What Education Do I Need to Become a Personal Trainer?

Personal trainers work with either a single person or a small group of people to help them set and achieve their fitness goals. Read on to learn more about education and certification requirements for personal trainers. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Basic Overview

The educational requirements for personal trainers are fairly relaxed; you might be able to enter the field after earning a high school education and completing a few classes or receiving training from an experienced personal trainer.

However, some employers may require you to hold an associate's or bachelor's degree in fitness-related fields, such as exercise science or kinesiology. A period of hands-on instruction with an experienced trainer is usually required as well, and certification may be helpful if not always required by the employer. All of these elements provide you with the additional training and education that can help advance your personal training career.

Important Facts About Related Degrees

Prerequisites High school diploma, health-related coursework
Common Courses Nutrition, anatomy and physiology, human motion and motor development, medical terminology
Online Availability Some programs at the associate's level are available fully online
Concentrations Personal training, coaching, wellness and nutrition, strength and conditioning, athletic training
Median Salary (2018) $37,962*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 10%** (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)

Sources: *Payscale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) notes that earning certification is more and more important for personal trainers, and some employers may require it. To ensure that you earn certification from a respectable organization, you may wish to determine whether the organization is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The NCCA only accredits organizations and programs that meet a high quality standard.

You'll be eligible to take a certification exam once you are over 18 years old and a high school graduate; some organizations also require you to be cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certified. Once you've successfully completed a certification exam, you will be granted your professional credential. This designation is good for a set amount of time, usually two years. Most organizations allow you to maintain your certification by taking additional coursework, attending conferences, writing articles, or retaking the certification exam.

Certification Study Programs

Many certifying bodies offer courses you can take and/or study materials to help you prepare for the certification exams, some of which can be used as college credit. Although you aren't required to take these certification courses before you may become certified, the BLS reports that many personal trainers get their start in the field through these educational programs.

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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