Getting to Know Your Field

Getting to Know Your Field . . . Becoming A Professional

Most students in Departments of exercise and sport science (or Kinesiology or physical education) have aspirations to enter a particular profession.  The emergence of the “alternative career” programs in the later 1970’s extended students’ career choices beyond teaching in school physical education programs.  This course focuses on providing students with an overview of the various fields of study and their related professions.  While some of you are still undecided about your specific future career path, many likely will have a general idea about the direction you would like to take.  For example, some may wish to enter the field of adult fitness, corporate/worksite fitness, teaching physical education (and sport coaching), or athletic training. While some students may have an interest in pursuing graduate degrees for the purpose of a career in research, most of you likely lean toward a career in a profession.

Why This Assignment?

Becoming a member of a profession requires demonstrating that one has the skills,

knowledge and dispositions to enter the profession.  Most established professions (e.g., teaching, medicine, and law) have set standards that people entering the profession must meet in order to practice in that profession.

Furthermore, most students who are interested in a particular profession do so based partly on personal conceptions of what constitutes working in that profession.  For example, those who wish to enter the teaching profession in physical education oftentimes are drawn to that because of their own athletic experiences, their experiences of working with children and youth in summer camps, their coaches and their teachers. These are all significant influences on a person’s conception of what teaching is all about.

Few students have been asked to explicitly reflect on their career decision at this stage of their development.  Anyone who is interested in entering one of the professions in sport, fitness, or physical education should become more informed about the requirements and expectations of being a professional in that field.

Furthermore, it is important that you begin to formulate your personal philosophy about being a professional within your field.  This personal philosophy reflects your beliefs and values of being an athletic trainer or physical educator, for example. A personal philosophy will evolve and change over time as you gain experience. However, it is important that you gradually

become more skilled and confident in articulating and communicating your beliefs about your profession, your clients and your subject matter.

Therefore, this particular out-of-class assignment asks you to:

a)    articulate what type of professional you wish to be and what has led you to this particular orientation, and

b)   learn about some of the aspects of being a member of a particular profession.  In that sense, it is both an exercise of reflection and exploration.

What Is My Specific Task for This Assignment?

Using the questions listed below as the basis, your task is to write a paper that describes what type of professional you would like to be as well as an overview of what you learned about the profession you wish to pursue.

Relative to finding answers to the questions in “Learning About My Profession“, be sure to use all possible resources that you have at your disposal.  These may include your textbooks of major-specific courses, departmental faculty, professional journals, websites of the professional organizations, etc.

Some specifics:

a.   The report must be typed, double-spaced, with 1” margins. b.   Be sure that you answer all listed questions.

c.   Be thorough in your responses. REMEMBER: The report is intended to give a clear picture of you as a professional exploring a field.

d.   Have another person review a draft of paper before the due date.  This will give you sufficient time to make any suggested edits and corrections.


The Professional I Want To Be:

1.   Describe your future aspirations as a professional.  What type of “job” do you seek that is related to the major that you have chosen?

2.   What personal experiences did you have that have led you to consider this career?

3.   Who were significant people that may have guided or influenced you in choosing this as a possible career?

4.   What leads you to believe that this career will offer you both professional and personal satisfaction?

5.   Professionally, where do you see yourself 5 to 10 years from now?

Learning About My Profession:

1.   Which state, regional, national and international professional organizations are there for professionals in your field?

2.   What is the mission of the national professional organization?

3.   What national or state-level standards are used to certify professionals?

4.   What professional development opportunities are there for certified professionals?

5.   What are the annual fees for various levels of memberships?

6.   What are the key national professional, and research journals in your field?

7.   What are the key international professional, and research journals in your field?

8.   What do you need to do maintain your certification or license long-term?

9.   Where do you go to look for job listings? (i.e., Finding out about the job market in your field).

10. What are the required qualifications typically included in a position announcement?

11. What do you need to submit with an application for a position in your field?

12. What volunteer opportunities are there for you to gain experience in your field?

13. What are the program requirements in your major?

14. What, if any, specific competencies are you expected to demonstrate upon completion of your program?

15. What, if any, entrance requirements are there for you to enter the professional preparation portion of the program?

16. Nationally, what are the main graduate programs in your field?

17. What, if any, ranking system is there for judging the quality of graduate programs in your field?

18. Who are the nationally known scholars in your field in the recent two decades?

19. Who are some of the key historical figures who have influenced the direction of the field in a significant way?

20. What is your plan for the next 3-4 years to become a true professional in the field of your choice?

How will my work be assessed?

The assessment template to be used with this assignment is provided on the next page.

The goal is for you to provide a high-quality piece of work that shows that you have given thought to ALL questions, that you have done some exploration to find out about the field and profession.

Becoming a Professional

Assessment Template