Fitness instructors may work with groups on aerobics or other types of exercise, or they may serve as personal trainers for individuals, helping them to reach their own customized fitness goals. The amount of money a fitness instructor makes depends on her training and experience, her employer and the location in which she lives.
Salaries for fitness instructors ranged from $16,430 to $62,120 a year, as of May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary for fitness instructors in the United States was $35,340. Certification plays a vital role in the wages a fitness instructor earns, and those with more years of experience tend to earn higher on the salary scale.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that most fitness instructors work in the recreation industry for an average annual salary of $36,700. Those working for civic and social organizations earned $30,540 a year on average, while those in other schools and instruction earned $29,610. Fitness instructors employed by local government earned $33,950 a year on average, and those working in general medical and surgical hospitals earned an average income of $34,940 a year.
Fitness instructors can make more money by pursuing a bachelor's degree in exercise science or physical education, and in some cases a master's degree is possible. Some facilities will promote instructors to managerial or administrative positions. In addition, certain employment sectors tend to offer higher wages. For example, fitness instructors teaching in technical and trade schools earned an average of $49,410 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Religious organizations offered fitness instructors $53,140 a year and those working in educational support services earned an average salary of $54,840 a year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics named New York as the state with the highest wages for fitness instructors in 2009, where they made an average of $48,830 per year. Washington, D.C., ranked second with a salary average of $45,570, closely followed by Massachusetts at $45,430. Framingham, Massachusetts, was the highest-paying metropolitan area for fitness instructors, with an average salary of $64,350, coming out on top of New York City, where the average was $56,000 per year.