Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Career and Certification

Certified personal trainers work with clients to help them reach their physical and health goals. Learn more about what these trainers do and how you can gain certification to become one. Consider degree options you could pursue to enhance your career, such as a 2-year or 4-year degree in exercise science. Get info about where you could work as a CPT. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Certified personal trainers (CPTs) work with individuals and small groups of clients to set and attain fitness goals. There are several professional organizations that offer certification.

Responsibilities Develop personalized fitness plans for clients, enhance sports performance, help clients get in shape, teach technique, promote healthy lifestyles, etc.
Career Outlook (2016-2026)* 10% job growth for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, which is faster than average
Certification Offered by professional organizations; typically requires CPR certification and passing an exam

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Career as a Certified Personal Trainer Look Like?

CPTs use physical assessments and fitness testing to develop personalized fitness plans for each client, modifying their work to help clients achieve weight loss goals, enhance sports performance, work on problem areas or simply get into shape.

CPTs teach clients the correct techniques of weight lifting, stretching and various exercise methods to ensure safety and maximize fitness results. They can also teach their clients about nutrition and healthy lifestyles, and they often work with other fitness professionals, such as nutritionists, to enhance the well-being of their clients.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 10% growth in positions for personal trainers and aerobics instructors in the decade between 2016 and 2026. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for personal trainers and aerobics instructors was reported as $39,210 in May 2017.

How Do I Become Certified?

To begin working as a personal trainer, you will need to become certified through a professional organization. The requirements of certification depend on the granting organization, but typically you will need to be at least 18 years old, be certified in CPR and pass an examination to become certified. Certification exams test your knowledge in areas pertinent to fitness, such as:

  • Anatomy
  • Kinesiology
  • Nutrition
  • Program development
  • Assessment techniques
  • Medical considerations
  • Behavior modification

Most organizations offer seminars, workshops, study material, practice exams and classes to help you prepare for your exam. A large number of fitness organizations offer certification. To be sure that an organization meets industry standards, you can make sure it is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

Does This Career Require a College Degree?

While you do not need a degree to become certified, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that preference will generally be given to personal trainers with degrees in the fitness field (www.bls.gov). An associate or bachelor's degree in a fitness-related field such as exercise science or kinesiology looks at the scientific study of human movement, health promotion and wellness and will provide you with comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the field. Numerous organizations also offer advanced certification for trainers with college degrees.

Many community colleges and universities also offer certificate programs that integrate introductory exercise science courses with fitness assessment and techniques. Programs offering certificates in fitness training can be completed in as little as one semester and can prepare you for certification.

Where Would I Work?

Once you are certified by an accredited organization, you can work in a wide variety of settings. Some options include:

  • Fitness clubs
  • Recreational centers
  • University gymnasiums
  • Resorts
  • In clients' homes

Or, after you establish a client base, you can begin your own business.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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