Do you enjoy maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a focus on good nutrition and a regular physical fitness routine? You may find that working as a personal fitness trainer combines your own interest in healthful living with your desire for a lucrative, rewarding career in a growing field. Personal trainers work year-round and gain much satisfaction from helping others change their lives for the better. If you think this might be the right fit for your personal career goals, research the profession.
What They Do
Personal trainers provide direction and support to individual clients and small groups desiring fitness instruction and motivational support. They tailor fitness plans to the unique abilities and needs of each client and help them overcome psychological and physical barriers to living healthful, active lifestyles. Personal trainers identify clients' fitness levels, body composition and strength, and design ways for them to improve their overall health through reshaping the body via weight loss, muscle-building exercises and healthy nutrition. By simplifying and varying workout routines, tossing in a pinch of fun and stressing safety and proper technique, trainers pique clients’ interest and maximize their success.
Education and training help personal trainers establish themselves as experts in fitness instruction and allow them to find clients and employers. Many colleges and universities, technical schools and specialized academies provide instruction that helps prepare you for a career as a personal trainer. Some institutions offer course programs requiring only a few weeks to complete, and some offer year-long study. Some students complete two-year associate’s degrees or four-year bachelor’s degrees in physiology or health and fitness to prepare for a career in personal training. Some personal trainers do not take courses to gain the knowledge they need to pass a certification test. Instead, they gain knowledge through experience and by learning from books, websites and from other personal trainers.
Personal trainers must gain certification by successfully passing exams and must complete continuing education courses every two to three years. You must be at least 18 years of age with CPR certification to take an exam. The American Council of Excellence, founded in 1985, offers a certification exam, exam preparation and continuing education courses for personal trainers. According to ACE’s website, 34,304 personal trainers currently possess ACE certification. The National Academy of Sports Medicine and at least two other nationally-accredited institutions also offer certification programs. Certification institutions charge between $200 and $600 for the two- to three-hour computer-based exams.
Income Potential and Job Outlook
According to the American Academy of Personal Training, expected strong demand through 2018 will expand job opportunities for personal trainers. In 2011, about 231,500 people in the United States worked as individual or group fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The median annual income for personal fitness trainers was $31,030. The top 10 percent of personal trainers earned $65,180 per year, and the bottom 10 percent earned $17,340 per year. California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and North Carolina employ the highest number of personal trainers. Jobs are most abundant in large suburban areas.