How can I Become a Personal Trainer? Training, Cost, Schools, Salary

Would you like to make some bucks from help others achieve that healthy fitness lifestyle you enjoy? Then, becoming a certified personal trainer is the best bet for you.

Personal training is a very satisfying career– a $10 billion industry, according to market research from IBISWorld. It’s a constantly growing industry that offers a range of potential career opportunities for individuals interested in becoming personal trainers.

In this post, we’ll show you all you need to know about becoming a certified physical trainer.

Table of contents

Who is a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer is a fitness professional who oversees an individual’s fitness program in a fitness facility or private setting.

Personal trainers have so much love of fitness, and it shows.

So, their focus on a healthy lifestyle, a commitment to a fit physique, and a desire to share their passion with others is apparent, allowing them to serve as positive role models for any exercise challenges or those who want to take their fitness to the next level.

What does a Personal Trainer Do?

Personal trainer is very active so they take on different roles. But here are the regular duties of any fitness trainer:

  • They help people maintain or attain a healthy lifestyle.
  • They educate people about activities to engage in to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • Also, they help people achieve their fitness goals, whether as coaches or as accountability partners.

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What are the Qualities of A Good Certified Personal Trainer?

As a fitness lover, you should also possess a lot of skills needed to become a personal trainer. Some of the characteristics include being:

  • Patient
  • Analytical
  • Nurturing
  • Persistent
  • Organized
  • An effective motivator
  • A good listener and effective communicator

Of course, you should also enjoy working with people, i.e being a team player.

You might notice I didn’t add physical fitness. That’s really because you should be fit to even want to train other people to achieve that goal.

Where does Personal Trainers work?

Most physical trainers are employed in this field working across different sectors in fitness and recreation centers, gyms, country clubs, exercise studios, resorts, and even universities. 

Other places a personal trainer can find a job are in:

  • Hospitals or wellness centers
  • Corporate Fitness
  • In-Home Training
  • Nutrition – With a certificate in nutrition, a personal trainer can also help clients with their diet portions, and give specific advice on how to lose weight and eat healthily.

There are several careers you can venture into as a personal trainer, such as being:

  • An Exercise Physiologist
  • A Sports Nutritionist
  • A Group Exercise Instructor
  • Corrective Exercise Specialist
  • A Strength and Conditioning Coach

The options are so many in this industry as people are looking to lose weight or take healthy living seriously.

How much does Personal Trainers earn? | Salaries and Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay for fitness trainers and instructors was $39,820 in May 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,160, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,090.

As businesses, government, and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other types of health clubs are expected to increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors.

So, the employment of personal fitness trainers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

How Can You Get Certified as A Personal Trainer?

If you’ve decided personal training is for you, your first step is to get certified. Also, earning a Certified Personal Trainer certification can open the door to new fitness paths in nutrition, conditioning, performance, sports medicine and more.  So, knowing whether the certifying organization has been accredited is very important. 

Here are some important questions you can research on the websites of any certifying organization on personal training before you register:

  • Is the certification nationally/internationally recognized?
  • What are the requirements for the exam?
  • Does the exam require you to attend a workshop? Or is it a home study program?
  • Can the exam be taken online?
  • How much would it cost to take this certification courses?

Of course, we would also help answer some of these questions.

What are the requirements to become a Certified Personal Trainer?

Different certifying organizations demand different requirements to become a personal fitness trainer. However, the requirements are generally that:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You should have a high school diploma or GED
  • Also, you should have a CPR certification. (Optional)

List of High Professional Certifications for Personal Trainers

Fitness trainers are not limited to one certification, so choosing a personal training certification that suits your career path is important.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is the primary accrediting body for personal training certifications. So, when looking at for certifying bodies, ensure that the NCCA fully accredits them.

Meanwhile, here is a list of certifying bodies and the certification and cost, namely:

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)ACSM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)$279
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)$599
American Council on Exercise (ACE)Personal Trainer (ACE-CPT)$399
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)$300
Academy of Applied Personal Training Education (AAPTE)Certified Personal Fitness Trainer (CPFT)$295
ACTION Certification (ACTION)Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)$150
International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA)International Fitness Professionals Association Personal Fitness Training Certification (IFPA – PFT)$349
National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT)$477
National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)Certified Personal Trainer (NETA-CPT )$349
PTA Global, Inc.Personal Training Academy Global Certified Personal Trainer (PTA Global CPT)$350

Do I Need to Go to College to Become a Personal Trainer? Degrees In Personal Training

If you don’t want to go to college that’s fine. You don’t really need to go to college to become a personal trainer.

But, for individuals seeking career advancement or to specialize in an area of personal training, an associate’s, undergraduate or graduate degree can get the best out of this profession.

Fitness is not just all that is needed to become a physical trainer. In university, you can study courses related to personal training. These courses often include:

  • Conditioning
  • Exercise Sciences
  • Kinesiology
  • Motor Development
  • Anatomy and Physiology

If you want to own your own fitness facility, you can further into courses in Business and Management.

Asides from Bachelor’s Degree Programs, you can also take personal training certification courses online or at a vocational college.

How Hard is the Job as a Personal Trainer?

Fitness trainers and instructors may work nights, weekends, or holidays. Some even travel to different gyms or to clients’ homes to hold classes or conduct personal training sessions.

Also, some group fitness instructors and personal fitness trainers hold full-time jobs in other fields and teach fitness classes or conduct personal training sessions during evenings or weekends to supplement their income streams.

Generally, being a personal trainer is not difficult, but serious work needs to be done if you need to be seen as an expert at what you do.

Also, put in some effort in the marketing aspect of it. Clients don’t just fall on your laps.

How Much does it cost to become a Certified Personal Trainer?

Depending on your career level, a personal trainer certification can cost $400-$600, a masters certification can cost upwards of $2,000 for the study materials and exam. Also, the costs of specialist certifications for strength training, senior fitness, or youth fitness typically ranges from $400 and $500.

How Long does it take to become a Personal Trainer?

Generally, you can give yourself at least 3-6 months, depending on your personal training certification program.

With a target date in mind, no matter the workload, you can always find a way to cover your courses and prepare for the certification exam.

Steps on How to Become A Personal Trainer

So, you want to help others achieve their fitness goals and also make a career being a personal trainer. Well, that’s really fantastic.

Here are the steps broken down for you to follow and land your first paying client as a certified physical trainer:

#1 Get a High School Diploma

A large percentage of certifying bodies require just a high school diploma or GED to sit for their certification exam to become a personal trainer. So, completing this minimum requirement is highly crucial.

#2 Get a CPR/AED Certification

Getting Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification is essential because your client might be facing a medical emergency and you might be the only one to help.

These programs are designed to train trainers on handling basic medical emergencies like Cardiac or breathing or problems and help the client until professional medics arrive.

#3 Find Your Fitness Speciality

Before venturing into the world of personal training, you must know the field you want to specialize in. Whether they match your interest and professional goals.

Once you have defined this, review various personal training certifying bodies and select one that suits your interest.

#4 Prepare And Take Certification Exam

When you have selected your ideal certification program, whether Certified Personal Trainer from ACE or NASM, register for the training program and gather their study materials and attend their training classes as you prepare for the certification exams.

Registration for this certification program typically includes an application and a fee. Also, some personal training certifications are usually computer-based tests.

Finally, when you pass the exam, you are ready to start working as a personal trainer.

#5 Land a Job as a Personal Trainer and Build Your Portfolio

 Now that you are a certified fitness trainer, before you start applying for jobs as a personal trainer, consider these questions:

  • Where exactly do you want to work?
  • Do you prefer large group training classes or one-on-one sessions at the gym?
  • Would you prefer working in a hotel or country club setting?
  • Are you trying to start your own studio?

This can help you to be clear about your career objectives. Gain experience working at the local gym under experienced trainers. Then, venture out to seek other opportunities and build your connections.

Finally, ensure that you are marketing that skill well.

Personal Trainer FAQs

How long does it take to becme a personal trainer?

Depending on the certification program and workload, it takes 3-6 months.

How much does it take to become a personal trainer?

Professional personal training certifications costs about $400-600.

Where can I work as a personal trainer?

As a personal trainer, you can work in different areas, such as fitness and recreational centers, exercise studios, gym resorts, private companies, and even hospitals.

How much does a personal trainer earn?

The average annual salary of a personal trainer is about $39,900.

On average full-time personal trainers make about $60,000/year with the potential to make upwards of $130,000/year. So, yeah, you can make cool cash as a personal trainer, depending on how hard you work.


Becoming a personal trainer is a satisfying career. It’s a flexible job that you can do while having other jobs. So, getting a certificate in this profession will go a long way to set you up for a better career.


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