July 28, 2021
Last Updated:
July 29, 2021

How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

As people have started to invest in making sure they live their healthiest lives, the need for people to guide them on these transformative journeys has increased drastically. When it comes to exercise and fitness, these people are often certified personal trainers. If you have a passion for fitness and a desire to help others, becoming a personal trainer could be right for you.

Personal Trainer Responsibilities

The responsibilities of each personal trainer will differ but generally include:

  • Establishing goals and timelines based on clients’ wants and needs
  • Coaching clients during their workout sessions
  • Creating personalized training plans for clients
  • Demonstrating how to use various exercise equipment

Besides these responsibilities, personal trainers need to know how to work with clients in ways that the clients are receptive to. Being communicative, a good listener, nurturing, encouraging, and analytical are all traits of effective personal trainers, since these traits in turn help clients succeed.

If the trainer has the proper skills and education, they can also help clients with the nutritional side of fitness. This can mean nutrition counseling, meal planning, grocery shopping, or even meal prepping for their clients.

Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer

Complete the prerequisites.

In order to complete any personal training certification program, you’ll need to meet the prerequisites. These prerequisites can include being at least 18 years old, having a high school diploma (or GED), and having CPR certification. Some programs may also require a two- or four-year college degree in a fitness-related field, like exercise science or kinesiology.

Find a training program.

After you’ve met any prerequisites, it’s time to decide on and apply for a certified personal training program. The program you choose will depend on a number of factors, including cost, length, location (online or in person), and accreditation. An accredited program has been approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE), or another top accrediting body. Before making a decision, you can ask the following questions to help narrow down your choices.

  • Will the courses I need be offered online, or are they in person only?
  • What’s the total cost for the program? Does it include any exam registration fees?
  • Is the program accredited? If so, is it nationally or internationally accredited?
  • What are the continuing education requirements to renew my certificate?
  • What kind of job placement resources does the program offer?



Study, study, study.

After you enroll in the program of your choice, it’s time to crack open the books. Many courses can take up to a year to complete, so it’s a good idea to set aside time each day to study. Some programs have specialties you can focus on, such as women’s fitness, geriatric fitness, performance enhancement, or weight management. Depending on the program you select, the coursework can be guided (often by graduates or visiting health and wellness experts), self-study (where you go at your own pace), or some combination of the two.

Part of the program will likely include some in-person, hands-on training. This usually serves to show your knowledge of using exercise machines, correcting workout form, and interacting with clients. You can practice these skills on your own or with family and friends.

Take the test and start changing lives!

Once you’ve completed your coursework and any in-person hours, it’s time to take your certification exam. Once you pass, you’ll be a certified personal trainer! The next step is to find a personal training job.

Personal trainer job outlook

The health and wellness industry is rapidly expanding and expected to grow by 15% through 2029 – much faster than other industries. The typical personal trainer makes around $40,000 per year, but this will depend on where you work, how many clients you have, and where you live, among other details.

Where do personal trainers work?

As a personal trainer, you may work for an established business or train clients independently. When beginning their careers, many new trainers choose to work for a business to get experience. You might want to consider some of these options:

Commercial gyms

Gyms and fitness centers are always looking to hire personal trainers. Working with commercial gyms is a good way to build a client base and gain experience in working with the general population.


Many companies – from mom-and-pop shops to international conglomerates – offer corporate wellness packages to help improve their employees’ health.


Some hospitals hire personal trainers to help patients recover from illness or injury. Often, these jobs require additional degrees or certifications.

Community centers

Check with your local community center to find out about local clubs that hire personal trainers. Your town may host workout programs for at-need communities or even hire for weeklong camps.

Spas and resorts

Spas, meditation centers, yoga studios, and even vacation resorts hire personal trainers to teach exercise classes.

The bottom line

Personal trainers play an important role in the health and wellness industry. They often work in gyms or homes, helping clients reach personal fitness goals. Personal trainers may demonstrate how to use different exercise equipment and ensure clients are performing exercises correctly to prevent injury. The rise in obesity and chronic illness has led to an increase in the need for wellness professionals like personal trainers, and the industry is growing rapidly. If you’re looking to influence and improve lives, joining the health and wellness industry is a great way to begin.

Author Biography
Katy Weniger
IIN Content Writer

Katy holds a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing and advertising from Rider University. After jobs in the field of finance, she wanted to transition to an industry that focused on helping others be their best selves, and discovered IIN.

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