Personal Trainer: Job Description & Career Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a personal trainer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Personal trainers help clients to achieve their personal fitness and weight goals. A college degree and certification from a professional fitness organization may be helpful for those wishing to enter this career.

Required Education High school diploma and certification classes; associate's or bachelor's degree in fitness-related field may be preferred
Other Requirements Previous experience and/or certification generally required
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*13% for all fitness trainers and instructors
Median Salary (2013)*$33,020 for all fitness trainers and instructors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a Personal Trainer

Most personal trainers work in a gym or fitness center. They spend their time interacting with clients in an office or training them on the gym floor. Trainers may work with clients individually or in small groups. Options in employment include working in a gym or being self-employed.

Duties

Personal trainers meet with clients before they begin working with them to gain a better understanding of the client's goal, like losing weight or gaining muscle mass. They may also give clients a tour of the facility and show them some of the workouts they may do. At this initial meeting, the trainer may also go over the charges for the personal training services and discuss payment plans.

Personal trainers devise customized exercise plans for their clients based on their goals. These plans typically include cardiovascular and weight lifting exercises. During a training session, trainers observe their clients performing exercises to ensure they are doing the moves correctly. Trainers may also give diet and lifestyle suggestions when they are relevant to the fitness plan.

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

According to predictions from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for fitness trainers and instructors should increase 13% from 2012-2022. This average level of job growth is partially due to the growing emphasis on the importance of good health for people of all ages. In May 2013, the BLS listed the median annual salary of fitness trainers and instructors at $33,020.

How to Become a Personal Trainer

The BLS noted that a high school diploma and certification classes are the main academic requirement for this field, though some trainers may need to earn a bachelor's degree in a fitness related field, such as exercise science, to enter the profession (www.bls.gov). Coursework typically include anatomy, biomechanics and nutrition. Students also take lab courses that teach them how to gauge their clients' physical strengths and monitor their progress.

Certification

The BLS indicated that employers favor applicants who have some past personal training experience and certification in the field. The International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA) offers one certification option for personal trainers (www.ifpa-fitness.com). In order to be eligible, candidates must be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. The IFPA offers training courses to help candidate prepare for testing, but courses are voluntary.

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