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Fitness Trainer: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a fitness trainer. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is a Fitness Trainer?

Fitness trainers help health-conscious clients reach their weight and conditioning goals by providing the tools and resources to accomplish these objectives. They assess, instruct and motivate their clients and help personalize appropriate programs. Fitness trainers mainly implement exercise routines but may also give general lifestyle tips and advice.

Learn more about the career of fitness trainer from the table below:

Degree RequiredH.S. diploma or G.E.D.
Bachelor's degree preferred by some employers
Education Field of StudyPhysical Education
Exercise Science
Key ResponsibilitiesEnsure a safe environment by letting clients know rules and regulations and monitoring them during class or individual training sessions,
Help tailor workout to client's individual abilities,
Design and lead fitness classes or individual sessions,
Teach clients how to use fitness equipment safely and effectively,
Ensure equipment is in good working order
Licensure/CertificationCertification is usually required by employers
Job Growth (2018-2028)*13% for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors
Average Annual Salary (2018)*$44,580 for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Fitness Trainer?

As a fitness trainer, you may assess the current health status of your clients by obtaining measurements of weight, strength and stamina. You may create and/or conduct a program of exercise to enhance level of physical conditioning, along with providing nutritional guidelines. You also encourage and support your clients while ensuring that proper techniques and safety rules are adhered to. Monitoring length of exercise, breathing and use of the appropriate muscles are additional job responsibilities you may perform.

What Education Is Necessary?

A college degree is not required to work in this field; however, some courses related to physical education or sports science may give you an advantage when applying for a position as a trainer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some employers look for fitness workers who have at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as physical education or exercise science (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that many jobs do require you to obtain certification though. You must have a high school diploma and attend cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in order to qualify for most certifications.

How Do I Get Certified?

The American College of Sports Medicine and the International Sport Sciences Association are two agencies that offer certification for fitness trainers. They are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and require you to pass an exam in order to earn certification. The exams focus on your knowledge of human physiology and skills in program development and motivating clients. Certification needs to be renewed every two years and some organizations may require additional coursework.

What Is the Salary and Job Outlook for this Job?

The BLS estimated the average annual salary for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors was $44,580 as of May 2018 and that the top ten percent earned salaries above $76,090. More individuals are beginning to focus on health and physical fitness, and companies are beginning to offer wellness programs, including on-site fitness facilities. Because of these factors, employment of fitness trainers and aerobics instructors is predicted to increase by 13% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a high school diploma, one may also find work in recreational settings. Recreation workers organize various leisure activities at parks, community centers and senior living facilities. More in the fitness vein are athletic trainers and exercise physiologists, both of which require bachelor's degrees at minimum. The work of athletic trainers is a bit more medical than fitness trainers, and they work with those involved in sports. They help prevent, diagnose and repair injuries. Exercise physiologists create programs for their patients to help recover from chronic illnesses.