Personal Trainer Education and Career Pathway

By | April 22, 2024
Personal Trainer Education
To become a personal trainer, you will be expected to meet certain educational requirements.

This post provides detailed information on the personal trainer education and career pathway, to help you learn what you are required to meet to become a personal trainer and succeed in your career.

Why Choose Personal Trainer Career?

The personal trainer career has been one of the most popular careers since it was first introduced in the early 1980s.

These reasons are why people choose to become personal trainers:

  1. The job can be done anywhere, from your home or office. You don’t need any special equipment.

2. It’s a fantastic method to meet new folks. People often hire personal trainers because they want to make friends.

3. There is no limit on how much you can earn as a personal trainer. Many people start out with low salaries, but eventually work their way up to higher wages.

4. As a personal trainer, an important part of your job is to help others improve their health.

5. As a personal trainer you have the opportunity to travel all over the world.

6. As a personal trainer there is always a demand for your services.

7. As a personal trainer it is easy to find clients. Most gyms and health clubs offer free trial sessions so that you can see if you like working with them.

Personal Trainer Education Requirements

There are two types of personal trainers: certified and non-certified. Both require different levels of education.

To become a certified personal trainer, you must complete at least four years of college (two years of general studies plus two years of specialized training).

In addition, you must pass the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) exam.

If you are interested in becoming a non-certified personal trainer, then you do not need to go through these steps.

However, you should still consider taking some classes and passing the NCCA exam before starting your own business.

Personal Trainer Continuing Education

As a personal trainer, you are required to take continuing education courses every year.

These courses include topics such as nutrition, exercise physiology, anatomy, injury prevention, and more.

Some states even require personal trainers to attend annual refresher courses.

Personal Trainer Certification/License

If you want to become a certified personal trainer you must pass the NCCA exam.

The test consists of three parts. Part 1 tests your knowledge of basic human movement principles. Part 2 tests your ability to apply those principles to specific exercises.

Finally, Part 3 tests your overall understanding of the concepts covered in the previous two sections.

To prepare for the NCCA exam, you must take several prerequisites courses.

Prerequisite courses are usually offered by local community colleges. They are designed to teach you about the physical requirements of the profession.

For example, you may learn about exercise testing and exercise prescription.

You must also pass a certification examination. To qualify for the national certification, you must score 80% or better on each section of the exam.

To pass this exam, you have to put in a lot of hard work, focus, and dedication.

The exam comes with a fee of between $100 and $200, which you have to pay before you take it.

Non-Certified Personal Training

Non-certified personal trainers do not need to be certified. However, they should still keep up to date with current research in the field. You should also make sure that you know what you are doing when working with clients.


In most states, personal trainers are required to obtain licenses before they can practice. The licensing laws in each state differ, so you need to learn the one affecting your state.

It is important to check with your state licensing board to determine whether you need a license.

The majority of states only require personal trainers who work independently. This means that you do not have to get licensed if you work out of your home.

However, there are exceptions. For example, if you work for a gym or fitness center, you will need to register with the state.

Personal Trainer Career Opportunities

There are many career opportunities available to personal trainers. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Sports Performance Coach

A sports performance coach helps athletes improve their athletic skills. He or she might help an athlete develop new techniques or help them recover after an injury.

A sports performance coach works closely with athletes during practice sessions and games.

2. Fitness Instructor

A fitness instructor teaches people how to use equipment safely and effectively. She or he might show people how to perform certain exercises. Or, he or she might lead group classes.

3. Health & Wellness Coach

A health and wellness coach focuses on helping clients achieve optimal health through diet and lifestyle changes.

He or she may provide counseling services to help clients lose weight or manage chronic conditions like diabetes.

4. Group Exercise Instructor

Group exercise instructors teach aerobics, yoga, spinning, and other types of exercise groups. These instructors often work at gyms and clubs.

5. Personal Trainers

If you choose to pursue a career as a personal trainer, you can work out of your own office or studio.

You can also work in a hospital or medical clinic. In addition, you can work as a freelance personal trainer.

Freelance personal trainers typically offer one-on-one training sessions to individuals or small groups.

6. Athletic Trainer

An athletic trainer assists injured athletes. He or she may treat injuries such as sprains or strains.

An athletic trainer also watches over players before and after practices and games.

Other career opportunities open to personal trainers include:

  • Fitness Consultant
  • Personal Trainer Schools
  • Online Personal Training Programs
  • Nutritionist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Yoga Teacher.

How to Advance your Personal Trainer Career

To advance your personal trainer career, follow these tips:

  1. Become Certified

Becoming certified shows employers that you have been trained by a reputable organization.

Many certification programs cost money. If you want to become certified, it is best to start early so that you can save money.

2. Find a Job

You should research local job listings to find positions that match your interests and experience.

Some jobs may be posted online. Others may be listed in newspapers or magazines.

3. Network

Networking is another way to find employment as a personal trainer. Ask friends and family members about current openings.

Also, join professional organizations to meet potential employers.

4. Attend Events

Attending events related to your field gives you the opportunity to network with professionals in the personal training your industry.

It also provides you with information about upcoming job opportunities.

5. Take Classes

Take continuing education courses to keep abreast of advances in the personal training profession. This will make you more marketable when seeking employment.

How to find a Good Personal Training School

There are many different schools offering personal training programs. Here are some things to think about while selecting a school:

  1. Accreditation

The American Council for Accreditation (ACAF) accredits personal training schools.

The council evaluates schools based on their curriculum, faculty credentials, facilities, and student support services.

2. Location

Some states require that schools for personal training be located within state boundaries.

For example, California requires all personal training schools to be licensed within its borders, however, other states do not require this.

Check with your state’s licensing board to determine if there are any requirements regarding where you must locate your program.

3. Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary from school to school. However, most schools charge around $10,000 per year.

4. Course Length

Most schools for personal training offer certificate programs lasting between two and four years.

A few schools offer associate degree programs.

5. Faculty Credentials

Most personal training schools require students to complete an internship prior to graduation.

Students who successfully complete their internships receive certificates.

How to be Successful in your Personal Trainer Career

If you decide to become a personal trainer, there are several ways to succeed in your career:

  1. Be Prepared

Make sure you know what you’re doing before you begin working as a personal trainer.

Ascertain that you have all of the equipment and materials. A well-written business strategy is also required.

2. Be Patient

To build a client base takes time, so be patient. Don’t expect to get rich overnight.

3. Stay Organized

Keep track of clients, appointments, and billing. The ability to stay organized as a personal trainer will ensure that you don’t miss anything important.

4. Have Fun

Your clients will notice if you aren’t having fun while working out with them. So, try to enjoy yourself while working out.

5. Keep Learning

As you become successful, it’s important to continue learning new skills and techniques. Read books, attend seminars, and take classes at community colleges.

What Does a Personal Trainer Do?

A personal trainer works one-on-one with clients. They may exercise, teach stretching or strength training, or work with people who want to lose weight.

Qualities of a Good Personal Trainer

Here are some qualities that a good personal trainer should have:

  1. Knowledge

You need to have a strong knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and exercise science.

2. Experience

You need experience working with clients. Ideally, you should have worked in a gym setting.

3. Personality

You need to be able to motivate others and keep them motivated.

4. Patience

You need to be patient with your clients. If they don’t follow directions, then you can’t blame them.

5. Humility

You need to be humble enough to admit when you make mistakes.

Personal Trainer Salary

According to, the average personal trainer income in the United States is $63,812 as of March 29, 2022, with a usual range of $46,036 to $78,389.

Personal Trainer Job Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of personal trainers and instructors is expected to expand 39 percent between 2020 and 2030, substantially faster than the national average.

On average, 69,100 jobs for personal trainers and instructors are expected per year during the next decade.


The personal trainer industry is growing rapidly. As more people join gyms, more personal trainers will be needed.

The demand for personal trainers is higher than ever. To meet the increasing demand, look for opportunities where you can gain valuable experience.

If you are interested in becoming a personal trainer, this post has provided the educational requirements you need to meet, as well as other information to boost your knowledge about the personal trainer career, to help you succeed in it.