Personal trainers spend their days designing workouts, consulting with clients, demonstrating exercises, and encouraging those who seek their help. To be an effective trainer, you must have a passion for fitness and a desire to help others achieve their health and wellness goals. While part of the job includes selling your skills and recruiting business, your highest career goal might be knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of others.
Before you can start your career as a personal trainer, you have to be trained yourself -- and certified. Select an educational program, complete the coursework and take a certification exam. Personal trainers receive their certification through one of several national organizations approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, or NCCA. For some certifications, you may have to participate in an active test.
Getting a Job
Certified personal trainers work at gyms, health-care facilities, recreational centers or even major corporations. They also embark on careers as independent contractors and build up businesses for themselves. As an independent contractor, you may train from a location of your choosing -- even making house calls -- or open up your own training studio. As an employee of a gym or other facility, you work in their location and enjoy the benefit of great equipment and a constant flow of potential clients.
Personal trainers must work hard to sell their services. If you are employed at a gym, you’ll have access to new members who make seek consultations about reaching their fitness goals. If you are in business for yourself, must spend time networking with others, marketing yourself, establishing rates and posting information about your services.
Developing Fitness Plans
A personal trainer helps clients set attainable goals and reach them in an efficient, healthy way. This requires learning about their physical limitations, health conditions, and exercise likes and dislikes, then coming up with a comprehensive fitness plan that includes strength training and cardio. You may also give nutrition advice.
Staying in Shape
Part of your job as a personal trainer is to stay in shape yourself. This ensures that you are your best marketing tool, and that you are physically able to train others. Clients, meanwhile, are more likely to trust you with their own bodies and health. At many facilities, trainers must meet certain physical requirements -- such as being able to lift 50 pounds -- before being hired. Staying in shape also allows you to experiment with new exercises, and learn how to teach and recommend them to others.
2016 Salary Information for Fitness Trainers and Instructors
Fitness trainers and instructors earned a median annual salary of $38,160 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, fitness trainers and instructors earned a 25th percentile salary of $24,120, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $55,010, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 299,200 people were employed in the U.S. as fitness trainers and instructors.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
- ACEFitness.org: Personal Training Certification Comparison
- ACEFitness.org: What Can I Expect When Working with a Personal Trainer?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
- Career Trend: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.