember that recently degreed individuals have been working with the latest technology, learning communication skills and are up to date on recent research. Darlene Hall, membership and marketing director at The Airport Club in California reiterates “a degree leads to maturity and demonstrates a desire by the individual to better him/herself, and that type of person is more likely to make a commitment to a company and a job.”

Pejchar says there are four different types of criteria for candidates: educated, trained, certified and/or experienced. An employer should pinpoint which qualities they think are most important.

Roberta Gainsboro, president and general manager of Dedham Health & Athletic Complex in Massachusetts, looks for a degree unless she’s promoting from within. She has hired assistant managers right out of high school if they have worked through school in the same department. Technical departments are headed by degreed individuals and staffed with those who have, or are pursuing, degrees. They are required to at least maintain certifications. Many clubs operate this way to give motivated individuals a chance to gain experience and move to a higher pay rate once they graduate.

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categoriaBusiness commentoComments Off dataOctober 17th, 2012

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