Business GrowthFundamentals and Best Practices Best Online Personal Training Certifications

So you want to become a personal trainer? Great choice. Helping clients achieve their health and fitness goals can be a rewarding career. It’s also a great opportunity for anyone who wants the flexibility to either work for a company or chart their own entrepreneurial path. But there’s no becoming a personal trainer without the right online personal training certifications!

Before you can start changing lives and working with clients, there are a few things you’ll need to do to get trained up. Keep reading to learn how to become a personal trainer and discover if this is the right career path for you!

What does a personal trainer do?

Personal trainers work with individuals to help them achieve their fitness goals, improve their health and wellbeing, or achieve their full athletic potential. They do this by building training programs or regiments tailored to their clients’ goals.

These programs are most often made up of workouts and exercise routines, but can also include guidance around healthy habits and nutrition guidance.

Personal trainers work with all different levels of clients, from beginners to experienced athletes and adapt their approach based on what the clients needs, any injuries or health concerns, age, ability, and other important factors.

And while a large part of their role is to be a source of expert knowledge and advice, an equally large part of their work is to build strong relationships with their clients so that they can keep their clients motivated and hold them accountable to the goals they’ve set for themselves.

Learn more about the role of a personal trainer and what it takes to succeed as a PT.

How much does a personal trainer make?

The average salary of a personal trainer in Canada is $52,650. In the United States, the reported median is $64,100.

Of course, your compensation as a personal trainer, just like in any other role, will vary depending on their level of expertise, skills, and geographic region. It may also vary based on where you work (e.g., if you work in a fitness club or if you run your own independent business).

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Best online personal training certifications and education

  1. Earn a high school diploma or GED
  2. Consider a college or university degree
  3. Get your First Aid, CPR, and AED certification
  4. Choose a personal trainer certification course
  5. Pass your personal trainer certification examination
  6. Apply for jobs or starting your own business
  7. Level up your skillset


Step 1: Earn a high school diploma or GED

For most online personal trainer certification programs, the minimum requirement is a high school diploma or a GED, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve completed one of these two options.

Step 2: Consider a college or university degree

Although you don’t need to have a college or university degree to become a personal trainer, many individuals choose to earn a degree in a related field such as:

  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise science or physiology
  • Physical health education
  • Life sciences
  • Sports medicine
  • Fitness and health management
  • Biomechanics

Having a degree in a related field will deepen your expertise and allow you to support specific client niches or needs. Similarly, it can also be a way to distinguish yourself from other personal trainers or to elevate the cost of your personal training services.

Step 3: Get your First Aid, CPR, and AED certification

On rare occasions, physical activity can come with risks, which is why, before you can start working with clients, you’ll need to get your complete first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certifications.

These certifications (which need to be renewed on a regular basis) can be completed through a variety of certifying organizations. Often, the same groups that run personal trainer certification courses will also offer AED and CPR certification courses. The courses cost on average $125-$250.

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Step 4: Choose a personal trainer certification course

Before you can call yourself a personal trainer, you’ll need to be certified by an accredited organization or educational institution. There are many different certifying bodies that you can choose from.

Here are some of the largest certifying bodies in North America:

Step 5: Pass your online personal trainer certification examination

At the end of your chosen course, you’ll need to register for and complete your online personal trainer certification examination. This is where all the knowledge you learned in your course will come in handy!

There is often a small fee to register and the exam itself will likely be completed electronically. You’ll be tested on topics including:

  1. Client programming
  2. Client consultation and fitness assessments
  3. Proper exercise form and techniques
  4. Safety or emergency responses

Once you’ve successfully completed your exam and received a passing grade, congratulations! You’re officially a certified personal trainer.

Step 6: Apply for jobs or starting your own business

You’re certified, you’re excited, you’re ready to start helping clients lead their healthiest lives! Now it’s time to start applying for jobs or building your own independent business.

As a personal trainer you have a few options on how and where you work. You can work:

  • As a personal trainer in a commercial fitness club or gym
  • As an independent trainer (as an owner of your own business)
  • In a private studio
  • In recreation centers, spas, or resorts
  • For a corporate wellness provider (a company that provides training services to employees as part of an employer benefit)

Working for a fitness club or gym

If you enjoy being part of a larger team where you’ll be able to collaborate with other trainers or other health, fitness, or nutrition professionals, working for a fitness club or gym can be a great option.

As a personal training in a club or gym, you’ll work with members that have purchased training services. You’ll also likely engage in some sales yourself, helping members learn more about the benefits of personal training and why they may want to consider signing up.

Most clubs or gyms offer guidance on the type of training or programming they should offer, and sometimes have templates or best practices that you can follow to quickly build and deliver training to members. You may also have the chance to shadow more senior trainers and as a result, learn from their experience. Meanwhile, you’ll be charting your own career path within a company that shares your passion for fitness.

Working for yourself

Rather be your own boss? Crave a more flexible work environment? Starting your own personal training business or working as a solopreneur is also an option.

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As an independent personal trainer, you’ll need to build up your roster of clients using various sales and marketing strategies. However, you’ll have total control over your schedule and the type of programming or services you deliver to your clients.

If you do decide to go the independent route and start your own business, you may want to find a software to help streamline your training and build your client roster. Having the right tools and strategies in place can help unlock your full potential and turn your passion into a profitable career.

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Step 7: Level up your skillset

The world of health and fitness is constantly evolving! Therefore, it’s important to keep up to date with the science and what your clients are looking for.

Completing additional training is a great way to do this. Further, additional training can help you become an expert in a specific field or niche, and can allow you to better attract and support specific types of clients.

There are a variety of excellent continuing education and advanced qualifications available through the same organizations that offer personal training certifications. Here are some of the possible courses you could take to take your skillset to the next level:

  • Nutrition Coach certification
  • Group Fitness Instructor certification
  • Health Coach certification
  • Medican Exercise Specialist
  • Youth Fitness Specialist
  • Senior or Functional Aging Fitness Specialist
  • Weightloss Specialist

Meet our education partners

Looking to level up your skills or expand your knowledge?

As a Trainerize paid subscriber, you’ll gain special access and exclusive discounts on a collection of carefully curated courses, certifications, and education resources from leaders and experts across the industry.

You coach your clients to be their best selves. Now it’s time to be yours!

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Level up 

Personal trainers wear many different hats and juggle a variety of responsibilities. Above all, being a personal trainer is all about helping people achieve their health and fitness goals, and live happier and healthier lives.

And now that you know how to become a personal trainer (in just seven easy steps) you can take your first steps toward an exciting and rewarding career.

Build your personal training business.
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