The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies personal trainers as fitness trainers and instructors. Personal trainers work individually with clients, assessing their fitness levels, preparing exercise plans and diets and instructing them on various exercise movements. They also track the progress of clients by taking measurements and calibrating fat percentages. If you want to become a personal trainer, you will likely need to take some courses in personal training and get certified as a personal trainer. Your salary will vary depending on where you live and for whom you work.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for a personal trainer was $36,900 as of May 2012, the BLS reported. The top 10 percent made more than $66,530 per year. To become a personal trainer, you need at least a high school diploma, although more employers prefer hiring those with associate's or bachelor's degrees in personal fitness, exercise science or related majors. You will also need to pass both written and practical exams to earn your certification through one of the governing organizations: National Federation of Personal Trainers, National Academy of Sports Medicine or American Council on Exercise. Some employers may also require that you get certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, and first aid. Other essential requirements include stamina and physical fitness and listening, speaking, motivational, problem-solving and customer service skills.
A personal trainer can earn more working for specific types of employers. In 2012, they earned the highest annual salaries of $53,760 working for insurance companies, according to the BLS. They also earned relatively high salaries working for businesses, professional and political organizations at $48,480. If you worked for a spectator sports team, you'd earn $43,720 per year. At an amusement or recreational facility, or gym, you'd make $38,080 annually. Local government agencies only pay their personal trainers $33,720.
State and District Salaries
Personal trainers earned the highest annual salaries of $53,730 in New York, according to 2012 BLS data. Those in California, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., also earned relatively high salaries of $47,790, $45,320 and $43,120 per year, respectively. If you worked as a personal trainer in Texas, you'd make closer to the national average for all personal trainers -- $38,250 annually. In Illinois and Florida, you'd earn $31,350 and $31,020, respectively. Kansas employers paid their personal trainers the least, among those listed, at $28,630.
The BLS projects a 24 percent increase in employment for fitness trainers and instructors, including personal trainers, through 2020, which is faster than the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. More businesses and insurance companies are recognizing the parallel between exercise and employee health, and creating their own exercise facilities. Older Americans are also encouraged to exercise and remain active. Both these factors may increase jobs for personal trainers in the next decade.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Fitness Trainers and Instructors Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Fitness Trainer or Instructor
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fitness Trainers and Instructors: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Fitness Trainers and Aerobic Instructors
- National Federation of Personal Trainers: The Role of a Personal Trainer
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