Personal Training Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Learn what degrees can help you become a personal trainer, and find out about required job skills. See the typical duties of a personal trainer, and get an idea of the average annual salary for this profession. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer, or fitness trainer, leads cardiovascular, strength and stretch exercise activities. They may work one-on-one with individuals or lead group activities. They teach clients how to complete exercises, then observe clients as they do them to insure they are done correctly. It is important the they instruct clients on how to do these exercises properly to avoid injuries and maximize fitness improvements. Also to avoid injuries, personal fitness trainers must lay down safety procedures and ensure clients follow them. In addition to guiding exercises they also make nutrition recommendations and apply first aid when needed. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent, or a bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Athletic coaching education, exercise science, or health fitness
Key Responsibilities Teach exercise techniques, monitor exercise routines, ensure compliance with safety procedures, and give nutrition advice
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*
Median Salary (2015) $36,160 (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Major in Personal Training?

Personal training is not a typical 4-year college major, but it can be found as one component of a related bachelor's degree program, like a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Coaching Education, Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science or a Bachelor of Science in Health Fitness Specialist. Note that athletic trainer programs are not the same as personal trainer programs. Athletic trainers are health care providers while personal trainers are fitness specialists.

Personal training diploma, degree and certificate programs can be found at community colleges and in continuing education programs at 4-year colleges and universities. These programs are often preparatory programs for a certified personal trainer exam. No matter the type of program you choose, you will likely have to take courses in anatomy, nutrition and exercise physiology and your program may include business and sports psychology courses as well.

What Else Do I Need to Start Working?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) obtaining professional certification is increasingly important for personal trainers ( To become certified you'll need to find a fitness organization that offers this credential. There are many of these types of organizations out there, so ensure that you have found a reliable organization by checking with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Most certifying agencies require that you pay a fee and pass an exam either online or in person.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

As a personal trainer you will design exercise programs for individual clients or for groups of clients. You will assess clients' fitness levels before beginning an exercise program and then demonstrate and alter exercises to meet their abilities. Maintaining exercise equipment may be part of your job.

How Much Can I Earn?

Your earnings as a personal trainer will be dependent on the type of employer you choose and the hours you put in. Many personal trainers work for health clubs, recreation centers, private corporations and for themselves. The highest paid trainers are self-employed and earned a median hourly pay of $30.00 an hour according to as of 2016. Personal trainers in the United States made a median income of $36,124 according to the same source.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar to personal trainers, athletic trainers lead exercise activities. The difference is that athletic trainers work with athletes to keep them in shape and prevent injuries. Additionally, these trainers are also responsible for helping athletes recover from injuries when they occur. Exercise physiologists create exercise routines used to help patients recover from diseases and improve related bodily functions such as cardiovascular. Physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of physical therapist, and help patients complete exercises designed to help them regain mobility after an injury or illness.

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:

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