Looking for a career path in an industry that's stable, with lots of room for growth, and a fairly high starting salary? Consider becoming a personal trainer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), at $40,510 per year, the pay for personal trainers is good. With a growth rate of 15%, there is plenty of job security and room for advancement within the industry.

Personal trainers work one-on-one with clients to develop and implement fitness routines. They begin by working with these clients to identify goals related to losing weight, gaining strength, and improving overall physical and mental health, then teach them how to perform the exercises required to meet these goals. A personal trainer's primary goal is to improve their clients' overall well-being.

For a more detailed breakdown on becoming a personal trainer, check out our How to Become a Personal Trainer guide.

How Much Does a Personal Trainer Make in the United States?

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for a personal trainer or fitness trainer is $45,650 per year. This is roughly $10,000 less than the average salary for all occupations, but it's a decent amount given you don't need to go to college to become a personal trainer.

But the salary isn't the only reason individuals decide to become personal trainers. A passion for fitness, a desire to help others change their lives, and overall career stability are commonly cited reasons for entering the field.

Helping others achieve happiness by transforming their physical and mental health and building their self-worth might be a more motivating reason to join the industry than money alone.

Salary Changes Throughout the Career Path

As with any career, there is a certain amount of fluctuation in compensation in the personal training industry. Here is a closer look at average salaries throughout the career path:

Entry-level personal trainers with less than one year of experience reported making just over $30,000 a year on average. For a first job, this isn't a bad wage, and you can quickly build your client base to earn more.

Once you gain a few years of experience, you can expect to earn an average salary of nearly $46,000 mentioned above. At this point, you'll ideally also have an established client base and network of fitness industry professionals.

After working as a personal trainer, you could work your way up to become a fitness director. Fitness Directors oversee gym operations and lead the personal training team. Here, you could make more than $80,000.

If you are dedicated to the fitness industry and want to work for yourself, owning your own gym might be a good next step in your career path. You could make upwards of $100,000 as a medium-sized gym owner, but you'll also be responsible for:

  • The personal trainers you employ
  • Your gym members
  • All other employees
  • Equipment
  • Maintenance costs

Pay Difference By Location

State

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Opportunities and Job Growth

The BLS projects the personal training industry will grow by 15% by 2029. As a result, it should be fairly easy for newcomers to secure jobs. The field is growing much faster than average, but the states with the largest job potential for trainers include:

Additionally, specific cities, including major metropolises like New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, and Chicago, IL, are likely to have higher demand and more open positions than your average American locale.

Other Benefits of Becoming a Personal Trainer

Many personal trainers work as independent contractors, which means they don't have as many employment benefits as those in other career fields. However, those who work full-time for gyms, fitness studios, or the like often receive benefits, including:

Again, while these are the most common benefits for trainers, the perks can vary drastically based on type and place of employment, so be sure to find out what a potential employer offers before signing a contract.

Salary for Independent Contractors

Many personal trainers are independent contractors or small business owners. Because of this, there can be a huge fluctuation in take-home pay depending on what the trainer feels they can charge for their time.

However, working independently typically means that the trainers also incur more costs:

Additionally, independent contractors seldom have the employment benefits available to those who work for an existing company. As such, there are certainly trade-offs to consider when deciding whether to work independently or for an established brand.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Personal Trainer?

Generally speaking, becoming a personal trainer isn't that expensive. The highest level of education required is a high school diploma or the equivalent. You can usually get your GED for up to $150. Postsecondary education is highly recommended and can make you a more competitive candidate. This can cost up to $1,600. However, if you attend a community college, you can likely get financial assistance.

You'll also need an AED/CPR certification (~$50 to $75) and a personal training certification. You can get these certificates through the American Council on Exercise or the NASM, and they typically cost between $150 to $600, depending on level and specialization.

That being said, if you decide to pursue the independent contractor route, you'll also need to buy your own equipment, which could run you anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. You may also decide to rent out a private space or a place in a studio which could tack on several hundred more per month.

Salaries for Related Jobs

If you're interested in joining the fitness industry but aren't sure that the personal training world is for you, many related positions pay equally well.

Strength and Conditioning Coaches

  • Annual salary: $40,888
  • Cost to become: Cost of a bachelor's degree

Exercise Physiologist

  • Annual salary: $50,280
  • Cost to become: Cost of bachelor's degree

Dietitian

  • Annual salary: $63,090
  • Cost to become: Cost of a bachelor's degree

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Madison Troyer
Contributing Writer

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