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6 Questions About Personal Trainer Education & Certification

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By: ISSA

Date: 2022-05-09


What sort of personal trainer education and certification do you need to train clients? And what if you:

  • Already have an effective fitness routine you use,

  • Plan to run your own fitness business, 

  • Or already have a health and fitness-related degree

This article is for you! Follow along as we explore six unique questions about personal trainer education and certification and address all of these scenarios.

#1. Who Regulates the Personal Training Industry?

It’s important to understand that the personal training field in the United States isn’t really regulated. This means it’s not exactly like other health-related jobs that require professionals to have specific licensure to practice. 

However, gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers throughout the nation typically play a big role in the regulation of certification requirements for personal trainers. Most gyms require a current, credible personal training certification as a part of the hiring process. So, if you plan to work in a health club, it’s very likely you will need a personal training certification. 

#2. I Don’t Want To Work For a Gym. Do I Still Need a Personal Training Certification?

Whether you work for a gym or for yourself, not every client will ask you about your certification or want to know if you’re certified as a fitness trainer. 

However, it is common for insurance companies to require you to have liability insurance. Liability insurance is an important part of protecting yourself and your fitness business (whether you work for a gym or for yourself).

In addition to this, a personal training certification can provide you additional credibility when building and marketing to your clientele. 

For more info on liability insurance for personal training, check out this article!

#3. Do I Need a Personal Training Certification If I Currently Train Myself and Know What To Do?

Keep in mind, one of the most important components of being a great personal trainer is individualization. That means, what works for you may not work for everyone else and you will need to be able to design a unique program for all of your clients. Every individual has a different body structure, specific motivations, needs, past injuries or movement limitations, etc., that will play a significant role in how you design a program for them. A personal trainer certification course will help you understand how to properly assess a client’s movement, strength, cardiovascular health, and limitations so that you can customize a program that will get them the results they’re looking for. 

So, in addition to the potential challenges with liability insurance and job opportunities, without certification, it’s important you have the skills and knowledge to safely guide your unique clients.

#4. Do I Need a Personal Training Certification If I Already Have a Degree in Another Health and Fitness-Related Field?

Having a degree in the fitness field (i.e., exercise science, exercise physiology, etc.) is a great start, but keep in mind that a degree is not necessarily required to be a personal fitness trainer! And, although a degree is typically longer and more in-depth than a certified personal trainer course, it doesn’t necessarily equally interchange with a personal training certification. Many employers still want their trainers to be certified to show that they have passed a comprehensive test and have the knowledge to train clients. 

Depending on the fitness degree you have, you likely have an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the body, which provides you with an incredible base of knowledge to help clients. The personal training certification, however, often plays a key role in taking all that information and helping you understand how to put it all together and build an actual program for someone.

In addition, it’s important for current and future personal fitness trainers to know that there are many opportunities or alternative fitness roles to make money in addition to personal training clients (i.e., writing blogs, research, editing fitness-related content, fitness social media influencer, etc.). This allows a fitness professional to create several different streams of income. However, being well educated is a critical component of a fitness professional’s success in many of these roles. 

So, with all of these scenarios, although not necessarily required, it’s very highly recommended that you complete your personal trainer certification program if you plan to work as a personal trainer. 

#5. What Else Do I Need To Know About Personal Training Education?

Regardless of the career pathway you choose, it’s important to do more than just the bare minimum. A personal training certification is an important foundation if you plan to work as a fitness trainer, but continuing education and professional development are also essential. 

No matter what the field, there is always more to learn, new research, or things that change that you’ll need to learn and adjust to. That being said, the key is to never stop learning. Once you’re certified, take other workshops or specialization courses, read on your own, go back to school, or complete other types of continuing education for fitness training. The best personal trainers are lifelong learners. 

#6. What Are the Best Specializations For a Certified Personal Trainer?

There isn’t a perfect answer for this one. Ideally, the best specializations for a personal trainer are the courses that help you build your skills and knowledge within your unique niche and the clients you work with. 

For example, if you’re hoping to work with athletes, courses like Strength and Conditioning, Human Movement, Speed, Agility, and Quickness courses, Sports Medicine, Performance Nutrition, Exercise Recovery, or Corrective Exercise are great additions to your education. 

If you’re not sure what your niche is yet, you can choose courses that are a good fit for any type of clientele. Certification in Nutrition and/or Corrective Exercise is valuable when working with all types of clients, for example. 


If you want to get certified as a personal trainer, check our Personal Training Certification Course. As a world leader in fitness education, we’ve provided education to students in over 174 countries around the world, and we are ready to help you gain the knowledge you need so you can start doing more of what you love!

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