How to Become a

Personal Trainer

The complete career guide to be a Personal Trainer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $40,970
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Flexible Hours
    Career Attribute

Personal trainers offer fitness, strength-training, and physical well-being advice on an individual basis. Unlike other types of fitness instructor who teach fitness to groups of students, personal trainers work with students on a one-on-one basis. They develop personalized training programs to meet client needs.

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What is a Personal Trainer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in personal trainer roles:

  • Market services to acquire new clients
  • Discuss fitness needs and goals with clients
  • Develop personalized fitness, strength-training, and diet plans for clients
  • Observe and motivate clients during workout sessions
  • Alter training plans as students improve to best meet changing goals and needs

A Day in the Life

While many fitness instructors work with groups of people, teaching large classes, personal trainers work with their clients on a one-on-one basis. This allows them to personalize routines, fitness and strength-training plans, and healthy living advice to cater to the specific needs and goals of their clients. Some personal trainers work for gyms and pick up clients by selling add-on services for existing gym memberships. Others are self-employed and offer personal training services to clients in their homes.

Once a personal trainer has picked up a new client, he/she meets with the client to discuss goals. In some cases, the goals may be for general things like losing weight, becoming stronger, or toning bodies. In other cases, the client may have very specific goals like running a marathon, competing in a triathlon, or improving their skills as an athlete. The personal trainer works to understand the client’s goals in order to develop a personalized training program that will help clients achieve their goals.

Once a training program is developed, the personal trainer works with the client during workout sessions. During sessions, the personal trainer motivates the client to complete the routines and observes the client to ensure all exercises are being completed correctly in order to minimize the risk of injury. As time goes by and the client improves, the personal trainer may make alterations in the training program to get clients to the next level of their goals, encouraging continuous improvement.

Typical Work Schedule

Personal trainers may work either part-time or full-time. Their hours may be irregular, as they’re commonly required to meet with clients outside of normal business hours on evenings or weekends. Self-employed personal trainers enjoy more flexibility and choice in their schedules than those that work for gyms or fitness centers. Gym-employed personal trainers commonly work dedicated shifts.

Projected Job Growth

Demand for personal trainers is expected to increase in the coming decade as more employers recognize the importance of physical health in overall wellbeing, offering paid gym memberships and other incentives to employees for participating in exercise programs.

Typical Employers

Personal trainers are commonly employed by gyms and other fitness centers like the YMCA. Some may also be self-employed and offer personal training services to clients on a freelance basis.

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How To Become a Personal Trainer

It’s possible to self-train and become a personal trainer with only a high school diploma, though most gyms and fitness centers require applicants to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Without a degree, you’ll need to be in excellent physical condition, to understand how fitness and exercise impacts overall health, and to know how to develop personalized training programs to meet different needs and goals. This is all possible without a college degree but requires a significant amount of self-study.

Conversely, you may be better served to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in exercise science, kinesiology, or physical education. In these programs, you’ll learn about the importance of physical health, how to exercise without injury, and how to teach fitness to individuals with different needs—such as children or seniors. These degrees will qualify you to work as a personal trainer in a gym or fitness center. With experience in a gym, you’ll be better suited to move into self-employed training.

Another benefit of pursuing a college degree for aspiring self-employed personal trainers is that you’ll have the opportunity to take some general business and marketing courses as part of your general education requirements or electives. This can be beneficial when you move into operating your own personal training business because you’ll understand the basic practices for marketing your services to attract new clients and running your business in a way that meets legal requirements and reduces risk.

Personal Trainer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Personal Trainer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Personal Trainer's can make an average annual salary of $40,970, or $20 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $23,280 or $11 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #511 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Personal Trainer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Personal Trainers

  • 1.2%   Doctorate
  • 9.7%   Masters
  • 36.4%   Bachelors
  • 9.1%   Associates
  • 25%   College
  • 16.2%   High School
  • 2.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Personal Trainer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 23,400 jobs for a total of 302,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #264 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Personal Trainers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Fitness and recreational sports centers 161,800 14,300 14%
Civic and social organizations 34,000 400 0%
Self-employed workers 29,500 2,100 2%

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