How to Become a Personal Trainer

How to Become a Personal Trainer

Are you into health and fitness?
Are you passionate about motivating others to reach fitness goals?
If so, a career in personal training could be the ideal profession for you. Read on to find out what the job involves and what steps you need to take to become a personal trainer.

What is a personal trainer?

Working as a personal trainer, you will create and deliver one-on-one fitness programmes for your clients.

You could help your clients to lose weight, gain muscle or achieve a better level of fitness by motivating and encouraging them to reach their goals. You’ll lead individuals of all ages and fitness levels in activities like strength training, stretching and cardiovascular exercises.

You could work at a leisure centre, at a gym or at clients’ homes. Other places personal trainers can work at include health clubs, personal training studios, spas, hotels, the armed forces and cruise ships. Many personal trainers are self-employed.

You’ll usually need to fit your working hours around your clients’ lifestyles, so this job won’t involve normal nine-to-five hours. You may work early mornings, evenings and weekends, so you’ll have to be flexible. However, many personal trainers set their own work hours.

What do personal trainers actually do?

Your main tasks as a personal trainer involve creating and instructing fitness regimes that have been tailored for specific individuals, to suit their ages, body types and level of fitness. You will provide guidance and support to your clients to help them meet achievable fitness targets.

You will usually run one-on-one sessions, but you may oversee groups as well. You’ll have to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle yourself, and you’ll need to keep up-to-date with the latest fitness innovations and developments to ensure you always give your clients the best advice and guidance.

Personal Trainer Job Description

As well as creating and instructing fitness regimes and motivating your clients to achieve their personal goals, there are a number of other duties and responsibilities you must perform. As a personal trainer, you will:

  • Conduct fitness assessments to determine the fitness and skill levels of clients.
  • Adapt to the individual needs of clients.
  • Monitor equipment and ensure it is being used correctly.
  • Give clients support and advice, including nutrition, health guidance and lifestyle changes.
  • Monitor clients’ progression by regularly completing fitness checks and ensuring clients are healthy.
  • Creating and maintaining positive and trusting relationships with clients.
  • Recording clients’ training sessions and completing relevant paperwork.
  • Acting as a role model for clients.
  • Communicating with clients in a courteous and professional manner.
  • Marketing your services and finding new clients, if you run your own business.

Key Skills for a Personal Trainer

young personal trainer in gym

Most importantly, if you want to become a personal trainer you must enjoy personal fitness. Take a look at our personal training course for more information of PT Courses. It’s essential you have the ability to motivate and inspire others.

You’ll also need to remain supportive and patient with your clients at all times.

In this role, you need to have excellent interpersonal skills. You need to be highly organised too. Other key skills and attributes of a personal trainer include:

  • A friendly and outgoing personality.
  • An in-depth understanding of the human body, nutrition and healthy lifestyle factors.
  • Excellent communication and listening skills.
  • The ability to design tailored courses.
  • The ability to work well with others.
  • The ability to work on your own.
  • The ability to adapt to different clients’ needs.
  • The ability to stay calm in stressful situations.
  • The ability to analyse the progress of clients.
  • Awareness and understanding of safeguarding practices.

Useful Work Experience

More and more people are entering the personal training industry, so it’s advisable to get some work experience under your belt before you pursue this career. You can work in gyms across the UK such as Pure Gym. This will give you the opportunity of obtaining a deeper level of knowledge and understanding about the industry.

It will also allow you to network and make contacts with other fitness professionals, which can come in very handy when you’re ready to start looking for employment.

Although it’s possible to apply for personal trainer courses and apprenticeships without first having completed work experience, many courses and employers prefer you to have completed some experience in the fitness sector. Contact local places like leisure centres, gyms and spas to find a work placement.

Average Salaries for a Personal Trainer

The amount you can earn as a personal trainer depends on various factors, such as your location, your level of experience and whether you’re employed by a company or are self-employed. Almost eighty percent of personal trainers work on a self-employed basis.

As a freelancer, you will set your own hourly rate. Instructors typically earn between £20 and £40 per hour. However, if you work in certain locations or with high-profile clients, you could earn as much as between £50 and £100 per hour.

If you are employed by a leisure centre, gym, fitness studio or a similar company, you can expect to earn an entry-level salary of between £14,000 and £16,000 per year. With more experience, you can expect to see your salary rise to between £17,000 and £30,000 per year.

Qualifications for a Personal Trainer

There are three routes into a personal trainer career. Whichever route you take, you’ll need to become qualified before you can work as a personal trainer in the UK. You can:

  • Enrol with a course through a private training provider.
  • Enrol with a college course.
  • Enrol with an apprenticeship.

Private Training Courses

If you enrol with a private training course, you’ll need to make sure the course is accredited by the Registry of Exercise Professionals or the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. Courses available include a Diploma in Personal Training or an Advanced Diploma in Personal Training.

College Courses and Further Education

Level three college courses are available. To be accepted onto a level three course, you’ll usually need to have four or five GCSEs at grades A* to C or nine to four, or equivalent qualifications. The main courses to study are a Level Three Diploma in Personal Training course and a Level Three Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training course.

These are the same level as a BTEC National Diploma or A Level. By gaining a level three qualification, you can find employment as a personal trainer or set yourself up as a self-employed personal trainer. You can usually study courses either part-time or full-time.

Although it’s not mandatory to have qualifications above level three to become a personal trainer, you do have the option of studying for higher-level qualifications. Higher National Diplomas, Foundation degrees and degrees are available in subjects like:

  • Personal Training.
  • Fitness and Personal Training.
  • Sport Science and Personal Training.
  • Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science.
  • Health and Fitness Management.


Another route into personal training is an apprenticeship. This allows you to study for a level three qualification while you’re working and being trained on the job. As an apprentice, you would earn a basic wage as well. You could do apprenticeships like a Personal Trainer Advanced Apprenticeship.

You will usually need five GCSEs at grades A* to C or nine to four, or equivalent qualifications, to be accepted onto an advanced apprenticeship.

Personal Trainer Courses

To work as a personal trainer it is worthwhile having a first aid certificate. Ideally, it should include a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation certificate as well.
You can study an online course in first at training, take a look at our online first aid at work course.

By having this certification, you will be able to assist should a client have an injury while working with you. Most first aid certificates are valid for a period of three years, so you’ll need to retake the course every few years.

You can see a full range of personal training and fitness courses we have at The Course Mix.

Career Progression

Although you can set yourself up as a self-employed freelance personal trainer once you’re qualified, many people prefer to first work for an employer to get experience. Once you’re comfortable in the role, you can then leave to set up your own business.

This will allow you to have more flexibility and earn a higher wage. You could also progress in your career by learning new skills that you can offer to clients, such as aerobics, Pilates or yoga.

In Conclusion

If you love personal fitness and you have an outgoing and enthusiastic personality, you could enjoy a rewarding career as a personal trainer. You would work one-on-one with clients by creating and delivering tailormade fitness programmes that allow clients to reach specific fitness goals. You’ll have to be able to motivate them and adapt to each client’s individual needs.

It’s a good idea to do some work experience at a leisure centre or gym before you begin to pursue this career. Once you have worked in a fitness setting and you’re sure personal training is the career you want to get into, you can choose your route to become qualified. You could study an accredited course through a private training provider or a college, or you could enrol with an apprenticeship.