the ultimate personal trainer salary guide
THE ULTIMATE PERSONAL
TRAINER SALARY GUIDE
How much money can you really make as a personal trainer?
It’s no secret that the fitness industry is absolutely booming.
Take a look at all the social media platforms and try to scroll through five posts without catching a glimpse of a fitness instructor showing off a new exercise, giving a how-to demo, or even flaunting their latest line of fitness wear.
If that wasn’t obvious, the climbing trend toward getting healthier, fitter, and in better shape might have tipped you off. It’s reported that about 20 percent of Americans have fitness memberships—and that number is only going to continue to climb.
But it goes much deeper than social media or lifestyle trends. The health and fitness industry is growing considerably every single year on every touch-point in our lives.
The health and fitness industry is considered a $30 billion industry in the United States (as reported by the IHRSA ). What’s more impressive? It’s been steadily growing for a long time. According to the same report from IHRSA, the fitness industry has been growing by at least 3-4 percent every single year.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that employment in this field is set to increase by up to 13 percent from 2012-2022.
Translation? There’s absolutely no sign of this growth slowing down.
No matter what the health craze causes are (insurance costs, the digitization of exercise classes, fitness trends, etc.), the fact remains—it’s a very, very good time to get into the fitness industry.
But demand shouldn’t be the only thing driving your desire to delve into fitness—there is an abundance of benefits to becoming a certified personal trainer (one of them being the sheer average salary of a personal trainer, but we’ll get to that soon enough).
Becoming a personal trainer or a certified physical fitness instructor affords you all sorts of opportunities:
Another great reason to be a personal trainer?
The average salary of a personal trainer is around $59,500.
That’s a relatively solid chunk of change to earn annually (especially when you’re doing what you love), but that’s just a drop in the ocean of what you could be earning. In fact, the average range of salaries for personal trainers is $42,900 to about $73,000—and that’s just the average.
Don’t you think you could be an above-average trainer?
We think so.
Use our handy dandy calculator below to calculate exactly what you need to do, to be in the salary range you desire.
PERSONAL TRAINER SALARY CALCULATOR
Now, ask yourself an important question:
What am I making right now?
Do you like the answer? Do you think you’re missing out on some of that untapped potential to make a higher salary?
Now, ask yourself another question:
How can I make more money?
We think you might already know the answer, but just to be safe, we’ll spell it out for you—invest in a career in personal training.
Let’s pick up right where we left off—did you answer those questions?
Are you satisfied with the money you’re making now in your current career?
Do you wish you could make more?
Are you actually happy with the job you’re doing, or do you think there’s something better for you out there?
If you’re ready to dive into how to make more money—all the while investing yourself into a career that can provide you with true job satisfaction— then you’ve come to the right place.
We laid out a few of our best tips to help you get started as a certified personal trainer. First, though, let’s talk about the real topic burning a hole in your brain—the cash.
The Average Salary of a Personal Trainer
In case you forgot, we mentioned in the intro that the average salary of a personal trainer is around $59,500. But again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That same report we cited said the average range of salary for a personal trainer is about $42,000 to about $73,000. Another report indicates personal trainers can make up to about $130,000 annually.
The reason for such a broad range? Because as a personal trainer, you’re able to bust through a salary ceiling and make more money than you thought possible. As a personal trainer, you’re gifted the flexibility to assign your own hours, take on as many clients as makes sense to you, and even set your own rates. It’s not unheard of for cream-of-the-crop trainers to charge hundreds of dollars an hour for their services.
Obviously, your rate needs to reflect your skill, what you can offer, your niche, and other elements, too. But the fact of the matter is, there’s a ton of earning potential in this industry.
Consider these facts for a minute.
The hourly wages for an LA Fitness personal trainer can be anywhere from $8-$30 hour. Glassdoor reports that the average personal trainer at LA Fitness can expect to make about $27,300 annually. But then, consider that, according to Glassdoor, an Equinox personal trainer salary can average up to about $55,000.
The crazy part? You can always make more.
That’s just a broad range between two incredibly popular chain fitness clubs. Imagine the potential you could build for yourself as a private personal trainer. Imagine the potential you’d have at a ritzier fitness club.
We kid you not: There are personal trainers out there making well over $100,000. It’s hard work, but it’s doable.
The Must-Do’s Before You Get Your Career Started
Before you can start raking in the big bucks as a personal trainer, you need to make sure you’re doing everything correctly.
Being a personal trainer isn’t just about having a natural talent for knowing how to grow muscle or stay fit—you need to be a certified professional who has the education, the license, and the certification to prove you know what you’re doing.
Not only is this a pretty basic thing to have to be a certified personal trainer, but it’s also a huge salary booster. The more you can trace back to your training, the better—people want to know they’re working with a professional who took the time to really learn how to help them. Your hard work and dedication can go a long way.
We know you’re anxious to get your personal trainer career rolling, so we thought we’d help you fast-track it by providing you with a little checklist of what you absolutely must have before starting your personal trainer gig.
Get Your Professional License and Certification
This is a no-brainer and a total must-have for any personal trainer who wants to be recognized as a certified personal trainer.
To be totally transparent, there’s no federal requirement for fitness trainers to have a license or training in order to call themselves personal trainers, but if you want to be taken even remotely seriously (and be the best at your job) we absolutely recommend this as your first step.
Not only does this give you needed training, education, and information to keep your clients safe and healthy,
it’s also vital as a point of credibility—especially if you want to get a job at an establishment in the industry.
Odds are, certification is going to be the first thing they ask for.
There are so many programs out there that can help you become certified, and the first step is choosing the one that fits you and your needs the best. Ideally, your program will cover everything you need to know about the human body, health and safety, how to be a personal trainer, and all the tiny details that go hand-in-hand with diving into this career.
Once you’ve completed your required courses and have studied up, you’ll need to take your certification exam to acquire your license and certification.
Check Out Your State Requirements
Like we said, there’s no federal law that says you have to be certified to call yourself a personal trainer, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be state requirements and regulations that could hold you back.
Because you’re wanting to go about this the right way and become a certified personal trainer, you’re going to want to double-check your state’s requirements to make sure you’re abiding by all the rules and regulations to keep your status as a certified trainer. You’ll likely have to have your CPR and AED certifications no matter what state you reside in.
Be sure you’re double-checking all of your state’s requirements before you start applying for jobs.
Never Skip Out on Your Professional Liability Insurance
This is going to be huge for your career as a certified personal trainer. Never forget to properly protect yourself and your clients with professional liability insurance from Insure Fitness Group.
A lot of trainers think they can get by with the insurance their establishment provides them, but often, that insurance isn’t enough to cover them in the event of an accident or mishap. Further, if you’re planning to work as an independent personal trainer, you can’t rely on an establishment’s insurance.
We know what you’re thinking: If I’m careful and a professional who knows what they’re doing, why do I need insurance?
We totally understand that mindset, but it’s important to remember that professional liability insurance doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing—if anything, it means you’re more prepared, more focused on your clients’ safety, and more interested in doing everything by the book. All of these things are positive factors for certified personal trainers.
The thing is, no matter what industry you’re in, accidents are going to happen.
By the very nature of what you want to do, you’re opening the door up for the potential for mishaps. Professional liability is going to cover a ton of things—bodily injury, property damage, costs, coverage, etc.
We always suggest you do everything in your power to mitigate risks as a personal trainer—and investing in quality professional liability insurance is going to be huge a part of that.
Create a Stunning Resume
Before you can even think of applying for jobs or adding on clients, we suggest you take a moment to either totally revamp or update your resume. Make that bad boy sing. Always trace back to your experience and your education.
List your experience, your niches, your certifications, your accolades. There’s time to be humble later; on your resume, make sure you’re bragging on yourself so clients or future employers can be aware of your achievements.
Your Success Formula
Now that you know how to get your personal training career started, it’s time to work out your perfect formula for success within the industry. We want to be clear—there’s no one way to make this career work.
There are thousands of places to work, millions of niches to get into, and infinite potential for opportunity. You just have to figure out what your success formula looks like and go from there.
Before we dive into a few specific tips, we wanted to throw out a few general ideas that we believe are crucial to concocting a successful formula all your own. Take the time to learn from personal trainers you admire—be humble and willing to learn from them. Never stop your education, either. No matter how deep into your career you are (or how new), never turn down the chance to learn a new skill, a new niche—whatever it might be.
Only when you understand that your learning process is never over can you truly create the best formula for your success.
Figuring Out Your Employment Options: Where Should I Work?
One of the coolest things about working as a certified personal trainer is that there are so many options for how you want to work, when you want to work, and most importantly, where you want to work.
As a certified personal trainer, you’re given the gift of deciding where you want to work and how you want to do it.
A lot of this decision can be based off your preferences, how much you plan to work, what you’re interested in, and what you really want to help your clients with.
When you think about traditional gyms, your mind probably wanders to establishments that have free weights, exercise classes, studios, and tons of members who are interested in all types of fitness and wellness.
These places—gyms like LA Fitness, Equinox, Gold’s Gym, and more—are always in need of personal trainers. The beautiful thing about these places is that often, you’re given the opportunity to act as a generalized trainer to help people accomplish a wide array of goals. But, it’s also possible you could become a niche trainer within a traditional gym setting, too. Don't be afraid to ask ALL of the questions when going in for a tour!
Boutique and Niche Gyms
These types of gyms are all the rage lately. It seems like on every corner, there’s a new hip-and-trendy boutique gym that has a niche style of exercising. Things like Orange Theory, Pure Barre, Yoga studios, Soul Cycle, etc., are taking the world by storm. These types of establishments will offer you the chance to get incredibly good at one particular type of training and really develop a place within that niche.
Additionally, they do tend to pay pretty well, too. Make sure you note that a lot of these niche gyms are going to require you have a specialized license, so make sure you check into that before you head into your local studio!
This is one of the reasons people tend to get into personal training in the first place. Being an independent personal trainer allows you to have total control over your business, your niche, and your brand. Independent personal trainers can rent space within a gym establishment, start their own physical gym, meet clients at their houses, run sessions outside, or even take their personal training totally digital and run an online personal training business.
The options with this type of personal training are absolutely endless and give you 100 percent control of how you want to run your personal training career.
How to Generate Revenue as a Certified Personal Trainer
It’s probably not going to be terribly difficult to reel in your first few clients. In fact, if you’re a gifted trainer, you might not have any problem filling up your schedule for a while with clients who want to try out your services.
Eventually, though, you’re going to have to ask yourself—how do I generate more revenue?
The good news? As a personal trainer, there are so many ways to boost your revenue in a snap. But it does require attention to detail, scheduling, and strict dedication. Here are a few ways you can boost your revenue.
Follow Up with Clients
This is going to be a big deal for retaining and drawing in new clients. If you’re planning on having clients work with you for more than a few weeks, you’re going to want to develop a rapport with them. It’s not enough to work with them twice a week and never check in with them again—you need to make sure they know you care about how they’re doing with the program, that you want to check in to see if you can help, and that you’re a constant support system on their new journey.
Develop a follow-up system that’s easy for you to keep track of. Is it weekly emails? Is it daily text messages? Is it scheduling calls with clients based on their availability? Whatever you work out, make sure you’re always following up with every client so they feel you’re truly on their side and there to help them improve.
Ask for Referrals
You should never scoff at asking for referrals. Positive reviews, whether it’s word-of-mouth, online, or some other medium, can be a huge boost to your business. If you’re proud of how you work with your clients and you can tell that your clients are happy with you, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. If your clients need some incentivizing, try offering referral specials to your current clients. Get creative—maybe offer a free week of sessions if you gain a client they referred to you!
Set Your Schedule
Even though one of the best parts about being a personal trainer is that your schedule can be totally up to you, it can really help boost your business and make room for more clients if you have a dedicated schedule. This way, you can see where you have gaps, determine how you can fit more clients in, and decide what’s working for your business.
Having a firm, strict policy in place before you start taking on clients is always important. It helps set the tone right from the start with your clients, and it makes you appear more professional.
Consider setting up deposit policies, cancellation policies, and refund policies before you get your business going. It can also help save you money when it comes to clients who don’t show up for sessions, decide against your services, or simply aren’t motivated enough to fit you into their schedule.
Consider Freelancing Opportunities
If you’re not already working as an independent personal trainer, consider some extra freelancing opportunities on the side to draw in more clients and make more money. Our biggest advice on this? If you’re employed somewhere, make sure it’s OK for you to offer freelance personal training classes that aren’t associated with the establishment. The last thing you want to do is endanger your steady job for a few freelancing opportunities here and there. That being said, it should be all right to run a freelance gig on the side. Try taking to social media to gain some virtual clients, work with freelance clients at their houses, or rent an exercise space somewhere safe where you and your clients can work out.
For a personal trainer, especially if you’re planning to be an independent personal trainer, marketing is going to be an enormous part of your success formula.
Like we said in our Marketing 101 post—sure, the quality of your experience and training matters, as does your effort to continue your education.
But if no one knows about your accomplishments, your accreditation's, your accolades, or your availability, what difference do those things make? Great marketing skills are an absolute cornerstone of your personal training career, and understanding some of the very basics of marketing (like how to market yourself and who you’re marketing to) is going to make a substantial difference in your client retention, new client numbers, and your fan-base.
While we always suggest continuing education to help you further a skill—and marketing is no different—you don’t need a degree to get your marketing strategy started. Check out a few of our tips and tricks here that we believe are vital for kicking off your marketing strategy.
Establish a Brand and Stick to It
Branding is vital in all businesses—especially personal training.
Branding is sort of a complicated topic because it pertains to both tangible and intangible factors. An established brand is what’s going to set you apart from everyone else in your industry; it’s going to be that recognizable factor that makes you distinct; and it’s going to be what keeps people coming back to you.
Branding includes intangible elements like:
But it also includes tangible elements, too:
You want your brand to be the identifying factor clients can look at and automatically know it’s you.
Branding can be tough work. If you’re really struggling to establish a brand that’s unique and specific to you, it can help to book a few hours with a branding consultant. While we definitely think you’re capable of coming up with a brand on your own, it’s a creative process that requires a lot of abstract thought. Don’t be afraid to work with a professional to get your creative juices flowing.
Once you’ve established a brand, you’re set up to create marketing materials like business cards, flyers, and even social media banners, content, and ads. Make sure that your branding is always coming through loud and clear in any type of marketing strategy, whether it’s an Instagram post or a physical business card.
Know Your Target Audience
We really dive into this in our Marketing 101 blog post (which you should absolutely read to gain even more knowledge about how to market yourself), but we want to give you a brief idea of why this matters.
Once you’ve established your brand, you should have a better idea of what kind of services you plan to offer, why you’re offering them, and who you’re planning to offer them to. That last part is going to play a huge role in determining your target audience.
If you’re unsure of who you’re trying to reach, start off by asking yourself some super basic questions:
Who am I trying to help? Why am I trying to help them? How do I plan to reach them?
Answering those questions are going to help narrow down that broad “I want to help everyone” mindset to a more succinct, more direct audience.
Truly perfecting your marketing skills as a personal trainer is going to take time, patience, and the willingness to learn about a handful of vital marketing channels. Some of these might be pretty obvious to you—use social media, we get it—but some of these channels might be new to you. Take the time to learn and invest in each of these so you can craft an ideal marketing strategy for each platform.
We live in a digital world—that’s just the way it is. People absolutely need to know you exist online in order to:
- Even find you in the sea of personal trainers out there;
- Make sure you’re credible.
About 81 percent of consumers will search for a product or service online before they decide to make a purchase. It makes sense that when it comes to hiring a personal trainer—someone they’re trusting their health and wellness with— they’d want to do ample research.
In other words, if your website isn’t popping up on Google, do you really even exist?
Not to your prospective clients.
Having a website as a personal trainer is important for so many reasons. It shows you’re credible. It gives you a space to share your knowledge (through blogging, vlogging, and other content marketing strategies), and it allows people to read up on you.
Like we said, an online presence is vital, and that includes your social media platforms—especially when it comes to Instagram.
Did you know there are about 400 million active users on Instagram every single day? A ton of these people are seeking out personal training tips, advice, and icons to follow. People are consistently exploring social media platforms (especially Instagram) for fitness tips, exercise ideas, and personal trainers.
Social media is the perfect way to attract fans, draw in prospective clients, and flaunt your brand. By ignoring it, you’re cutting out an enormous potential audience that you could reach.
There are millions upon millions of tips you need to know when it comes to running a successful social media marketing strategy (which we can advise more on here, in our Marketing 101 guide). But, for brevity’s sake, here are a few constants that will always be vital for social media marketing:
Above all, don’t neglect social media.
It’s a huge requirement for marketing success in this industry.
Don’t scoff at us when we say this, but email marketing is super important when it comes to maintaining a solid marketing strategy. Seriously. Maybe you think email is archaic, but it’s still one of the best ways to reach people.
It’s also crazy effective, too. Did you know that email marketing can provide you with about 3800 percent ROI[AP4] ? There are few marketing tactics that can gift you with that much guaranteed return on investment, so we suggest taking the time to learn more about email marketing.
Even though it might sound intimidating at first, we promise that email marketing campaigns really aren’t that difficult to craft. It can be as simple as a monthly newsletter, a referral incentive program, a helpful healthy tip of the day, or even special offers. Email marketing allows you to connect with your current clients, reach new ones, and provide useful content people will be happy to receive.
Did you know that about 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
Did you know that before deciding on what business or service to purchase, a consumer is going to look up an online review, and that about 90 percent of Yelp users say positive reviews will impact their buying choices?
Online reviews are an insanely powerful tool when it comes to marketing. Invest time in asking your clients to leave helpful, positive reviews on Yelp, social media, Google, and more. What people say about your business matters, especially in our digital age.
SEarch engine optimization
SEO, or search engine optimization, is often considered one of the most important marketing channels to fully understand and invest your time into learning.
SEO is the use of specific, strategic keywords for your online platforms that help better direct people to your site, platforms, and business. Think of it this way—SEO is the practice of tactically including words in your online platforms that help your website rank better on search engines, meaning that if someone types in a popular phrase like “certified personal fitness trainer California,” and you’ve spent the time to SEO tag your website to include those phrases, you’re likely to pop up in their search feed.
SEO can help you distinguish yourself from a sea of personal trainers, so it’s worth it to get really good at this. We suggest taking classes, working with experts, and even using third-party tools to help you understand what SEO phrases and keywords you need to start implementing into your online presence.
Affiliate Partnerships an
This a super cunning marketing tool we think every personal trainer should look into. As you build a personal fitness brand, you’re likely trying to build up a personal fitness community. Consider adding in affiliates and ambassadors to further your brand—especially on social media. When someone partners with your brand, or acts as an ambassador, you’re joining a mutually beneficial relationship where that person is advertising your brand while getting something (free merch, free services, shout-outs, etc.) in exchange.
Coming up with quality ambassador programs can help build your community, boost your brand, and get your name out there in both organic and inorganic ways. Often, you don’t need to pay partners or ambassadors; you just need to work out something they want in exchange for their advertising of your brand.
Sometimes, people are only going to try something new if they can get it for a good deal. That’s where Groupon comes in. Leveraging Groupon can be hugely helpful because it can provide a way to meet prospective clients who might come back, or push your current clients to encourage their friends to try your services at a reduced rate—and even if you don’t attract a new client base from Groupon, you’re making money no matter what. Groupon really helps get your personal fitness brand and name out there to a whole new audience of people who might not know you exist.
Client communication is a big part of your marketing strategy.
Sure, digital marketing and the use of social media platforms are both going to help you draw interest, attract new clients, and maybe even boost an online business, but you need to invest your marketing strategy into more than just an online presence.
Taking the time to set up a marketing technique via client communications is going to be a game-changer for your personal training business.
Marketing strategy comes in all different forms when dealing with client communication. Whether you’re reaching out to new clients, asking for testimonials, or enticing clients with referral incentives, the main goal is to get people buzzing about you and your business.
If you’re looking to boost your client communication marketing strategy, we suggest encouraging word-of-mouth reviews and online reviews from your clients. Incentivize referrals by offering free sessions for every new client an existing client sends to you.
Additionally, try establishing community partners.
Building partnerships with local gyms, personal trainers, and other wellness and health professionals can be super beneficial. Working with other professionals and businesses in your community does more than just make you look good (although, it does that). It also helps you network, get your name out there, and meet a ton of new, potential clients. Plus, people love working with professionals who have a vested interest in partnering with the community.
The Next Steps
You’ve come a long way already. If you’ve stuck it out this far, we have to say—you’re already miles ahead of other wanna-be trainers who aren’t taking the time to learn a successful formula for the industry.
You’re probably the type of person who recognizes that learning never stops, right? That’s good. Because that’s a vital next step in becoming a successful, in-demand personal trainer who makes a heck-of-a-good salary.
Remember, the real key to success is truly understanding this fact: No matter how good you get, there’s always room to get better.
Trainers who understand that the fitness industry is constantly evolving and that wellness isn’t static are going to find more success than trainers who are consistently stuck in their ways, never taking the time to learn new things or challenge their education.
Continuing Education is Huge
It’s never enough to learn something once and then be satisfied, especially as a personal trainer.
Like we said, the real key to success in this industry is to constantly commit to learning.
Never be satisfied with the current knowledge you have—always find a way to continue your education.
Trade shows are a wonderful way to further your education because they’re typically structured with a ton of information in a short span of time (and they’re also usually somewhere fun). Trade shows afford you the opportunity to learn new skills, get new certifications, network with colleagues, and learn from some of the best in the business. They can be expensive (some are more expensive than others), but can you really put a price tag on furthering your education?
Gaining extra certification is also a big part of continuing your education. Sure, you have your general personal trainer cert, and that’s huge, but if you really want to get into a specific niche, add on services, or up your training game, consider taking more certification courses. NETA and ACE, as well as other organizations, offer tons of certifications you can tack on to your generalized one.
You’ve taken the next step to continue your education. You’ve learned more, you’re way more in-demand, and you’ve got a ton of knowledge to share. It’s time to upsell yourself.
Let’s be clear. We don’t mean you should gouge people, but we do think it’s important to recognize that your set of distinct, expert skills means you’re required to charge more for your services. Use those extra certifications to charge more for your personal training courses, especially the ones you’re incredibly skilled in and that required a ton of hard work and dedication.
Upsell yourself even further by implementing distinct programs that set you apart, like referral programs and a goal and success program.
How to Become a $100k personal Trainer
Now that you know how to kickstart your personal training career, it’s time to really focus on kickstarting that personal trainer salary. Like we said at the start of this helpful guide, the range of personal trainer salaries is incredibly broad—but it’s not unheard of for trainers to make more than $100,000 annually.
Consider this 100k personal trainer checklist below to see if you’re doing everything you should be to start your path toward making the big bucks as a personal trainer.
- Earn your personal trainer certification; and don’t forget other vital certs (AED, CPR, etc.).
- Acquire quality, reliable personal liability insurance.
- Establish a powerful, effective personal brand.
- Figure out your niche and your audience and work that hard.
- Stay dedicated, hungry, and eager.
- Establish a success formula that’s unique to you and your goals.
- Amp up that online presence and your social media platforms. 100k trainers don’t exist outside the internet.
- Set goals for your personal trainer salary.
- Map out what it’s going to take to get to those goals.
- Upsell yourself. Take time to consider whether your pricing adequately reflects your skills.
- Implement strict policies and set a rigorous schedule.
- Invest time and effort into your marketing strategy. This is your bread and butter. If you need help, invest some of your funds into marketing consultation or work with a skilled acquaintance for tips and tricks.
- Keep up consistent and quality communication with your current clients. Do everything you can to help them meet their goals.
- Constantly focus on continuing your education (trade shows, additional certs, learning from trainers you admire).
- Tack on extra certifications you believe would be beneficial to your business and your brand.
- Never give up on yourself—stay dedicated, fierce, and eager to succeed.