How To Become A Personal Trainer In Pennsylvania

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The health and fitness scene in Pennsylvania pulses with opportunities for personal trainers ready to carve out their own niche. If you dream of leading energetic group classes or drafting personalized training schedules for clients, the Keystone State is a great place to make this happen. The demand for qualified trainers makes Pennsylvania one of the most robust fitness markets in the country.

Personal trainers in Pennsylvania benefit from a strong job market, with an average salary of over $67,000.¹ There’s a steady demand for fitness trainers and instructors in the state, thanks to more and more people wanting to get in shape and stay healthy.

Leading institutions such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) offer various routes to obtain your personal trainer certification. Here, we break down what you need to know on how to become a personal trainer in Pennsylvania.

What are the steps to becoming a personal trainer in Pennsylvania?

Step 1: Meet Basic Requirements:

To get started as a personal trainer in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to meet a few basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have a certification in adult CPR/AED

Step 2: Pursue Education:

Making your mark in the fitness industry involves diving into certified personal trainer programs such as sports medicine, exercise physiology, or weight training management. Specializing in one of these areas will help you distinguish yourself from the others and offer more to your clients. This gives you more value and from there, more opportunities.

Pennsylvania offers a range of top-notch programs for aspiring personal trainers. Check out these programs to see which suits you best:

  1. National Personal Training Institute of Pennsylvania (NPTI): The curriculum at NPTI  includes theoretical knowledge in exercise science and practical training.
  2. Temple University: Temple has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program. This program provides education in exercise science, making it ideal for those interested in becoming fitness professionals or personal trainers. It includes study areas, such as biomechanics and exercise physiology.
  3. University of Pennsylvania: While primarily known for their academic rigor across various fields, the University of Pennsylvania offers a Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology, which can benefit personal trainers by allowing them access to motivational psychology. However, for direct personal training education, their courses are more humble compared to specialized programs.
  4. West Chester University: This university provides a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, focusing on preparing students for careers in health and fitness through a curriculum that covers exercise physiology, kinesiology and more.
  5. Drexel University: Drexel has a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with an option to focus on Exercise Science. The program’s strength is foundational knowledge and practical experiences in health and fitness, including fitness assessments and exercise prescription.

Each of these institutions offers programs that can give you the stepping stone to a great career as a qualified personal trainer here in Pennsylvania. The variety on offer means that all kinds of individuals will be able to find the course that suits them and their talents.

Step 3 Get Certified:

Becoming certified means passing a certification exam. These exams cover a range of topics including exercise science and sports medicine. Most personal trainers choose to study by taking practice exams offered by certifying organizations like the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA). 

Getting certified is likely to be required if you plan to work at reputable health clubs or start your own personal training business in Pennsylvania. Employers and clients will always be impressed by a certificate hanging proudly on your wall!

What Certifications Do I Need To Be A Personal Trainer in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, just like in other states, you don’t legally need to be certified to work as a personal trainer. However, having a certification really boosts your job prospects. Employers hire new candidates based on certifications from organizations accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Some popular certifications include:

  • American Council on Exercise (ACE),
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Advanced Personal Training Certifications

  • If you’re aiming to really specialize and level up in your fitness career, going for something like the NSCA’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) might be your move. Just keep in mind, you’ll need a four-year degree to get this certification.

Recent Trending Personal Training Certifications

  • Certifications in areas such as sports fitness, aquatic fitness, and Pilates are increasingly popular. With more people wanting to get in shape, these certifications open up a market outside of the usual gym rats.

How Much Does A Personal Trainer Certification Cost in Pennsylvania?

  • Usually, the certification exam will cost you somewhere between $200 and $300. Just remember, that doesn’t include the course materials you’ll need.

Step 4 Gain Experience:

If you want to make it as a personal trainer in Pennsylvania, getting hands-on experience is key. Here are some great ways to do just that:

  • Internships and Mentorships: Many health clubs and fitness centers across Pennsylvania offer internships where you can learn the tricks of the trade from experienced fitness professionals.
  • Work in Related Fields: Starting out as a gym receptionist, helping out as a fitness trainer assistant, or teaching group exercise classes are great ways to get your foot in the door. These roles give you a chance to really get to know the fitness industry and make some important connections.
  • Volunteering: Offering your services for free at local recreation centers, schools, or sports clubs is an excellent way to gain experience while connecting to your community.
  • Education and Certification: Studying exercise science, kinesiology, or similar subjects boosts your knowledge and skills, which is helpful when building your career as a personal trainer.
  • Networking: Make sure to hit up fitness expos, seminars, and workshops. It’s a great way to meet mentors and fellow fitness enthusiasts who can give you tips and introduce you to new opportunities.
  • Start Training: After you get your initial certifications, start training clients on a smaller scale. You could begin with friends and family or offer sessions at a discounted rate to build up your experience and client list in Pennsylvania.

Using these strategies, you’ll level up the experience you need to become a skilled personal trainer in Pennsylvania. Each step boosts your hands-on skills and helps you get better at understanding what your clients need, planning workouts, and communicating effectively.

Step 5 Build a Client Base:

If you’re a personal trainer in Pennsylvania looking to grow your client list, it’s all about getting your name out there, making connections, and always giving top-notch service. Here are some hands-on tips to help you bring in more clients:

  • Leverage Social Media: Use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to promote your services. Share client success stories and offer fitness and health tips to get more attention.
  • Establish a Strong Online Presence: Create a website that highlights your services, your certifications, client referrals, and contact information. Make sure to add engaging content like blogs and videos to keep visitors interested and entertained.
  • Host Free Workshops or Classes: Host free fitness classes or workshops at local venues or online. This allows potential clients to experience your training style firsthand and decide if you are a match.
  • Network with Healthcare Professionals: Make connections with other health professionals like nutritionists and sports medicine experts. These relationships might bring in referrals from people in need of specific workout plans or who are healing and building strength after injuries.
  • Implement Referral Programs: Offering incentives like discounted sessions or free merchandise is a great way to motivate your existing clients to refer new clients. By encouraging word-of-mouth referrals, you can expand your client reach.
  • Collaborate with Local Businesses: Work with nearby businesses in the health and wellness sector. Explore mutual agreements like exchanging business cards to help your customers discover their service.
  • Target Specific Demographics: Stand out from the crowd by targeting specific groups or specialized training programs, like kinesiology muscle training techniques or senior fitness programs. By specializing, you will attract clients who are looking for your exact skills in these areas.
  • Ensure Exceptional Service Quality: Make sure to deliver top-notch, personalized sessions matching the needs of each client. Happy clients are loyal and often refer others to your services.
  • Stay Updated and Certified: Make sure to regularly improve your skills and keep up with certifications, like those offered by the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA) or the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). Showing dedication to your profession and ongoing education will give clients confidence in your knowledge.
  • Engage in Community Events: Don’t miss out on the chance to connect with potential clients by getting involved in local events, health expos, and fairs. These gatherings are excellent opportunities for you to demonstrate your personal training services and make a name for yourself within the community.

By using these strategies, you’ll grow your client base in Pennsylvania and set yourself up for a successful career as a certified personal trainer.

Do you need a license to be a personal trainer in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, personal trainers don’t need to hold a license to practice. However, obtaining a certification from a recognized fitness organization is highly advisable. A personal trainer certification not only boosts credibility but also improves job prospects in the fitness industry.

Personal trainers should have certifications to show they meet industry standards in health and fitness. Health clubs and fitness centers in Pennsylvania highly value certified personal trainers and actively seek them out.

In order to stay certified, trainers typically need to participate in continuing education. Keeping abreast of the latest science, techniques and trends will help keep your classes fresh and your clients satisfied. Staying informed about new advancements in the industry shows a trainer’s dedication to their career.

Which Are The Best Personal Trainer Schools in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is home to many renowned schools that provide degree programs for future personal trainers. Each of these schools include chances for hands-on experience and career growth. Check out the top five schools below:

  1. Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) – Offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Kinesiology, with an emphasis on Exercise Science. The program is structured to give students theoretical knowledge and practical skills in fitness training and wellness coaching. Graduates are prepared for a variety of roles in the fitness industry.
  2. Temple University – The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Exercise and Sports Science at Temple University focuses on Sports Medicine, as well as exercise-based interventions to prevent injuries and improve physical function. Prospective careers in sports medicine facilities, physical therapy clinics, and health clubs beckon from this course.
  3. University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) – The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health and Physical Activity, specializing in Exercise Science is the spotlight program. Pitt’s program offers studies in human movement, fitness assessments, and exercise prescription, which is ideal for students aiming for advanced understanding and application in exercise physiology and personal trainer jobs.
  4. Drexel University – The BS in Health Sciences with a track in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences covers aspects of injury prevention, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement.
  5. West Chester University – The Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science integrates practical business coursework. Students gain insights into exercise physiology, nutrition, behavior change strategies, and business aspects pertinent to personal trainer certification and fitness training services.

All of these courses have a holistic approach for aspiring certified personal trainers. Blending theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom with practical experience will give graduates all the keys to thrive in the fitness industry.

How Much Do Personal Trainers Make in Pennsylvania?

Personal trainers in Pennsylvania can reap the benefits of a competitive salary, backed by the state’s strong fitness sector and growing commitment to health and wellness. The average yearly compensation for fitness trainers is just over $67,000. This kind of salary is all the evidence you need to see that Pennsylvania is a prime location for fitness professionals with a desire to knuckle down and work hard.

Which Are The Best Personal Trainer Jobs for New Trainers in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania has a shed load of job opportunities available in different settings. These opportunities allow you to gain valuable experience and help you grow your client base. Let’s take a closer look at some of the options you can explore:

Commercial Gyms: Major fitness chains like Planet Fitness and Retro Fitness are excellent starting points for new trainers in Pennsylvania. These gyms attract a steady stream of clients, allowing trainers to work with individuals across different fitness levels and goals.

  • At a gym like Retro Fitness, you could start as a floor trainer, conduct fitness assessments, interact with members, give training tips, and climb the ladder to lead personal training sessions or provide small group training instruction. This hands-on experience is important for developing your skills and growing your clientele.

Local Health Clubs: A smaller, community-focused health club in Pennsylvania offers a more personal setting. This environment is perfect for trainers who wish to build strong relationships with their clients and customize programs for the local community needs.

  • For instance, at a club like the Philadelphia Sports Club, you can participate in customized training sessions and help in developing health and wellness programs designed for particular age groups like older adults or teenagers.

Specialty Studios: Studios that focus on specific types of workouts like yoga, barre, or kickboxing are perfect for trainers with specialized skills or interests. Working in a niche market allows you to boost your skills and attract clients who are passionate about specific fitness niches.

  • If your specialty is yoga, working at a studio like YogaWorks in Philadelphia offers the opportunity to teach group exercise classes and individual coaching sessions for clients devoted to yoga.

Corporate Fitness Centers: Many companies in Pennsylvania provide their own fitness facilities to support employee health. These centers need trainers to lead classes, create employee wellness exercise programs, and provide personal training.

  • Working at a corporate wellness center, such as those found at Comcast or GlaxoSmithKline in Philadelphia, allows you to work closely with employees and get them to their fitness goals. Corporations are usually good at showing their appreciation with more than fair pay packets when the results come in.

Wellness Retreats and Resorts: Pennsylvania is home to several wellness retreats and resorts that offer temporary but intensive opportunities to work with clients committed to improving their fitness in a holistic environment.

  • For example, at a place like the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, you could lead daily fitness activities and provide wellness coaching in a scenic setting.

Online Personal Training: The erise of digital platforms opens up opportunities for online personal training services. This flexible option lets you connect with clients internationally. Whether starting your own online training business or joining platforms that connect trainers with clients.

  • Using platforms such as TrueCoach, you can design and deliver customized workout and nutrition plans to clients worldwide, conducting training sessions via video calls.

Discovering the different options available will allow you to pinpoint the perfect setting for your training approach and professional aspirations, enabling you to thrive and excel as a personal trainer in Pennsylvania.

Which are the best cities in Pennsylvania to be a personal trainer?

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown are the leading cities in Pennsylvania for personal trainers due to several reasons:

  • High demand for personal training services
  • Competitive salaries
  • Variety of fitness centers and health Clubs
  • Opportunities for professional growth
  • Focus on health and fitness

In these vibrant cities, personal trainers can excel by using the resources available to them: large client bases, and related industries that prioritize physical wellness. This sets the stage for pursuing a successful career in personal training.

Resources for Personal Trainers in Pennsylvania

As a personal trainer in Pennsylvania, there are many resources available to support your career development and networking. Here’s a list of resources for personal trainers in Pennsylvania to take advantage of:

  1. Join Fitness Organizations: Join associations such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council on Exercise (ACE), and the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (PSAHPERD) for access to:
  • Latest industry research
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • Updates on certifications
  1. Attend Workshops and Conferences: These events are good for:
  • Keeping ahead of fitness trends
  • Networking with peers and industry professionals
  • Finding collaboration and client referral opportunities

Pennsylvania hosts the Philadelphia Health, Wellness, and Fitness Expo. This event takes place in Philadelphia and offers a variety of activities and sessions focused on fitness, wellness, and nutrition. It’s a good opportunity for personal trainers to network, learn about new trends, and participate in workshops.

  1. Stay Informed and Connected: Using these resources keeps you informed and competitive, allowing you to offer exceptional service to your clients by:
  • Mastering new training methods
  • Understanding the business aspects of personal training

Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (PSAHPERD) provides resources for personal trainers in Pennsylvania, including webinars and workshops on advanced training techniques and business strategies. By connecting with PSAHPERD, trainers can stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends, enhance their business skills, and establish valuable connections within the fitness community.

Should I Get Personal Trainer Liability Insurance?

Obtaining liability insurance as a personal trainer in Pennsylvania is a wise move. In your day to day, you assist clients with physical activities that pose injury risks. Liability insurance defends you in case of client injuries or property damage during training. It’s not only about managing potential claims; it also brings peace of mind.

With comprehensive coverage, you can fully concentrate on your clients’ fitness objectives and advancements, free from any concerns about legal repercussions. By having liability insurance, you establish trust with your clients and demonstrate your commitment to fulfilling your professional obligations in the fitness field.


In the ever-evolving fitness industry of Pennsylvania, building a foundation through certifications and education is important. You will ddevelop your skills and create opportunities for growth and advancement in your career. Networking and establishing connections within the industry is equally important. It will open doors to new opportunities and provide support and guidance along your professional journey.

Pennsylvania offers a diverse range of clients and training methods, allowing you to specialize in your area of interest. This creates an ideal environment for dedicated trainers to thrive and make a positive impact on the health and wellness of their communities.

To stay ahead in this dynamic field, it is necessary to stay updated with the latest industry trends and continuously expand your knowledge. By doing so, you can guarantee that your role as a personal trainer in Pennsylvania is not only fulfilling but also financially rewarding.


Do I need a degree to become a personal trainer in Pennsylvania?

While not mandatory, earning a college degree or bachelor’s degree in a related field such as exercise science, kinesiology, or sports medicine will likely improve your opportunities within the fitness industry.

How long does it take to become certified?

The time to achieve certification can vary, typically ranging from a few months to over a year, depending on your existing knowledge and skill level. You will generally need to engage in a personal training program and pass a certification exam to qualify as a certified personal trainer.

Can I specialize in specific types of fitness training?

Certainly! By obtaining a personal training certification in specialized routines like Pilates, aquatic fitness, or sports conditioning, you can customize your services to cater to diverse client needs.

What’s the job outlook for personal trainers in Pennsylvania?

The job outlook for personal trainers in Pennsylvania is promising, with a rising demand for qualified personal trainers, particularly in metropolitan areas and health clubs, where there’s a strong focus on fitness and health. This is driven by an increasing awareness of personal health and fitness goals.

  1. Annual Salary for a Personal Trainer in Pennsylvania,

Meet The Author:

Parker Franklin

Parker, IFG’s Brand Manager since 2022, began his wellness journey in 2020, leading to a significant personal transformation. He holds a journalism degree from Murray State University and started his career as an award-winning journalist in western Kentucky before transitioning into marketing and PR. At IFG, Parker is responsible for writing content, managing The Fit newsletter, and overseeing promotions and collaborations with affiliate fitness organizations.