• Mon. Oct 2nd, 2023

How to become a certified personal trainer: 8 steps to take

ByClare Louise

May 19, 2023

Personal trainers who are certified work closely with clients to achieve their fitness and health goals. Learn about the qualifications, salary, career options, and more.

Personal trainers who are certified help others reach their fitness and health goals by providing safe and efficient workouts. Personal trainers combine their knowledge of nutrition, fitness, and health with their ability to work with others to help their clients improve their overall health. You might want to consider becoming a certified personal training if you like physical activity and enjoy working with people.

This article will tell you more about the certification of personal trainers and how much they make. It also explains the steps to becoming a certified personal trainer. You’ll learn about related careers at the end of this article, and you’ll find some cost-effective courses to help you acquire job-relevant skills.

What is a certified trainer?

Certified personal trainers are personal trainers who have obtained certification from an accredited fitness organization, such as American College of Sports Medicine. Certified personal trainers have the skills and knowledge to help their clients achieve their fitness, nutrition, and overall health goals.

Although not all employers require personal trainers be certified, a vast majority do. Although it may not be required by your employer to become a certified trainer, you can increase your visibility and your chances of gaining new clients.

What is the average salary of a certified personal training? Salary and job outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, fitness instructors and trainers earn a median salary of $46,700 per year [1]. Glassdoor, on the other hand, puts the median annual base salary for certified personal trainers as $51,402 per year by January 2023 [2]. Like any other career, education level, experience and certifications will influence a trainer’s salary.

Overall, there is a positive outlook on the employment of fitness professionals. According to the US BLS the number of fitness trainers and personal coaches is expected grow by 19 percent between 2021-2031. This will result in approximately 65,500 jobs each year.

Start your career as a personal trainer in South Dakota

South Dakota is home to one of America’s best quality of life and a strong economy and job market. South Dakota has the feel of a small community with a friendly and supportive community. South Dakota’s median annual income is up to $60,000. Get errors and omissions South Dakota insurance to protect yourself against unexpected risks.


How to become certified as a personal trainer

Personal trainers who are certified have the necessary training, knowledge, and experience to help their clients achieve their fitness goals. You can follow these steps to become a certified personal trainer who not only has the training and experience to help clients achieve their fitness goals but also the certification.

  1. Choose a certification program.

You’ll have to select a certification program that is accredited once you decide to become a certified personal training. The average certification program takes about one year to complete and can cost anywhere between $200 and $2,000 depending on the program.


It’s important that you choose a certification program accredited by a reputable organization, such as the National Commission for Certifying Agencies or the National Board of Fitness Examiners. NCCA accredited programs are preferred by many employers, but NCAA accredited personal trainers may be found on the US Registry of Exercise Professionals.

Here are 14 NCAA accredited certification programs that you can consider to become and maintain your personal trainer certification.

  • Academy of Applied Personal Training Education
  • Certification of Action
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • American Council on Exercise
  • International Fitness Professionals Association
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • National Council for Certified Personal Trainers
  • National Council on Strength and Fitness
  • National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association
  • National Exercise Trainers Association
  • National Federation of Professional Trainers
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • PTA Global
  • World Instructor Training Schools


  1. You must meet the prerequisites for certification.

Although certified personal trainers do not need a degree from a university, they must still meet certain prerequisites to take the final test and earn their certification. You must usually meet the following requirements:

Have a high-school diploma or GED. To be eligible to apply for the personal trainer certification program applicants must hold a GED or a high-school diploma.

CPR/AED Certification: Before enrolling in or taking the final exam, many certification programs require that participants obtain Automated External Defibrillator certification (AED) as well as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation certification (CPR).

Most programs require that you be 18 years old or older to take the certification exam. Some programs allow participants to start the course earlier than 18 years old, as long as the participant is of legal age when they take the final examination. Before starting any program, make sure that you are aware of the age restrictions.

  1. Take the certification exam.

You will most likely be able to prepare for your final exam with the help of training courses and certification programs. Some certification programs offer a variety of personal trainer study packages in conjunction with their exams. Ask the accreditation organization for resources, either free or paid. You can also search online for virtual groups. Online practice tests are available for free to give you a better idea of what the exam will be like.

You’ll need to register for the personal training certification test by filling out an application form and paying a fee. You can take your exam online or in person with a proctor. You can expect anywhere between 120 and 150 multiple-choice answers

You can usually print a temporary certification a few weeks after you pass your exam, depending on the program that you select. You will receive a physical, official copy of your certificate in the weeks following.

  1. Define your specialization and gain experience.

Specializations in personal training can help you stand out from other trainers. Consider your passions and skills, as well as your professional goals, when choosing a specialty. Personal trainers can specialize in a variety of areas.

  • Strength Training
  • Weight loss
  • Corrective exercise
  • Youth Fitness
  • Senior Fitness
  • Group exercise
  • Bodybuilding
  • Cancer exercise
  • Sports Performance
  • Pain Management


  1. Hone your personal trainer skills.

You’ll also need the skills to motivate clients to reach their health goals. You’ll need to have a variety of personal, technical and personal skills to do your job well.

Personal Skills

Communication skills and emotional intelligence can be huge assets for a personal trainer. To navigate between motivation, persistence and managing your client’s emotions, you’ll have to manage their emotions. Understanding what motivates your clients is important. They will all have different personalities and goals.

Personal trainers must also have excellent customer service skills and creativity in their routine planning.

  • Techniques
  • A good personal trainer should have the following technical skills and knowledge:
  • Exercise program design
  • Exercise equipment maintenance and operation
  • Exercise physiology and physiology
  • Effective exercise methods
  • Record keeping
  • Basic nutrition
  • You will learn these skills as part of the certification training.


  1. Build your resume and apply for jobs.

You’ll need to decide where you’d like to work and how you would like to offer your services. Also, whether you are looking to join an established gym or work as a freelancer.

The answers you give to these questions can influence how you approach the job market. In some cases, you may prefer the flexibility of working as an independent personal trainer. However, you may also enjoy the structure and consistency that comes with being a gym employee.

You’ll need to include the following in your resume as a personal trainer: What you need to include on your resume as a trainer is:

  • High school or college coursework that is relevant
  • Completing Internships
  • Years of experience
  • Information on national certifications, including CPR and AED certifications
  • Accolades or achievements
  • You need to have certain skills as a trainer

Specialties or areas of expertise, such as weight loss goals or working with a particular population or demographic

Find certified personal trainer jobs on job sites such as Indeed, at local health clubs or gyms, or in neighbourhood Facebook groups. Certified personal trainers can also find clients using mobile apps such as Fitmatch and FlexIt.

Do not let your lack of experience stop you from applying for work. Many employers will hire certified personal trainers at the entry level if your resume reflects your skills and qualifications. You may only need your certification to land a job. Offer friends and family discounted or free training to help you build your experience.

  1. Build a network and an online presence.

The most cost-effective way to land a job or grow your personal training business is through networking. Some ways to achieve this are:

Regularly exercising at the same gym

New clients can get a free trial or a reduced rate

Boot camp: How to start one

Volunteering at your local recreation centre to teach or substitute for exercise classes

A web presence online can also help you network and find more job opportunities. Create an online landing page for those who are interested in learning more about you as a trainer. This can be done through social media channels or a website.

You can use social media groups to advertise your business and build a community of people who share similar interests. Consider ways to offer meaningful content to your viewers or followers, such as videos about proper weightlifting form, yoga videos or workout routines. These free videos will not only help educate your potential clients but also build your online reputation and attract new clients.

  1. Maintain your certification and continue to learn.

The certification exam is not the end of your education as a personal trainer. Fitness industry continues to grow, as new research and innovations affect the industry.

For trainers, continuing education (CECs) is a great way to stay up to date with the latest health and fitness trends. Many certification programs require 20-45 hours of CECs every two to three year to maintain certification. Attending conferences for your certifying organisation, enrolling into college courses like biology or anatomy or taking CECs online are all ways to meet this requirement.