Fitness Teacher: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a fitness teacher. Learn about: the duties of this job, the educational requirements and salary range to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Athletic Coaching degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Fitness Teacher?

Fitness teachers have a variety of workplaces to choose from, whether they're providing one-on-one training or leading group classes, and their clients may represent a diverse range of age groups and abilities. Fitness instructors typically demonstrate and lead cardiovascular activities, stretches or strength building exercises. These professionals must be able to adapt workouts to meet different abilities, as well as observe a client's progress and adjust their exercise plan as needed. Fitness teachers work to ensure the safety of all their clients while exercising and are able to administer first aid treatment as required. They may also advise clients about nutrition and other healthy living techniques. The following chart provides an overview of the education and certification requirements along with the job outlook and average salary in this field.

Degree Required Secondary school or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Exercise science or a related field
Certification Applicable state and /or national fitness training certification and CPR
Key Responsibilities Prepare lessons and fitness plans, demonstrate correct techniques, evaluate and correct student performance
Job Growth 8% (2014-2024)*
Average Salary $40,970 (2015)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Could I Apply for as a Fitness Teacher?

You could apply for group exercise instructor positions at gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, resorts and exercise studios. As a group exercise instructor, you could teach classes on strength training, kickboxing, spinning, yoga, Pilates, samba and more. You could also work as a personal trainer, in which case you might be employed by a gym or health club or work independently with clients at their homes. Alternatively, you could open your own fitness studio, where you could specialize in one or more types of fitness activities, such as yoga, Pilates or kickboxing.

Do I Need to Get Certified?

Many employers require fitness teachers to become certified, if not before initiation of employment, at least at some point after being hired. If you're a personal trainer, you might have an easier time attracting clients if you're certified. For these reasons, getting certified early in your career might give you a competitive edge over others.

Numerous organizations offer group exercise instructor and personal trainer certification. A few examples of certification organizations that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies include the National Federation of Professional Trainers (www.nfpt.com), the American Council on Exercise (www.acefitness.org) and the National Exercise Trainers Association (www.ndeita.com).

Most certification organizations require you to be at least 18 years of age and to hold a current CPR certificate in order to be eligible for certification. To get certified, you'll have to pass a certification exam. Certification organizations provide study materials and/or workshops to help you prepare for the exam.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

According to salary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2015, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors earned an average salary of $40,970 annually (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that fitness teachers working in educational support earned an average of $42,690 in 2015, and those who worked in the amusement and recreation industries earned an average of $42,350 that same year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Recreation worker is a similar career that only requires a high school diploma or equivalent for entry. These workers lead recreational activities for various groups. They may lead camping retreats, arts and crafts or sport activities. Athletic trainer and exercise physiologist are also related careers, but these occupations require a bachelor's degree. Athletic trainers primarily work with athletes to help them prevent injuries and sickness. They also treat any injury an athlete may obtain while performing. Exercise physiologists work with clients to improve their overall health or help them recover from disease.

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