If you love fitness or helping others be healthier, you’re wanting to know how to become a personal trainer. It’s surprisingly easier than most people think. In fact, most people can get their certification in 1 – 6 months for less than $500 – $1,000. Then, finding a job as a personal trainer or even starting your personal training business can happen in a month.
Here, we’ll give you the breakdown and 5 steps on how to be a personal trainer. You’ll learn things like:
- Is a job as a personal trainer right for you?
- What degree or education do you need to train clients?
- How long does it really take to study and pass a certification exam?
- How hard is it to make good money in personal training?
- Is personal training a good side job or should you go all in?
Step 1: Decide If Being A Personal Trainer Is Right For You
The first part is deciding if the fitness industry is right for you. If you love working out and like the idea of helping others lead a better, healthier life – it sounds like a great career move. For most, the pros and cons are straightforward:
Pros of being a trainer:
- Great earning potential
- Rewarding and purposeful career
- Fun, interactive environment
- Flexible scheduling
- Easy to get into
- Opportunities to scale and start a training business
Cons of being a trainer:
- Some people just don’t want to change
- Gyms usually don’t pay well
- Paid time off is rare (you don’t make money when you don’t train)
After reading the list, most see the benefit of being a fitness trainer. However, it’s important to know you realize the benefits of being a personal trainer more when you are an independent trainer. Regardless, if the pros outweigh the cons, it’s time to move to the next step.
Step 2: Get The Education To Train Clients
You’ll be working with clients’ bodies and they’re paying for results. So, you need to keep them safe and get them to their fitness goals. This is why you need the right education. In the U.S. there’s no requirement that you have a degree in exercise science, exercise physiology, etc. In fact, most states don’t even require a personal training or specialty certification. However, employers usually do. So to become a true exercise professional, you need to take and pass an exam from a certifying body.
The EMAC Personal Training Certification is for people who just love fitness. So the learning isn’t hard. Instead, it’s in digestible chunks so you can enjoy the process and get your certification fast.
Step 3: Study And Pass The Personal Training Exam
Most certified personal trainer programs will give you six months to study the material and take the exam. This is a realistic timeframe given most of the texts are about 20 chapters long. Although you’ll get 6 months before you need to take the test, most people end up sitting for the exam in two to three months. And, if your motivation to get your certification is high, you could also take the exam in about a month. Of course, you won’t be able to master the material in a month. If you study smart and hard, you can have that certification quickly.
As you’ll see, most certification programs cover the same topics including:
- Basic Anatomy and Exercise Physiology
- Client and Fitness Assessments
- Exercise Selection and Training Technique
- Fitness Training and Program Design
- Professional Practice
You’ll also see that most personal training certifications require you to be at least 18 years old (or a high school degree). And they’ll also require you have current CPR and AED certifications.
Step 4: Get A Job Or Start a Business
After you pass the personal training certification, it’s time to start making money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average personal training salary is $40k per year. However, the range of how much money you can make in personal training varies from minimum wage to $130k annually. The personal training salary variance is due to a number of factors. For example, working a personal training job as an employee of a gym, you might only make 25% of what the client is paying. In these instances, you’ll be making less than $20 an hour. However, if you’re working independently, you’re able to capture all of the revenue from the client. Then, you only pay rent to a small gym or a fitness studio you’re personally renting out.
Most people will start their personal training career working for a health club at first. This allows them to benefit from the marketing the gym does. It also allows you to easily slide into other roles like group fitness instruction or nutrition coaching. However, you will eventually hit a financial ceiling. At this point, most personal trainers will either venture off on their own to start a business or leave the fitness industry altogether.
However, as a fitness professional, there are more opportunities if you start your own personal training business. Because you don’t have restrictions from the gym, you can offer more services including online training, nutrition coaching, and health coaching. You’ll have to get your own clients rather than relying on the influx of gym members. The start up cost can be low since clients pay for achieving their fitness goals and not the expensive exercise equipment.
Step 5: Maintain Your Certification And Gain Experience
Whether you’re a trainer at a gym or running your own business, you should maintain your personal training certification. You can do this with continuing education courses. Rather than renewing your certification with small and short courses, consider the larger specialty certifications. These fitness courses will knock out most of your continuing education requirements by completing only that one course. Additionally, specialty certifications help you advance the services you offer or the populations you can work with. Therefore, it’s beneficial to choose courses that will advance your career the most. Once you receive your certification, you’ll need to renew it with about 20 hours of education every two years. The cost is usually between $500 and $800 for fitness specializations. But the process is easier. Most of these exams don’t require a proctor. So, it’s a low-stress experience. Additionally, the information is usually easier to learn. The first personal training certification you get is always the hardest. This is because the information is new to you and you don’t have the experience to relate it to.
5 Step Summary To Become A Personal Trainer
The steps are straightforward. Decide if a fitness career is right for you. Then pick your personal trainer course and pass the exam. Regardless of whether you work at a gym or for yourself, getting a job is easy. When first starting, you might not see your first client or conduct a training session for a month. Therefore, the entire process from start to paying the bills can take anywhere from four to eight months.
You can still follow these steps if you want to be a part-time personal trainer. The biggest challenge will be finding the time to study and then getting clients. Even if you’re working at a gym, the more you’re in front of the members the easier it will be. So, if you’re only working a couple of hours a night, expect two to three months before you really start making good money as a personal trainer.