View Full Version : Summary of replies to employment question

unknown user
11-02-1998, 03:51 AM
I apologize for the delay in my posting of these replies to my original post
regarding employment in Biomechanics for us non-engineers. Thanks to all who

Jack Sujovolsky, MS

My original post:

I am not sure how pertinent this question is to be posted here, but there may
be other recent graduates in Exercise Science and Biomechanics who are in my
situation. I am finding it quite dificult to find work in biomechanics, given
that the main body of research is conducted in academic environments. I have
not been succesful at finding much in private industry, especially in the area
of sports biomechanics,,, F.E.: How can the USOC offer a position for a
Masters Graduate in biomechanics and offer only 16K for a year, with no
benefits or housing?
If there are any recent graduates out there, what have you been doing and what
kind of job have you gotten. I will say that there is a bit more work in
Engineering side of it.

I hope I havent annoyed anyone with this post...I have done my homework,
searched the internet, etc., but not much there (in my experience).

Thank you for yor attention
Jack Sujovolsky

Your situation is the same as mine and I am not a recent graduate. It
is like finding a needle in a haystack. I have been unemployed 6 years
and been looking. However, I have a mechanical engineering degree in
addition to the biomechanics degree - which, theoretically should be an
advantage. My search is for Arizona companies because that is where my
parents live.
Have you posted your resume on the ISB web site? I refer to this in job
hunting so that so much paper does not have to be wasted, however some do
not take the time to look at it. But some others do.
I do not want to be in academia either and have worked as a mechanical
engineer/safety engineer for 10 years. A lot of time is spent in trying
to put yourself in the position that is posted and convincing the HR
person that you are the person for the job. Unfortunately the HR person
is not the decision maker. Getting to the decision maker is the key to
creating the job. This is a lot of work.
Networking, like what you have done with BIOMCH-L is another avenue.
And, you have to try all avenues. I have networked with several people
here on BIOMCH-L, the ASB list of members and the ACSM list of members.
As you have observed, most are in academia. And the USOC is structured
like academia in that "assistantships/fellowships" last for 3 months and
pay poorly. I found out as a coursemarshal at the Atlanta Games (another
networking endeavor) that this was not the place where I want to work
because of this very fact. My former dream was to be where Jeff Broker is
now. How he got there and not me can only be through politics of some
sort or knowing somebody who had some influence.
Most of my academic advisors have retired or died now, so their
influence and help cannot be utilized. Therefore, you have to create your
own network. The internet/E-mail is very easy to do this. BIOMCH-L is
your best source. But, don't forget the other avenues - telephone, snail
mail, resume, interviews, face-to-face, alma matter, classmates,
neighbors, church members, professional societies, conferences -
especially national ones that come to your area, sports competitors,
events, newspaper, classifieds, friends, professional people already
employed, etc. As has been pointed out to me numerous times through
rejection letters - it is easier to get a job if you have a job. I have
taken part time jobs (like the USOC) for a while just to network for the
real job.
Here in the TriCities we have the ROC - Reemployment Opportunity Center
- which is a big help to me. They supply the telephones, fax machines,
computers and printers, and help to do a lot of this. I can't say I am an
expert at job hunting, because I haven't landed one in biomechanics; but I
certainly am experienced at it. You have to work at it daily and
diligently. It's like taking or teaching a course - outline the time you
will allocate to each part of the course studying and be disciplined.
If you want a shoulder to lean on, I'd be happy to do so; but more
importantly you need a network structure to work with. I can be a part of



************************************************** ***********
Gordon Chalmers, Ph.D.
Dept. of Physical Education, Health and Recreation
Western Washington University, M/S 9067
Bellingham WA

Phone: (360) 650-3113
FAX: (360) 650-7447

Dear Jack
Even though this is not a scientific posting, this question certainly
relates to our professional field and ought to be discussed in any serious
professional list. As long as we are all interested in the same subject:
biomechanics, the professional opportunities in this field should always be
criticized, because the graduate courses should provide enough formation and
information to assure us that we shall be able to find a place to work, no
matter in which aspect of biomechanics.
Besides I must mention that to work on biomechanics is not only a matter
to have electronic devices facilities. Physical Education teacher and
coaches always analyze movements using qualitative methods.
Best regards,
Mauro Cesar Gurgel de Alencar Carvalho, M Sc

Hello Jack,
Unfortunately I think you've hit the nail on the head. This is one of the
dirty little secrets of biomechanics: most of the work is in academia. Which
means that if you don't have a Ph.D. or have no interest in resarch the scope
is much limited. Jobs exists here and there, mostly in clinical labs attached
to hospitals or otherwise. The Journal of Biomecanics lists postitions
frequently (it's posted in the web). I must confess that I was in the same
situation and got out of the business becasue I could not find a satisfactory
position. However, I think there are more positions out there than when I
graudated (7 years ago) and thus it could be possible that something may
surface with time.
Good luck to you.
Al Staropoli

In a message dated 9/25/98 10:05:52 AM EST, JSujo@AOL.COM writes:

Hi I, unfortunately do not have any ideas for you in finding work. I am a
first year masters degree student in biomechanics and would like to know
any information that you may find regarding your posting on Biomch-l. I
did not realize that there were a shortage of jobs in your area of
interest. Let me know what you get.

Jon Frank
University of Kentucky

Hi Jack

You are probably going to get an interesting set of responses, because
are always attract people's attention. I happen to have degrees in
and in exercise and sport science, and have often been struck by the fact that
you can have people doing similar tasks who have vastly different salaries. I
don't think that enough attention gets paid to this issue when a student is
their primary degree.

Typical salaries for engineers are listed at the following web-site
(maintained by
the National Society for Professional Engineers).


According to this website a typical starting salary for engineers is in the
$37,000 to $54,000. I do not know of a website for Kinesiology or Exercise

Regards, Brian Davis

Your post is quite relevant. I am master's engineering graduate, and we
certainly fair much better than that. I am working in Houston for Baylor
College of Medicine in a research support staff role. I am paid just slightly
below engineer's "average" but took the job anyway because I had family in
Houston area and really wanted to be in the spot.

Are you sure the 16K job isn't a student assistantship for someone wanting to
persue a masters??

Good Luck in your search.,

Bryan Kirking
Research Engineer
Department of Orthopedic Surgery
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas

Seeing as though this listserve posts job announcements, your question is not
out of line. Plus, it addresses a serious issue pertaining to the exercise
science side of biomechanics, and in fact, exercise science as a whole. The
issue is jobs for BS and MS students, particularly jobs that are not
hourly positions in health clubs. While it might be nice to address these
issues in this forum, I realize it is not what you asked. With your situation
in mind, consider:

Ergonomics. Using your biomechanics and (I assume) exercise science
background in pre-employment physical capacity screening, job-redesign
to fit the worker (similar to altering sports equipment to fit the athlete),
training (fitting the worker for the job; technique and movement training,
physical capacity training--same idea as for athletes). There are also other
aspects of ergonomics; too many to discuss here.

Non-athletes. I know that your focus is on sports and presumably athletes,
but what about 'ordinary' people in sports and recreational pursuits? Their
needs might not be so high-tech. You might not have access to a $100,000
opti-trak system, but your skills can be used in other ways. What about
work in rehab centers, gait labs, and the like?

Movement training. Biomechanics is a good tool to help us understand and
teach movement behavior (efficient posture, gait, activities of daily living,
sports skills, etc.). But biomechanical assessment is only the tip of the
iceberg. There are many people, athletes and non-athletes alike, that could
use help in some of the more esoteric aspects of movement. For example,
somatosensory awareness and mind-body training. Perhaps by improving
some of your skills in these areas there could be more opportunities.
Although some of these training methods are controversial (e.g.,
Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique), there has been some
documented effectiveness (esp. Tai Chi). Granted, much of the research
on these methods is really poor (see Ives, JC and GA Shelley. The
Feldenkrais method in rehabilitation: A review. Work, 11: 75-90, 1998),
but I am convinced that there is something there. I am personally aware
of how some of these movement trainers have helped athletes and
non-athletes, and make a good living while at it.

These are just a few ideas. I would like to hear what other have to say,
especially about jobs in fitness equipment companies and the like.

Good luck,
Jeffrey C. Ives, Ph.D.
Department of Exercise & Sport Sciences Phone: 607-274-1751
Ithaca College Fax:
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA Email:


Your question is a good one. I am replying to you personally, so if you
are posting responses please use mine in summary form. I would be
interested in hearing what responses you get or discussing this issue
further with others. I don't really want to get a Ph.D., unless it is
while working full-time.

I graduated with a Master's in Sport Biomechanics in the summer of 1997. I
was prepared to go back to my previous line of work, computer programming,
until I received a one year research assistant position with USA Swimming
at the USOTC.
The salary is even less than what you mentioned and it has not been a fun
year financially. Luckily, my wife makes a decent salary to keep us afloat.

During the last 18 months I have conducted job searchs in the same manner
that you are currently using. I have had very few opportunities that I
felt qualified to apply for a position. Most of the ones I did apply for
were ones that I didn't meet all of the requirements.

I have found that many of the jobs desire engineers or physical therapists
in conjunction with biomechanics and computer programming experience. All
of that for the salary level that you mentioned is amazing. Beginning
computer science majors with a bachelor's degree and no experience make
more than double that amount. The other jobs want a Ph.D. and experience
and are not paying any more.

All of the school jobs require a Ph.D. I haven't seen much in industry
other than ergonomics positions. I enjoy the field, but I am not
optimistic about my own future in this field unless I create my own

It is my assumption that industry would rather take an engineer, programmer
or therapist and teach them the sports side of things than take someone
with an Exercise Science background. Of course I disagree with that logic
because the relationship between sport biomechanics, exercise physiology
and sport psychology is just as challenging as the understanding of
engineering, physical therapy and computer programming.

If you have any further questions contact me at any time. My position ends
on 12/05/98 and I don't think they are going to hire someone for next year.

Best of luck,

Matt Haffner
USA Swimming
(719) 578-4578

Believe it or not, there are opportunities out there, and ones that pay
more than $16k! For example, a company I work part time for
(http://www.wylelabs.com/), provide support for activities in the Space
Life Sciences (http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/sa/sd/sd3/sd3.htm) at NASA Johnson
Space Center, Houston TX. I was hired as a biomechanist, and there have
been at least 5 or 6 "biomechanics" qualified individuals work for the
company over the past 5 years.

I would encourage you to look at manufacturers of sports and lab equipment;
companies providing human factors support; other federal labs (army, navy,
airforce); the automotive and aerospace industries. Believe me, there are
many opportunities out there, but the trick is to look beyond the job
titles they may use, and pay attention to the role of the job.

Check out the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society: http://hfes.org/

>I am not sure how pertinent this question is to be posted here, but there may
>be other recent graduates in Exercise Science and Biomechanics who are in my
>situation. I am finding it quite dificult to find work in biomechanics, given
>that the main body of research is conducted in academic environments. I have
>not been succesful at finding much in private industry, especially in the
>of sports biomechanics,,, F.E.: How can the USOC offer a position for a
>Masters Graduate in biomechanics and offer only 16K for a year, with no
>benefits or housing?
>If there are any recent graduates out there, what have you been doing and
>kind of job have you gotten. I will say that there is a bit more work in
>Engineering side of it.
>I hope I havent annoyed anyone with this post...I have done my homework,
>searched the internet, etc., but not much there (in my experience).

Vernon McDonald, Ph.D.
Vice President
Nascent Technologies Limited


Being a recent graduate of biomechanics I am finding the same problems as you.
Mostly academic or research oriented. But, I have come across a few companies
that dealt with forensic biomechanics. I have not found much on the internet
becuase the companies I find are usually not hiring. I have just been keeping
tune to this List-serve and trying to call companies and talk with them.


What type of program did you graduate from? In Canada we have quite a
dilemma on our hands, there are 2 main schools of thought. Some schools
have changed the name of the Phys.Ed program to Kinesiology or Human
Kinetics and of course this has offended the professional schools of
Kinesiology around the country (i.e. Waterloo, Simon Fraser and
Dalhousie, etc..). Graduates from these programs are ready to work and
are compensated very reasonably. Myself I am a graduate of Dalhousie
University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I obtained a Bachelor of
Science Kinesiology degree with a focus in Ergonomics. (fellow grads
make between, $30-52,000 per year Canadian ~ 20-35,000 US)

Those figures are for recent grads...senior salaries are upwards to
80,000 Canadian.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful..



I went through the same thing a year ago. I graduated with an
under-grad degree in Bio-Mechanical engineering & then a masters in
Mechanical engineering (with emphasis in biomechanics).

I also found that most of the biomechanic work was in a research
environment associated with Universities. I ended up interning with
NIKE..which was a great experience, however did not pay well for full
time. I looked into the Olympic training center @ Co.Springs &
quickly forgot about that due to the ridiculous $$$$ pay.

I ended up working for the medical industry @ Allegiance Healthcare.
Currently, I'm working @ the manufacture site & am not working a whole
lot with Biomechanics...but instead with a lot of machinery, etc.
However, When I end up working in New Product Development (hopefully
in the near future), I feel I will be able to utilize my
bio-engineering background more & also explore the field of medicine
(which is why I went into Bio-Engineering) to begin with.

I know how hard it is to land a job in bio-engineering (with descent
pay). My advice would be trying to get into the medical industry (if,
that is...you don't mind stearing away from strict biomechanics). The
thing I really like about it...is there's potential for management
positions, marketing, sales, etc.. In a strict research environment,
it's hard to ever get into a project management position without a

Does this help??

Let me know what you think.

--Danielle A. Kowalski.
Subj: re:employment question
Date: 9/25/98 10:49:19 AM Central Daylight Time
From: Jon.Fewster@nike.com (Jon Fewster)
Reply-to: Jon.Fewster@nike.com
To: JSujo@aol.com

Areas to check: Sports Medicine clinics, Gait laboratories - often associated
with hospitals, and specific sports industries for clothing, equipment and
footwear - such as cycling, technical outdoor apparel and footwear. Good

Jon Fewster

Subj: biomch-l posting
Date: 9/25/98 10:30:32 AM Central Daylight Time
From: selbie@ziplink.net (Scott Selbie)
To: jsujo@aol.com


I will be more than happy to review your CV and talk to you. We are about to
receive some funding and were planning to advertise when the grant was

C-Motion Inc. was created to transfer technology (software for the Analysis
and Synthesis of movement) from the NIH to market. The objective of the STTR
(Small Business Technology Transfer) project is for C-Motion to execute the
technology transfer of a collection of powerful analysis techniques (NIH
Events, GTD and Move3D) that were developed over a 13 year period in the
Biomechanics Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to
commercial software (MoveViz3D).


Scott Selbie, PhD
Director of Research
C-Motion Inc.
Rockville, MD

Hi Jack,
I noticed the same situation when I first started looking. Fortunately I
was able to find an intern job at Reebok for one year and now I am employed
full time with them. I have a Masters Degree with biomechanics as my

Don't worry about annoying anyone. You are just stating facts as you see

Patti Turnbull

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