Physical Trainer: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for physical trainers. Get the facts about education requirements, salary, job outlook and certification to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Physical Trainer?

Physical trainers guide and motivate people to complete physical activity of various types in order to develop and/or strengthen their physical bodies. Trainers may also help individuals determine healthy lifestyle choices. In this field, you can work one-on-one, you can be a group instructor, or you can be a specialist in a particular type of physical exercise. Professional certification is often required.

Physical trainers need to enjoy working with people, and have good communication and teaching skills. They also need to have an understanding of the human body and its requirements for fitness and nutrition. Counseling can be a big part of a physical trainer's job, in addition to coaching or leading classes.

The following table can provide more details on this career.

Education Required High school diploma; employers may require an associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Kinesiology, physical education, exercise science
Key Skills Physical fitness, motivation, interpersonal, problem-solving
Certification Certification is commonly required by employers
Job Growth (2018-2028) 13% (for all fitness trainers and instructors)*
Average Salary (2018) $44,580 (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Physical Trainer Do?

The day-to-day jobs of physical trainers depend on whether they teach group or individual classes, and/or specialize in a certain type of physical activity. In general, however, you can expect to spend time designing fitness programs or routines, demonstrating different exercises, and adapting exercises to the needs of particular clients. You will likely also watch clients perform the activities and make suggestions or corrections to their technique.

Some physical trainers provide information for clients on their nutritional habits or lifestyle to further help improve their physical health. Those that own their own gym could have many other daily tasks as well, such as supervising staff, promoting their business, or managing membership.

What Type of Education or Training Do I Need?

The type of job you choose will determine the type of education or certification you need. You are likely only required to have a certification in the area in which you train from a recognized organization like the American Center for Exercise ( This organization offers a Personal Trainer Certification and Group Fitness Certification, as well as additional certifications in various techniques and training methods.

For more advanced jobs, you may be required to have an undergraduate degree in health and fitness training, along with the required certifications. You should contact the facilities in which you are seeking employment to ensure that you have the proper certification(s) required for the job you seek.

Where Might I Find a Job?

There are a wide variety of options for employment in this field. You may be able to work in health clubs, gyms and fitness centers, but also recreation centers, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and even self-employment. You eligibility to work in various locations may depend on the level of education and certification(s) that you have.

What Is the Job Outlook for This Field?

While fitness trainers earned an average of $44,580 per year as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), salaries vary greatly because of the variation in certifications, education and employment facilities ( The BLS also projected that this field will continue to grow at 13%, which is fast as average for all occupations from 2018-2028. This rise in employment could be due to more businesses recognizing the benefits of employee fitness and individuals continuing to seek assistance with health and fitness goals.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in exercise science and are willing to pursue a bachelor's degree, you could work toward a career as an athletic trainer. Rather than focusing on teaching fitness, athletic trainers work with athletes to help prevent and treat sports-induced injuries. Another similar job option is recreation work. Recreation workers lead activities for groups at leisure facilities such as playgrounds, camps, and senior centers. It is possible to get started as a recreation worker with just a high school diploma or equivalent.

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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