You love working out and doling out fitness advice. Your friends swear that you’re the most fit person they know. If you’re being honest, you’ve probably even thought about becoming a certified personal trainer. So let’s talk about the realities of breaking into the business.
In 2015, the median pay for personal trainers was $36,160 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Overall, the BLS expects the field to grow about 8 percent by 2024, so there’s long-term opportunity in the field. Combine that with the fact that coaching clients all day in gym gear is a lot more fun than sitting behind a desk in office-appropriate slacks, and a fitness career becomes even more appealing.
As far as education is concerned, a personal training certification is one of the least expensive vocational paths. Organizations like the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and dozens more offer personal trainer courses. Costs typically run between $200 and $2000, depending on the accrediting group. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s far more affordable than returning to college for another degree.
In addition to passing a written test—each group has its own—you’ll need a CPR/AED certification, which you can usually get through your local Red Cross or YMCA. Once you’re certified as a personal trainer, you’ll renew your certifications every 1–3 years, depending on the certifying body. You’ll also need to complete continuing education courses.
Continuing education is how you learn about the latest trends and developments in your craft. For example, if your passion is high intensity interval training, you could learn how to incorporate different types of equipment, like the TRX Rip Trainer, into your client sessions. If you want to teach at a gym in addition to working with personal clients, classes like the TRX Group Training Course or Advanced Group Training Course will help you learn to cue a crowd and manage multiple clients in a single session.
Still nervous about making the transition from your day job to life as a certified personal trainer? You don’t have to choose between the two right now! Start on your personal training certification in your spare time, and make an effort to network with local gym owners and trainers. Fitness professionals are a welcoming group, and most are happy to share the tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way.
While you’re studying for the certification test, take classes with as many trainers as possible. Introduce yourself to the instructor before class, and let him or her know that you’re studying for your certification. Trainers make a living helping clients achieve their fitness goals, and they are equally encouraging when it comes to professional goals.
Finally, once you’re certified, go back to that network you’ve been building to ask about openings at local studios. Tell your friends to spread the word that you’re accepting clients. Consider hosting a few free training sessions for your friends and family. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising tool for a trainer. Once people hear that you deliver results, the job offers will come rolling in.
It is possible to ditch your day job for a fun, fulfilling career as a trainer, and it all starts with getting certified.