Unlocking Earnings: How Much Does a Personal Trainer Make in the Fitness Industry?

As a personal trainer, you’re passionate about helping others achieve their fitness goals and building a successful career in the fitness industry. The big question on your mind: “How much does a personal trainer make?” The answer depends on several factors, such as certifications, experience, and the work setting. In this blog post, we will discuss the different aspects that influence a personal trainer’s salary and provide strategies to boost your income and thrive in this rewarding profession.

Key Takeaways

  • Certification is strongly correlated with salary in the fitness industry. It provides increased credibility, expanded clientele potential, and greater earning potential.
  • Personal trainers can earn different incomes depending on their setting (gym-based salaries, freelance rates, or online services). Salary levels are affected by experience level, geographic location, and specialization.
  • Strategies to increase personal trainer income include diversifying services. Engaging in marketing, networking, and investing in continuing education.

Certification and Salary Correlation

Certification is crucial for personal trainers, enhancing their credibility and earning capacity. Many aspiring personal trainers begin their career path by obtaining a reputable personal trainer certification, such as ACSM, ACE, or NASM. In the fitness industry, these certifications are held in high regard, and they can substantially increase earning potential, thereby enabling trainers to demand a higher payment for their training sessions.

The average personal trainer’s salary is approximately $50,000. Here are some factors that can influence a personal trainer’s salary:

  • Entry-level trainers typically make around $25 an hour.
  • Experienced trainers can earn up to $100 an hour.
  • Certification greatly influences a personal trainer’s salary.
  • Experience, geographic location, and specializations also significantly add to income levels.

Top Personal Trainer Certifications

Top personal trainer certifications, such as:

  • NASM
  • ASFA
  • ACSM
  • NSCA
  • ISSA
  • ACE

These certifications are widely recognized in the fitness industry and by potential clients. Obtaining these certifications can lead to higher salaries and better job opportunities. For example, a strength and conditioning certification is highly sought-after in the personal training industry. It is associated with a 42% salary increase compared to those without it.

Investing in advanced certifications allows personal trainers to:

  • Broaden their knowledge and skills
  • Become more attractive to clients and employers
  • Have higher-paying job opportunities
  • Charge higher rates for their services

This augmented expertise can lead to a successful and lucrative career in the fitness industry, especially for fitness professionals.

Benefits of Certification

Certification offers personal trainers many benefits, such as enhanced credibility, access to a wider clientele, and the prospect of increased earnings. With a certification, personal trainers are better equipped to help clients achieve their fitness goals, as they possess expertise in exercise science and human anatomy.

A certified personal trainer can charge up to $100 for a master-level training session, while the average hourly salary for personal trainers in the United States is $27.10. Obtaining a personal trainer certification is the first step to augmenting a trainer’s salary and setting them apart from the competition.

Personal Trainer Earnings: Different Settings

Various settings offer personal trainers different earning potentials. Here are some examples:

  • Gym-based personal trainers typically receive an hourly rate.
  • Freelance and online personal trainers have more control over their work schedules and rates.
  • The average salary of personal trainers ranges from $40,390 to $64,100 per year, depending on the city and country.
  • Those who take their business online can generate higher incomes by offering services 24/7, not limited by the available daily hours as in-person trainers.

A clear understanding of the earning potentials in varied settings enables personal trainers to make informed career decisions and increase their income.

Gym-Based Personal Trainers

Typically, gym-based personal trainers earn an hourly rate, with potential bonuses or commissions. Salaries may vary depending on the gym and benefits provided. The mean remuneration for gym-based personal trainers is $42,000. Trainers working at well-known gyms, such as:

  • LA Fitness
  • 24 Hour Fitness
  • Lifetime Fitness
  • Gold’s Gym
  • Anytime Fitness

Report annual salaries ranging from $41,579 to $63,240.

Payment structures also vary among commercial gyms. For example, LA Fitness personal trainers receive between $6 and $15 per session, depending on the location. In contrast, at Planet Fitness, trainers earn a full-time minimum wage with no commissions or bonuses available. Understanding the pay structures and potential earnings at different gyms can help personal trainers make informed decisions about their employment options.

Besides the hourly rate, gym-based personal trainers may also receive standard benefits and a W2 form, which can be an advantage over self-employed trainers who must handle taxes and insurance independently.

Freelance Personal Trainers

Freelance personal trainers, who have greater control over their work schedule and rates, frequently earn between $50 and $100 per session. However, independent contractors must also handle marketing and client acquisition, which can be challenging. Self-employed personal trainers typically earn between $35,000 and $66,000 annually, with top earners generating between $73,000 and $111,000 annually. So, how much do personal trainers make? It varies based on factors such as experience, location, and clientele.

The average rate for independent personal trainers is typically between $60 and $100 per 1-hour training session. Additional services, such as group classes or nutrition coaching, can help freelance personal trainers attract a wider range of clients and boost their income.

Online Personal Trainers

Online personal trainers have the luxury of setting their prices and offering various services, with their earnings varying based on their business model and client base. Some ways that online trainers can generate income include:

  • Offering one-on-one virtual training sessions
  • Creating and selling pre-recorded workout programs
  • Writing and selling e-books on fitness and nutrition
  • Hosting online group fitness classes
  • Providing personalized meal plans and nutrition coaching

By leveraging technology, online trainers can provide passive income services, such as pre-recorded workout programs and e-books, to generate income without increasing their workload.

The potential earnings for online personal trainers can vary based on the structure of their business and the clients they serve. By developing a solid online presence and offering diverse services, online personal trainers can reach a wider audience and maximize their income potential.

Factors Affecting Personal Trainer Salaries

Experience, geographic location, and specialization can affect the average personal trainer salary. Generally, more experienced personal trainers earn higher salaries due to a larger client base and increased session rates. Geographic location plays a significant role in personal trainer earnings, with higher salaries in urban areas and states with a higher cost of living. Specializations, such as strength and conditioning or nutrition coaching, can increase a personal trainer’s income by attracting niche clients and commanding higher rates.

Experience and Earnings

Generally, more experienced personal trainers earn higher salaries due to a larger client base and increased session rates. The average annual salary for a full-time personal trainer in the US is approximately $50,000, with the typical hourly rate ranging from $21 to $35.

The typical career progression steps for personal trainers involve:

  1. Beginning as a gym personal trainer
  2. Progressing to become an independent personal trainer
  3. Creating an online personal training brand
  4. Advancing to a fitness manager position in a gym

As many personal trainers gain experience and develop their skills, their earning potential increases accordingly, with a private personal trainer working diligently to improve their craft.

Geographic Location

Geographic location substantially influences personal trainer earnings, with urban areas and states with a higher cost of living typically offering higher pay. The highest-paying cities for personal trainers in the United States include:

  • Washington, DC
  • New York, NY
  • San Jose, CA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Los Angeles, CA

The cost of living can also impact personal trainer earnings, as trainers may set their rates by the cost of living in their region. Areas with a higher cost of living may allow trainers to charge higher rates to cover their costs.

Specializations and Increased Income

Specializations like strength and conditioning or nutrition coaching can enhance a personal trainer’s income by providing opportunities to obtain niche clients and command higher rates. Nutrition coaching, weight loss, and sports conditioning are the most sought-after specializations for personal trainers.

Specialized personal trainers can generate significantly higher incomes than general personal trainers. The highest-earning personal trainers can make over $100,000 annually, compared to the average salary range of $36,000 to $75,000 for full-time personal trainers. Personal trainers can expand their client base and boost their earnings by investing in advanced certifications and specializing in specific areas.

Strategies for Boosting Personal Trainer Income

Personal trainers may boost their income by diversifying services, engaging in marketing and networking, and investing in continuing education. Personal trainers can draw a broader range of clients and enhance their income by offering additional services, such as group classes or nutrition coaching.

Personal trainers can expand their client base and boost earnings through effective marketing and networking.

Diversifying Services

Offering additional services, such as group classes or nutrition coaching, can increase a personal trainer’s income by attracting personal training clients with a wider range of needs. Group classes provide numerous potential advantages, such as increased revenue, time efficiency, and client social support.

Nutrition coaching can be a profitable revenue stream, allowing trainers to generate more income without increasing their workload. By diversifying services and catering to various clients’ needs, personal trainers can expand their client base and maximize their income potential in the fitness industry.

Marketing and Networking

Personal trainers can expand their client base and boost earnings through effective marketing and networking. Some marketing strategies for personal trainers include:

  • Writing for reputable media outlets
  • Defining their ideal client and developing their personal training brand
  • Creating high-quality content on their website and guest blogging
  • Leveraging social media

Networking can also provide numerous benefits for personal trainers regarding income, such as building connections with other professionals in the fitness industry, accessing new opportunities, and developing a positive reputation.

By effectively marketing and networking, personal trainers can increase their visibility and attract more clients, ultimately boosting their income.

Continuing Education

Continuing education and advanced certifications can lead to higher pay rates and more specialized clientele. Continuing Education (CE) for Personal Trainers includes a range of professional development activities, such as:

  • workshops
  • seminars
  • online courses
  • certifications
  • conferences

Investing in ongoing education and acquiring additional certifications can help personal trainers enhance their knowledge and skills, increasing their attractiveness to clients and employers. This augmented expertise can result in higher-paying job opportunities and the possibility to charge higher rates for their services.


A personal trainer’s salary depends on various factors, including certifications, experience, work setting, and geographic location. By obtaining reputable certifications, diversifying services, marketing, and networking effectively, and pursuing continuing education, personal trainers can increase their income potential and build a successful career in the fitness industry. With dedication and hard work, personal trainers can thrive in this rewarding profession and help countless individuals achieve their fitness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you make a lot of money as a personal trainer?

Yes, you can make good money as a personal trainer. Even entry-level personal trainers can make upwards of $25 an hour, and experienced trainers can make up to $100 an hour. The median pay for a fitness trainer or instructor is also reported to be $40,700 per year ($19,57 per hour). If you take the initiative and manage your business effectively, you can make much money as a personal trainer.

What kind of personal trainer gets paid the most?

Certified personal trainers with specialized expertise and experience in particular areas of fitness, such as sports medicine, are the highest-paid personal trainers. Such trainers typically command higher salaries due to their specialized skills.

How can obtaining a personal trainer certification impact my earnings?

Obtaining a personal trainer certification can significantly boost your earning potential, enabling you to charge higher rates and draw more clients.

How can I increase my income as a personal trainer?

Increase your income as a personal trainer by diversifying your services, marketing, networking, and investing in continuing education.

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.

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