Becoming a Personal Trainer

The road to becoming a personal trainer is pretty straightforward. However, you must ensure that you have the specific skills and the right personality in order to succeed as a personal trainer.

Who Can Become Personal Trainers?

Just like in any career, a personal trainer job is not for everyone. While this occupation has certainly become increasingly popular over the last several decades, you must have the right personality, specific skills, and education in order to become one.

This is not to say that you must first establish yourself as a bodybuilder or a fitness guru before you can become a personal trainer. However, leading a healthy lifestyle, knowing the ins and outs of the profession, and being a good role model for prospective clients can go a long way. You will also need to have a genuine interest in health and fitness, good communication skills, patience, and the ability to encourage and motivate others if you want to become successful in the field of personal training.

Steps to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Once you’ve decided that you have what it takes to become a personal trainer, you’ll need to take the following steps.

  • There are two routes to achieving your dream job as a personal trainer: get an academic degree and certification, or get a certification directly.

    Obviously, those with health and fitness degrees will have more employment options after graduation. The decision is all up to you. While a college education may not be required in order to become a personal trainer, many fitness centers and organizations are beginning to require candidates to have a health or fitness degree. Some employers may allow professional certification as a substitute for a degree, but this is not guaranteed.

  • If you decide to get a degree to be a personal trainer, you will need to check local colleges and universities to see which ones offer Physical Education, Human Kinetics, Kinesiology, or Human Movement Science programs. 3 to 4 year programs may result in a Bachelor’s degree depending on the institution. Make sure to conduct your own thorough research to ensure that the degree program is compatible with your career goals.
  • Whether or not you decided to get a college degree, you will need to take certification exams. This part may be tricky for some, since there are a lot of fitness certification options to choose from. However, it is recommended that you choose one that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which is part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.. All certification exams consist of a written and practical test. Advanced certification is also available for those who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These advanced certification exams are usually for those who will provide more specialized services, such as training athletes, working with those who are injured or ill, or those who will be advising clients on general health and wellness.
  • Once you get your personal trainer certification and you feel you are not ready to strike out on your own yet, you may want to look for personal training jobs in gyms, health and fitness clubs, corporate wellness programs, hospital wellness programs, holiday resorts, schools or country clubs. Employment in these places will help you get your feet wet and help build your confidence as gain experience working as a professional personal trainer.
  • Although it’s not an absolute necessity, you may want to consider choosing a specialty especially if you want to separate yourself from the pack. With experience comes the opportunity to find your niche, and once you’ve identified yours, you can seek continuing education in order to enhance your knowledge, as well as additional certification. Becoming a fitness nutrition specialist, resistance training specialist, or a specialist in another area of focus will enable you to build a solid reputation, as opposed to being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.
  • Many people who start out as employed personal trainers eventually go on to start their own business. Once you feel you are ready, make sure to research how you can start your own practice, as well as the regulations enforced by your state. Some personal trainers rent a studio which is ideal for those who have a rather large client base, but others start small, by offering to hold sessions in their homes, or their clients’ homes. If you are employed at a gym or fitness center, remember that your employers might have a non-competition clause in your employment agreement. This protects employers in the event that their employees choose to leave, preventing personal trainers from taking loyal clients with them.