Jobs for fitness trainers are growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You don't need to complete a bachelor's degree to become a fitness trainer, though some B.A. programs are available that can be used as a path toward becoming a personal trainer. Most personal trainers complete a certificate program, but some start with nothing more than a high-school diploma and some personal experience.
If you like the structure of a four-year degree program, there are many options available. The names of the appropriate degrees varies according to the university, but some common options include exercise science, health and fitness management, exercise physiology and physical education. These programs focus on the science behind exercise and how it affects the body, not just on specific movements and how they can be used to attain health or weight loss. Those who complete these degrees have many more careers options besides personal training, such as becoming a teacher, coach or physical therapist.
Most personal trainers complete a certification program rather than a degree program. Certification programs focus on specific skills and techniques that personal trainers will need to work with clients and help them meet their health and fitness goals. The BLS reports that most employers prefer to hire certified personal trainers, and that certification is often required before personal trainers can begin working with clients one on one. Advanced certification, which allows trainers to work with athletes or with those who are injured or ill, requires completion of a degree program.
Most personal trainers will not have to administer medical aid. However, emergency situations may arise that could require the administration of CPR. Becoming certified in CPR or in providing first aid in a medical emergency can help personal trainers increase their job opportunities. In some cases, this additional training may be included in a certification program or offered as an option.
Personal trainers have to look the part, as well. That means they have to be physically fit themselves, which requires extensive personal training for their own benefit. Personal trainers don't need to be body builders, but they do need to be fit, and they do need to be able to model proper form and technique when performing exercises with clients. They also need to have the strength to spot clients when performing challenging exercises and lifting heavy weights.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Fitness Trainer or Instructor
- The University of Tennessee Knoxville: Exercise Science Major Guide
- Texas State University: ESS Course Descriptions
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Fitness Trainers and Instructors
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.