Personal Trainer

This article acts as an extensive career guide that elaborates on the career path of a personal trainer, the job outlook, salaries, qualifications required and much more.

Updated by Rakshitha.N on 1st October 2020

What do they do: Personal fitness trainers motivate, train, instruct and demonstrate exercises, activities, and fitness routines to individual clients who seek a healthy lifestyle. 

Working environment: The working conditions of Fitness trainers work in various locations and settings such as Health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, clubs, organizations. Also, the schedule isn't fixed and trainers are flexible to work regardless of their holiday, flights, or weekends. 

How to become: To become a fitness trainer, one must complete a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Also, employers prefer post-secondary education such as a bachelor's or associate's degree with a national certificate in a specialty. 

Salary offered: In 2020, the average salary offered to a personal trainer is about $61,422 and can typically fall between $44,329 and $75,453 yearly.

Career Outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth of Personal trainers is about 13 percent during the period of 2018 to 2028.

Similar careers: The other job opportunities you could avail after getting educated to become a personal trainer is more and you can explore high paying alternative careers based on your interests and career goals. 

Top Personal Trainer Jobs

Physical Education Teacher

Physical Education Teachers, also referred to as gym instructors, prepare a curriculum based on the interests and abilities of individual students. Most teachers also create awareness on health and safety. The requirement is a bachelor’s degree and you could earn about $48,737.

Physical Therapy Assistant

PTAs work with Physical Therapist by assisting, treating, planning a program to include in the patient’s recovery process. To land on this job, you'll require an Associate’s degree along with the completion of a state exam, and a license to practice. 

The median salary offered to this job is about $48,500.

Health Educator

Health Educators develop programs that create awareness about healthy living, encourage healthy behavior, and prevent disease. Through workshops, information on health, and lifestyle to individuals and communities. The minimum degree is a bachelor's degree in education, public health, or community health. The salary offered for this job is about $51,800.

What does a Personal Trainer Do?

Personal fitness trainers are skilled in instructing, motivating, and leading a group or individuals to practice exercises, activities, strength training, and stretching in the right way through demonstration to all ages of people. Also, their roles and responsibilities include, 

  • Perform various forms of exercises to improve health and maintain a fitness routine

  • Demonstrate and explain the benefits a right way to do the exercise

  • Prepare a curriculum based on individual abilities to reduce pain, minimize injuries and improve fitness

  • Monitor the clients doing exercises to ensure they adopt the right technique.

  • Teach alternative exercise during workout sessions to improve the skills to other levels.

  • Monitor and record the client's progress based on the goals set.

  • Educate the clients in detail about the nutrition, weight control, and lifestyle issues

  • Provide  emergency first aid or instant pain relief is needed

  • Modify the exercise progressively and design programs based on client goals. 

  • Act as a wellness coach with a strong science-based education.

Also, the fitness trainers are well versed in a variety of cardiovascular exercises, aerobics, dance, strength training, lifting weights, yoga, and others which helps in training the clients in a better way. Also in the latest trends, the trainer combines their knowledge on fitness routine as well as nutrition required for clients. 

Working Conditions of Personal Fitness Trainer

Personal Fitness Trainers usually work in fitness centers or at the organizations which establish fitness centers for their employees or at civic and social organizations. Also, some engage in working for clients at their homes. Trainers are also found working in settings such as,

  • Health clubs/gyms

  • Athletic/sports complex

  • Corporate wellness facilities

  • In-home or online training

  • Parks, Beaches, Work/Breakrooms

  • Resorts, Cruise Ships, Vacation Spots

Personal trainers currently hold a total of 356,900 jobs in the united states where the highest hiring employers are,

  • Fitness and recreational sports centers: 58%

  • Self-employed workers: 11%

  • Civic and social organizations: 10%

  • Educational services; state, local, and private: 6%

  • Government: 4%

Typically the working environment also includes,

  • Fitness trainers work in a variety of locations and engage themselves in performing a number of activities.

  • They work in flexible and adaptable hours and working conditions

  • Work regardless of nights, weekends, or holidays.

  • Also includes traveling to the client’s location

  • Closely work with a variety of clients who are facing emotional and physical challenges, health problems/situations.

  • Likely to work with a number of props and training equipment.

How to Become a Personal Trainer?

A personal fitness trainer will require a high school diploma or equivalent to be eligible to attend a certifying examination also, a bachelor’s degree may also be preferred by employers or national certification bodies. Although candidates require a minimum education but the certification in a specialty is a key. 

Becoming a personal trainer is simple where you must complete post-secondary education in the form of a certificate, training course or formal degree in addition to basic education. 

Educational requirements for Personal Trainer

The minimum education required to land this profession is a high school diploma or GED or an equivalent credential. However, employers nowadays prefer a large number of personal trainers who are educated with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in health science, fitness fields or related course. 

Fitness professionals must complete coursework in kinesiology, physical education, nutrition, exercise techniques, biomechanics, biology, anatomy, and group fitness. Also it is necessary to learn the techniques of developing fitness programs for clients of all ages.

Licenses and Certifications for Personal Trainer

Employers look for candidates who are certified and certification obtained by a national body helps in making yourself more credible and marketable. Many trainers must be certified before working at a gym or other fitness centers. The certifications help in demonstrating your skills and proficiency in specialized areas and the type of training you want to work. Most organizations offer certifications where the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is a primary accrediting body that has an extensive list of certifying organizations.

Most trainers or instructors need certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AED) before applying for certification in physical fitness. These certifications program helps trainers work well during medical emergencies, handle cardiac or breathing emergencies until professional first responders arrive. 

The major certifying bodies include the following:

  • American College of Sports Medicine- ACSM

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine-NASM

  • American Council on Exercise- ACE

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association-NSCA

  • International Sports Sciences Association- ISSA

Training program: Along with becoming a Certified Trainer, you'll also need to gain experience by attending training programs to achieve success. This also gives you the confidence to train clients alone and expand your network. 

The training programs you choose must suit your interest and your specialization. For instance, to become a yoga instructor, you'll need to gain experience and get training for about years. The Yoga Alliance is one that offers credentials that require a minimum of between 200 and 500 hours with skills on techniques, teaching methods, anatomy, physiology, philosophy, and other areas.

Stand Out Skills for Personal Trainers

If you are thinking of having a successful journey as a personal trainer, you must not only have a certificate but also certain skills to uplift your career. Here are some skills to possess to become an exceptional professional trainer,

Fitness assessment: The primary objective for a personal trainer to conduct an assessment of their clients at regular intervals for better optimization of their routine plans. They must be aware of the various screening techniques and settings to identify and eliminate any risk that could affect the client's health.

Communication: the trainer must make the clients comfortable enough to interact well, effective communication can result in a better response to the treatment provided and maintain a healthy professional relationship.

Leadership: A trainer must instruct the clients in a professional way and make them follow those instructions well. He must also convince the client on what benefit they acquire on following those instructions and also guide them in constant motivation to achieve the preset goals.

Analytical thinking: Trainers must always analyze the actions and the behavior of their clients by their response, they must have the ability to understand the learning pace of their clients and their progress and maximize the exercise they need gradually. 

Exercise mechanism: They must have a vast knowledge of what training to be considered for their clients and design a menu for their fitness routine to accelerate their improvement. They must recollect their knowledge to include them in the instruction they give to their clients, on what equipment to use, and for safe training methods.

Top University Programs for Personal Training

  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • University of Georgia

  • University of Texas at Austin

  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  • Wake Forest University

  • Pennsylvania State University

  • Michigan State University

Personal Trainer Salary

A personal trainer in the United States can earn an average salary of about $61,422 and can typically fall between the $44,329 and $75,453 range on a yearly basis. The salary offered in 2020 can vary based on your education, certifications, additional skills, amount of experience. 

Breaking down the salary offered,

  • 10th percentile: $30,399

  • 25th percentile: $44,329

  • 50th percentile (median): $61,422

  • 75th percentile: $75,453

  • 90th percentile: $88,228

To elaborate, the top industries and the median wage paid by them are listed below,

  • Fitness and recreational sports centers: $42,700

  • Educational services; state, local, and private: $38,320

  • Government: $37,440

  • Civic and social organizations: $33,080

Job Growth of Personal Trainer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth of Personal trainers is about 13 percent during the period of 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average of other occupations. The jobs currently held by a personal trainer is about 356,900 where there is an estimation of 402,500 jobs by the end of 2028. This means that the total number of 45,700 additional opportunities created for potential candidates is about.

The demand is increasing due to need of personal trainers in businesses, government, and insurance organizations to to the awareness created about the importance of health and fitness programs for their employees

Employment is also created due to the obesity, health conditions, reduced tolerance level of pain, injuries and illnesses associated with aging. Realizing that health is wealth helps in promoting healthier lifestyles for people of all ages. 

Related Careers for Personal Trainer

The career options for a personal trainer is vast and diverse in the fitness and health industry. A certified personal trainer can choose new career paths as a work area such as nutrition, sports science, exercise medicine, performance. Here are some career concentrations you can consider,

Exercise physiologist

Exercise physiologists analyze how the patient's body responds to the health treatments by physical activity to maintain good health. They also study the chronic adaptation to exercise and acute responses with enhancing their overall health and physical performance. This career path requires you to have an undergrad degree in Kinesiology or Exercise science along with a certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. For clinical positions, you'll need a Master’s degree and a certification from the American Society of Exercise Physiologists.

This job will fetch you a salary of $32,000 to $67,000 per year.

Sports nutritionist

A sports nutritionist is a professional expert who advises the athletes about their nutrition regime to enhance their capabilities and how a specific food or fluid affects their stamina and performance. They develop nutrition menus for diverse clients and counsel them on their body requirements. This career path is pursued by earning a bachelor's degree in nutrition and certification from the American dietetics association. You could earn about $36,000 to $82,000 annually.

Group exercise instructor

A Group Exercise Instructor is a fitness expert who instructs, develops, and plans to lead the group of people to personally train them with exercise sessions. The sessions are diverse with various uses of equipment and some classes are aerobics, pilates, yoga, and others. The trainer participates along with the clients and motivates them to ensure exercise safety. A Group exercise trainer requires a certification from the American College of Sports Medicine and earns up to $30,000 as a base salary.

Corrective Exercise specialist

A Corrective Exercise Specialist is specialized in body movement, posture, and mechanics. They keenly observe the client's movement patterns, flexibility issues, and the postures and correct them accordingly with suitable exercise routines. They must be experienced and must be certified by the Corrective Exercise Specialist Certification from the National Academy of Sports medicine. This job fetches an average salary ranging about $50,000 per year.

Strength and conditioning coach

The strength and conditioning coach helps clients to improve their athletic performance and train them to reduce injuries. The coach usually works with the sports team but the strength and conditioning training can also be provided to patients at the clinic, fitness clubs, high schools. This training is important to athletes for maximizing their potentials and reducing their susceptibility to injuries. This profession requires you to earn a bachelor's degree and come with practical experience with the certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. This job can help you to earn an approximate salary ranging between $32,000 to $67,000 per annum.