Physical Training Majors

Physical trainers, also known as athletic trainers, prevent and treat injuries that occur in athletes and other patients. Learn about the difference between a personal trainer and a physical trainer, online programs, common courses, licensing requirements and the median salary for this career. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Where Can I Find a Physical Training Program?

A physical training major could fall into different program categories, but the most common would be a bachelor's degree in athletic training. You can find programs listed as physical training, kinesiology or sports medicine. It is also possible to find physical training classes in physical education programs. The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, one of the main accrediting agencies for this type of program, and proposed in 2010 that all of these programs should be referred to as athletic training (

Course Locations Bachelor's degrees offered across the country
Online Programs No fully online programs available, as hands-on training and clinical practice necessary
Differences Between Physical Trainers and Personal Trainers Personal trainers help individuals achieve their weight loss and fitness goals
Physical trainers help prevent and treat injuries, need a bachelor's degree and a license
Common Courses Sports medicine, athletic injuries, therapeutic exercise, sports nutrition
Licenses Required Most states require you have a license, which can be obtained through a professional organization
Continuing education required
Median Salary (2018) $39,820 (for all fitness trainers and instructors)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 10% growth (for all fitness trainers and instructors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Find These Programs Online?

There are no fully online programs available, but in some programs, you can take some of the required courses in online. Athletic training programs are mainly campus-based due to the amount of hands-on training needed in this profession and the large amount of clinical practice required.

What is the Difference Between a Physical Trainer and a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer is someone who helps you become physically fit. They may design an exercise program to meet goals for fitness or weight reduction. Certifications do exist for this kind of work, but most states do not require any specific educational background. Usually the minimum requirement for a personal trainer is a high school diploma.

An physical trainer is someone who is trained to prevent and treat injuries. They need at least a bachelor's degree and, in many states, must pass a certification exam to be licensed. As part of the educational process, an physical trainer learns about injury and illness prevention, as well as clinical evaluation, injury diagnosis, emergency care and rehabilitation techniques.

What Kind of Classes Will I Take to Become a Physical Trainer?

For any program in athletic training, you will need to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Other classes you take may include:

  • Sports medicine
  • Athletic injuries
  • Biomechanics
  • Assessing orthopedic injuries
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Sports nutrition
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Principles of human motion

Do I Have to Be Licensed to Become a Physical Trainer?

Most states require licensing for physical trainers. In order to qualify for licensing, you have to have at least a bachelor's degree and pass a certification exam by the Board of Certification, Inc., which is a professional physical trainer certification organization ( To keep your certification, you will have to take continuing education classes every year.

How Much Can I Make as a Physical Trainer?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary in 2018 for fitness trainers and instructors was $39,820 (

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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