How to become a Personal Trainer

This article provides in-depth information into What is Personal Trainer? What Personal Trainers do? Degrees for Personal Trainers, Steps to become Personal Trainer and much more.

A personal trainer is an individual who is a nationally certified fitness professional to assist clients with advanced knowledge of human anatomy, nutrition, physiology, and general knowledge of fitness including exercise, instruction, and prescription.

Steps to become a personal trainer:

  • Get a high school degree
  • Complete AED/CPR certification
  • Specialize in a fitness program
  • Clear the certification exam
  • Build an effective portfolio
  • Land on a job

Career Title

Personal Trainer

Degree Requirements

High school degree+ Certification

Job Growth (2018- 2028)


Experience required

2 years

Salary (2020)


How long to become a Personal Trainer

2-4 years

Required Skills

Interpersonal, Communication, Leadership, Analytical thinking

What does a Personal Trainer do ?

They work with their clients one-on-one to help them lose weight, get stronger, improve their health and maintenance, establish healthy nutritional behavior by motivating their clients towards success. They create goals for their clients and train them to achieve those goals with continuous assessment of the health needs of their clients.  A certified personal trainer can be self-employed, work for a corporation, or even at a gym or a fitness center.

Steps for becoming a Personal Trainer


Earn A High School Degree

To be a certified personal trainer the minimum requirement is to get a high school degree or equivalent to get nationally certified. You could also get a post-secondary education such as a certification course, training course, or formal education is recommended. 

Step 1 Earn a high school degree


Complete AED/CPR Certification

A Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification program to educate trainers to encounter physical emergencies with clients. These programs teach the trainers to identify the medical emergencies of their clients and act swiftly during such situations. This national certification is required by every personal trainer to get into this profession.

Step 2 Complete AED/CPR Certification


Choose A Fitness Specialty

Before entering into any training program, you must decide on what career pathway to pursue. You could choose the specialization program based on your personal interest and professional goals. You could choose a group exercise,  individual personal training, fitness program. Once you choose the specialization you want to continue, You review on the various fitness certifying bodies for the certification. Select the program and start preparing for your dream profession.

Step 3 Choose a fitness specialty


Prepare For Certification

Once you select the fitness certifying program, you start preparing to get certified. You could choose the Certified Personal Trainer from the American Council on exercise or National academy of Sports Medicine, you prepare for the certification exam. 

The training program includes the training classes with formal education from undergrad degree with the general science to the graduate degrees in kinesiology.

Step 4 Prepare for certification


Clear Certification Exam

Choose the certification you want to earn, and apply for the examination. The personal training certification exams are online and it includes objective type questions from 120 to 150. You may be charged a fee to apply for the certification exam.  

The exam conducted by the National Academy of Sports Medicine for a Personal Trainer Certification includes program planning, client consultation, and fitness assessment, exercise technique, and safety/ emergency issues.

Step 5 Clear certification exam


Land On A Job

After clearing the certification exam, you get nationally certified for a personal trainer and eligible to apply as a personal trainer at a fitness center, gym, or corporation.

Most trainers work at a gym to gain experience under the supervision of an experienced trainer. This gives them a better transition from being a student to a professional, building clients, and networking. You could also continue your education to make yourself more marketable while working as a personal trainer, This increases your earning potentials.

Step 6 Land on a job

Personal Trainer Salaries

Personal Trainer

Personal Trainer Degree Levels


Certificates are science-based educational programs uniquely designed to prepare graduates for entry-level personal trainer careers. Typically requiring between two and three semesters of study, certificates expose students to the fundamentals of exercise science, nutrition, and human anatomy and physiology. Through this curriculum, students learn about fitness assessment, develop skills in exercise program design, and gain hands-on experience working with clients in an off-campus internship.

Certification is important for personal trainers to land on a good earning job. This program gives the foundational knowledge to the student to enter into the new professionals a personal trainer, the coursework includes the,

Physical Fitness Concepts
  • Preparing for PA & Health Benefits

  • Vigorous Aerobic & Sport Activity

  • Cardiovascular Fitness

  • Scientific principles behind exercise

  • Learn about the biomechanics

  • Demonstrating the basic methods of exercise

  • Motivating the clients towards a healthy lifestyle

Introduction to Personal Training
  • Human Movement Science

  • Exercise Metabolism & Bioenergetics

  • Resistance Training Concepts

  • Biomechanics

  • Scientific principles of exercise

  • Motor learning

Methodologies of Personal Training
  • Fitness in recreation and sport for all

  • Body Balance – Technique of stability

  • Step Choreography

  • To prepare the fitness plan

  • Effectively communicate with the clients

  • Professionalism and ethics.


These two-year programs allow students to complete a comprehensive course of study in a range of professional areas, such as personal training, exercise science, sports medicine, athletic training, or kinesiology. Requiring between 60 and 66 credit hours of study, associate degrees blend general education classwork with career-specific instruction in areas such as sports nutrition, health and wellness, fitness marketing and management, and fitness education.


Exercise Science and Nutrition
  • Fundamentals of nutrition and fitness

  • procedures and techniques in training

  • mechanical factors related to human movement

  • Learn the fundamentals of fitness and health.

  • Plan the nutrition requirement according to the body requirements

  • Basic exercises to maintain health

Exercise Program Design
  • Introduction to the Fitness Profession

  • Concepts of Integrated Training

  • Acquisition and Consultation

  • Weight management techniques

  • Fitness training techniques

  • Communicate to motivate the clients 

  • Planning the exercise program

Strength and Conditioning
  • Physical Education and Training

  • Sports Medicine

  • Muscle Strength

  • Correct exercise form and technique

  • Resistance training techniques


A bachelor's degree is a four-year program that expands your understanding of topics such as nutrition, exercise science, therapy, sports medicine. A Student pursuing this program gets to learn both formal education as well as gets training for employment opportunities across the professional healthcare centers. The coursework includes nutrition, physiology, health psychology to prepare you to get nationally certified for the job you want to land on.

Motor Learning and Development
  • Basics of Good Teaching

  • Technical Skills

  • Cultivating Mental Toughness

  • Theories of motor development

  • Communication and feedback

  • Motor control systems

Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • Chronic diseases and prevention strategies

  • Changing health behaviors

  • Factors Affecting Food Choices

  • Nutritional strategies

  • Primary precaution techniques for a health problem

  • The health trends of the individual and community level

Principles in Resistance Training
  • Weight Training Technique

  • Muscular Structure and Function

  • Stretching and Flexibility

  • Resistance training theory

  • Muscle physiology

  • Modes and methods of resistance training principles


It is a two years program offered to students who want to specialize in a certain course of their interest such as fitness, health, exercise science in individual or a group level. It also induces leadership and administrative skills for challenging positions in various fields.  With the wide range and in-depth academic concentrations, students understand the advanced concepts to pursue careers in orthopedic rehabilitation, physiology, strength and conditioning, and others.

Health Promotion Program Design
  • Planning a Health Promotion Program

  • Implementing a Health Promotion Program

  • Implementing a Health Promotion Program

  • Learn to design health promotion programs

  • Organizational leadership skills

  • Managing grants

Health Behavior Program Evaluation
  • The Context of Program Planning

  • Logic Models

  • Implementation of and Budgeting for a Program Plan

  • Conducting the qualitative and quantitative assessment of models

  •  Examine the applicability of program evaluation with sample size.

  • Conduct a survey and examination to analyze the impact of the program

Statistics in Exercise Science
  • Neuromechanical Kinesiology

  • Basic Statistics for Exercise Science

  • Biomechanics

  • Conduct the experimental design on your own data

  • Using the various distributions such as Poisson and binomial to test the exercise science and health.

  • Interpretation of the statics on the samples based on a sample size


A doctoral degree focusing on personal training is pursued by students who want to conduct research and academic focus on various concentrations. Some are physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, health promotion, and exercise science. This degree program is completed based on the time taken by the student to complete the research.

Data Analysis in Kinesiology
  • Overview of research fits in kinesiology

  • Nature and purpose of research

  • Using Microsoft Excel and SPSS statistics

  • Overview of the different possible data derived from health analysis

  • Evaluation of the health-related issues

  • Emphasize on the matching research issues

Approaches to Physical Activity
  • Measuring Physical Activity

  • Physical Activity Surveillance

  • Inactivity: sedentary behavior

  • Strategies to improve the quality of life by reducing medicine intake.

  • Understand the importance of physical activity

  • Promote a healthy lifestyle

  • Recommend physical activities to clients

Exercise and Metabolic Response
  • Nutrition and Energy

  • Physiological Systems: Transportation

  • Muscle Physiology & Training: Energy Out

  • Understand the complex systems of the body such as the neuro-hormonal systems

  • Muscle contractions due to exercise and metabolism 

  • Adaptive exercise training

  • Understand the lipid and protein metabolism 

Personal Trainer Salaries

According to 2020 statistics, the salaries offered to a personal trainer in the United States is  $61,422 and typically range between $44,329 to $74,453. This vastly depends on the education, experience, certification, and the additional skills possessed by the candidate.

Job Growth

According to the U.S Department of Labor, The employment opportunities are expected to grow up to a rate of 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, this is recorded faster than an average job with the addition of 402,500 job openings.

The Fitness industry continuously undergoes evolution with new job opportunities and scope, in the coming years it is estimated to have increased the need for fitness experts and personal trainers.