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How to Become a Personal Trainer - Career Information, Salary, Certification, and Finding Jobs

Updated on September 14, 2015

How to Become a Personal Trainer

Would you like to know how to become a personal trainer? Here you will find person trainer certification information, as well as what to expect for an annual salary, types of jobs, where to locate a job, training options and the necessary steps on how to become a personal trainer to jump start a new career.

What exactly is a personal trainer? A personal trainer is someone whose job consists of being both a motivator and instructor to aid a person or a group of individuals through exercising. The general goals for personal trainers are to help people tone, build muscle or lose weight. A personal trainer may also include dieting and nutrition planning as part of his or her program. Becoming a personal trainer is an ideal career for individuals who demonstrate great leadership skills and have ambitions to help others succeed with personal health and weight goals.

How Much Does a Personal Trainer Make Per Year Can Vary

Personal trainers vary in salary amongst one another due to location training and employment opportunities.
Personal trainers vary in salary amongst one another due to location training and employment opportunities.

Personal Trainer Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a personal trainer salary can vary widely. The BLS states that this is due to many personal trainers only working part time. As a result, the salary range for a personal trainer is anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000. The top earners in this career, which is roughly 10 percent of personal trainers, earn around $60,000 and up in salary. The bottom 10 percent in this field earn around $16,000 or even less. However, the overall average personal trainer that is motivated to make this career work well for him or herself can expect to earn around $30,000 for an annual salary. Keep in mind that most personal trainers --- who work part time --- often, do not have any retirement or insurance benefits. This can drastically reduce one’s income if he or she has to pay out of pocket expenses monthly to have such benefits.

Is a Personal Certification Necessary to Become a Trainer?

To succeed as a personal trainer, you will required to become certified to work for employers.
To succeed as a personal trainer, you will required to become certified to work for employers.

Personal Trainer Certification

What does a personal trainer certification entail? It depends on the type of certification. There are currently seven different types of nationally accredited personal trainer certification program options that approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

* AmericanCollege of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

* American Council on Exercise (ACE)

* NationalAcademy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

* National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)

* National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)

* National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)

* National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

To receive proper certification, each program requires a written exam and practical portion for demonstration. Each certification is valid for two years in which renewal must be complete through classes, seminars or other requirements. 

Where can I Find a Job as a Personal Trainer?

Personal Trainer Jobs

Personal trainer jobs vary. Some individuals may work for upscale health clubs, while others may be self employed with a group of his or her own private clients. With a physical education degree or master’s degree, an individual may be eligible to work in a public school or college classroom setting.

Some individuals with advanced education may juggle both to increase one’s annual salary and to receive retirement and health insurance. Working for an organization, such as the YMCA is also an option for personal trainers seeking jobs. Generally, organizations work with personal trainers on a contract basis.

Obtaining a College Degree Opens More Doors for Opportunities for Personal Trainers

Personal Trainer Book Resources - Becoming a Personal Trainer, Passing Exams and More on Below

How to Become a Personal Trainer

1). Obtain CPR training. Not only is CPR training necessary, it is often required by any type of employer to work as a personal trainer. In fact, most employers require that individuals are certified by the American Heart Association's Healthcare Provider CPR. To find an American Heart Association CPR program in your area, visit, click on CPR & ECC. If you have trouble locating a program in your area, scroll to the bottom of CPR webpage on An 800 number is listed for assistance.

2). Shop around for personal liability insurance. Depending upon the program, you may need this type of insurance to participate in the program. Regardless, you will need carry personal liability insurance after becoming certified. Your certification program can assist you with setting up the proper insurance coverage.

3). Decide if you want to pursue a college degree or further your education with a master’s degree. As stated before, to have better opportunities as a personal trainer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in the health or fitness fields. If you decided to pursue a degree, contact nearby schools in your area and arrange to speak with someone to discuss your career plans. The proper department at a college will also be able to assist you with making the right choices for you when it comes to certification(s).

4). Become certified as a personal trainer. Contact nearby YMCA and fitness centers and discuss your plans and what certifications that the facility prefers for certifications. Contact the health education departments at local universities and colleges for additional guidance for your career.

5). Contact the proper agency for the type of certification that you are seeking. Consider seeking more than one for better job opportunities. Certification programs vary; therefore, inquire what the requirements are, as well as what you should purchase for necessary training. You may need to purchase books, CD-roms and other items to prepare for each exam. Find out what the certification fees are so that you are able to save up the funds.

6). Build up experience. After obtaining a degree and or certified, you will need to gain experience as a personal trainer. Put out resumes to various recreational facilities, health clubs and gyms in your area for employment opportunities. Advertise your services through radio, television or newspaper advertisements in your area to seek private clients.

7). Keep track of work related expenses for your income taxes. You may be eligible to write off a portion of money that you invest into fitness equipment, gasoline for travel and other expenses. Consider discussing the matter with a professional tax preparer in your area to assist you.

How to Become a Personal Trainer References for the Creation of this Hub

How to Become a Personal Trainer: Certification Information

How to Become a Personal Trainer


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