Home Jobs & Education How to Become a Personal Trainer in the US

Becoming a personal trainer is one of the most popular career paths in the US today. Apart from a passion for working out, potential personal trainers need many more skills and a deep awareness of their contribution to improving lifestyles and even saving lives. Learn how to become a personal trainer and see if your skills and education can help you excel in the profession.

As one of our most popular posts is about the personal trainer salary, we considered it is time to provide our readers with more insights into this challenging and rewarding profession. Check what the essential steps are to succeed in the field. We hope our guidelines will help you speed up the process of becoming a certified personal trainer.

how to become a personal trainer

How to Become a Personal Trainer: The First Steps

Before looking into the certification requirements, there are a few essential questions to address yourself:

  • Am I physically qualified for this career?
  • Am I a self-motivated individual?
  • Am I capable of motivating others as well?
  • Do I believe in the power of physical training to change people’s lives?

Discover Your Potential & Develop Your Skills

Becoming a personal trainer involves the development of particular skills and having the right attitude. Prior to applying for a certification program, let’s take a look at the essential skills a personal trainer (also referred to as to a fitness trainer, fitness instructor, physical trainer) should have.

  • Physical skills

The passion for working out is crucial, but so is an optimal physical shape.  Personal trainers are their clients’ examples of what it means to be healthy and in excellent shape. As a physical trainer you will need to demonstrate them how to carry out exercises in order to help your clients perform better and better.

  • People skills

The power to motivate other and help them achieve their goals is another skill a personal fitness instructor should have. The message you transmit to your clients is as important  as the exercises you demonstrate. And here we refer to the fundamental power of physical fitness to enhance their look and overall health.

Apart from motivational skills, people skills also include listening and speaking abilities. Personal trainers must listen carefully what clients tell them in order to determine their level and potential, as well as motivate them verbally.

  • Intellectual skills

This career requires a deep understanding of human anatomy. The exercises you recommend to clients need to be suitable for their body. Knowing how further a person can go when exercising is key to improving fitness and staying safe at the same time.

  • Business Skills 

Whether you work as a self-employed personal trainer or as a fitness instructor at a recreational sports center, you are selling a service. Dealing with clients implies not only motivating them to achieve their fitness goals but also to sign up and ultimately pay for a program you lead. Being polite and customer-oriented is important if you wish to maintain an effective and profitable relationship.

Learn How to Be a Personal Trainer from the Best

If you want to become a successful personal fitness trainer, one of the clever things to do is hire yourself an instructor. Observe what traits make him or her good at his or her job, as well as his or her approach to your training. Don’t worry if you find traits that do not define you. Every personal trainer has his or her own style. This experiment is all about exploring as much as you can the details of this profession before investing in a degree. Being a personal trainer is a challenge that not everybody can face.

How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

The next major step in becoming a personal trainer is sorting out the certification process.

Research on How to Aquire Your Certification

How do you become a personal trainer? Most fitness clubs, health centers or gyms require a personal training certification.

Why is it important to conduct research before choosing a study program?

While we are here to help you with essential information, it is up to you to review every program you

How to Become Certified  Personal Trainer: General Requirements

  • as concerns minimum age, it is required to be at least 18 years of age.
  • CPR or AED certification is another requirement before a Personal Training Certification can be issued for you.
  • weight training experience is not mandatory, but it is strongly recommended.

Note: If you are wondering how to become a personal trainer and nutritionist, there are additional certification requirements you need to fulfill. Nutrition is one of the specialties you can add to your resume to make it more competitive. What is more, a nutrition specialty course helps you earn credits that all major certifying agencies consider part of the continuing education process.

Choose a Study Program & Obtain Personal Training Certification

  • How long does it take to become a personal trainer?

For those who want to limit their activity to basic exercises, courses can take as little as a few days. However, for those who want to offer a broader range of services and get to study areas like fitness testing, nutrition, and biomechanics, personal training certification can take a year.

Furthermore, for those interested in extensive training and acquiring a personal training certification from a national organization such as The National Academy of Sports Medicine, a degree may take  a minimum of two years of study. Such programs cover health and exercise courses, from fitness training techniques to nutrition and business administration.

  • How much does it cost to become a certified personal trainer?

In order to complete a professional training program be ready to spend between $450 and $800. If you have a limited budget there are self-study online courses you can choose for about $450.

For top personal fitness certification, you may want to take a closer look at the programs offered by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), the American Academy of Exercise, and the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT).

You can also become an ISSA trainer. In such case, you need to register for an ISSA Certification (International Sports Sciences Association). ISSA is the first fitness organization to be nationally accredited the Distance Education Accrediting Commission in the United States.

There are many other organizations that offer personal training certification and these can be searched by the state of your residence to make sure you comply with any particular requirements.

If you live in Texas and wonder how to become a personal trainer in Texas, for instance, the prerequisites include holding a baccalaureate degree, a CPR certification with live skills check from the American Red Cross or American Heart Association, a proof of ID, paying the licensing fees, and arranging for an athletic program apprenticeship. This documentation needs to be sent to the State of Texas and as soon as it is approved you can start providing fitness services.

What is important to mention is that you can prepare for your personal trainer certification online or onsite. How to become a personal trainer online? Search for accredited online certifications by the NCCA – National Commission of Certifying Agencies.

AFFA’s Personal Trainer Certification Online, for instance, is a course composed of 14 video lectures that are created in accordance with the criteria established by the National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE). The fee for this course is $499. 

Just to get a bigger picture, here are some of the lecture topics this course consist of: “Understanding Wellness”, “Anatomy and Kinesiology”, “Flexibility”, “Behavior Modification and Communication Skills”, “Injury Prevention”, “Nutrition and Weight Management”, “Cardio Programming”.

Pass the Exam: Become a Certified Professional

Next, after choosing a study program you find suitable for you, the next step is to apply for a written and practical examination that will officially earn you the title of certified personal trainer.

Stay Certified – Continuing Education for Personal Trainers

Now that we have answered to “how do I become a personal trainer?”, it is also important to mention that this career requires you to remain certified. All accredited professional trainers need CECs – Continual Education Credits – for both major certifying agencies and clients to assess their professional growth.

By choosing to continue your education not only you  get to improve your experience and professional level, but also become more successful as this is a critical component in clients’ view.

Finding Opportunities at a Gym vs Starting Your Own Business

Now that you have learned how to become a licensed personal trainer and ace the business, the final step in becoming a successful personal trainer is, naturally, getting a job and performing at your best.

Many personal trainers choose to work in recreational sports centers or gyms. A convenient choice for some professionals, on the other hand, is working as online personal trainers. How to become an online personal trainer. 

If you consider starting your own business, there are further implications to take into account such as renting a studio, choosing an optimal insurance plans, paying taxes, dealing with payrolls and regulations specific to the state of practice. Also, you have to learn how to advertise your business (find a catchy name, build up an online community by using social media tools).

All in all, one of your strengths should be the way you develop your relationships with your clients. Build up a strategy and be creative as well. Don’t forget that a personal trainer’s pay is commission-based. So, your success is measured in the number of clients you have and keep.

Further Resources

Carrer Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for personal trainers (fitness trainers and aerobics instructors) will increase with 13 percent until 2020 as many people continue to recognize the benefits of fitness programs. Please note that the most favorable job prospects are for certified personal trainers or professionals with a high level of formal education in health and fitness.

Sample Personal Trainer Resume 

Learning how to become a personal trainer is not enough. Learning how to promote yourself as a professional is key. Here is a sample of a personal trainer’s resume for you to assess. It includes description of role and areas of expertise, as well as professional experience.professional personal trainer resume

Image Source: DepositPhotos, ImgBestSampleResume.com.

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Erika Schwartz

Dear reader, my name is Erika and I am an actress, arts teacher and film analyst. I studied theatre and film for over four years, and changed more than 15 part-time jobs. What can I say? It is a tough industry. I love dance, especially tango, music, and basically anything art-related. I also enjoy writing about the captivating and dynamic world of entertainment. When I work, I seek the perfect balance between usefulness and beauty. I like to describe myself as the most optimistic person alive.


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