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How Long Does It Take To Become A Personal Trainer?

This article discusses answers the question "how long does it take to become a personal trainer." Enjoy 🙂

Health and fitness is one of the most rewarding career paths someone can choose. If you're considering employment in this field, here are the steps you need to follow to make the process seamless.

Related: Kettlebell Training For Cyclists: How To Improv Performance 

how to become a certified personal trainer

What Is A Personal Trainer

A personal trainer is someone that advises the public on issues regarding nutrition, exercise, goal setting, diets, lifestyle and more. It takes time to learn the skills required to become a personal trainer, and the amount of time depends on the person's prior experience, knowledge and the methods used.


Certifications Needed To Be A
Personal Trainer 

There are a variety of different organizations and accredited programs within the fitness industry, and it's important that you choose a certification that fits within your career goals.

The truth is that personal training is an unregulated industry. Someone who knows little about exercise and nutrition could be a trainer. All they have to do is convince someone to pay for their services. ​

If you already know a lot about health and fitness you could theoretically call yourself a personal trainer right now.

However, you should take a certification. Aside from making sure that your current knowledge is correct, it's also unlikely that you'll get hired by a gym without one. 

And if you intend on working independently, it's unlikely that you'll get insurance without one. A certification gives you credibility and is your way into the industry.​


How Long Does It Take To Be A
Personal Trainer? 

Below I've listed a table from Bodybuilding.com. Here are the five major personal training certifications for you to investigate. It's not a definitive list of all training providers available. However, it's a selection of the most reputable.

CERTIFICATION

ACE

NSCA

NASM

ACSM

ACSM

Full Name

American Council on Exercise

National Strength and Conditioning Association

National Academy of Sports Medicine

American College of Sports Medicine

National Federation of Personal Trainers

Length of the Training

You'll receive an exam voucher that expires 6 months after purchasing the study materials.

Purchase of the study materials does not include an exam ticket so there is no expiry date

You have 80 days to take the exam after purchasing the study materials 

The program is through self study as well as webinars that are available online 

You have one year to take your exam after purchasing the study materials

Prerequisites

18 Years Old, CPR/AED, Valid ID,

18 Years Old, CPR/AED, HS/GED,

18 Years Old, CPR/AED, Valid ID,

18 Years Old, CPR/AED, HS/GED

18 Years Old, HS/GED + 2yrs PT training experience 

Test Procedure

3hr exam; 150 questions

3hr exam; 150 questions

2hr exam; 120 questions

2.5hr; 120 questions

2hr, 120 questions

Exam Location

Computer based with over 500 sites in the US and Canada 

Computer based over with 160 assessment locations in the US

Computer-based; orgnaized through 3td party sites for the US and Canada.

Computer-based with over 5000 locations throughout the US

Computer Based with 350 locations

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As you can see from the chart above, a program by the National Academy of Sports Medicine can take as little as 9 weeks to complete.

These programs are great, but it's what you do with the certification that's important. It's important to go beyond what the certification teaches you as it is just a foot in the door. 


​How Much Does It Cost To Become A Personal Trainer?

Now we know how much time it takes to become a certified personal trainer let's take a look at how much it will cost you.

CERTIFICATION

ACE

NSCA

NASM

ACSM

NFPT

Full Name

American Council on Exercise

National Strength and Conditioning Association

National Academy of Sports Medicine

American College of Sports Medicine

National Federation of Personal Trainers

Is There A Membership Required?

No

Yes

No

No

No

Membership 

N/A

Student: $65 Professional: $120

N/A

Student: $10 Professional: $230

N/A

Material 

Standard: $599 Premium: $699 Premium Plus: $799; all include exam

$20-$449; does not include exam

Study Packages range from $699 to $2399

Study Guides from $46 to $143.48

$479-$569, including the exam

Exam 

Exam Only: $399

Exam Only: Members: $285 Nonmembers: $420

Exam Only: $599

Exam Only: Members $219 Nonmembers: $279

Exam Only: $329

Retest 

$299

Members: $235 Nonmembers: $370

$199.00

$150.00

$119.00

Recertification 

$49-$139

Up to $50

$99 for two years or $299 for lifetime certification (must still submit CEUs every 2 years)

$30.00

$85 per year

Related: How Many Calories Does Cycling Burn: Use My Simple Calculation

As you can see the potential costs of becoming a personal trainer varies significantly. The cheapest option available to you from the providers above would be the American College of Sports Medicine


Get A Job 

Once you become certified, congratulations! You now need to decide which environment you want to work in. Do you want to be in a health and fitness club, specialty studio, medical fitness facility, or would you like to venture out on your own? 

At first, you'll most likely have two options:

  • You can either work for a large corporation such as LA Fitness, Lifetime Fitness, or Crunch​.
  • Take the more entrpenerual route and work as a personal training contractor.

There are advantages to both choices. When you join a large workforce, you'll be given a list of clients, and lots of employee benefits.

However, if you go it alone, you'll have to find your own customers. If you decide to do this, you'll need to network, market, and build you business from the ground up.

It takes a lot of work, and you'll not receive any benefits, but you'll be​ your own boss. Being your own boss means you have the ability to create your schedule and have limitless potential for growth.


Define Your Specialty

As you'll progress through your career, it's likely that you'll start to develop a particular area of interest. Here's a list of area's you could specialize in with your certification in personal training.

To find out which area you should pursue, consider what service is required in the area of your community, what your preferred clientele is, and what you're most passionate about. 


Stay Active

If you decide to pursue a career in the fitness industry, it's important to stay fit and active yourself. Clients will look up to you as a role model and listen to the advice you have to give.

It's also important to try everything yourself. Be open, reflective and understanding of other people's fitness belief even if you don't agree ​with it. 

Be committed to learning and developing yourself, and you'll be well respected and knowledgeable within the fitness industry. ​


How Much Can A Personal Trainer Earn?

As the industry is unregulated, potential earnings can vary wildly, and the average salary earnings for a personal trainer will vary depending on which career path you pursue. However, the average wage for a trainer with experience is $50,000 a year. For more information read here.

Although money is important, it's not the real reason anyone should become a personal trainer. For more information on this watch the excellent video below by Matty Fusaro. 

If you've watched the video I'm sure it's clear that the answer to the question "how long does it take to become a personal trainer" is much longer than the length it take to complete a certification. It's a process of constant learning that never ends! 

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