Wondering how to become a personal trainer? Whether you’re fresh out of college, or considering a career change, many people are tempted by a career in fitness. The freedom to choose your own hours, work with a topic you’re passion about, and help others in the process, are all appealing aspects.


In this article we’ll walk you through the exact steps to becoming a personal trainer, and embarking on your dream career…


How To Become A Personal Trainer: Overview

The process to become a personal trainer is pretty straightforward. There are three key things you need to do to become certified, and start applying for jobs…


  1. Get personal training certified by a recognised training provider, such as ACE or NASM

  2. Get a first aid (CPR/AED) certification with hands-on training (online won’t be accepted)

  3. Get personal training liability insurance


This guide explores each of these stages in more detail, including costs and the best providers. But before investing in certifications and insurance, it’s worth doing some research to decide if the career path is right for you…


How To Become A Personal Trainer Pinterest


How To Become A Personal Trainer – Step #1: Deciding To Take The Leap

Personal training can be a hugely enjoyable and rewarding career. Doing something that you’re passionate about, whilst helping others, leads to amazing work satisfaction. But there are also times when it might get frustrating, such as when clients don’t follow your advice or skip sessions.


To help decide whether a career in personal training is right for you, ask yourself the following questions…


  • Do I like interacting with people? Some introverts can find being around people constantly a bit exhausting. This doesn’t necessarily exclude you from a PT career, but you might need to adjust for it by planning in breaks or training people online.
  • Do I walk the talk? If you’re not fit and healthy, clients are unlikely to believe that you can help them. This doesn’t mean you need to be ripped though, you just need to demonstrate that you follow your own advice. If you don’t, then work on training yourself before trying to help others.
  • Am I happy to work early mornings and evenings? You’ll need to fit around clients’ schedules, which often means training them before or after typical office hours.
  • Do I want to be employed or freelance? As a PT you can be either, so it’s a personal choice. Do you prefer the freedom of being self-employed, or the security of a guaranteed base salary?
  • What are my salary expectations? Our salary guide provides detailed information on what you can expect to earn in different countries, states and roles. But as a rough guide, the average PT in the USA earns $33 per hour.


If you’re still unsure whether the career is right for you, then speak to other PTs about their experience and daily routine. If you don’t know any, then ask around your circles, or post an open question to Facebook or Twitter. You might even be able to shadow them for a day and experience it for yourself.


How To Become A Personal Trainer – Step #2: Getting Certified

Once you decide to become a PT, the next step is to get certified. This is where you really learn your craft… The certification course teaches you about physiology (how the body works), correct exercise techniques, and how to develop training programs that help clients achieve different goals.


You can choose to become certified via online training or live workshops. Prices vary depending on the study method, with online being cheaper and live workshop being more expensive. The cheapest online option is offered by ACE for $599, and includes the course, study materials and exam entry. You can learn more about the best personal trainer certifications here, but we’ve also summarised the training option below…



It takes around 80-100 study hours to become certified. So depending on which study method you choose, this could be completed in between two weeks and four months. Most training providers run live workshops at weekends so you can fit them around an existing job.


⇒ For a more detailed look at the certification options available (including a price comparison chart), check out our guide to the best personal trainer certifications.


How To Become A Personal Trainer – Step #3: CPR Certification

In order to sit your final PT exam, most training providers will require you to have a CPR certificate. You can gain this first aid certification whilst you’re studying for the PT exam, or before you even sign up for the course. You might already be certified through your current employer, in which case you won’t need to do it again.


Because CPR requires hands on skills, you need to attend a live training. Courses that are taught online will not be recognised by training providers or insurance companies. In most countries, the Red Cross or national heart association will run courses that meet the hands-on requirements. They usually cost between $80-$100 – here’s an overview of course providers in different countries…



How To Become A Personal Trainer – Step #4: Insurance

When researching how to become a personal trainer, insurance isn’t something that people immediately think of. However it’s vitally important – if a client makes a claim against you and you’re not covered, then you’ll have to pay the damages from your own pocket. And that can be expensive. In fact, most health clubs won’t employ you without valid insurance. We’re not going to go into the detail here, the important thing is that you know to get insured before training anyone. But you can learn more about personal trainer insurance options here.


How To Become A Personal Trainer: Summary

So now you know exactly how to become a personal trainer and pursue your dream career. Once you’ve passed your PT exam, got your CPR certificate, and got insurance, you’re ready to starting training! The next stage is to apply for jobs or start building your own client base. So when the time is right, check out our professional resume templates, or this online course on How To Sell Personal Training.


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