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Personal Trainer Salary, Career Forecast, Trends, and Training

Already in high demand, the personal training field is steadily growing as people realize how much faster and more easily they can achieve their weight loss and fitness goals with the help of a professional trainer. The aging baby boomer generation is the primary demographic hiring personal trainers, and that trend is poised to continue over the next few years.

What Is a Personal Trainer?

Personal trainers provide individualized health and fitness programs to their clients. Some work out of gyms and fitness centers, while others travel to their clients' homes to provide one-on-one or small group training sessions. A personal trainer has the knowledge and skill to assess each client's fitness level and to customize an exercise and lifestyle program geared to their needs and goals.

Some trainers are more knowledgeable about nutrition, while others focus on exercise and fitness, but the end result is the same: personal fitness coaching that guides each client toward a fitter, healthier physique and lifestyle. This is an ideal career for anyone who is driven to excel, highly disciplined, informed about health and fitness, and able to convey their techniques and skills to others as a supportive and motivating teacher.

Personal Trainer Salary and Career Outlook

The average personal trainer salary is dependent on location, employer, experience, and whether trainers work on a full- or part-time basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median personal trainer salary in 2009 was $30,670.

While the middle 50 percent of trainers earned between $19,610 and $44,420 in 2008, the top 10 percent brought home $60,760 and upward. The median hourly wage for personal fitness trainers in 2009 was $14.74.

The states with the highest concentration of fitness professionals include Maryland, Delaware, and Colorado, with the cities of Springfield, Oregon; Pittsfield, Massachusetts; and Boulder, Colorado especially notable for the number of personal training jobs available. The highest personal trainer salary levels in 2009 were found in New York, District of Columbia, and Massachusetts. The top cities for salary were Framingham, Massachusetts; White Plains, New York; and Nassau, New York.

About 228,000 people worked as personal trainers in 2009, and that number is expected to rise sharply by 2018, with a 29 percent increase in job openings anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Personal Trainer Education and Training Online

Personal trainers can enter this field with a variety of education levels, ranging from a high school diploma to a master's or doctorate degree in fitness, physical education, human kinetics, or other health-related fields of study. The majority of personal trainers have completed at least a bachelor's degree, and most are required to have two to four years of experience in order to work for a reputable gym or fitness center.

In most areas, certification is also required. This can be completed through online fitness training or an in-class professional certification course that includes CPR training and an exam. Although certification is important for safety, the most essential preparation for anyone interested in working as a fitness trainer is personal experience and knowledge of the industry.