To Become A Fitness Trainer – If you have a passion for fitness and have teaching skills, you could make a great personal trainer. The process of becoming a personal trainer is not as long or expensive as many other healthcare careers, including my own physical therapy profession.
In this article, I explain the basics of personal training and how it differs from my PT practice, while also directing you to the resources you need to become a personal trainer.
To Become A Fitness Trainer
I’m a PT, but that’s not the same as a personal trainer. The two careers, physical therapy and personal training, differ in scope, salary, education, clients, and setting.
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In fact, many places use the term fitness instructor to better differentiate the two. Alternatively, you can refer to the trainer as a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) if they hold that certification.
Certified personal trainers help individual or group clients achieve better levels of fitness, flexibility, or fitness by designing and directing workouts. In contrast, Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPTs) use exercises and other modalities to help patients rehabilitate injuries, regain movement, or relieve pain.
Both CPTs and DPTs bring their expertise to bear by demonstrating and monitoring exercises, extending movements to ensure each client is safe and effective, and developing long-term plans based on each client’s goals.
Like physical therapists, personal trainers help people achieve a better quality of life through directed exercise. But CPT costs a fraction of the time and money to train, and gets paid less than half that of a physical therapist.
Personal Trainer Undergraduate Certificate
We’ll dive into the steps to becoming a personal trainer, but an initial decision needs to be made that will define some of the details of your journey.
Your certification is your credential, the letter after your name, that shows what kind of training you have had. Each certification requires its own exams and reflects the practices of its certifying agency.
The gold standard for personal training certification is NCCA (National Council of Certification Agencies). At least 16 certification agencies currently offer NCCA-approved personal training certifications.
It’s optional, but shading is arguably the most important step on this list. It will help you decide if a career in personal training is right for you, and save you time and money if it turns out not to be for you.
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In addition to giving you a test run, following a personal trainer (yes, more than one!) on a regular basis will help you choose certifications and specializations. Plus, you get hands-on experience from day one – a valuable asset when building your resume and applying for jobs.
To take the test, you need more than the will to succeed. Most certification exams require you to:
Perhaps the most important prerequisite to look out for is your CPR/AED certification. Fulfilling this requirement online is now easy; agencies such as ISSA or NASM offer online cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification for as little as $50.
But before you sign up for a discounted course, make sure it meets your CPT certification criteria, such as including an on-site skills check or a first aid component.
Signs You Will Make A Successful Personal Trainer
Nearly every certification agency offers test prep courses to help you learn everything you need to pass the exam. In some cases, you can review the exam content ahead of time to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.
Many foundation programs are offered online, with rolling admissions, requiring 50-100 hours of study over a period of weeks or months. Most courses are bundled with a CPR certification and exam registration fee, which can range from $200 to $1400, depending on the level of support and the amount of study materials you purchase.
Simple, right? Just pass the test! While easier said than done, passing a certification exam is not a one-and-done thing. In most cases, you can retake the exam for a small fee.
The price and duration of strength and conditioning coach exams vary widely. But on average, it takes about 2 hours to complete the exam and costs about $300 if you haven’t purchased the registration fee for the prep course.
Reasons To Become A Personal Trainer
Once certified, you do not necessarily complete shadow training. After studying the material, doing well on the exam, and gaining a new perspective on personal training, you may benefit from another round of follow-up. Some gyms and health clubs offer personal trainer internships, which will allow you to follow a trainer on a regular basis while gaining valuable experience.
The combination of current certifications and hands-on experience will add to your resume and help you land the job you want.
All certifications have an expiration date. Every two to three years, as a CPT (or other fitness instructor), you will need to periodically renew your certification in order to continue your practice.
Renewal requirements vary for each accreditation body. Generally, you will pay a renewal fee ($30 to $130), complete continuing education activities or classes (20 to 60 hours), and renew your CPR/AED certification.
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As a physical therapist, I also need to complete continuing education as part of my periodic license renewal. I have tried many different CEU (Continuing Education Unit) providers, both in person and online. While cheap CEUs are attractive, I think it pays to find a CEU provider that offers high-quality content on a user-friendly platform. Affordable annual fee.
Many accrediting agencies bundle continuing education courses with prep courses and exam registration, which may save you money and the hassle of finding a good CEU provider.
You can find countless resources online to compare and contrast each CPT certification, but below is a summary of their main features.
In addition to regularly taking courses that pique your interest and expand your knowledge, you can advance your career by earning professional certifications.
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Professional certification can diversify your expertise and make you more marketable as a personal trainer. Plus, if you hold certifications in more than one major, you may be able to earn a higher salary.
Regardless of which certification you pursue, the job outlook for personal training is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that personal training jobs will grow 39 percent by 2030.
A personal trainer is very different from a physical therapist. But what we have in common—helping people achieve a better, healthier quality of life—delivers meaningful job satisfaction across industries.
Finally, if you want to pursue a career in rehabilitation but don’t want to earn a doctorate, consider becoming a physical therapist assistant or athletic trainer.
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Tim Fraticelli is a Physical Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™ and .He loves teaching PTs and OTs how to save time and money in and out of the clinic, especially when it comes to documentation or continuing education. Follow him on YouTube for weekly videos on how to improve your financial health.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase through my links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
2. Career opportunities for personal trainers are diverse and plentiful. Whether you want to work in a traditional gym setting, a physical therapy office, your own home or online – the possibilities are endless. Not only can you work out from almost anywhere, but the number of people who need the services of a personal trainer is growing with the public’s waistlines. America’s obesity epidemic not only presents great opportunity, but job security is all but guaranteed.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Personal Trainer?
3. Personal trainer is a profession where your earning potential is limited only by your imagination. Personal training is no longer primarily a one-on-one session between a client and a trainer (although it can be if that’s your style). Successful trainers have recognized that they can generate more income through programs like group and team training and boot camp-style group workouts, while keeping their services affordable and popular. Online training is a growing business, and people are willing to pay certified personal trainers to create workout plans for them. You might find yourself writing workout programs for people on the other side of the world who you’ll never meet!
4. You can indeed become an expert in your field. Think about what all the morning shows and radio shows are preparing for in January – they want to talk about fitness and determination every year. Who do they turn to? Coach of course! People see personal trainers as experts in fitness and health. From talk shows to webinars to magazine interviews, the expertise of a personal trainer is invaluable and always in high demand.
5. It’s a flexible career. Most trainers once fully immersed in the personal
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