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How to Become a Personal Trainer?

how to become a personal trainer

If you have a passion for fitness, bodybuilding, and love mentoring others, you may want to consider a career as a personal trainer.

Although the profession on its own does not require a college education, there are some requirements to become a personal trainer. Some background qualifications may open new opportunities to branch out and also offer a higher salary.

So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a personal trainer and how you can get the best out of your career going forward.

how to become a personal trainer

Your Secondary Education

You will have to be 16 or older and have either a high school diploma or a GED. Even if you are not pursuing a college education, a high school diploma or GED is going to be a requirement for almost any job you apply for.

As personal trainers have a disciplined lifestyle in general with the aim to not only “reach goals” but to “excel,” higher grades will count in your favor. There are many stereotypes around the concept of “jocks” not excelling in school, but as we all know, athletes all risk injury. If you do get injured and can no longer put your own body through routine workouts every week, you will need something to fall back on.

Your Tertiary Education

As mentioned, you will need something to fall back on if, for any reason, you can’t perform your duties anymore. However, aside from this, there are many degrees you can pursue to enhance your career, navigate to a higher title, or provide additional services:


Some personal trainers go on to study biokinetics. This will require a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in biokinetics, health sciences, etc. The exact name of the degree will vary between different institutions.

Your qualification in biokinetics may require the completion of an internship or practical hours as part of your curriculum. Biokinetics focuses on the overall health of the client, as opposed to simply reaching a specific muscle strength or fitness level.

Excellent for sports injuries…

Many health ordinances, medical insurance programs, and life insurance policies require a once-off or annual overall health status report, which will include blood glucose levels, cholesterol, heart health, lung capacity, and stamina assessments. The majority of these can be done via a trainer qualified in biokinetics.

Furthermore, biokinetics will also teach you to work around possible long-term injuries that may affect clients.


Nutritionists or licensed dieticians often have degrees in nutrition, biochemistry, biology, psychology, or anatomy. If you wing your major and minor courses right, you could be qualified to provide services in biokinetics and nutrition.

This is a huge benefit, as you will be able to help clients to maintain a healthy diet that will meet the nutritional and caloric intake requirements to lose weight and build muscle without starving themselves or harming their bodies. This will be exceptionally beneficial to clients with mental health issues and possible eating disorders.

Your Certification

Dietician (Optional)

If you have done the relevant degree to become a nutritionist, you can choose to leave it at that. However, if you would like to add to that, you can be certified as a licensed dietician. This will require an additional internship and passing the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam.

Then, you can apply for a state license, which you will have to maintain and keep updated. This is not compulsory for a personal trainer; however, it is a good way to boost your qualification.

First Aid (Compulsory)

Some personal trainers opt to complete a full EMT course to handle emergencies; however, many employers will not want you to intervene in ways that will risk liability or lawsuits. What they will require is to complete a course in CPR and AED.

These will teach you how to perform chest compressions and use an automated external defibrillator if a client collapses and goes into cardiac arrest. This will often be just enough to keep the heart going until the emergency medical responders show up.

how to become the personal trainer

Personal Trainer Certificate (Compulsory)

The following bodies offer accredited certification to become a personal trainer: The National Commission for Certifying Agencies, the American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, as well as the American College of Sports Medicine.

You can prepare for testing at any of these governing bodies by visiting their websites, as they have online learning materials available there. Once you are prepared, you may register to take your test. The most common method of testing is to complete an online questionnaire; however, you may be required to do so under their supervision.

Personally, Training

Hopefully, you have maintained a fitness regime up until this point, whether or not you have all the additional optional qualifications. You will now have to decide which branch you would like to specialize in, or if you plan on doing a combination of services based on the need of your clients. However, it is never a good idea to be a jack of all trades, master of none.

Essentially, a prospective bodybuilder is not going to want to work with someone that is not exceptionally muscular. And a professional cyclist will want someone that has lean muscle mass and stamina.

Customized workouts are key…

Someone that wants to get in shape and lose weight, will not want to work with someone that is currently carbo-loading to build muscle now and get shredded later. All this considered, you should also be able to explain and reassure your clients that you can get them where they need to be, even if your personal fitness goals are not the same.

Finally, Apply To Become A Personal Trainer

Depending on your qualifications, you can earn an annual base salary from $25K-$70K. You may also earn bonuses and commissions up to $20K per year. If you invest or start your own gym, your profit sharing is really where the big money will come in.

You can earn another $100K or more, but this is really up to how successful your gym is, and how many added services you have to offer. This is definitely where your added college qualifications will bring home the non-fat, high-protein bacon.

Keep up to date in the industry…

Your years of experience, customer reviews, and portfolio will count towards earning higher amounts. You should also keep track of any athletic achievements such as body-building competitions, triathlons, etc.

If you struggle to find vacancies at local gyms, you can also approach schools, colleges, and large companies that have fitness facilities. If you are not camera shy and have the space, you can consider streaming online sessions and consultations.

Be The Best Personal Trainer You Can Be!

You should always strive for improvement, and what better way than with The Personal Training Business Bible, and Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career, or perhaps you’re starting out, then the Becoming a Personal Trainer For Dummies and How to Become A Personal Trainer, will come in handy!

We can also help you study with the ACE Certified Personal Trainer Exam Prep: Study Guide, along with the ACE Personal Trainer Practice Test: Exam Prep with 450 Practice Questions, all available online in 2023.

Why not take a look at a few alternative positions in the industry you might be interested in, such as my Fitness Instructor Job Description, my Dietary Aide Job Description, and my Sports Medicine Physician Job Description.

Along with my Life Time Fitness Application, my Planet Fitness Application, and my 24 Hour Fitness Application, or perhaps my Golds Gym Application, Gymboree Application, and my Anytime Fitness Application if you’d like to start applying today!

Final Thoughts

College is not always an option for everyone right away. However, you could always get your primary compulsory certification to become a personal trainer, start working and then continue your studies at a later time.

As mentioned, this career will require discipline and for you to be a walking model for your clients. This means that you will have to consider this a real passion rather than just a job. You will also need to be able to constantly motivate your clients.

Although this is daunting to think about, always remember that you will be changing and possibly even saving people’s lives – not just making sure that they reach their goals in the short term but to developing a happy, healthy lifestyle that will benefit them in the long run.

All the very best in working as a Personal Trainer!

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