How to Become a Fitness Trainer & Instructor

How to Become a Fitness Trainer & InstructorBecoming a fitness instructor or trainer is a great choice if you love to work out, can explain things well, and are good at motivating people to achieve their goals. Fitness instructors and trainers work in gyms, heath clubs, and other fitness facilities and/or in clients’ homes.

Different Kinds of Trainers and Instructors
High School or GED
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Trainers and fitness instructors have a choice of several different types of job roles. Some may work in only one of the following roles, while others may do more than one:

  • Personal trainers work one-on-one with clients.
  • Group instructors lead classes. They may follow a set format, or they may create their own choreography and choose their own music.
  • Specialized instructors teach in specific areas, such as Pilates and yoga. These jobs often require certification.
  • Administrators are responsible for running gyms and health clubs.


You must be physically fit yourself in order to effectively demonstrate exercises and to serve as a positive role model for your clients. You should be enthusiastic about the benefits of fitness and be able to communicate that enthusiasm to others. You need outstanding communication and people skills, especially when it comes to motivating others to be persistent and to overcome obstacles. You should be skillful at both speaking and listening, and you will need sales skills to encourage people to use your services.

Typical Education

You can get started as a fitness trainer or instructor with a high school diploma, or the equivalent, followed by on-the-job training.

However, you will have many more job opportunities if you become certified and/or if you complete college coursework or an associates or bachelors degree in a related field, such as physical education, exercise science, or kinetics, which is the scientific study of movement.


Many employers prefer or require that the trainers and instructors they hire are certified. That’s especially true for personal trainers, but even group instructors who may be hired initially without a certificate may be required to get one while they are on the job.

To get a certificate, you’ll need a good knowledge of how to do exercises properly, how to evaluate clients’ fitness levels, and how to design appropriate exercise programs. You will also need to know about human physiology. You’ll take a written exam as well as a practical exam, where you demonstrate your knowledge. Many different programs offer certification.

Steps to Become a Fitness Trainer or Instructor

The specific requirements for becoming a fitness trainer or instructor vary greatly depending on where you want to work and what forms of fitness, if any, you plan to specialize in. You should contact individual employers that interest you to find out their requirements.

If your preferred employers require that you be certified, a good way to find a legitimate program is to choose one that is accredited by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for fitness trainers and instructors is $31,090 per year. That comes out to $14.95 per hour

Job Outlook

The future looks bright for fitness instructors! People in general are becoming more aware of how important fitness is to overall health. More employers are expected to offer incentives to their workers to join gyms and work out. Insurance companies are also expected to increase their offerings of similar incentives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs for trainers and fitness instructors to grow by 25 percent over the next ten years, a rate of growth that is well above average.

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