How To Become a Personal Trainer

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 October 2022

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A rewarding career, a personal trainer's primary responsibility is to help their clients improve and maintain their fitness. You might consider a career as a personal trainer if you have an interest in health and fitness and enjoy working one-on-one with clients. Learning about the steps you can take to become a personal trainer can help you achieve this career. In this article, we explain what a personal trainer is, how to become a personal trainer and answer frequently asked questions about this role.

What is a personal trainer?

Before discussing how to become a personal trainer, here's a personal trainer's general job description. Primarily, personal trainers develop workout plans and help their clients exercise and meet their fitness goals in private sessions. They also advise their clients on health, nutrition and lifestyle issues. A personal gym trainer's duties may include:

  • Assessing their clients' needs and current level of fitness through weight, body composition, strength and endurance.

  • Developing an exercise program to help their clients' achieve their objectives. Their training goals could include weight loss, strength, flexibility or cardiovascular health.

  • Showing exercises and workout techniques so their clients can perform them safely and effectively. They also instruct their clients about safety concerning fitness machines and workout equipment.

  • Monitoring their client's progress towards their goals and adjusting their workout programs as necessary.

  • Providing clients with basic nutritional and health advice.

  • Providing first aid in the event of an emergency.

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How to become a personal trainer

Here's a step-by-step guide focusing on how to become a personal trainer:

1. Earn qualifications

The first step concerning how to become a personal trainer is to earn qualifications. The minimum requirement to become a personal trainer is a Certificate IV in Fitness, which you can complete at accredited institutions like TAFE or the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers. At the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers, the Complete Personal Trainers program includes the Certificate IV in Fitness and practical experience in a gym, so you graduate job-ready. You can also work as a personal trainer if you have a Diploma of Fitness or a Bachelor in Exercise Science.

2. Gain your first aid certificate

Before you begin work as a personal trainer, you will need to be certified in both first aid and CPR. This ensures you can help clients in the event of an emergency. To gain these certifications, you can attend a one-day, in-person training course.

3. Register for a professional membership

Once you have your qualifications, it's recommended you gain professional membership with Fitness Australia, Physical Activity Australia or FITREC. Fitness Australia is the nation's largest professional body for exercise professionals and offers several membership levels depending on your career goals. However, joining any of these associations will show prospective clients and employers that you're a qualified fitness professional with the knowledge and skills to perform your role within the industry successfully. It also shows your commitment to maintaining the highest level of industry standards through ongoing accredited training.

4. Create a resume and apply for jobs

After completing the prerequisite education requirements, you can start applying for jobs. Ensure your resume highlights your qualifications, professional certifications and any relevant work experience. It's also helpful to include a personal statement that highlights what you hope to accomplish as a personal trainer.

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5. Get insurance

The next step in becoming a personal trainer is to ensure you have professional indemnity, public liability and product liability insurance before you work with clients. This can protect you against any claims and aspects like property damage, breach of confidentiality and liability coverage if you lose important documents.

6. Find clients

As a personal trainer, you typically work with individual clients; whether you're self-employed or find a job as a private trainer in a gym or fitness centre. So, once you secure employment, it's your responsibility to build a roster of current and potential clients. Develop your client list by asking for referrals from current clients, advertising your services or networking with potential clients in your workplace.

7. Advance your career

The last step in how to become a personal trainer is to explore opportunities to further your career. Once you've gained experience in personal gym training, it's beneficial to identify a speciality to help you target and gain more clients. Your niche might involve training the elderly, children, sports teams or clients focused on weight loss goals. Once you have your niche, make your marketing material, website and outreach more targeted.

You will also need to commit to continuous professional development to keep updated on the latest exercise and nutrition research. Fortunately, when you register with one of the aforementioned fitness organisations, they provide these updates. You may also decide to complete additional studies, which could include a Diploma of Fitness or a Bachelor in Exercise Science.

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Frequently asked questions about personal training

Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding how to become a personal trainer:

What skills do you need to become a personal trainer?

To succeed as a personal trainer, you need the following skills:

  • Communication skills: You need proficient communication skills to discuss fitness goals and show clients how to perform specific exercises. You need to speak clearly, listen accurately, and use body language and gestures effectively.

  • Customer service skills: Personal trainers need excellent customer service skills to build their client lists effectively and encourage clients to become long-term customers. You need to assess your client's needs and provide services that satisfy their objectives.

  • Fitness: To perform exercises for clients and show the effects of your exercise programs, you need to be fit and healthy.

  • Problem-solving skills: When training clients, you may need to listen to their fitness concerns and help them resolve these issues. You will need proficient problem-solving skills to solve fitness-related problems through exercise recommendations.

  • Stamina: As a personal trainer, you can expect to spend most of your day on your feet showing exercises to clients and helping them with their workouts. Therefore, you must have excellent stamina and be able to stand and walk for several hours at a time.

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What are the benefits of being a personal trainer?

Personal training is firstly a rewarding career. Personal trainers help others improve their physical and mental health; ultimately enhancing their quality of life. A flexible career where you can set your own schedule, personal training is also an enticing and lucrative side hustle option. Finally, being a personal trainer offers plenty of variety and challenges.

What is the average salary for a personal trainer?

A personal trainer's salary depends on factors like experience, skills and geographic location. However, according to Indeed's salary guide, the average salary for a personal trainer is $59,490 per year. Personal trainers in these cities typically earn more than average:

  • Melbourne: $70,108 per year

  • Brisbane: $67,748 per year

  • Sydney: $63,803 per year

What does a personal trainer's work environment look like?

Personal trainers typically work in gyms and fitness centres, where they use cardiovascular equipment, weight machines and manual equipment like free weights to help their clients train. Therefore, gym personal trainers are standing and walking for most of their workday and need to have stamina and strength.

Alternatively, some personal fitness trainers are self-employed professionals and work at hotels, on cruise ships or at lifestyle retreats. They also might run small group sessions or boot camps. Personal trainers often work at various locations and on evenings and weekends.

What hours do personal trainers work?

A personal trainer's hours depend on their employer and clients and they may have a regular or irregular schedule. However, they often have to work during the day, evening and on weekends to fit in with their clients' schedules. According to JobOutlook, only 29% of fitness professionals work full time, so there may be many opportunities for part-time work as a personal trainer.

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What degree do you need to be a personal trainer?

You don't need a degree to become a personal trainer. The minimum requirement is a Certificate IV in Fitness. However, earning a degree may give you extra knowledge that you can apply to this role.

How long does it take to become a certified personal trainer?

If you choose to complete a Certificate IV in Fitness, it takes 12 months to become a certified personal trainer. Earning this qualification may help you find jobs. It can also provide you with the knowledge you need to excel in this role.

Is it hard to become a personal trainer?

If you're determined and dedicated, it isn't hard to become a personal trainer. Compared to a career that requires a bachelor's degree, you only need to do a minimum of 12 months of study to become a certified personal trainer. However, it's important to remember that you also need the right skills, along with your qualification, to become a successful personal trainer.

What is the dress code for personal trainers?

Personal trainers typically wear athletic clothing to work. They can wear outfits with the ability to stretch so they can easily perform exercises for their clients. Some personal trainers at gyms also wear provided uniforms.

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