Certified Fitness Trainer: Employment Info and Career Requirements

Mar 20, 2019

A certified fitness trainer (CFT) often is synonymous with personal trainer, a job where lack of education may not be a barrier. Read on to learn about several career paths toward employment, in addition to the salary expectations and projected job growth for this field.

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Career Definition for a Certified Fitness Trainer

As a group exercise instructor, the CFT might teach martial arts, weight or resistance training, cardiovascular training, or flexibility exercises. As a fitness club manager, the CFT decides the fitness philosophy, coordinating all fitness programs and purchasing equipment, hiring, training and supervising of staff and personal trainers as well as conceiving fitness-related promotions. These positions are at gyms or yoga studios and can also be found at resorts, hospitals and even senior citizen facilities.

Required Education Certified in CPR, high school diploma or equivalent
Necessary Skills Teaching, organization, communication, motivation, empathy
Median Salary (2017)* $39,210
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that a CFT must at least be certified in CPR and have a high school diploma, adding that certification as a CFT is crucial for gainful employment. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies website lists web links for the numerous fitness organizations that issue a credential for a fitness trainer or personal trainer. To earn a credential, prospective trainers usually will need to pass an examination covering physiology, proper exercise routines and client fitness assessment. Moreover, the BLS points out, Pilates and yoga instructors require their own training in those fields, with the standard being over 200 hours.

Necessary Skills

For an exercise instructor, general teaching skills are critical, especially on proper exercise techniques. Organizational skills are necessary, too, especially since he or she will run a class and devise its details. Managers should communicate and motivate ably, plus empathize with people of greatly differing athletic and self-motivation capabilities.

Salary and Career Prospects

Salary survey information from the BLS revealed that fitness trainers in the United States averaged a median yearly income of $39,210 in 2017. Employment opportunities in the field are projected to be higher than average in the coming years, with the BLS listing an anticipated job growth rate of 10% for fitness trainers and instructors between 2016 and 2026.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a fitness trainer will help prepare you for jobs in other areas.

Recreational Therapist

By earning a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation or a closely related field, in addition to possible certification, these therapists plan and direct recreational activity programs for disabled or ill individuals. Per the BLS, employment in this field was expected to increase at an average rate of 7% from 2016-2026, and a median salary of $47,680 was reported in 2017.

Athletic Trainer

These trainers must earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree in athletic training, and most states require licensing or certification. Some positions, such as university jobs, may require higher degrees. Athletic trainers treat and prevent bone and muscle injuries while working with people of all ages. According to the BLS, much faster than average employment growth of 23% was anticipated for this career from 2016-2026. The BLS also reported that athletic trainers in 2017 earned a median income of $46,630 per year.

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