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Personal Trainer

How to Become a Personal Trainer

Everyone has a dream career choice. For some, it is being a doctor; for others, it is being an astronaut, actor, or a worldwide music star. Then there’s you, who wants to become a world-class personal trainer.

Being a personal trainer is admittedly not the most popular career choice. However, it is one that is noble, fulfilling, and fun in all ramifications. Like every other career choice, there are steps you have to take to achieve your dream of becoming a personal trainer. You must acquire specific skills and competencies, and you will have to scale through several challenges. Here, we take you through these steps, helping you achieve your dream in no time.

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Who is a Personal Trainer?

Personal trainers are certified professionals that develop and provide safe exercise programs for people looking to achieve their fitness goals. The people who are assisted in achieving their fitness goals are called clients. Personal trainers aid clients achieve their fitness goals by creating plans that focus on several facets of the client’s life, including nutrition and health education. As a personal trainer, your job is to help improve people’s lives over time. IN some ways, you’re a doctor.

Personal trainers help clients work out an exercise plan that perfectly fits the client’s routine, skills, and health needs. As a personal trainer, you must always be informed about the latest development in nutrition and fitness because clients rely on your professional recommendations. Your word is gold, and clients rely on your expertise to meet all of their fitness goals. If you are interested in improving other people’s lives and love result-oriented work, then being a personal trainer might be your calling.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), personal trainers earn around $45,000 on average. Personal training is a vast field, providing you flexibility with your options. To become a personal trainer, you need to develop specific skills that improve your relationship with your clients and help you get better results. For example, a personal trainer must have good listening, organizational, analytical, motivational, and nurturing skills and a high level of healthy persistence.

You are likely to face challenges as a personal trainer, which depend on the client you are working with. For example, you are will likely to work with;     

  • Clients who don’t or can’t exercise but give excuses for their inability to exercise
  • Clients who cancel exercise appointments with little or no notice
  • Clients who are afraid of pushing hard or those who want to be pushed harder than they should
  • Clients who have medical conditions and injuries
  • Clients who do not comply with the fitness rules given to them
  • Clients who do not have basic knowledge of workouts
  • Those who will blame you if they don’t reach their fitness goal
  • Those who show up without their complete workout gear

As a personal trainer, you should be able to circumnavigate these various challenges. An important skill of a personal trainer is identifying and understanding individual differences and then tailoring your plans to each client’s needs. A personal trainer must be flexible to change workout routines if changes are unnoticeable over time.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Steps to Becoming a Personal Trainer

Step1: Earn a High School Diploma

The first step to becoming a personal trainer is to earn a high school diploma. Most personal trainers’ certifications require a high school diploma or GED, which you can take for about three months.

Step 2: Complete AED/CPR Certification

Personal trainers must complete compulsory cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certification programs. This certification program aims to teach personal trainers how they can help clients in cases of a medical emergency during exercise before professional medical personnel arrive. This certification program takes 4 hours to complete.

Step 3: Choose a specialty

There are different specialties from which you can choose if you want to become a personal trainer. Your chosen specialty must match your interest, skill sets, and professional goals. After choosing your desired specialty, you can check out different fitness certifying bodies and choose a program that suits your professional goals.

Step 4: Prepare for Certification

There are different certifications you can take to become a certified personal trainer. There are different bodies accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) to certify personal trainers. Some of these bodies include

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • American Council on Exercise

You can choose to get certified by any of these bodies. The certification will require that you pass a certification examination and fulfill certain other criteria.

Step 5: Take and Pass your Certification Examinations

Once you have prepared for the exam, register for your exam and pay all the necessary application fees. The examination has similar questions from different sections. Sections like safety and emergency issues, exercise techniques, program planning, client consultation, and fitness assessment.

Step 6: Take Up Jobs and Build Your Portfolio

After becoming a certified personal trainer, you must take up jobs in your specialty. You can check the NASM and other fitness organizations for job postings to get on-the-job experience. You can also take a job at your local gym or work under another professional to get some experience. As you further in your career path, you can choose to become a personal trainer, fitness director, or gym owner, depending on your ambitions and how your skills level up.

Step 7: Additional Education Options

As you move further in your journey as a personal trainer, you need to continue learning and upgrading your knowledge to stay in the competitive market. To stay consistent, you need to take courses aligned with your career goals, take external personal training courses, and enroll in degree programs or community college training.

personal trainers

Skills Required By a Personal Trainer

To become a personal trainer, you need education, experience, and specific skill sets.

1.      Fitness assessment skill: Personal trainers must understand the different fitness screening techniques and the type of fitness screening that is best for their clients. Personal trainers must also understand the setting and the risk factors behind each fitness screening that can affect the client’s health.

2.      Communication skill: A good personal trainer must be a good communicator and also be able to maintain a professional relationship with their clients. He/she must be able to teach, respond and listen to their client’s needs.

3.      Leadership skill: Personal trainers must develop leadership skills, as it helps them effectively motivate clients to achieve their fitness goals.

4.      Analytical thinking skill: Personal trainers must understand human behavior and individual differences. He/she must be able to know each client’s learning style to help them achieve their fitness goal.

5.      Nutrition and weight management skill: This skill helps to know the best program that will work for their client. Hence, a good personal trainer must know about weight loss, management, and nutrition.

6.      Exercise mechanisms: A good personal trainer must know everything about exercise. Your vast knowledge about exercise will help you make good exercise training plans that are beneficial to your clients.

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Careers Options Related to Personal Trainer

There are other career options related to a personal trainer. This is because the health and fitness industry is expanding, allowing for other career options. However, being a personal trainer, you can consider other career options like:

Exercise Physiologist: To qualify as an exercise physiologist, you must have a bachelor’s degree and other national certifications

Dietitian or Nutritionist: You must have a bachelor’s degree, worked as an intern, and have national certification and state license to work as a dietitian or nutritionist.

Occupational Therapist: An occupational therapist must have a master’s degree, have done a clinical internship, have national certification, and must have a state license.

Physical Therapist: To qualify as a physical therapist, you must have a doctoral or professional degree, national certification, and state license.

Jobs to take as a Personal Trainer

There are jobs you can take as a personal trainer. You can work as an employee of a business or as self-employed or independently.

  • Corporate fitness
  • Commercial gyms
  • Cruise ships
  • Local community centers
  • Personal training studios
  • Hospital or wellness centers
  • Spas and resorts

You can consider different specialties as a personal trainer after you have completed the prerequisites to qualify for it. The type of clients you want to work with will determine your specialty. These specialties are:      

  • Athletics and sports; your clients are athletes, and your job is to help them improve their performance, agility, speed, and balance.
  • Lifestyle and weight management; you work with clients interested in changing bad habits and helping them develop habits that are beneficial to their health.
  • Medical; you work with clients with medical problems like heart problems, muscle sprains, etc., or clients who are just recovering from certain conditions like surgery.
  • Nutrition: You work with clients interested in working on their diet, helping them eat well and lose weight, and achieving their fitness goals.
  • In orthopedics, you work with clients with bone, muscle, and joint-related issues like knee pain, arthritis, and other conditions.
  • Special population; you work with older adults to help them maintain their muscles and body and improve their overall physical health. You can also work with children to help them get fit for their age.

Continuous Development as a Personal Trainer

Even after becoming a personal trainer and specializing in one field, you must take active steps to remain ahead of the curve in a super competitive market. New health information is released daily, and you as a personal trainer must have access to this information to benefit your clients.

As a certified personal trainer, the following practices can help you maintain efficiency in your work.

  • Give regular assessments to your clients to know their progress and how well you have done.
  • Attend conferences and workshops to learn more from experts.
  • Maintain an active online profile and ensure to follow pages that disburse useful information
  • You can maintain a blog or vlog and rely on comments and critiques from experts and clients to help develop yourself.
  • Keep in touch with your clients outside your sessions to help bond and assess their progress better.
  • Be an active listener who listens to clients, allows them to express how they feel, and works on helping them out with their problems.
personal trainer of oneself


Being a personal trainer is a fun and fulfilling life endeavor. You get to work with fun clients and sometimes not-so-fun ones. More importantly, you help your clients reach their fitness goals and become better and more confident individuals.

But like any career goal, you must be willing to work and acquire the competencies needed to succeed in this field. You’ll need to get certified, learn under a senior professional, and start building your clientele base. That’s a lot of work! But the good thing about becoming a personal trainer is that you’re also training yourself to improve. With the right motivation, you’ll scale through all the challenges and become a world-class personal trainer like Matt Roberts or Scott Laider.

Good luck on your journey, and see you on the other side of success!



How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

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