What is a Fitness Trainer

The primary job function of a fitness trainer is to help their clients achieve their fitness goals in a safe and healthy manner. Fitness trainers typically work in gyms, but they may also offer one-on-one services to private clients.

Alternatively, they may also run their own businesses offering fitness programs to customers. The duties of a fitness trainer include evaluating clients' physiques, creating tailor-made programs based on client needs, conducting workout or training sessions, and monitoring the progress of their clients. They also provide basic nutritional advice to help clients lose, gain, or maintain their weight.

A fitness trainer usually has a degree in kinesiology, physical education, sports science, or something similar. However, it is possible to qualify for this job with only a high school diploma as long as one has adequate experience in fitness training. And, of course, it is an unsaid rule that a fitness trainer must also have a healthy or "fit" physique to serve as a great example for their clients.

What Does a Fitness Trainer Do

Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular exercises (exercises for the heart and blood circulation), strength training, and stretching. They work with people of all ages and skill levels.

Learn more about what a Fitness Trainer does

How To Become a Fitness Trainer

The education and training required for fitness trainers and instructors varies by type of specialty, and employers often hire those with certification. Personal fitness trainers, group fitness instructors, and specialized fitness instructors each need different preparation. Requirements also vary by facility.

Education

Almost all trainers and instructors have at least a high school diploma before entering the occupation. An increasing number of employers are requiring fitness workers, particularly personal trainers, to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree related to a health or fitness field, such as exercise science, kinesiology, or physical education. Programs often include courses in nutrition, exercise techniques, biology, anatomy, and group fitness. Personal trainers also learn how to develop fitness programs for clients of all ages.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Employers prefer to hire fitness trainers and instructors who are certified. Many personal trainers must be certified before they begin working with clients or with members of a gym or other type of health club. Group fitness instructors can begin work without certification, but employers often encourage or require them to become certified. Most specialized fitness instructors receive certification for their preferred type of training, such as yoga or Pilates.

Many organizations offer certification. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, lists certifying organizations that are accredited.

All certification exams have a written part, and some also have a practical part. The exams measure the candidate’s knowledge of human physiology, understanding of proper exercise techniques, and ability to assess clients’ fitness levels and develop appropriate exercise programs. Many certifying organizations offer study materials to prepare for the exam, including books, webinars, other audio and visual materials, and exam preparation workshops and seminars.

Advanced certification requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in an exercise-related subject that includes more-specialized instruction, such as training athletes, working with people who are injured or ill, or advising clients on general health. For more information, see the profiles on athletic trainers and exercise physiologists.

Most trainers or instructors need certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators before applying for certification in physical fitness.

Training

After becoming a certified personal trainer, new trainers typically work alongside an experienced trainer before they are allowed to train clients alone.

Training for specialized fitness instructors can vary greatly. For example, the duration of programs for yoga instructors can range from a few days to more than 2 years. The Yoga Alliance offers several credentials that require a minimum of between 200 and 500 hours, with a specified number of hours in techniques, teaching methods, anatomy, physiology, philosophy, and other areas.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Many fitness trainers and instructors must sell their services, motivating clients to hire them as personal trainers or to sign up for the classes they lead. Fitness trainers and instructors must therefore be polite, friendly, and encouraging, to maintain relationships with their clients.

Communication skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must be able to clearly explain or demonstrate exercises to clients.

Listening skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must be able to listen carefully to what clients tell them in order to determine the clients’ fitness levels and desired fitness goals.

Motivational skills. Getting fit and staying fit takes a lot of work for many clients. To keep clients coming back for more classes or to continue personal training, fitness trainers and instructors must keep their clients motivated.

Physical fitness. Fitness trainers and instructors need to be physically fit because their job requires a considerable amount of exercise. Group instructors often participate in classes, and personal trainers often need to demonstrate exercises to their clients.

Problem-solving skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must evaluate each client’s level of fitness and create an appropriate fitness plan to meet the client’s individual needs.

Advancement

Fitness trainers and instructors who are interested in management positions should get a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, physical education, kinesiology, or a related subject. Experience often is required in order for a trainer or instructor to advance to a management position in a health club or fitness center. Many organizations prefer a master’s degree for certain positions.

Personal trainers may eventually advance to a head trainer position and become responsible for hiring and overseeing the personal training staff or for bringing in new personal training clients. Head trainers also are responsible for procuring athletic equipment, such as weights or fitness machines. Some fitness trainers and instructors go into business for themselves and open their own fitness centers.

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Average Salary
$41,809
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
13%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
22,261
Job Openings
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Fitness Trainer Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Fitness Trainer

Fitness Trainers in America make an average salary of $41,809 per year or $20 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $62,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $28,000 per year.
Average Salary
$41,809
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Fitness Trainer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Fitness Trainer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Fitness Trainer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Fitness Trainer resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Fitness Trainer Resume Examples And Templates

Fitness Trainer Demographics

Fitness Trainer Gender Statistics

male

56.6 %

female

39.1 %

unknown

4.2 %

Fitness Trainer Ethnicity Statistics

White

77.1 %

Hispanic or Latino

9.3 %

Black or African American

6.4 %

Fitness Trainer Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

53.6 %

French

7.2 %

Thai

5.6 %
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Our resume builder tool will walk you through the process of creating a stand-out Fitness Trainer resume.

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Fitness Trainer Education

Fitness Trainer Majors

Business
14.2 %

Fitness Trainer Degrees

Bachelors

59.4 %

Associate

16.5 %

High School Diploma

9.7 %

Top Colleges for Fitness Trainers

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

4. California State University - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,309
Enrollment
9,142

5. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018

6. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

7. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,094
Enrollment
32,974

9. Howard University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$26,756
Enrollment
6,166

10. SUNY at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,099
Enrollment
21,404
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Fitness Trainer Certification: Gym Workouts & Bodybuilding
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Become A Fitness Coach: Create Muscle Growth & Strength Workouts, Build A Fitness Training Business & Be A Health Expert...

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Top Skills For a Fitness Trainer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 23.6% of fitness trainers listed customer service on their resume, but soft skills such as customer-service skills and communication skills are important as well.

12 Fitness Trainer RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Fitness Trainer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a fitness trainer. The best states for people in this position are Hawaii, Vermont, New York, and Alaska. Fitness trainers make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $54,757. Whereas in Vermont and New York, they would average $53,062 and $52,675, respectively. While fitness trainers would only make an average of $51,492 in Alaska, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New Jersey

Total Fitness Trainer Jobs:
527
Highest 10% Earn:
$78,000
Location Quotient:
1.2
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Louisiana

Total Fitness Trainer Jobs:
284
Highest 10% Earn:
$66,000
Location Quotient:
1.61
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Hawaii

Total Fitness Trainer Jobs:
76
Highest 10% Earn:
$60,000
Location Quotient:
1.65
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Fitness Trainers

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Updated August 18, 2021