Working as a personal trainer may be ideal because there are many different paths to pursue. There are few formal requirements to break into this field, so it may be a viable career path for almost anyone regardless of their age or financial situation. Let’s take a deeper dive into who qualifies to be a personal trainer, how to get certified in this field and the various professional opportunities that might be available to you.
Who Can Become a Personal Trainer?
To start on the path to certification in this field, you must be over the age of 18 and have a high school diploma. Most training programs will also require you to have a valid CPR/AED certification before you are allowed to take your certification exam. An AED machine is used in the event that a person is going into cardiac arrest and needs immediate assistance reestablishing a normal heart rhythm. It may be possible to obtain these certifications online.
How Do You Obtain Your Personal Trainer Certificate?
After obtaining your CPR/AED certifications, the next step is to sign up for a program that will help you study for the personal trainer certification exam. Ideally, you’ll choose a program that is affiliated with the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies (NCHCA). Schools that are part of the NCHCA will have access to study materials that are designed to help you succeed on the test and as a professional. You will have six months after you obtain your study materials to register for your exam, but you are allowed to take the test at any time without penalty.
How Long Will It Take to Become Certified?
It generally takes a student about four months to get through the training necessary to complete the personal trainer certification exam. However, the exact amount of time you need will depend on a number of factors such as your ability to remember information and the amount of time that you can devote to studying.
Organizations such as the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM) offer a variety of programs to meet your needs. For example, they offer a self-paced program where you largely prepare on your own, and they also offer programs where you work directly with a certified trainer to learn the material needed to pass your exam.
You Will Likely Want to Find a Niche in the Market
Once you have received your personal trainer certificate, you are strongly encouraged to pick a specialty. For instance, you could opt to work with senior citizens, pursue a career in sports or work with people who have cognitive or other special needs. You may also decide to start your practice, offer your services as a consultant or otherwise find work as an independent contract instead of an employee.
Should You Pursue a Formal Degree?
While you don’t need to obtain a college degree to pursue a career as a personal trainer, there are many potential benefits to doing so. It’s fairly common for employers to ask that candidates have a degree in a specific field related to whatever services they provide for their clients. If you choose to start your own practice, having additional credentials may help potential customers feel more comfortable working with you.
Going to college may also help you develop a robust network that might be helpful as you begin your career. This may be especially true if you go to a college that has a nationally recognized football, basketball or other type of sports program. You may also benefit from going to a school that has a strong medical or research department as it may be easier for alumni to obtain employment. In some cases, you may have access to internships or other professional development opportunities that wouldn’t be available to you otherwise.
As a personal trainer, you can help clients of all sizes, ages and fitness levels develop healthy habits and improve the overall quality of their lives. In addition to designing exercise and nutrition programs, you will also serve as a key source of motivation during what may be a difficult journey of self-improvement. Regardless of what you choose to specialize in, there is a good chance that your skills will always be in demand. Therefore, obtaining a personal training certificate may ensure that you remain employed for as long as you want to work.