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How Much Money Does a Personal Trainer Make?

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Going for the burn, bulking up or twisting yourself into a pretzel -- getting or staying physically fit takes serious work. A personal trainer can help you perform exercises correctly, prevent injuries and provide extra motivation. Salaries for personal trainers vary according to location and work setting.

A Variable Situation

Also known as fitness trainers and fitness instructors, personal trainers could have anything from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. Many specialize in a particular discipline, such as aerobics, Pilates or yoga, and might hold one or more specialty certifications. Training, experience and certification could all affect salaries. The published average salary for a personal trainer varies according to the source. O*NET Online reports fitness trainers and aerobics instructors earned a median salary of $33,020 in 2013. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average annual salary of $37,790 for 2013. reports personal trainers earned an average of $30,000 in 2014.

Work Setting Matters

The BLS notes that personal trainers’ salaries vary by work setting and industry. Those who worked in civic and social organizations earned the lowest average annual salary of $33,020 in 2013. Local government provided employment for 10,830 personal trainers, and the average salary was $34,140. Some personal trainers worked in the health care industry, where they earned $37,670. Personal trainers who worked in other amusement and recreation industries took home $39,000, and those who worked in the area of other schools and instruction pocketed the highest average salary of $39,110.

State-by-State Variations

Salaries for personal trainers tended to be higher in the coastal states, according to the BLS. Washington, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Texas all offered average annual salaries ranging from $38,850 to $52,630 in 2013, as did the mountain state of Colorado. In other states, personal trainers earned salaries ranging from $17,410 to $32,260. Arkansas was the lowest-paying state in 2013, with an average annual salary of $22,230. New York state took top honors for pay, with an average annual salary of $52,630.

Location, Location, Location

Geographic location within a state and the choice of a metropolitan or rural setting also can affect personal trainers’ salaries. In California, salaries varied from $54,830 in Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura to $67,280 in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City was also the highest-paying metropolitan area in the U.S. In nonmetropolitan areas, salaries varied from $19,600 in Ohio to $31,800 in southwest Maine. Personal trainers in north central Colorado had the highest salaries of all those who worked in rural areas, at $55,280.

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.