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Can You Make a Good Living as a Personal Trainer? Yes, But…
Reading Time: 5 minutes 30 seconds
If you want a rewarding career, personal training delivers. There’s something incredibly satisfying about helping clients achieve their fitness goals. That’s in addition to seeing firsthand the health benefits they receive by boosting their physical activity. When your client no longer requires blood pressure or diabetes medication, your life’s purpose can feel complete.
But you also have to be realistic. If your personal trainer salary isn’t high enough, you can’t stay in this position for long. You have bills to pay and, in some cases, a family to support. You may also want to save for retirement, help your kids through college, and more.
This can lead you to wonder whether you can make a good living as a personal trainer. To answer this question, let’s first look at what the average fitness trainer makes.
Median Personal Trainer Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median pay for a fitness trainer or instructor is $40,510 per year. For comparison purposes, the median pay for all occupations combined is $41,950 annually. So, personal training provides an income that is closely aligned to this amount.
On a bit of a side note, the BLS adds that jobs in this role are expected to grow “much faster than average.” Specifically, it anticipates a growth rate of 39% between 2020 and 2030. If this holds true, this equates to 121,700 new fitness training jobs over the next several years.
7 Factors That Can Impact Your Personal Training Income
It’s important to remember that the data provided by the BLS is a median. This means that one-half of trainers make less while the other half make more. In fact, the top 10% of trainers make at least $76,550 annually.
What accounts for such a large range in personal trainer salary? Here are seven factors to consider.
#1: Whether You Work for a Fitness Facility or Have a Personal Training Business
Your pay can differ based on where you work. Options can include a commercial gym, health club, or another fitness facility. BLS data indicates that a personal trainer working in a fitness sports rec facility tends to make the most. A trainer working for a civic or social organization often has a lower income. And the difference between the two can be as much as $10,000 per year. Why?
When working for a gym or recreational center, your wages are paid via gym membership dues. The more the gym charges for these dues, the more they can afford to pay their training instructors. Civic organizations typically charge less for the use of their facilities. Or they offer them free to certain populations. Thus, their trainers earn less as a result.
If you work as a fitness manager, you will likely earn more. You can also earn more if you own a personal training business. As an independent trainer, you set your own rates. Plus, you don’t just get a portion of a member’s dues. Instead, you receive the full amount charged for the training session.
Admittedly, you may have more costs as an independent trainer. This is especially true if you provide your own equipment. But as a business owner, you also have more control over these expenses. You don’t have to buy top-of-the-line equipment to provide a good workout.
#2: If You Provide Training in Person, Are an Online Personal Trainer, Or Both
When providing services as an in-person trainer, you are limited by geography. Yet, an online trainer can have clients all around the world. The more clients you can train, the higher your income potential.
Online personal training does require a slightly different skillset. You must be able to get people into proper form virtually. Your online fitness assessments will vary as well.
If you’re considering offering online training services, start with one or two. See how you feel. This can help you decide whether you want to provide training online, either part or full-time.
#3: How Long You’ve Been Working as a Fitness Professional
An experienced trainer typically commands higher rates than someone new to the field. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make a good income as a new personal trainer. You can. Though, you can also expect your salary potential to increase as you gain more experience.
#4: Your Level of Education
If you have advanced education or training in certain areas of fitness, you may also be able to charge higher rates. One example is an exercise science degree. Or perhaps you’re a trained exercise physiologist. Some clients are willing to pay more for these types of degrees.
Remember that education extends beyond the classroom. Maybe you studied under a well-known yoga practitioner, for instance. This could increase your value as a yoga instructor. As a result, you may be able to charge more for your training sessions.
#5: If You Offer Services as a Private Personal Trainer or Train Groups
Another factor that can impact your salary is if you train individuals or groups. One isn’t necessarily better than the other as each has its benefits. If you provide one-on-one training services, for instance, you can charge a higher rate. Yet, training more people at one time enables you to charge less and earn more—especially for larger groups.
#6: Additional Services Offered as Part of Your Training Program
If you offer additional services as a personal trainer, you can earn more as well. Maybe you create a meal plan for clients in addition to providing an intense workout. Or you supply the equipment clients need to participate in your boot camp. Charging for these additions raises your income potential.
Clients are generally willing to pay more for a trainer who can address more of their fitness obstacles. Whether this involves offering advice in areas beyond exercise or providing the needed equipment is up to you. But adding these options to your training packages can ultimately raise your personal training salary.
#7: Your Clientele
Become a celebrity trainer and you can earn a great living providing fitness instruction. Film Daily reports that Joe Wicks, who trains the singer Adele, earns around $40,000 per day. Harley Pasternak, trainer to Lady Gaga and Orlando Bloom, has a net worth of $3.6 million.
If your goal is to achieve numbers like this, becoming a celebrity trainer is the way to go. Granted, this option may be greater if you train in areas where celebrities abound, such as near Los Angeles. However, if you become known for your ability to provide results, they may just come to you!
Personal Training Certification and Income Potential
One additional factor that can impact your pay as a trainer is certification. This factor is in its own category because it is one thing you can do today to work toward a greater income tomorrow.
The Association for Talent Development shares that completing a certification program can lead to higher wages. More specifically, certification holders earn an average of $5,000 more per year. Additionally, certification holders can double what they earned before earning this designation. If you plan to work for a gym, certification may even be required.
To become a certified personal trainer, you must first pass a certification exam. This exam confirms that you have the knowledge required to provide personal training services. It tells potential clients that you understand what it takes to obtain and retain higher levels of fitness.
So…Can You Make a Good Living as a Personal Trainer?
Put all of this together and you can definitely earn a good living as a personal trainer. And your salary potential can increase based on a variety of factors. These include your level of education and experience. However, providing training online and offering additional services helps raise your income as well.
Finally, certified personal trainers often make more than professionals who lack certification. If you don’t yet have your certification, ISSA offers a few Personal Trainer certification programs. This enables you to select the one that best fits your career goals as a fitness instructor. Though, they all provide the education and skills necessary to become a successful personal trainer within the fitness industry.
Certified Personal Trainer
The Certified Fitness Trainer program is designed to equip graduates with the practical day-to-day skills necessary, as well as the theoretical knowledge needed to excel as a personal trainer serving the general public. Along with the necessary exercise science foundation, the distance education program covers client assessment, program design, basic nutrition, and sports medicine along with business and marketing skills.