With each passing year, it seems like the fitness craze is just getting stronger. Walk into almost any store, and you’ll no doubt see some product promising to help you shed the pounds or build bigger muscles. But as people try to manage their weight and stay physically fit, an increasing number of job opportunities crop up for fitness professionals, and many of them offer fairly high salaries.
In 2010, personal trainers earned anywhere from $31,090 to $41,600 a year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At first glance, this may not look like the most lucrative of careers, but advanced degrees and certifications go a long way to improve earnings. For example, a personal trainer with a graduate degree earned an average of $67,287 a year, according to a 2010 survey by the American Council on Exercise. Earning professional certifications, like Lifestyle and Weight Management or Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist, in addition to your master's degree, can increase salaries even further. As of 2010, such credentials commanded a salary of $78,382 a year, on average.
Owning a club probably sounds like a cash cow, but club owners don’t always earn as much as you might think. Though the highest paid of full-time staff, club owners averaged just over $80,000 a year in 2010, according to the American Council on Exercise. Business owners typically pay themselves after all other bills are paid, so the average stands to reason. Of course, if memberships increase, the same can be said of an owner’s earning potential.
A good deal of money can be made in facilities management, especially in certain industries. The overall average for facilities managers was $65,300 a year in 2010, according to a survey by “Recreation Management,” a publication for sports and fitness facility managers. The highest earners were those working for golf and country clubs, where salaries averaged at $91,600 a year. Facilities managers for school or school district recreation centers were a far second, making $73,900.
A career is sports medicine has probably the highest earning potential of them all. For starters, physical therapists earned $80,000 a year in 2010, according to a survey by the American Physical Therapy Association. Specializing in sports medicine could improve your base. If physical therapy isn’t your game, you may want to consider enrolling in medical school. A survey by Allied Physicians found that a physician specializing in sports medicine earned $152,000 after just one to two years of experience. At three years, the average increased to $208,000 a year. Sports medicine orthopedic surgeons fared even better, averaging $266,000 at one to two years of experience and $479,000 at three years on the job.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Fitness Trainers and Instructors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Athletic Trainers
- American Council on Exercise: 2010 Salary Survey Results
- Recreation Management: Satisfaction Guaranteed – Our 2010 Salary Survey of the Managed Recreation, Sports and Fitness Industry
- American Physical Therapy Association: Physical Therapist (PT) Careers Overview
- Allied Physicians: Physician Salary Survey
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.