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Personal Trainer Certification: Fitness Trainer, Personal Training Certification, Fitness Training School, Certified Personal Trainer Course

A personal trainer or fitness trainer is involved with leading, motivating, and instructing people towards meeting their fitness goals. Many are found working in health clubs or gyms, while others may choose to open their own fitness training studios. Personal training certification is required by many organizations to ensure all safety and health standards are met. A personal trainer career can be very rewarding and fitness training school provides the foundation for ongoing work in the health, exercise, and nutrition field.

Job Description and Responsibilities of a Personal Trainer or Fitness Trainer

After becoming a certified personal trainer, an individual may work with both individuals and groups. A fitness trainer is primarily responsible for working with group exercise activities and classes, while a personal trainer works one-on-one with various clients. Group instruction is another option for both types of works. Primary responsibilities for exercise instruction include:

  • Assessing the level of physical fitness for an individual
  • Helping to structure fitness goals
  • Demonstrating exercise techniques
  • Keeping records of all client sessions
  • Using music and choreography to develop exercise routines
  • Motivating exercise class students and participants
  • Developing programs to obtain members to a health club
  • Front desk and administrative functions
  • Ensuring all health and safety guidelines are followed
  • Following health club or gym policies
  • Targeting specific muscle groups for effective alignment

Career Options for a Certified Personal Trainer or Fitness Trainer

After pursuing personal training certification, students of a fitness training school or personal trainer school may choose to work in:

  • Public gyms

  • Health clubs

  • Fitness center

  • Country clubs

  • Yoga or Pilates studios

  • Resorts

  • Universities

  • Clients' homes

  • Workplace gyms

Personal trainer career opportunities and positions available include:

  • Head Trainer
  • Group Exercise Director
  • Exercise Coordinator or Supervisor
  • General Manager of a fitness center or health club
  • Independent business owner

Personal Trainer Certification and Programs

Personal trainer certification is mandatory for all individuals interested in becoming a personal trainer. Group fitness instructors do not require personal training certification, but some choose to pursue it in order to advance in their career. A personal trainer must have a high school diploma in order to obtain personal trainer certification, in addition to completing certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Personal training certification is comprised of both a written and practical component. Although there is no formal training available for personal trainer certification, a personal trainer course offered by a technical college or trade school can provide the foundation for preparation.

Certifying organizations for a personal trainer career can provide the materials and curriculum needed to pass the examination. This may include CD-ROMs, DVDs, and reading materials as part of a personal trainer course program. A personal trainer school is usually a part of a larger educational program. Some colleges and universities also offer an associate or bachelor's degree program in an exercise-related subject where the individual can then pursue personal trainer training as an extension of their studies. These courses of study are most attractive for those interested in training athletes or people who are injured, and are considered a specialization for a personal trainer career.

Fitness training school focuses on training students in motivational leadership, nutrition studies, and learning specific exercise techniques. Fitness training school is a common choice for those interested in becoming a group exercise or fitness instructor. Many employers require fitness workers to have a bachelor's degree in a fitness or health-related field, and will not employ those without personal trainer certification.

A certified personal trainer must apply for recertification every two years, and can do this by registering for a personal trainer course at a local community college or trade school. Training requirements for Pilates and yoga instructors does not require formal training, but due to the high risk of injuries in this area, it is becoming more common for yoga studios and fitness centers to require personal trainer certification.

Personal trainer certification programs can help prepare students for the examination, and also provide valuable information for running their own business. Common courses in these structured personal trainer training programs include:

  •  Identifying clients' goals

  • Making use of fitness testing and assessment

  • Marketing the business and retaining clients

  • Effective decision making

  • Overcoming common difficulties during a personal trainer career

  • Tax advantages of a personal training business

Personal Trainer Career Potential and Employment Prospects

Job opportunities are expected to grow faster than average for those who pursue a personal trainer career. A personal trainer or fitness trainer both have many opportunities to become a part of a health organization, fitness center, health club, or wellness program. Many choose to open their own health or fitness center during their career. Since the demand for skilled workers in this field is growing, job opportunities look promising.  More health clubs and independent clients are hiring educated and well-trained personal trainers. Health clubs are looking for new ways to attract customers, and offering personal training is a valuable asset. 

The median annual salary for a certified personal trainer or fitness trainer was $25,470 in 2004.   Related occupations include:

  • Athletic coach

  • Umpire

  • Fitness consultant

  • Weight loss consultant

  • Exercise coordinator

  • Health consultant


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