How to Become a Personal Trainer in 3 Simple Steps

What is a Personal Trainer

Being a personal trainer is often a choice born from a passion for fitness and helping others. It’s a unique career choice is many ways, but incredibly satisfying for most. There is the added benefit of keeping in good physical shape and blend a passion with a career.

Continue and learn everything you need to know on how to become a personal trainer presented in 3 simple steps.

There is a lot more to the role of a personal trainer than just keeping your own fitness level high and training clients. You need to keep up-to-date with nutritional information, manage paperwork, and be able to motivate others.

What Does a Personal Trainer Do?

Personal trainers work one-on-one with client’s to motivate them to achieve a higher state of fitness, and educate them in fitness and safety. This can be strength gaining goals, weight loss, fitness levels, and training someone for competitions. Being able to motivate people is a huge part of this role, it’s motivation that often keeps people from achieving their personal fitness goals.

The career has been well documented and featured on various TV shows and it’s common knowledge that the rich and famous have their own personal trainers. This has made the role more desirable in recent years and increased the amount of freelance personal trainers.

Whether you work freelance, or for a company, the roles are very similar. There will be more organizing and marketing involved with a freelance role. While working as part of a team in a gym means you will work under a management hierarchy.

Key responsibilities of a personal trainer:

  • Working with clients to increase their level of fitness
  • Helping to run a gym or health facility
  • Organizing their own workload and scheduling appointments
  • Keeping up-to-date with the latest health and fitness information
  • Educating clients on fitness, the human body, nutrition, and more

Personal Trainers’ average salary is $39,820.

Desirable Skills of a Personal Trainer

Being such a personable role with a lot of face-to-face interaction it’s not a career choice that suits everyone who enjoys fitness. There are some desirable skills that translate really well into becoming a successful personal trainer, these are as follows:

A Good Motivator

Motivating clients is a key part of the role. Showing someone how to use fitness machines and what they need to do is the easy part. Being able to push the client to carry out the hard work is often the challenging part.

Excellent People Skills

Along the same lines as being able to motivate people you also need to have excellent people skills. People are your business, so keeping people happy and delivering a good service directly to them is vital.

Knowledge and Understanding of the Human Body

There is a lot of studying that goes into understanding the human body before becoming a qualified personal trainer. There is always an emphasis on safety. Knowing how to train properly is one of the first things a personal trainer learns.

Good Organizational Skills

Organizing your daily routine and fitting in clients, organizing their workout plans, and organizing all the paperwork and day-to-day running of the gym or facility where you work is important to keep the wheels turning smoothly. Being a good organizer will help you get everything in order quicker and with less room for error.

what is a personal trainer

Becoming a Personal Trainer

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Personal Trainers

Science classes

Classes like chemistry biology and physics all incorporate concepts that are very useful in a personal training career. Studying these courses will make you understand how human body works and how an exercise will affect a certain muscle group and why. At last but not least getting good grades to these classes will help you get accepted to the university you want.

Physical Education Classes

Aspiring personal trainers should not just participate but excel in physical education classes. A lot of physical education classes include lessons about human wellness and health that are really useful for personal trainers. Also a personal trainer should be in great shape if you want your clients to trust you as you will be the proof that your exercise programs actually work and can help them achieve their goals.

Anatomy or Medicine Classes

Anatomy and medicine classes are not available at every high school but if your school offers these classes don’t miss the chance and take them. These classes will not only help you get a more in depth understanding of human body functions but will also prepare you for your college coursework.

Step 2: Get Official Training

Personal Trainer Certificate Program 1 year

Personal trainer certificate programs provide the educational background to the students who want to follow a career as personal trainers. The curriculum consists of courses that analyze basic body functions and exercises to train the body. They are 1 year programs and consist of 24 to 30 semester credit hours. The admission requirements are a high school diploma or a GED and a CPR certification.


Core Courses (25 credits)

  • Human Biology
  • Science of Personal Health
  • Nutrition Science
  • Foundations of Exercise
  • Introduction to Sport Management
  • Theory and Practice of Weight Training
  • Introduction to Biomechanics
  • Exercise, Testing and Prescription
  • Sport & Exercise Science Practicum
  • Principles of Effective Speaking

Electives (3 credits)

  • Drug and Alcohol Education
  • Culture and Food
  • Athletic Training Techniques
  • Sport Specific Rehabilitation and Training
  • Selected Team and Recreation Sports
  • Water Safety Instructor
  • Principles of Coaching
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Sociology of Sport
  • Facilities Management
  • Special Topics in Physical Education
  • Health Psychology

The cost of a personal trainer certificate program is $3,390 – $9,728.

Associate Degree in Advanced Personal Training and Exercise Science Degree Program 2 years

These degrees are designed to supply the students with all the necessary skills they need in order to enter successfully the field of fitness. They also are a solid foundation for future study to the bachelor’s degree level. They are 2 year programs and consist of 64 to 95 semester credit hours. The admission requirements are a high school diploma or a GED and CPR certificate.


  • English I
  • English II
  • College Mathematics
  • Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Medical Terminology
  • Health & Safety Techniques
  • Career Development
  • Personal Psychology
  • Holistic Therapies
  • Myology
  • Kinesiology
  • Business for Somatic Practices
  • Introduction to Personal Training
  • Personal Training I
  • Personal Training II
  • Training Program Design
  • Nutrition for Weight Management & Physical Activity
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Exercise Psychology
  • Special Populations
  • Personal Trainer Exam Review
  • Personal Training Internship
  • Advanced Training Concepts
  • Research in Health & Movement

The cost of a personal trainer associate’s degree program is $16,650 – $34,020.

While there are no bachelor’s degree in personal training for those who want to advance their education, bachelor of science in exercise science is the most relevant degree they can pursue. These 4 year degrees consist of 120 to 130 semester credit hours. The admission requirements are a high school diploma or a GED with a GPA of at least 2.75 and a CPR certification.


General Education Requirements (72 credits)

  • English Literature or Composition
  • College Algebra or Pre-calculus
  • Public Speaking
  • General Biology (with    lab)
  • General Psychology
  • Natural Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • General Chemistry
  • Introduction to Nutrition

Core Courses (87 credits)

  • Organic Chemistry for Life Sciences,
  • Anatomy/Physiology 1
  • Interdisciplinary Experiences in Natural Health Arts/Sciences
  • Physical Activity and Wellness
  • Cultural Perspectives on Food
  • Living Anatomy
  • Anatomy/Physiology 2
  • Biochemistry for Life Sciences 1
  • Nutrition Throughout Life
  •  Introduction to the   Scientific Method
  • Anatomy/Physiology 3
  • Biochemistry for Life Sciences 2
  • Learning and Development
  • Business Principles in Health Promotion
  • Whole Foods Production
  • Physiology of Exercise
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Principles of Resistance Training
  • Advanced Nutrition Principles I
  • Exercise Science Laboratory Techniques
  •  Introduction to Research Methods
  • Advanced Nutrition Principles
  • Biomechanics
  • Psychology of Sport and Exercise

The cost of a personal trainer bachelor’s degree program is $88,000 – $148,888.

Step 3: Get Certified

There are several professional associations offering certification for personal trainers like the American Council on Exercise, the American College of Sports medicine and the International Sport Sciences Association. The most common requirements for certification are a CPR certification and the completion of an accredited training program.

American Council on Exercise


  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Hold a high school diploma
  • Hold an AED and CPR certification


Three hours test consisted of 125 multiple choice questions

Cost: $499

American College of Sports Medicine


  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Hold a high school diploma
  • Hold an AED and CPR certification


Three hours test consisted of 125 multiple choice questions

Cost: $279 (non-members) – $219 (members)

How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 4 months to 12 months$4,860 – $17,425
Total 4 months to 12 months$4,860 – $17,425

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$27,150 – $63,160
Total 2 years $27,150 – $63,160

Option 3 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$45,756-$112,190
Total 4 years$45,756-$112,190

Personal Trainer Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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