Personal Trainer Salary: How Much Can I Make?

As one of the fastest-growing industries – and arguably one of the healthiest career choices you can make – personal training and fitness instruction has become one of the most sought-after occupations of the modern-age. 

With career building potential, flexibility, and opportunity to grow your business the way you want, it seems that the personal training industry has endless benefits.

But, how lucrative is the personal training industry? What does a personal trainer salary look like?

If you’re hoping to build a personal training business but aren’t certain that it’s the right financial choice for your career, we’re here to provide you with the answers you need to make an informed choice for yourself.

Check out what we have to say below to get a better idea of just how much personal trainers can make, and what kind of options might be available for you!


What are My Options?

While there are dozens of different options when it comes to working as a personal trainer. We’re going to take our time and focus on the two primary – and very broad – categories that most personal trainers typically find themselves choosing between.

Generally, personal trainers and fitness industry experts often are forced to make the choice between working as an independent contractor – equipped with freedom and the ability to creatively form a place for themselves within the fitness realm – and an employee – which allows them a steady supply of clientele and usually an hourly or salary wage.

Each of these categories have their pros and cons, and it’s likely that one or the other will best benefit you and the personal training business you hope to build.

And of course, each will offer you different opportunities to make money – but which will work best for you?

Typically, personal trainers can expect to make an average of $25 per hour, or rather, just over $52,000 annually as full-time trainers; however, you can expect this number to fluctuate depending on the personal training opportunities you intend to embrace.

Which of these pathways can offer you the most financial security as well as bring the most to your personal training career?

Read on as we discuss just how much you can make, and how you can benefit, from working in these personal training realms.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR

As an independent contractor, you’re a professional with the freedom and flexibility to build your business exactly the way you want to.

You can set your own hours, control your business associations through your choice of networking, market the way you want to, and can craft a schedule and client base that makes the most sense for you.

But how does this work out financially?

As an independent contractor, you’re not obligated to follow a certain price point and you don’t need to rely solely on a salary coming from the corporation or organization you work for.

That means, ideally, you can set prices for your services that make the most sense for you.

This also means you’ll need to work (likely) twice as hard to bring in clients, market yourself, and build a client base.

According to the Exercise Science Guide, it’s possible for self-employed personal trainers --- or independent contractors – to earn as much as $140,000 annually.

This number, however, fluctuates based on your clientele, your hours, your fitness repertoire, what kind of certifications you hold, and what type of degree you might have.

Essentially, the amount of money you can make is going to build down to your work ethic, your area, your expertise, and the number of clients you’re able to take on and train.

Personal trainers can make anywhere from $25 hourly to about $75 hourly, depending on the demand, expertise, and commitment they’re able to offer.

This option, however, is going to cost you in areas that working as an employee for a corporation or organization wouldn’t.

You’ll need to provide your own insurance, liability coverage, work space area, resources, supplies, and, if you choose to expand your business, salary for your own employees.

Employee

As a personal training employee, you’re afforded the benefits of steady clientele, steady salary, health insurance, and the ability of direct your focus entirely on the training.

A personal trainer who is an employee typically works for a gym, an exercise studio, a specialized corporation, a resort, a spa, a cruise ship, a retirement community, a university, or any other organization that will pay them based on salary and commission.

As an employee at a facility, you’re often not able to set your own prices, and you typically cannot adjust based on the specific services offered.

Instead, you’ll either be paid based on a flat rate salary, hourly or on commission.

Your salary is going to depend on the facility you work at, your experience, education, your certifications, your specializations, and dozens of other considerations.

When working on commission – especially when first starting out – it’s likely you’ll work for (close to) minimum wage while you work the floor, or rather, while you try to get members of the gym or organization to hire you.

Commission will vary based on the facility you work for, but on the high-end, you can likely expect anywhere from 30-60 percent based on your education and experience, and as low as 15-20 percent.

According to the Exercise Science Guide – who built a table based on Salary.com and BLS.gov – the reported annual salaries for personal trainers shows an average salary of about $39,410 annually, with a median salary of $55,158.

The lowest 10 percent were reported making less than $27,300, while the top ten percent were reported earning about $79,200.

Although you’ll be lucky enough to reap the benefits of your corporations marketing, networking, and steady stream of clients, you’ll also likely be stuck at their price points, meaning, you might not be able to create costs that make the most sense for your services.

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