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Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmB0OvKpwR8.
Quick Facts: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
2020 Median Pay $40,510 per year
$19.48 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019 373,700
Job Outlook, 2019-29 15% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 57,600

What Fitness Trainers and Instructors Do

Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities.

Work Environment

Fitness trainers and instructors work in facilities such as recreation centers, health clubs, and yoga studios. Many work variable or part-time schedules that may include nights, weekends, or holidays.

How to Become a Fitness Trainer or Instructor

The education and training typically required for fitness trainers and instructors varies by type of specialty, and employers prefer to hire those with certification.

Pay

The median annual wage for fitness trainers and instructors was $40,510 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As businesses, government, and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other types of health clubs are expected to increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for fitness trainers and instructors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of fitness trainers and instructors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about fitness trainers and instructors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Fitness Trainers and Instructors Do About this section

Fitness trainers and instructors
Fitness trainers and instructors work with people of all ages and skill levels.

Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular workouts (for the heart and blood circulation), strength training, and stretching. They work with people of all ages and skill levels.

Duties

Fitness trainers and instructors typically do the following:

  • Demonstrate or explain how to perform various exercises and routines to minimize injuries and improve fitness
  • Watch clients do exercises to ensure that they are using correct technique
  • Provide options during workouts to help clients feel successful
  • Monitor clients’ progress and adapt programs as needed
  • Explain and enforce safety rules and regulations on sports, recreational activities, and the use of exercise equipment
  • Give clients information or resources about topics such as nutrition and lifestyle
  • Give emergency first aid if needed

Fitness trainers and instructors work with individual clients or prepare or choreograph their own group classes. They may do a variety of tasks in addition to their fitness duties, such as managing the front desk, signing up new members, giving tours of the facility, or supervising the weight-training and cardiovascular equipment areas. Fitness trainers and instructors also may promote their facilities and instruction through social media, by writing newsletters or blog posts, or by creating posters and flyers.

Exercise trainers, also known as personal fitness trainers, work with individual clients or small groups. They may train in a gym or in clients’ homes. They evaluate their clients’ current fitness level, personal goals, and skills. Then, they develop personalized training programs for their clients to follow and monitor the clients’ progress. In gyms or other fitness facilities, these workers often sell training sessions to members.

Group fitness instructors organize and lead group exercise classes, which may include cardiovascular exercises, muscle strengthening, or stretching. Some instructors create a routine or select exercises for participants to follow, and they then choose music that is appropriate to the movement. Others teach prechoreographed routines that were created by fitness companies or organizations. They may lead classes that use specific exercise equipment, such as stationary bicycles; teach a specific conditioning method, such as yoga; or instruct specific age groups, such as seniors or youths.

For information about workers who develop fitness programs to help people recover from illness or injury, see the profile on exercise physiologists.

Work Environment About this section

Fitness trainers and instructors
Group instructors may demonstrate how to perform various exercises and routines.

Fitness trainers and instructors held about 373,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of fitness trainers and instructors were as follows:

Fitness and recreational sports centers 58%
Self-employed workers 11
Civic and social organizations 10
Educational services; state, local, and private 7
Government 4

Fitness trainers and instructors may work in standalone fitness centers or centers maintained by other types of establishments for their employees or for members of civic and social organizations. Some work in clients’ homes.

Work Schedules

Many fitness trainers and instructors work variable or part-time schedules that may include nights, weekends, or holidays. Some travel to different gyms or to clients’ homes to teach classes or conduct personal training sessions. Exercise trainers and group fitness instructors sometimes hold jobs in other fields and conduct training sessions or teach fitness classes at times that accommodate their work schedules.

How to Become a Fitness Trainer or Instructor About this section

Fitness trainers and instructors
Personal trainers may work with individual clients or teach group classes.

The education and training required for fitness trainers and instructors varies by specialty. Employers usually prefer to hire those with certification, but requirements vary by facility.

Education

Fitness trainers and instructors typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation. Employers may prefer to hire fitness workers, particularly personal trainers, who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree related to a health or fitness field, such as exercise science, kinesiology, or physical education. Programs often include courses in nutrition, exercise techniques, biology, and anatomy. Personal trainers also may learn how to develop fitness programs for clients of all ages.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most fitness trainers or instructors have certification related to the area of fitness in which they specialize. Personal trainers usually must be certified before they begin working with clients or with members of a gym or health club. Group fitness instructors may begin work without certification, but employers often encourage or require them to get their credentials. Most fitness instructors receive certification for their preferred type of training, such as yoga, kickboxing, or strength training.

Many organizations offer certification. For example the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits certifying organizations in the fitness and wellness industry, including several that offer personal trainer or general certification. In addition, some private companies offer certification in the types of classes they offer.

Certification exams that have a written portion measure candidates’ knowledge of human physiology, understanding of proper exercise techniques, and ability to assess clients’ fitness levels and develop appropriate exercise programs. Certification also may require the candidate to teach a class for a live or video skills demonstration, which is then assessed by the certifying organization.

Most trainers or instructors also need certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid, as well as in use of automated external defibrillators (AED).

Training

After becoming a certified personal trainer, new trainers may be required to work alongside an experienced trainer before they are allowed to train clients alone.

Training for fitness instructors varies greatly. For example, the Yoga Alliance requires 200 and 500 hours of training, depending on the credential.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must be able to clearly explain exercises that they demonstrate to clients.

Customer-service skills. Many fitness trainers and instructors sell their services, motivating clients to hire them as personal trainers or to sign up for the classes they lead. Fitness trainers and instructors must therefore be encouraging, friendly, and polite to maintain relationships with their clients.

Listening skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must listen carefully to what clients tell them in order to determine the clients’ fitness levels and desired fitness goals.

Motivational skills. To keep clients coming back for more classes or to continue personal training, fitness trainers and instructors must keep their clients motivated.

Physical fitness. Fitness trainers and instructors must be able to lead classes and to demonstrate exercises to participants or their clients.

Problem-solving skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must evaluate members’ or client’s fitness levels and create appropriate fitness plans to meet their needs.

Advancement

Fitness trainers and instructors who are interested in management may need a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, physical education, kinesiology, or a related subject. Employers often require that trainers or instructors have experience in order to advance to a management position, such as the fitness director who oversees scheduling, workout incentive programs, and selecting exercise equipment in a health club or fitness center.

Personal trainers may advance to a head trainer position and become responsible for hiring and overseeing the personal training staff or for bringing in new personal training clients. Fitness trainers and instructors also may go into business for themselves or open their own fitness centers.

Pay About this section

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Median annual wages, May 2020

Total, all occupations

$41,950

Exercise trainers and group fitness instructors

$40,510

Personal care and service occupations

$28,120

 

The median annual wage for fitness trainers and instructors was $40,510 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,640, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,550.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for fitness trainers and instructors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Fitness and recreational sports centers $42,160
Government 40,770
Educational services; state, local, and private 40,570
Civic and social organizations 33,860

Many fitness trainers and instructors work variable or part-time schedules that may include nights, weekends, or holidays. Some travel to different gyms or to clients’ homes to teach classes or conduct personal training sessions. Exercise trainers and group fitness instructors sometimes hold jobs in other fields and conduct training sessions or teach fitness classes at times that accommodate their work schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Exercise trainers and group fitness instructors

15%

Personal care and service occupations

8%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As businesses, government, and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other types of health clubs are expected to increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors. For example, some organizations may open their own exercise facilities onsite to promote employee wellness.

Other employment growth will come from the continuing emphasis on exercise to combat obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles for people of all ages. In particular, the baby-boom generation should continue to remain active to help prevent injuries and illnesses associated with aging.

Participation in yoga and Pilates is expected to continue to increase, driven partly by older adults who want low-impact forms of exercise and relief from arthritis and other ailments.

Job Prospects

About 66,400 openings for fitness trainers and instructors are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Job prospects should be best for those with professional certification or increased levels of formal education in health or fitness.

Employment projections data for fitness trainers and instructors, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Exercise trainers and group fitness instructors

39-9031 373,700 431,300 15 57,600 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of fitness trainers and instructors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2020 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Physical therapist assistants and aides Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants and aides are supervised by physical therapists to help patients regain movement and manage pain after injuries and illnesses.

See How to Become One $49,970
Physical therapists Physical Therapists

Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain.

Doctoral or professional degree $91,010
Recreation workers Recreation Workers

Recreation workers design and lead activities to help people stay active, improve fitness, and have fun.

High school diploma or equivalent $28,440
Recreational therapists Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses.

Bachelor's degree $47,710
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fitness Trainers and Instructors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm (visited July 17, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Monday, May 24, 2021

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2019

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2019, which is the base year of the 2019-29 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2019-29

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029. The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent.

Employment Change, 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.