Physical Trainer School and College Program Information

Programs that prepare students to become physical trainers can be found at community colleges and some 4-year colleges and universities. Students interested in this profession may also purchase self-study materials from professional organizations that offer certification in the field.

How to Choose a Physical Trainer Program

Physical trainers, also called personal trainers, use customized coaching and mentoring to improve client fitness levels. Certificate programs, associate's degree programs and self-study materials prepare students to take the necessary certification examinations.

Consider the following when choosing a physical trainer program:

  • Choose a program that will adequately prepare you to become certified by one of the nationally-recognized agencies, including the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and/or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
  • While a degree is not required to take the certification exam, the added education from a certificate or associate's program may make your experience more marketable.
  • Select a school that includes facilities for hands-on learning and opportunities for an internship.

Physical Trainer Program Overviews

Self-Study Physical Trainer Program

Many credentialing agencies provide study materials and workshops that prepare students to take certification exams. Self-study materials usually include instruction in:

  • Biomechanics
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness assessment
  • Client communication skills

The materials may also include practice tests, online materials and the opportunity to communicate with mentors. Students can register for the exam once they feel prepared. Exam requirements include being at least 18 years old and being certified in CPR. Some exam providers require a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Certificate in Physical Training

Some community colleges offer certificate programs lasting from nine weeks to one year. Students are taught the fundamentals of:

  • Exercise science
  • Nutrition
  • Client interaction
  • First aid and CPR

An internship of around 30 hours is required. Oftentimes, courses may be transferred to an associate's degree program in physical training. Applicants should have a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Associate's Degree in Physical Training

Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science in Personal Training programs are offered at community colleges and private vocational schools, and some programs offer online courses. These programs typically take two years to complete. Students learn how to evaluate an individual's fitness needs and apply appropriate programs and techniques to meet a client's goals. State-of-the-art equipment is used, and students are taught proper use of this equipment and learn how to design personalized training programs. Dietary habits are assessed and ways to intervene and develop new habits are discussed. Specific topics covered typically include:

  • Kinesiology
  • Strength and cardiovascular fitness training techniques
  • Exercise prescription

A supervised internship is also typically included. Applicants should have a high school diploma or GED certificate.

10 Schools with Physical Trainer Programs

College/University Institution Type
Paradise Valley Community College 2-year, Public
Onondaga Community College 2-year, Public
Rockland Community College 2-year, Public
Montgomery County Community College 2-year, Public
Cecil College 2-year, Public
Paradise Valley Community College 2-year, Public
St. Louis Community College 2-year, Public
Springfield Technical Community College 2-year, Public
Iowa Western Community College 2-year, Public
Harrisburg Area Community College 2-year, Public

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