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10 Best Degrees for Personal Trainers
What to study for a personal training career

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A personal trainer is an instructor who guides people through cardiovascular, stretch and strength exercises. A personal trainer may work one-on-one with an individual or guide a class through a workout routine. They teach a client or a class how to perform particular movements. Personal trainers also observe their clients and classes to confirm that they are performing the movements safely and correctly. It’s important to move the body properly because doing so prevents injuries and makes the most of body movements. Personal trainers may provide nutritional guidance and first aid if necessary. Here are the 10 best degrees/majors for personal trainers.

1. Exercise Science

Exercise science involves studying the body while it’s enduring the stress of performing exercise movements. This includes acute and prolonged adaptions such as how movement impacts a person’s overall health and pathologies as well as a workout routine’s ability to decrease or reverse body issues.

An exercise science degree is a great option when you’re considering becoming a personal trainer because it will give you the foundational information that you need to understand how movement impacts the human body. You’ll learn about nutrition which will help you guide your clients on how to eat to get the results that they want.

With a degree in exercise science, you’ll know how to plan weight training programs and aerobic routines for your clients. You’ll also learn how to increase or decrease the intensity of a workout routine based on their fitness levels and abilities.

What Exercise Science Degrees Are Available?

You can earn an associate degree in exercise science. If you choose this degree, then plan to learn the basics of exercise physiology, nutrition and personal training. A bachelor’s degree is also available in this field of study. If you decide to go for your bachelor’s degree, then you’ll be taking weight training, anatomy and kinesiology classes. Some schools also offer a master’s degree in exercise science. Those who take their education to this advanced level will attend more in-depth health and wellness courses in addition to chronic disease classes and cardiac rehab.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the personal training field is expected to grow by a whopping 39% from 2020 to 2030. The site also reports that the median pay for fitness trainers and instructors is an estimated $40,000 a year.

2. Sports Medicine

Sports medicine is growing fast in the healthcare industry. If you decide to earn a degree in sports medicine, you’ll have the education and training to treat athletic injuries. You’ll also help athletes and other active patients improve how they move through different exercises and how to improve their overall performance.

The sports medicine field offers you a number of career paths. These include:

• Physical therapy

• Exercise physiology

• Personal training

If you’re interested in sports, how bodies move and healthcare, then a sports medicine degree is a great way to go. According to the BLS, job growth is predicted to increase by 19% for those who work as athletic trainers and 22% for physical therapists from 2018 to 2028.

A degree in sports medicine is ideal for a career as a personal trainer because you’ll take courses that will help you understand how injuries develop. This will allow you to plan safe exercise routines for your clients. You’ll also learn how the human body functions, which gives you the knowledge to customize workout programs. While earning a sports medicine degree, you’ll take nutrition courses that will add to the education background that you need to work as a personal trainer.

What Sports Medicine Degrees are Available?

Available sports medicine degrees include an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. If you start with an associate degree, then you can expect to take classes in sports psychology, health and wellness. During a bachelor’s degree program, you’ll take courses in nutrition, rehabilitation and body assessment. At the master’s degree level, you’ll dive into lab techniques, research and how to prevent injuries.

3. Physical Education

If you’re interested in guiding others on how to live healthy by including fitness in their life, then consider getting a physical education degree. Physical educators often work with students to teach them how to keep their bodies healthy. With a physical education degree, you don’t have to be a schoolteacher. There are a number of careers available for those with this type of degree including one as a personal trainer.

Physical education classes will teach you about body movement, general anatomy and nutrition. These education areas will give you the information that you need to become a personal trainer. As a personal trainer, you’ll want to focus on your people skills. You’ll need to encourage your clients to perform the routines that you develop for them and market your skills. It will be up to you to respond to different mindsets and work around busy schedules. As a personal trainer, prepare to track the progress of your clients and obtain the proper certifications.

Available Physical Education Degrees

Available physical education degrees include an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Courses at the associate level include an overview of sports, exercise, health, nutrition and anatomy. You can work as a personal trainer with an associate degree. If you decide to earn your bachelor’s degree, you’ll take courses in kinesiology and sports management while the master’s degree program includes more advanced courses like applied statistics, sport psychology and motor development. Physical education teachers earn an average of $62,000 a year.

4. Exercise Physiology

Exercise physiologists work in a variety of fitness, wellness and health fields, ones that include exercise and nutrition. If you are interested in the science and body movement aspects of personal training, then a degree in exercise physiology will likely be a good fit for you. To earn your degree, you’ll need to take endurance and biochemistry courses. You’ll also be required to pass physiology, rehabilitation and nutrition classes.

Along with personal training, an exercise physiology degree prepares you to work as:

• An exercise instructor

• A rehabilitation professional

• A strength and conditioning expert

In school, you’ll learn the basics of human anatomy, abnormal psychology and biochemistry. These subjects will help you work with people one-on-one once you become a personal trainer. You’ll understand how different personalities require different training methods. You’ll also learn how to help your clients select short-term goals and long-term ones.

Available Exercise Physiology Degrees

If you’re considering getting a degree in exercise physiology, you’ll probably want to go for a bachelor’s degree, but there is one available at the associate level. The associate degree in exercise physiology will ready you to work as a personal trainer. While in school for this degree, you can expect to obtain the basics in exercise science knowledge. You’ll also advance your critical thinking skills and your ability to analyze how human bodies function.

A bachelor’s degree program in exercise physiology will require you to take classes about muscular strength, body composition and cardiovascular fitness. You’ll review how internal body parts like tissues, organs and cells respond when the body is exercised. You’ll also take liberal arts and general science courses.

During a master’s degree program, you’ll spend more time in the lab completing clinical research. You may also have the opportunity to conduct field research and develop a thesis.

The BLS reports that employment for those with an exercise physiology degree will increase by an estimated 13% from 2020 to 2030.

5. Business

Those who get a business degree can use it in many different professions including a career as a personal trainer. The education courses needed to earn a business degree will give you a strong foundation in marketing, creative problem-solving and financial analysis. You can use the knowledge that you gain from these courses to advance your personal training career.

The great thing about getting a business degree is that you can focus your education on finance, accounting, management or economics, which are all subjects that will help you with your career as a personal trainer. Business tends to be a high-income field, one that will continue to grow throughout the years.

If you get your business degree to work as a personal trainer, you’ll also need at least an associate degree in one of the body movement fields.

What are the Available Business Degrees?

Available business degrees include an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. While working toward an associate degree in business, you’ll develop your communication skills, critical thinking abilities and general business knowledge. When you decide to seek a bachelor’s degree, you’ll learn how to analyze data, how to use administration functions that will help you run a business and the principles of economics. If you want your master’s degree in business, you can expect to study liberal arts, communications and public policy.

The median annual salary for those who work in business or finance is around $70,000.

6. Kinesiology

Kinesiology is an interesting field of study since it teaches students how bodies move. Those who earn a degree in the field use what they know to help people regain mobility following an injury or an illness. They also improve the lives of others by teaching them the proper ways to move their bodies during exercise.

A kinesiology degree is a great choice for those who are interested in becoming a personal trainer because the field of study focuses so much on the body. Kinesiology detects muscle stress and uses relaxation techniques for tension release. It has been found that these techniques improve people’s mood, health and general wellbeing.

Kinesiology classes will teach you how to take a holistic approach to anatomy, psychology and biomechanics. You can use kinesiology methods to improve the physical mobility of your clients. In the field of study, there are nine main objectives, which include:

• Relaxation techniques

• How to increase joint mobility

• Learning body alignment and proper posture

• How to increase muscle endurance

• Learning about coordination, balance and control

• Sensory re-education

• Exercise training

• Breathing exercises

Available Kinesiology Degrees

In Kinesiology, you can earn an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Those who get their associate in kinesiology will be qualified to work in entry-level positions within the fitness industry. While in school for your associate degree, you’ll take psychology, anatomy and physiology courses.

If you decide to earn a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, your classes will go deeper into the study of movement and exercise. You’ll learn how fitness trainers, therapists and physical education professionals use exercise as a form of treatment.

A master’s degree usually takes students about two to three years to earn. When you obtain this degree, you’ll be learning more about the clinical elements of exercise science, physiology and advanced sports medicine.

7. Fitness and Health Management

A degree in health and fitness will give you the educational background that you need to become a personal trainer. With this type of degree, you’ll have the skillset to help your clients improve their fitness, decrease their stress and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. A fitness and health management degree will prepare you to teach your clients how to use exercise and diet for better physical health.

Along with physical fitness classes and diet courses, fitness and health management degree classes will cover mental techniques that you can use to improve the emotional health of your clients. For instance, you’ll know relaxation tools that will help them decrease their stress levels. In addition to this degree giving you the educational training that you need to become a personal trainer, you can also use it to work as a health educator or a general fitness instructor.

Available Fitness and Health Management Degrees

Available fitness and health management degrees include an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Courses at the associate level include nutrition, consumer health and stress management. To earn a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to take classes in anatomy, physiology, exercises science and community health. At the master’s degree level for fitness and health management, you’ll be required to take classes in health, communications, sports marketing and exercising at different life stages.

The average salary in the United States for those who work as health fitness specialists is around $40,000.

8. Biomechanics

Biomechanics is a sub-discipline that’s a part of the kinesiology field. On a technical note, it is the concentration of mechanical principals that focus on how all living things move. While earning a degree in biomechanics, you’ll analyze how and why a body moves the way it does.

According to employment experts, the baby boomer generation is an active one even as it ages. This means that the country’s aging baby boomers are looking for biomechanical solutions to ailments, so the field is expected to grow. The BLS predicts that from 2020 to 2030, the field will increase by 6%.

Those with a biomechanics degree may be able to work in gait analysis research facilities as well as with research professionals who are testing ways to increase flexibility. Often, scientists employ bioengineers and biomedical engineers because they have the educational knowledge to assist with various injuries and physical disabilities. A degree in biomechanics will help you become an effective personal trainer since the education area focuses on human movement.

If you genuinely care about people, then you’ll be a wonderful personal trainer. Keep in mind that personal training is a job that’s personal. It’s important to understand and empathize with the people who hire you. A degree in biomechanics will give you a unique insight into the body, making it easier to understand how a person’s ailments impact their mental state.

Available Biomechanics Degrees

Available biomechanics degrees include a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in biomechanics will require you to learn about the musculoskeletal system and functional anatomy. If you decide to earn a master’s degree, then you’ll learn about skeletal disorders, how to work in a lab and the analysis of movement.

9. Nutrition

A nutrition degree concentrates on how food impacts a person’s overall health. Nutrition programs generally give students insight about the physical, social and cultural elements of diet and food. Once you enter a program, you’ll take classes in anatomy and biology. You can also expect to learn how nutrition relates to mental health, sports and a person’s lifespan. This educational background will prepare you to work as a personal trainer.

Those who earn a degree in nutrition can work in various educational, medical, community and government settings. Nutrition specialists offer guidance on the type of food that should be served in hospitals and schools. They also help clients handle health issues like diabetes and obesity. Nutrition professionals may even work in restaurants, assisted living facilities and gyms.

Available Nutrition Degrees

Available nutrition degrees include an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Most people can earn their associate degree in nutrition in just two years. Coursework consists of culinary studies, culture and food. If you opt for a bachelor’s degree, then you’ll receive a basic understanding of how food impacts the human body. During a bachelor’s degree program, you’ll learn about the environmental and political elements of nutrition. Those who decide to extend their education by getting a master’s degree will focus on nutrition in sports, a clinical setting or communities.

Nutritionists typically earn around $63,000 annually. Those who work in California earn more at around $81,000 annually while nutritionists who live in Arizona may make about $45,000 a year.

10. Strength and Conditioning

A degree in strength and conditioning will give you a good foundation for a career as a personal trainer since you’ll graduate with specialized knowledge of movement mechanics and human physiology. With this degree, you’ll have the information that you need to boost the physical abilities of your clients. It will also teach you how to prevent injuries that happen from improper movement techniques or alignment.

To earn a degree in this field, you’ll take courses that cover how to monitor a client’s health and performance. You’ll also learn how to create successful workout and recovery sessions for people, sessions that help them reach the top level of their physical abilities. A degree in strength and conditioning will teach you how to develop coaching strategies. You can use them to encourage your clients. In school, plan to engage in practical experiences designed to develop these coaching abilities and refine your techniques.

Available Strength and Conditioning Degrees

A strength and conditioning degree is a master’s degree program. To apply for this type of program, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in exercise science, sports science or human movement. Master’s degree courses in strength and conditioning include applied sports psychology, sports biomechanics and performance sports coaching. If you decide to work as a strength and conditioning coach, then the average yearly salary is $49,000.

Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

Find Your Degree

Find Your Degree