June 27

By Ralph

June 27, 2019


So how long does it take to become a personal trainer?

To be honest, it depends on quite a few factors. Some of those factors are easily within your control, and others not so much.

Now before I get into those factors that will determine how quickly you can become a trainer, I would like to ask you another question.

What kind of trainer are you looking to be? Are you looking to be a trainer that helps people exercise to make some side money?

Or are you looking to actually help people change their lives for the better and make a career out of it?

The reason I ask this is, the latter requires a decent amount of knowledge when it comes to helping people live healthier lives.

Being a good trainer requires understand of the body and how it works. This is knowledge that can’t be taught on some website alone.

And if you’re thinking about getting employed at a gym, most require that you become satisfied.

So the type of trainer you want to be is definitely a factor when trying to figure out how long it will take.

Choosing The Right Certification Program

When it comes to getting certified, there are a few ways in which you can go about that.

Do keep in mind that depending on the type of employment you’re looking to get into, the type of certification you get is crucial.


For example, if you plan on working at a big box gym, they may require you to have a certificate from an accredited program.

However, if you plan on becoming an independent trainer, then the type of certificate you need will be dependent on your clientele.

So one way to get certified is through a university or community college. Each institute has its guidelines for how long it will take for you to complete their program.

You can also use online methods like I did. I got certified through NASM, which is a highly accredited program.

It is accepted by most gyms or studios, and is known by many fitness professionals in the industry.

When first signing up to the NASM program, they give you 6 months to study and take the exam. I was able to study, attend seminars, take and pass the exam in four months.

I was actually ready to take it in three, but I thought I’d give myself another month just to make sure.

There are other programs like ACE, that give you around the same amount of time. So depending on how much you prepare, you can get certified in less than six months

After You Get Certified, What’s Next?

Once you become certified, the only thing left to do is decide the type of employment you want.

You could either work at a big box gym, studio, or do like me and go as an independent.

Each has its pros and cons, so it’s important to know what kind of trainer you want to be.

And what I mean by that is, are you ok with someone dictating your hours for you? Or would you rather work for yourself?

For me, I hated the idea of working for someone and I knew that the pay wasn’t that great for those that worked in a gym.

So for me, it made more sense to train independently.

This allowed me more freedom to create my own schedule and have more control over my earnings.

However, the difficult part was finding space to train out of. In the beginning, I was training clients out of gyms, which wasn’t allowed.

So I had to make sure I worked out with them a bit to not make it so obvious.

How Much Money Can Personal Trainers Make?

If you plan on working for a big box gym, unfortunately your income will be limited. This is especially true if you lack the experience.

I can remember going for an interview at a local gym, and looking at their compensation plan.

I quickly knew that I would have to work extremely hard to make decent money as a trainer starting off.

I think it was like $6 for half hour sessions. The more experience you get, the more compensation that is given.

But I said to myself, I know I can make more money going independently.

So after the interview, I sent them an email to let them know that I was no longer interested in the position, and thanked them for their time.

But if you decide to go independently, you will have more control over how much you can charge clients.

This will also depend on your location since each state has different financial structures economically.

For my situation, I was able to charge anywhere from $30 to $40 depending on how many times the client saw me during the week.

Even though this wasn’t much, I was making much more compared to what I would make working at a gym.

So this is something to strongly consider once you’ve successfully completed your certification exam.

If you’re a newbie, then it may be a good idea to get started at a gym. But if you’re a risk taker like me, then venture out and go independent.

You may find it very much worth your time.

Is it Worth It?

When I’m trying to decide if something is worth it or not, I usually think of three things.

  • Utility
  • Enjoyment
  • Cost

If you think of these three things when determining if something is worth it or not, you may be able to answer the question. So let’s quickly go over each one.

Utility - I tend to think of this term as how something will be used. The reason you’re probably thinking about becoming a personal trainer is either because you want to help people get healthier, or you just can see yourself working at a desk.

Or maybe it’s both. So unless you have an alternative way to make a living, becoming a trainer will give you the satisfaction that you’re doing something productive with your life. That alone may be reason enough to say it’s worth it.

Enjoyment - I’ll be honest with you, the life of a personal trainer isn’t easy. And I mean this in terms of making money.

But if you compare it to the brain dead desk job I used to have before I became a trainer, it was a breath of fresh air.

What made it even better was my choice to go independent. Being able to do as I please when it came to working with clients, it allowed me the freedom to control my life.

Also there’s so much to learn when it comes to helping people reach their fitness goals. So I constantly had to keep myself updated on everything related to fitness.

Unlike my office job where I was doing the same thing day in and day out. So I definitely enjoyed it if you compare it to the alternative.

Cost - I paid about $1,100 to get certified through NASM. considering that this cost was an investment in a career I had a passion for, I definitely saw it as worth it.

I was able to learn things about the body I didn’t know before getting certified, and I’ve been working out for years.

And even though I currently am no longer certified as a trainer, the experience I gained from the whole process is something I will never forget.

It’s a huge reason I am where I am now when it comes to my business.

So if you’re trying to figure out if becoming a personal trainer is worth it, I would definitely consider these three things.

It will give you a better understanding of your passion for helping people live healthier lives.

Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Training Clients as Your Only Source of Income

If there was one big negative to being a personal trainer, it would be not getting enough clients each month to pay the bills.

Even if you can fill your schedule on a weekly basis, there’s always the potential for clients to cancel.

Not only that, but there are times during the year where people are on vacation and not looking to get into shape at the moment.

This type of inactivity can leave your income unpredictable on a month to month basis.

That’s why I would recommend finding different ways in which to utilize your knowledge in health and fitness.

The great thing about the fitness industry is that there are many opportunities in which you can earn an income.

As long as you’re creative, you can supplement your training income and not stress about being able to pay the bills every month.

Making Money In The Fitness Industry

If you plan on reaching financial success as a fitness professional, then you need to learn how to be creative.

The fitness industry gives you ample opportunity to make money if you’re willing to think outside the box.

And as a personal trainer, knowing that business can be a bit inconsistent if all you do is train clients. It will be crucial for you to find ways to monetize on your skills.

Some ways in which you can do that are:

  • Host boot camps
  • Provide personalized workouts and meal plans
  • Offer in home personal training
  • Recommend products and get paid a commission
  • Build a Website
  • Offer Coaching

There are many other ways in which you can monetize your skills as a fitness professional, but these tend to be the most popular.

Like I said, if you’re creative enough, you can find many others ways to create income for yourself.

The great thing about the fitness industry is that there is a lot of opportunity to make money. Which is why it is important to develop yourself into a business person to get those creative juices flowing.

Because as an employee of a gym, you’re creativity is limited since your most valuable asset...TIME, is being taken from you.

Therefore your choice between working for a gym, or going independent will be a very important one.

How I Make a Living In The Fitness Industry

As much as I loved working with people and helping them get into shape, I hated the fact that my income was dependent on training clients.

Also, the only way I could make more money was if I trained more clients.

Which would mean less time to do things I enjoyed like hanging out with friends and traveling when I wanted to.

Not only that, the increase in clients didn’t mean more happiness. All I was guaranteed was a chance at getting burnt out.

So I had to find a way create more than one stream of income. Which would release me from the need to rely on training clients as my only source of income. 

So my goal was to find a way to use my knowledge as a fitness professional, and help more people with less effort.

You see as a trainer, I could only help those who I saw in person. Therefore I was limited in the help I could offer to people.

So I decided to start a health and fitness website that allowed me to share my knowledge and recommend products for visitors to buy.

And if any purchases were made, I would receive a commission.

This type of business is called affiliate marketing, which has helped me earn 5 figures in my current online business.

With billions of people using the internet everyday, the income potential is unlimited.

Because I was able to make a full time income with this business, I no longer had to train full time anymore.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the time it takes to become a personal trainer is dependent on a few things.

Like which type of program you choose to get certified with, and how much studying you put in to passing the exam.

But what’s more important is once you become a certified, how do you plan on creating a decent income for yourself.

You already know that being employed at a gym will limit your income significantly.

So going independent will give you more of an opportunity to maximize your earning potential in the fitness industry.

Now once you decided on the type of trainer you want to be, figuring out how to create income for yourself is crucial.

For me, using the internet made too much sense since you’re able to reach more people with less effort.

But in order for me to take advantage of this online world, I had to get the training first. So if you’re interested in learning, then I would recommend you do the same.


So I want to hear from you. What are you hoping to accomplish as a personal trainer? Do you think you could be successful with training clients as your only source of income.

If not, what are your goals and plans to create more income for yourself? Please share your thoughts and opinions below.

About the author

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