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Unlike some other health professionals, physical trainers -- often called personal or fitness trainers -- are not regulated by state or federal laws. Likewise, the state of Virginia doesn't issue certifications or licenses for fitness trainers. Instead, you'll seek certification from any number of fitness organizations.
Organizations including the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) maintain their own programs to certify trainers, among others. When choosing a program, check which ones are recognized by the gyms, fitness centers and other employers near you. The YMCA of Greater Richmond, Virginia, for example, requires its trainers to have a "nationally recognized" training, while OneLife Fitness in Norfolk requires certification from one of 14 organizations. Also choose a program that's accredited by a national accreditation organization, ensuring a comprehensive training program. IDEA Health and Fitness Association maintains a list of accredited programs. Once you're done training, you'll take a written exam, pay a fee, and receive your certification.
If you run your own personal training business, you may have other business-related requirements. For tax purposes, register your business entity with the help of the Virginia Department of Business Assistance, and check with your city to find out whether you need a local business license. In some cities, such as Arlington, for example, you'll need to obtain a health permit if you're serving food or operating a pool or spa as part of your fitness business.
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.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Fitness Trainer or Instructor
- YMCA of Greater Richmond: Personal Trainer
- Virginia Department of Business Assistance: Starting a Business
- City of Alexandria Virginia: Health Permits & Licenses
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
- Career Trend: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
- XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images