Do You Need A Degree To Be A Personal Trainer?

Are you puzzled as to whether you need a degree to become a personal trainer? Worry no more as this article aims to provide answers to your pressing question.

Many individuals are realizing the health and mental benefits of keeping fit. Many individuals are also looking to shed some weight and stay in shape.

As such, they will most likely need your services as a personal trainer to guide them on how to stay fit, shed weight, or achieve whatever fitness goal they have.

Therefore, seeking to become a professional personal trainer is thoughtful and can be very rewarding if you do the right things.

However, do you know what it will take for you to launch your career as a personal trainer? Follow me in this article as we unravel the steps to becoming a successful personal trainer.

Can You Become A Personal Trainer Without A Degree?

Yes. You can become a personal trainer without a degree. With a high school degree and industry license from agencies like the National Academy of Sports Medicine or the American Council of Exercise (ACE), you can practice as a personal trainer.

However, a bachelor’s or associate’s degree will go a long way in helping your secure jobs in fitness or wellness institutions. That said, arming yourself with the right knowledge, skills, and techniques to help people achieve their fitness goals is also paramount.

In addition, there is more to becoming a personal trainer than a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. For instance, before you can train people to reach their fitness goals, you need to be fit yourself.

Asides from that, there are a number of ways or avenues to become a personal trainer without attending the four walls of the college. You could enroll in an online course on wellness or attend physical classes and learn a lot.

Who Is A Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer is someone who helps others achieve their fitness goals. They do this by developing a series of workout plans and guiding clients through exercise routines based on their fitness goals or needs.

Furthermore, they provide trainees with the motivation and confidence they need while training them. They also advise clients on their health, nutrition, and lifestyle.

Personal trainers work in a corporate or local community gym or health club. They can equally establish their own fitness studio and grow their business or become a freelance personal trainer. An uncommon option is to work on a cruise ship or vacation resort.

Lastly, a personal trainer could decide to work in a hospital center after gaining specialized knowledge in the health field.

More so, they can work one-on-one with clients or with a group of people. They equally set up meeting schedules while working with clients. And they charge on an hourly basis.

How To Become A Personal Trainer

You may ask how you can become a personal trainer, here are a number of ways through which your goal of becoming a personal trainer can be achieved:

1. Get a high school diploma or its equivalent

The first step towards becoming a personal trainer is to earn your high school diploma or a GED as an equivalent. This is not a big deal as high schooling is the minimum educational level for everyone in the United State Of America.

2. Acquire a CPR and AED certificate

Some of the most important certifications to acquire are the Emergency Cardiac Care (CPR certificate) and the AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

Most corporate gyms consider it a must to have a personal trainer. These skills come in handy when faced with cases of health emergencies before a doctor arrives during a training session.

The good thing about these certificates is that you don’t need a college degree to be able to earn this certificate. The American Red Cross offers CPR and AED classes and issues certification once participants are able to pass the test.

3. Get a college or university degree

The fact remains that a college or university degree is sure to position you for better opportunities as a personal trainer. Hence, if you can afford it, then you should go for it.

Most organizations seek personal trainers who have a college degree in their belt. Basically, you should go for a degree in any of these health-related majors:

  • Physical therapy
  • Nursing
  • Physician assistant
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical education
  • Health care administration
  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise science
  • Kinesiotherapy
  • Physiology
  • Biology
  • Sports management
  • Nutrition
  • Health science
  • Human performance
  • Exercise physiology

However, with a bachelor’s degree or associate degree in any course including non-health-related, you can become a personal trainer.

4. Acquire accredited personal training certification

Whether you can afford a college education or not, there are basic certifications that you must acquire before practicing as a personal trainer.

That said, you need to have your high school diploma or its equivalent and be eighteen years of age before qualifying for a personal training certification course.

Some of the most recognized bodies that offer accredited courses include:

  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • The National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • The National Academy of Sports Medicine

They all offer a certified personal trainer course that requires no college degree. It is a computer-based course and the exam is usually conducted in a controlled testing center.

The American College of Sports also offers health and fitness training courses, but this requires a college, university, or associate degree. The exam is also conducted in a controlled testing center and it is computer-based.

On the other hand, the National Strength and Conditioning Association offers the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist course which requires a college degree. They use a blended learning approach but exams are held in universities or colleges across the state.

5. Take advantage of non-accredited online courses

There are many online courses out there that you can take advantage of without a college or university degree. However, corporate organizations give priority to accredited courses, so I’ll advise that you look out for them more.

This is not to say that taking non-accredited courses is a totally bad idea or a waste of time. You can still gain knowledge of the field by taking courses on MOOCs. By the way, MOOC platforms partner with different universities to provide courses for students.

Moreso, these courses offer certification to students when they successfully pass your assessment test. These certificates go a long way to proving your knowledge and skill level.

Essential Skills You Need To Become A Personal Trainer

There are a number of skills that you need to deploy as a personal trainer. Some of these skills include soft skills like:

1. Communication skills

The ability to communicate effectively is an essential skill for personal trainers. This is because you’d have to relay instructions to clients often and this must be done in a way that they can understand easily.

2. Empathy

Another important soft skill for personal trainers is the ability to give clients their hearts, understand their situations, and show concern for them. This can help you gain clients’ respect and love and land you even more referrals.

3. Organization skills

A prized skill for every personal trainer to possess is the ability to organize proficiently. They need this skill to plan fitness, plan their schedules with clients, and even give instruction in an orderly way.

4. Ability To Motivation

Clients may get to points when they feel overwhelmed and may want to give up. Your ability to motivate them will play a crucial part in helping them continue with their training even when it seems tough.

Also, they need to be able to stick with their diet plan, and exercise routine, they will need someone to keep pushing them to achieve this.

5. Patience

You may have to repeat a process or explain something over and over again to some clients before they are able to finally get it. Hence, you need patience to deal with different kinds of clients.

Moreso, some clients may be overbearing with their demands or maybe rude during the course of the training, and if you’re not patient you may lose your temper and overreact.

6. Humor

Humor is quite an underrated skill. But it is a really effective skill for easing tension and helping clients feel comfortable and relaxed around you.

Furthermore, some of the hard skills you’d need to function as a personal trainer successfully includes:

1. Cardiovascular resuscitation skill

This is the ability to give first aid treatment to a person in case of an emergency situation such as a heart attack or fainting.

It is a skill needed by every personal trainer as you may likely face unplanned situations of clients passing out during a training session with a group or one-on-one.

As a matter of fact, to practice as a personal trainer in the US you need to present your CPR certificate.

2. Client assessment

Client assessment is usually done to know all the necessary information regarding your client before preparing an actual fitness plan for them. It includes getting answers to certain things like:

  • Their reason for training
  • Medical history
  • Diet and eating habits and so on.

Getting all of this information about your client is quite important in creating a safe and effective fitness program for them.

3. Fitness plan development

This involves developing the right type of exercise routine, and the diet plan that will help clients achieve their goals.

4. Exercise mechanism

Fitness trainers have knowledge of a range of exercises. From warm-up to aerobic, strength-building, endurance, flexibility, balance training, and so on.

5. Marketing Skills

Marketing skills are a prized skill for personal trainers particularly if you are a freelancer or self-employed. You’d need to learn how to put yourself out there and attract clients.

One way to put yourself out there is to use social media as a tool. Many personal trainers put out content on Instagram and get people to book their services both online and offline.


How long does it take to become a personal trainer?

It can take three to four years if you go through a college or university to acquire a degree. In contrast, you can get an online course certification within a year.

How much does a personal trainer make annually?

According to the US Bureau of statistics, personal trainers earn an average wage of $40,510 as of May 2020. The highest 10% earn more than $76,550, while the least 10% earn less than $21,640

What do personal trainers do?

Personal trainers help people to achieve their fitness goals by developing a fitness plan for them and guiding them through exercise routines that suit their needs.

How can you make money as a personal trainer?

You can make money by working with a corporate gym or a local community gym. You may equally decide to freelance and take on clients as you wish.

In addition, you could work in a wellness facility, a hospital, or even a vacation resort or cruise ship.

Final Thoughts

From the article, we can conclude that you do not need a degree to become a personal trainer. However, a bachelor’s or associate’s degree can help you become more relevant, sought-after, and even more successful than your counterparts.

Therefore, it is advisable that you go for a degree if you have the means. Nonetheless, certain certificates such as the CPR and AED certificates are paramount to practice as a personal trainer.

Additionally, you should not stop developing yourself by enrolling in accredited or non-accredited courses.

Moreso, those with a degree can enroll for their master’s particularly if they have eyes for a specialized health field of personal training.

Finally, you may check the article on what a work-study is, to learn how you can get a loan to push your dreams if you have a strong desire to earn a college or university degree but cannot afford it.

I hope this article helped you.

Thanks for reading.