How to Become a Personal Trainer

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Personal Trainer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $36,210
Avg. Pay / hour $17.41
Education 2-4 Years
Job Outlook 13%

A personal trainer works with both individuals and small groups to encourage and inspire them to meet their personal fitness goals.

If you love sports and fitness, enjoy working with people, and want a career in health, then you may like to become a personal trainer.

There is plenty of opportunity for personal trainers at the moment.

More and more people are looking for a trainer to give them advice, help them develop a program, and achieve their goals.

Personal trainers are employed by gyms, fitness studios, hospitals, schools, and many are also self-employed.

It takes more than just being fit to be a personal trainer.

You will also need to have excellent communication and leadership skills because your clients will need to trust you, and also respect your opinion.

Interpersonal skills are also essential.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to know how to market your business, skills in sales and marketing are also going to be helpful.

Education Requirements to Become a Personal Trainer

To become a personal trainer, you will need to be certified.

The educational requirements for this vary somewhat, there are courses at community college, as well as home study and online programs you can follow.

In almost all states you will need to be 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and also have a current first aid and CPR certificate.

You’ll need to be in top shape if you want to be a personal trainer.

This means you will always need to stay on top of your own training.

After all, a client will hesitate to put their trust in you if you can’t look after your own health.

There are many different bodies that will give you an accreditation as a personal trainer, but the most respected is the American Council of Exercise, or ACE.

An organization like this will allow you to complete the study required to become a personal trainer, as well as giving you a certification to work as a personal trainer.

This certification will be recognized by gyms and health clubs, as well as you individual clients.

Personal Trainer Job Description

A personal trainer will work with a client, or a group of clients, to help them reach their fitness goals.

Some clients may be wanting to lose weight, some to gain strength and fitness, while some may be preparing for an event.

Many people with health problems may see a trainer to give them the one-on-one specialized training they need.

A trainer will design an exercise program for a client to follow, usually for an eight or twelve week period.

During that time they will attend their exercise sessions with them, and encourage them to do the best they can.

After their plan is completed, they will reassess and make a new plan.

Personal trainers work indoors, and outside, in gyms, fitness studios, or out of their own homes.

They may help clients through aerobic activity, weights, dance, yoga, and a whole range of other exercise techniques.

When you become a personal trainer, there is more to your role than getting people to exercise.

If you are working in a gym, you will have to attract new clients and keep them.

You may also be able to sell clients products or supplements.

When you work for yourself, you will still need to attract your own clientele.

Personal Trainer Salary and Career Path

When you become a personal trainer, it’s likely your first job will be in a gym.

You’ll work giving orientations to new members, and working with your clients to help them reach their goals.

More experienced trainers may work in studios, or go on to work for themselves.

Some may move into similar positions in health, such as:

  • Gym manager
  • Weight loss consultant
  • Medical Assistant
  • Health researcher
  • Health educator

One of the great benefits of becoming a personal trainer, is that you can work in the industry part-time even if you have a full-time job.

This is a good way to build up your clientele while you are making the transition.

The average salary for a personal trainer is around $30,000 a year.

Many personal trainers work part-time, and about 30% are self-employed.

If you’re looking for a career in fitness, and want to work with people and help them achieve their fitness and health goals, then becoming a personal trainer could prove a very rewarding career path for you.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$61,370
New Hampshire$46,210
New Jersey$56,670
New Mexico$40,610
New York$61,840
North Carolina$41,640
North Dakota$39,080
Rhode Island$41,080
South Carolina$35,180
South Dakota$34,450
West Virginia$41,720
Puerto Rico$19,930

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $61,840.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $61,840
District of Columbia - $61,370
Vermont - $58,780
Connecticut - $57,740
Massachusetts - $57,640
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors, OCC Code 39-9031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a personal trainer do?

Personal trainers establish for each of their clients a set of physical exercises and nutrition regimen, based on their clients’ general health and personal goals.

As a consequence, personal trainers need to have a good understanding of human anatomy, nutrition, diet, physical exercises, and to know how to evaluate the general health of a person.

A good personal trainer is also capable of motivating his or her clients in order to get them to improve and maintain their health.

A personal trainer works with each client individually.

As a personal trainer, you explain and illustrate the physical exercises and correct your client’s technique in order to prevent injuries.

You will also have to monitor your clients’ progress and change their program until you find the exercises and routines that best fit their lifestyle.

A personal trainer may have to work evenings or during weekends in order to accommodate their clients’ schedules.

How much does a personal trainer make?

A personal trainer’s level of pay is correlated with their level of education and experience.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for fitness trainers and instructors was $39,820 in May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary widely; some earn around $20,000 a year while others make more than $75,000.

How much does it cost to become a personal trainer?

The cost of getting a personal trainer certification varies between $300 and $2,000.

This cost usually includes books and video lessons.

The four major certifying bodies are the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

For advanced certifications in the field, you need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Costs for associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs vary widely, depending on the school you choose and the program itself.

On average, the yearly cost for tuition and fees is around $30,000.

Most trainers also need certification in CPR and AED, which costs around $30.

What is the demand for personal trainers?

Employment of personal trainers and instructors is projected to grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As more people are focused on preventing obesity and living a healthier lifestyle, the demand for personal trainers is expected to grow.

Additional job opportunities will stem from the fact that more organizations and businesses offer gym incentives for their clients.

Personal trainers who hold a professional certification should have better job prospects.

How long does it take to become a personal trainer?

Personal training certification usually takes around a year of training.

Those who want extensive training and personal training certification by national organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine will need around two years of full-time study.

Bachelor’s degree programs are also available and can usually be completed in around 4 years.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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