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How to Become a Personal Trainer

How to Become a Personal Trainer. To assist people in achieving their fitness and health goals, certified personal trainers work closely with them. Learn about the qualifications, the process for becoming one, the pay, potential career routes, and more.

Through safe, effective training routines, certified personal trainers assist others in achieving their health and fitness objectives. Personal trainers play a crucial role in assisting their customers with improving their health because they combine their understanding of physical fitness, health, and nutrition with a capacity for cooperative behavior. Consider a job as a certified personal trainer if you enjoy working out and interacting with people in person.

You can read more about certified personal trainers, their salaries, and the requirements to become one in this post. At the conclusion, you’ll also look at similar professions and discover some affordable course suggestions that will assist you in acquiring job-relevant talents right away.

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What is a certified personal trainer?

A personal trainer who has earned certification from a recognized fitness organization, such the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), is referred to as a certified personal trainer. The information and abilities needed to assist clients in achieving their fitness, dietary, and general health care goals are available from certified personal trainers.

Although not every employer does, the vast majority will demand certification of personal trainers. Being a certified personal trainer may raise your visibility as a trainer and increase your chances of attracting and retaining new clients, even if it is not required by your employment.

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How much does a certified personal trainer make? Salary and Job outlook

The typical yearly wage for fitness instructors and trainers is $40,700, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) [1]. As of January 2023, Glassdoor estimates the median base salary for certified personal trainers to be $51,402 [2]. As with any employment, a trainer’s pay may vary depending on their degree, level of experience, and certifications.

The employment prognosis for fitness professionals is favorable overall. According to the US BLS, there will be around 65,500 new employment created annually between 2021 and 2031, representing a 19% increase in the number of jobs for personal trainers and fitness instructors.

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How to become a certified personal trainer

Professionals in the fitness industry with the education, training, and know-how necessary to assist clients in achieving their physical fitness objectives are certified personal trainers. Here are the steps you may anticipate taking to become a personal trainer who not only has the knowledge to assist others in reaching their fitness objectives, but also the credentials to support it.

1. Decide on a certification course.

You must select an approved certification program once you’ve made the decision to pursue a profession as a certified personal trainer. Depending on your curriculum, finishing a certification program usually takes less than a year and costs between $200 and $2,000.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or the National Board of Fitness Examiners (NFBE) are two renowned organizations to consider when evaluating your certification alternatives. However, because NCAA-accredited personal trainers can register on the US Registry of Exercise Professionals and be easily found by clients, many employers choose to favor NCCA-accredited programs.

Here are 14 NCAA-accredited certification programs that you want to think about if you want to become a certified personal trainer and keep your certification:

  • Academy of Applied Personal Training Education
  • ACTION Certification
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • International Fitness Professionals Association
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • National Council for Certified Personal Trainers
  • National Council on Strength and Fitness
  • National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association
  • National Exercise Trainers Association
  • National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • PTA Global
  • World Instructor Training Schools

2. Meet the requirements for certification.

Although a college degree is not required for certification as a personal trainer, there are some requirements that must be met before you can sit for the certification exam. Typically, you must fulfill the requirements listed below:

  • Possess a high school diploma or GED: Applicants must hold a high school diploma or a GED in order to be considered for a personal trainer certification program.
  • CPR/AED certification: Before enrolling in or taking the final exam, several certification programs demand that participants hold valid Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certifications.
  • Being at least 18 years old is a requirement for most programs in order to take the certification exam. Some programs, though, can let participants enroll before they’re 18 as long as they’re old enough to take the final exam. Before beginning a program, be certain you are aware of the age requirements.

3. Get ready for the certification exam and take it.

Programs for certification will probably provide training and courses to aid in your final exam preparation. Some companies provide a variety of personal trainer certification exam preparation packages. Ask the accrediting body for free or expensive study aids if you need assistance, or go online for virtual study groups. You may also find free practice exams online that can help you get a sense of the format and subject matter of the real examination.

You’ll probably need to submit an application and pay a registration fee to sign up for a personal trainer certification exam. You will take the test on a computer with a proctor, either in person or online. Total multiple-choice questions should range from 120 to 150.

You can typically print a temporary certificate a few days after passing your exam, depending on the program you choose. In the next weeks, the program will send you an official, tangible copy by mail.

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4. Establish your area of expertise and gather experience.

You can distinguish yourself from other trainers by specializing in personal training, in most cases. To select a specialization that most closely reflects your interests, take into account your hobbies, skill sets, and career objectives. The following are some typical instances of personal trainer specializations:

  • Strength training
  • Weight loss
  • Corrective exercise
  • Youth fitness
  • Senior fitness
  • Group exercise
  • Bodybuilding
  • Cancer exercise
  • Sports performance
  • Pain management

5. Develop your abilities as a personal trainer.

In order to urge your customers to reach their health goals, you must be an expert in fitness science and the human body. You must also have the necessary interpersonal skills. The following are some of the technical, interpersonal, and personal qualities you should have to perform your work as effectively as feasible.

  • Personal prowess
    Communication abilities and emotional intelligence are major advantages for a personal trainer. To balance incentive with persistence, you’ll need to recognize and control your clients’ emotions. Knowing what drives each of your clients is essential because they all have different objectives and personality traits. Personal trainers should also be organized, have outstanding customer service abilities, be creative and original when arranging workouts, and be motivated and inspiring.
  • Technical expertise
    A successful personal trainer should be knowledgeable about and/or experienced in the technical abilities listed below:
  • Creating workout plans
  • Utilizing and looking after workout equipment
  • Exercise physiology and biology
  • Exercise techniques that work
  • Keeping of records
  • Basic dietary needs

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6. Submit a resume and apply for jobs.

When you’re prepared to apply for jobs, think about where you want to work, how you want to offer your skills, and if you want to be an employee or a freelancer working for another person at a reputable gym.

Your job search will be influenced by the answers to these questions. While you might occasionally prefer the independence of working as a freelance personal trainer, you might also enjoy the structure and predictability of working as a gym employee.

However you choose to proceed, you must guarantee that your education, abilities, and assets are accurately represented on your CV. What should be on your personal trainer resume should be as follows:

  • Relevant coursework from high school or college
  • Final internships
  • Years of experience in the field
  • Information on national certificates, including those for CPR and AED
  • Awards or accomplishments
  • The key competencies you possess as a trainer
  • Areas of expertise, specialties, or if you work with a particular community or demography (e.g., dietary goals for weight reduction)

Jobs for qualified personal trainers can be found online at employment boards like Indeed, offline at nearby gyms or health centers, or even in neighborhood Facebook groups. Another option for licensed personal trainers to discover clients is through mobile apps like FlexIt and Fitmatch.

Keep applying for jobs despite your lack of experience. Many organizations are prepared to hire certified personal trainers with entry-level experience if your resume accurately reflects your abilities and qualifications. Sometimes all you need to land the job is your qualification and a strong interview. Offer friends and relatives inexpensive or free training if you feel that a lack of experience is hindering your job search. This will help you gain experience on your resume.

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7. Develop a network and an internet presence.

One of the most economical ways to expand a personal training business is through networking. Several methods for doing this include:

  • Exercising frequently at the same gym
  • Providing new customers with freebies or discounted rates
  • Launch of a boot camp
  • Participating in workout courses at your local recreation center as a leader or substitute

Having a web presence online can help you network and discover additional job prospects. Have an internet landing page for folks who want to learn more about your services and who you are as a personal trainer, from social media outlets to a website.

Social media groups are excellent places to promote your services and find a community of people who share your interests. Consider ways to give your followers or viewers useful content, such as videos on good weightlifting form, quick yoga sessions, or exercise regimens. Your web profile and reputation will grow as a result of this free content, which will not only inform potential customers but also maybe attract followers and bring in new business.

8. Maintain your certification while continuing your studies.

Passing the certification exam shouldn’t be the end of your education as a certified personal trainer. New research and innovation in the health sector are having an impact on the fitness sector.

Completing continuing education courses (CECs), which many certification programs require trainers to take 20 to 45 hours of every two to three years to maintain certification, is an easy way to stay on top of new discoveries and health trends. You can fulfill these criteria by enrolling in college courses like biology or anatomy, attending conferences that offer CECs for your certifying organization, or taking CECs online.

Personal Trainer Jobs

After passing your professional trainer certification exam, you will have a variety of employment paths available to you. There are various ways to make becoming a personal trainer your full-time and part-time employment, including working with customers in person at a gym or remotely through applications.

As a qualified personal trainer, you might choose to consider one of the following careers:

Instructor for group exercise

Fitness instructors who guide groups of people at once use their love of exercise and expertise in personal training. These classes could include different exercises including yoga, dancing, aerobics, strength training, and others. Applying the science of exercise to numerous people in a group setting may call for the capacity to inspire, multitask, manage time, and motivate others.

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Gym director

In general, gym managers are in charge of running their facilities on a daily basis. Certified personal trainers must possess leadership abilities, great communication skills, expertise in personal training, in-depth knowledge of a range of exercise equipment, and understanding of equipment maintenance in order to work in gym administration. They are responsible for scheduling classes, selling memberships, maintaining the gym’s equipment, educating and training the staff, and occasionally providing one-on-one personal training.

Personal trainer

The option of coaching customers one-on-one is available to certified personal trainers. Either as a freelance trainer or a gym employee, you can do this.

Independently employed certified personal trainers are in charge of evaluating their clients’ fitness levels and working with them to design an exercise regimen that would complement their personalities and body types. In order to help clients prevent injury and accomplish their goals, personal trainers also teach suitable practices. If you have a home gym, you can use it or go to a client’s house to work out. Some gyms will also let you use their equipment in exchange for a portion of your revenue.

FAQs on How to Become a Personal Trainer 

How long does it take to become a good personal trainer?

Becoming a personal trainer can involve education, certifications and other training. Getting a bachelor's degree typically takes around four years. Personal trainer certification courses, however, can often be completed in less than a year.

How do personal trainers get paid?

Some gyms pay trainers a tiered commission. With a tiered commission, your compensation is based on performance. The more revenue you bring in, the more you earn. As an example, you might earn a 30% commission if you train 10 hours per week but this bumps up to 40% if you train 20 hours per week or more

What is a Level 4 personal trainer?

A Level 4 Personal Trainer Course is the highest level of industry recognition, covering many specialist areas to enhance your market and earning potential. It opens new opportunities by providing in-depth knowledge to expand and grow in the PT industry.

Is the personal trainer exam hard?

Overall, this test is extremely difficult but definitely a worthwhile certification with its industry gold standard NCCA accreditation. I highly recommend you take many practice questions before you sign up for the exam.

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