Physical Trainer Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a physical trainer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs for physical training education, job duties and required skills to find out if this is the career for you.

Becoming a fitness trainer or instructor involves more than a passion for fitness. It also includes communication, organization, and the ability to motivate others. Preparing to become a fitness trainer or instructor involves some higher education, such as an associate's degree, to provide a basic understanding of body systems, fitness evaluation, and nutrition.

Essential Information

A physical trainer helps clients meet their fitness goals by suggesting and overseeing a fitness regime that may also include dietary advising. Physical trainers are often self-employed or work at gyms, wellness and recreational centers. Earning an associate's degree in physical training or personal fitness can be a good educational background for students who want to become physical trainers.

Required Education Associate's degree in physical fitness training
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors
Median Salary (May 2015)* $36,160 annually for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for Physical Trainers

Students who want to become physical trainers can gain valuable career instruction through an associate's degree program in physical fitness training. The degree can usually be completed in two years and provides graduates with fitness knowledge for activities like leading group exercise classes and conducting one-on-one training sessions.

Associate of Applied Science in Physical Fitness Training

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in physical fitness training learn how to evaluate the physical fitness of clients and design exercise programs that will help them achieve their fitness goals. Physical training courses cover topics like cardiovascular programming, nutrition, human performance, first aid and group exercise programs.

Some courses also cover interpersonal and oral communication, which is important for physical trainers, because they have to earn the trust of their clients. Good communication is also important for physical trainers, because this can help them ensure that clients will understand their suggestions and implement them safely. Some courses may also include instruction on physical rehabilitation, though this is not the exclusive domain of a physical trainer and is usually handled by athletic trainers and physical therapists.

Career Information

Physical trainers work with clients who want to increase overall fitness and lose weight. They can find employment in places that focus on fitness like gyms, health clubs, country clubs and wellness centers. Physical trainers usually assess their clients' overall physical health and also learn about their fitness goals before developing a fitness plan that suits each client's individual needs.

Once a program has been developed, a physical trainer usually plays a role in motivating the client to stay disciplined and able to stick with the program to the end. This may also involve guidance on what to eat and which exercises can be performed at home. An 8% increase in employment of fitness trainers is expected for the 2014-2024 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports the May 2015 median annual salary of a physical trainer as $36,160 (www.bls.gov).

Fitness trainers may choose to work in a private or group setting and often find employment at fitness or training centers. To become a fitness trainer or instructor, an associate's degree is generally required and is considered a good foundation for a career. Learning to effectively evaluate, motive, and communicate with clients is fundamental to becoming a successful fitness trainer or instructor.

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