Become a Personal Trainer

If you are someone who really enjoys exercise and spends a great deal of time in the gym, you might want to become a personal trainer. Of course you also have to like working with people and helping them reach their fitness goals.


In order to become a personal trainer, you must have a certain amount of education. You can either work on getting your Bachelor’s degree in something like Exercise Science or Physiology or you can opt for the less expensive alternative certification programs that are available. To do so, you must be certified by an organization accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) since this certification is the one recognized by most gyms and fitness centers. The seven certification programs offered by the NCCA include: the (1) National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT), (2) National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA), (3) American Council on Exercise (ACE), (4) National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), (5) American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), (6) National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and (7) National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). You will also probably be required to have your CPR certification.

Work Options

Once you are certified, it’s time to look for a job. You basically have two options, you can be employed by a gym or fitness center, or you can work for yourself. The advantage of working for someone else is that you have steady work and can sometimes get the company to pay for benefits like health insurance and vacation. The disadvantage is that the pay is often lower than what you would make on your own. On the other hand, if you work for yourself, you will have to spend a great deal of time building your client base through advertising, referrals, etc. As a freelance personal trainer, you might also be expected to drive to a client’s location (home, office, and sometimes out of town) in order to help him/her train. A compromise between these two options is where personal trainers work for themselves but are affiliated with gyms that take a percentage of their fee for commission. Depending on the gym and the personal trainer's qualifications, this fee can be as little as 10% and as much as 50%.


The pay for personal trainers varies greatly depending on their education, experience, and the area of the country where they live. Some personal trainers make as little as $15/hour while other makes over $90/hour. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal trainers receive a median salary of $25,470.

In order to set yourself apart from other trainers, you might want to specialize. You could do sports specific training, help people lose weight, or target a specific group like seniors. Specializing can help you command more money because you are seen as an expert in a particular area. You should also consider doing ongoing training since, in general, the more education you have the more you will get paid.

Typical Day

As a trainer, you will have many job duties and responsibilities. Of course your top priority is training people. But you will also need to set aside time to create workout plans for your customers. In addition, you will spend a good part of your day recruiting new clients and answering questions about your personal training services. Also, the gym you work for may require you to conduct fitness tests on clients, fill out and file paperwork, show people how to use various types of exercise machines or free weights, and even wipe down equipment to make sure it is clean and sanitary.

Although working as a fitness trainer can have its drawbacks just like any other job, it also can be a very rewarding position for someone who is a fitness enthusiast and who really enjoys helping others.