How to Become an Aerobics Instructor

Learn how to become an aerobics instructor. Research the education requirements, certification information and experience required for starting a career in the fitness industry.

Should I Become an Aerobics Instructor?

Aerobics instructors choreograph exercise moves and lead classes in aerobic exercise. In addition to teaching fitness students the moves to an aerobics workout, instructors provide the music and complete job requirements as specified by the fitness center in which they teach, such as logging hours. Instructors are trained to provide basic first aid, should an emergency occur during class. While some fitness instructors are able to secure full-time positions with a gym, many aerobics instructors teach individual classes on a part-time basis, sometimes at a number of fitness centers. Some hours may be spent in an office organizing health and fitness programs for clients.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma is the minimum education needed; some employers require associate's or bachelor's degrees
Degree Field Exercise science, kinesiology, physical education or a related fitness field
Experience Up to 3 years of experience may be necessary
Certification Many employers require certification; basic life support certification is typically needed as well
Key Skills Excellent physical fitness; customer service, listening, motivational, problem-solving and speaking skills
Salary $34,980 per year (2014 median salary for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine, Online Job Postings (August 2015)

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

Though there are generally no educational requirements beyond earning a high school diploma to become an aerobics instructor, many employers prefer or even require instructors who have earned a degree in a related field, such as exercise science. Some associate's degree programs may even offer courses specifically geared toward certification exam preparation. Students in these programs study a variety of fitness subjects, including anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, exercise leadership and athletic training.

Success Tip:

  • Make physical fitness a priority. Aerobics instructors must be physically fit to successfully demonstrate and lead a class. Experience in a variety of formats, such as step aerobics, kickboxing, body sculpting, boot camp and indoor cycling, may provide a solid foundation for a career in fitness instruction. Additionally, membership at a gym or fitness facility may help individuals keep up with the latest trends in fitness and group exercise.

Step 2: Earn Certification

Certification is often an employer requirement for aerobics instructors. Available certifications include those offered by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and the International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA). Depending on the organization, a practical and written examination may be required. Exams test fitness knowledge in a number of areas, including physiology and exercise technique. Organizations that offer certification may also make study resources available for certification exams, though these resources may be at a cost to the student.

Success Tip:

  • Take a CPR/AED course. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and/or automated external defibrillator (AED) certification is typically required to become an aerobics instructor and may even be a prerequisite for certain certifications. Employers may seek candidates with first aid skills as well.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Gaining experience and familiarity with the fitness industry is an important part of securing employment as an aerobics instructor. Job applicants may need at least 1 year of experience to meet minimum employer requirements. Individuals can find employment in a variety of positions at gyms, recreation centers and aerobics studios. Working in any position within the fitness industry may provide insight into the field and help potential aerobics instructors gain valuable experience.

Success Tip:

  • Hone key customer service skills. Some aspiring aerobics instructors may start out working as customer service or sales representatives in gyms or health clubs. This is one way to develop the strong customer service and interpersonal skills needed to work as an aerobics instructor.

Step 4: Consider a Bachelor's Degree for Career Advancement

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that instructors who wish to advance to management positions should continue their studies by earning a relevant bachelor's degree. Additionally, instructors desiring to open their own fitness centers can benefit from business management, marketing and finance coursework provided through bachelor's degree programs.

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