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VA State Requirements for Physical Trainer Certification

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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.

Fitness Certification

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.

Business Licensing

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.

Fitness Trainers and Instructors salary

  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $76,550 ($36.80/hour)
  • Median Annual Salary: $40,510 ($19.48/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $21,640 ($10.40/hour)

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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