The personal fitness training industry has witnessed a steady and robust growth in recent years, driven by the escalating demand for weight loss and body fitness services. With more and more people wanting to lose weight and be in good shape, fitness and personal trainers have become highly sought after. If you are a fitness enthusiast and you are looking to make a budding career in this booming and evolving industry, then you should totally read the pointers in this article to get started. Here are insights on how to become a qualified fitness trainer.
WHO ARE PERSONAL TRAINERS AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
A trained, certified fitness professional who closely monitors and manages an individual’s fitness regime under private arrangements or in a fitness facility is referred to as a personal trainer. This person helps others to live a fit and healthy lifestyle through various exercise and fitness programs. They also act as tutors and coaches where they provide physical and health education to people and help them achieve their fitness goals.
Personal trainers are usually goal-driven and result-oriented individuals who are passionate about physical fitness and serve as role models for people with health and fitness challenges.
WHERE DOES A QUALIFIED FITNESS TRAINER WORK?
Fitness trainers and instructors are mostly employed in various areas of the fitness and health industry such as gyms, wellness centers, health clubs, country clubs, recreation centers, private studios, educational sports facilities, and hospitals. They can also be hired privately to work in the homes of individuals.
Basically, they can work in multiple settings as an employee, as a contractor, or practice independently. They can also work in areas outside traditional fitness settings. With the right certification, A fitness trainer can specialize in other fields and make a career as a sports nutritionist, a strength and conditioning coach, a group exercise instructor, an exercise physiologist, and a corrective exercise physiologist to mention but a few.
HOW MUCH DO PERSONAL TRAINERS MAKE?
If you are thinking of venturing into a fitness career, it is only natural to be curious about the financial prospects. Aside from being fulfilling and satisfying, fitness training can also be financially rewarding. Certified personal trainer salary has increased substantially over the years, with an annual salary ranging from $28, 000 to $81,000. The median annual salary is said to be about $56,875. However, salary rates vary between fitness trainers and different locations.
According to data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics , fitness trainers and instructors earned an average annual pay of $39,820 in May 2018. The lowest earnings which were placed at 10% of the population made less than $20,160 while 10% of the highest earnings were placed at $76,090.These figures are expected to hike as more organizations, businesses and the government continues to delve into the fitness industry due to an increased awareness of its numerous benefits.
In light of this, the employment opportunities for fitness and personal instructors has been predicted to grow to about 13% between 2018 to 2028, which places its growth rate above other average occupations.
Salaries of personal trainers vary due to a couple of factors that include:
- Level of experience
- The geographic location of the trainer
- Level of education
- Area of specialization
Trainers who are self-employed or who work in private studios tend to earn more than their counterparts. A trainer’s pay also depends on their basis of employment with a company or organization, which could be contractual, rent by the hour arrangement, or full employment. Also, trainers who have multiple certifications under their belt earn a lot higher than those with only one or no certification at all.
HOW TO BECOME A QUALIFIED FITNESS TRAINER
Here comes the big question: How do you make a career in the fitness industry and reap its many benefits? Of course, becoming a personal trainer is not just a spur of the moment thing. It requires some level of commitment, education, and more importantly certification (if you want to be at the top of your game). However, You should bear in mind that there are certain minimum requirements you must meet before being certified as a trainer. These include :
- You should be of legal age (18 and above)
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
- Some certifying organizations require a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate
That being said, let’s take a look at the basic steps you can take to become a certified and sought-after fitness trainer.
GET A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
The good news is that to become a personal trainer, you are not obligated to go to college and obtain a degree in personal training, although doing so will mean more career advancement and prospects. However, if you are looking to specialize in a field of personal training or gain career advancement, you can take personal training related courses in colleges such as kinesiology, anatomy and physiology, motor development, and exercise sciences.
Now back to the point, while a college degree may not be required for verification, a high school diploma or GED is an absolute must. In fact, most certifying authorities will not let you sit for their certification exam without a high school diploma.
TAKE THE AED/CPR CERTIFICATION COURSE
Some certifying bodies make an AED/CPR certification which stands for Automated External Defibrillator and cardiopulmonary resuscitation respectively, a necessary requirement because of it’s importance. These programs provide a trainer with the medical know-how of how to act in case of a medical emergency. They teach the trainer how to give emergency first aid to a client suffering from cardiac or breathing problems before access to professional medical care is reached.
IDENTIFY YOUR FITNESS SPECIALTY
Before going into the fitness industry, you need to identify the niche you would like to specialize in. There is a wide range of fitness specialties you can choose from, these include but are not limited to the following:
- Behavior change specialization
- Group personal training certification
- Weight loss specialization
- Performance enhancement specialization
- Golf fitness specialization
- Women fitness specialization
- Nutrition certification
It is important to factor in your personal interests and professional goals when making the selection. This will make your training and career development easier.
SELECT A CERTIFICATION PROGRAM.
Once you’ve selected your desired area of specialization, you can then proceed to look up certifying agencies that best serve the interest of the specialty you’ve chosen to venture into. There are also personal trainer certification online courses you can take for a fee. Whichever certification method you decide on, it is important that you check if the certification body or agency is accredited by the NCCA or the authorization body in your country or region. Some of the best personal trainer certification programs are listed below.
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- The American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
- The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
The personal and fitness training certification is also categorized according to levels ranging from level 1 to level 5. Level 1 and 2 certificates qualify you as a fitness instructor. To qualify as a personal trainer, you would have to progress to level 3 certification. Level 4 and level 5 are considered the most advanced certification levels. A level 4 personal trainer is trained to help clients manage health issues like diabetes, obesity and lower back pain.
A level 5 personal trainer is trained to manage both the physical and psychological conditions of their clients. They take courses in stress management, counseling, and human psychology and are well equipped to help clients make healthy and behavioral lifestyle changes.
PREPARE AND TAKE THE CERTIFICATION EXAM
Most certification programs provide students with study materials and aids such as study guides, preparatory courses, organized workshops, and training classes. To ace, the exams, attend the training classes and workshops and make sure to purchase or avail yourself of the study materials and study them earnestly.
In most cases, before taking the certification exam, you will be required to undergo a registration process that involves submitting an application and paying a certain fee. Most of the personal training certification exams like the ace personal trainer exam are computer-based tests with multiple choice questions of about 120-150.
BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO AND FIND A JOB
You can start seeking for jobs after you have successfully passed the certifying exams and have been deemed certified to practice. You can start by working at a local gym to gain more experience with skilled gym instructors. You can also land a job with fitness institutes like NASM who usually have vacancies for new graduates. You can also choose to work independently and build your clientele. The bottom line is, do whatever floats your boat, but make sure to portray your skills in the best light while at it.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A PERSONAL TRAINER?
It takes about 3-6 months on average to complete a personal trainer certification program. Some online and distance learning programs are usually self-paced and time taken to complete such courses depends on the student’s studying capabilities.
The ISSA for instance projects that the majority of their students can complete their courses within 8 to 10 weeks. They also give a four-month study limit. ACE gives a time limit of six months from the time of course certification purchase to take its exams. If you decide to go for an advanced course of study such as an associate degree, it may take you longer to finish but of course with more added benefits. ISSA’s associate degree program typically takes about two years to complete.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BECOME A PERSONAL TRAINER
Personal trainer certification cost varies according to certification and career level. Entry-level personal trainer certification cost is between $400 to $600. An advanced master’s certification is billed at about $2, 000. Specialist certification courses for youth fitness, senior fitness, and strength training ranges between $400 and $500.
Some certification institutions also charge separately for exams which can cost between $200 and $600. The personal trainer certification cost usually covers things like study materials, exams and credentials, and instructional support and guidance from facilitators.