Becoming A Personal Trainer: A Steady Career Path For Post-Graduates

fitness professional certifications as a personal trainer

Stability, fulfillment, and versatility are essential factors for post-graduates seeking a career. Becoming a personal trainer ticks all these boxes. As a personal trainer, you can carve out a steady career path, fuel your passion for fitness, and even use it as a lucrative side hustle.

Top trainers command premium rates for their professional services. Moreover, if you wish to explore other avenues, your personal training certification can open doors to a variety of fitness-related jobs.

This comprehensive guide is tailored specifically for post-graduates looking for an enriching career or side-job and will detail what you need to study to become a highly sought-after personal trainer.

Why Become a Personal Trainer?

While it might not be an obvious career move for post graduates, there are some great reasons to get a PT certification. For starters, the average personal trainer in the US earns around $66,000 per year as of 2023.

The role of a personal trainer is also one that can be performed in free time, so you can be side hustling your PT job if you wanted.

And personal trainer is also a job that can offer a great safety net for young professionals entering the job market. In addition to this, becoming a personal trainer offers the following benefits too.

  • Impact Lives Positively – Personal trainers actively help clients achieve their fitness goals, contributing directly to their wellbeing.
  • Flexible Hours – Personal training allows for a favourable work-life balance, offering the flexibility to schedule clients around other commitments.
  • Healthy Lifestyle – Personal trainers stay fit while working, embodying the active lifestyle they promote.
  • Space For Growth – With specializations and niche markets, there’s always room for growth and increased income in personal training.

So with all this in mind, let’s move onto the next step.

The Steps to Become a Personal Trainer

Like any job, if you want to become a personal trainer there are a few steps to follow first.

Step 1: Minimum Educational Requirement

The first step towards any personal training certification is holding a high-school diploma or GED. As post-graduates, you already meet this requirement, setting a solid foundation for your journey towards becoming a personal trainer.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Certification

Not all personal training certifications are created equal. NCCA-accredited programs like NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), ACE (American Council on Exercise), ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association), and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) are recognized in the industry. Select the one that aligns with your career objectives and training preferences.

Check out this personal training certification course.

Step 3: Hit the Books

These certification programs generally cover anatomy, physiology, nutrition, exercise programming, client assessment, motivation techniques, communication, and risk management. Studying for your certification takes dedication; most programs recommend 80-100 hours of study over 3-6 months. As recent graduates, you’ll find the commitment akin to tackling a new semester.

Step 4: Examination

After putting in your hours, it’s time to take the certification exam, a multiple-choice evaluation designed to assess your grasp of essential personal training concepts.

Step 5: Supplementary Certifications

In addition to your certification, you’ll need a First Aid or CPR/AED certification, typically available through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. Many fitness facilities require these certifications, which expire after two years and must stay current.

Step 6: Gain Experience

Starting at a local gym or health club can help you hone your skills and build a client base. As you become more comfortable, you may consider transitioning to private training or even starting your personal training business.

Step 7: Stand Out with Specialization

To gain an edge in this competitive market, consider specializing. Corrective Exercise, Performance Enhancement, Nutrition Coaching, and Group Fitness Instruction are popular choices. These specializations distinguish you from other trainers, making you more marketable and allowing you to charge premium rates.

One of the best courses for budding personal trainers is from ISSA. They offer standard certification plus options for specialization as standard with their PT courses.

Read more about ISSA PT courses here.

Beyond Personal Training

Though personal training is a rewarding and stable career, it also offers excellent opportunities for those considering it as a side job. Its flexible hours make it an ideal option to supplement a primary day-job income.

Moreover, a personal training certification can help you segue into other fitness-related careers. You might consider roles in fitness management, corporate wellness, coaching, or sports conditioning. Some personal trainers also use their expertise to write about fitness and health, offering advice and tips online or in print media.

With some savvy marketing, you could even become a fitness influencer too.


For post-graduates seeking a sturdy, enjoyable, and flexible career path, personal training is a fantastic choice. Whether you’re thinking of it as a full-time job, a side gig or a stepping stone to other fitness-related careers, your journey starts with choosing the right certification.

Make sure to sign up for a course to introduce you to the world of personal training. Your passion for fitness can become a lucrative career that helps others live healthier lives.

About Gesten van der Post

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