Comprehensive Guide on How to become a Personal Trainer

Who is a Personal Trainer? Who is a Personal Trainer

So before we start, let us first discuss about the different types of Fitness Trainers. Now a fitness trainer is a certified professional who is trained to help meet the goals and expectations of his/her client. Now as per Australian Fitness Industry we can classify them into :

  • Fitness Instructors – These professionals are also known as Gym Instructor or Exercise Instructor. Fitness Instructor is involved with a particular fitness center or a gym and focus more on group exercises, group trainings. Education needed is Fitness 3 Certification.
  • Personal Trainers – These professionals are involved in one to one training with client and they can operate out of a fitness center, home, outdoors and online (which is a latest trend in Fitness Industry). Qualifications needed are both Fitness 3 and Fitness 4 Certifications.
  • Specialized Trainers – These professionals are employed in health centers, rehab centers, sports facilities and work in coordination with other certified health professionals. Qualifications needed is Diploma in Fitness.

Both need to understand the client needs and goals, whether the client wants general weight loss, general diet plan or if client is looking for a improvements for a specific body part. Both will need to offer advice and motivation to the client but relationship with client is much more intimate and close in the case of personal training.

Key Attributes for becoming a Personal Trainer?

How to become a personal trainer is a question often asked? But before answering that let us look at some key skills required for becoming a successful trainer.

  1. Good Communication and Listening Skills – Listening to client carefully and then communicating back in a right manner is very important part of your profile.
  2. Healthy and Fit Body – Your personality and your fitness levels will go a long way in building a good image of you in client’s mind.
  3. Good Knowledge – There are lots of areas which you need to master like human anatomy, exercise equipments handling, latest workouts and diet plans and many more. You will need both theoretical and practical knowledge to help clients reach their goals.
  4. High on energy and lots of patience – These two might seem poles apart but you need great energy to motivate and at same time have lots of patience and keep working with clients day in day out to achieve those small milestones set. It is important to stay committed to the job and not get frustrated with clients.

Also as per Ezypay Fitness Survey some of the important attributes that a potential employer looks for when hiring are present in the image below, check them out.

[quote style=”boxed”]Top 3 Factors are Experience, Personality and Qualification[/quote]

Personal T Skills

What do Personal Trainers Do?

Now this is a very important section about personal trainer job description, because it will describe what your day would be like, what will you actually do. Since you will be working one on one with the clients you will be mostly doing any of the following activities during the day :Trainer Job

  • Performing Fitness Assessments – These can range from Cardio Assessment, Strength Assessment and Postural Assessment. All of these are done so that you can judge client’s initial fitness levels, any signs of muscular imbalances.
  • Designing Fitness Programs – Based on your assessments you will be designing customized plans for each of your clients. These will include what type of exercises on each day, how many repetitions, what is the diet plan etc.
  • Monitoring the Progress of Fitness Programs – Based on how a client is progressing, you might have to alter the exercises, change weights, make them do more advanced exercises and so on. Along with this you will need to assess what are the changes in his measurements from the initial assessments. Finally showing these changes and improvements to client and further increasing their motivation levels is all part of your job.
  • Administrative Tasks – These can range from taking fees, answering questions related to the gym, marketing activities (more so if you have your own studio), business reports preparation.
  • Self Training – And after all these you also need to work out, exercise, stay in top shape. Don’t forget or neglect your own daily exercise schedule.

You also need to understand why clients hire PT? Some of the improvement areas or goals that they are looking to achieve are highlighted in the infographic below, it is important you understand these factors and incorporate into client’s training programs so that you achieve higher customer satisfaction.

[quote style=”boxed”]Mostly clients are looking to get better results and extra motivation by hiring a PT[/quote]

Fitness Goals To Hire Personal Trainer

(Image courtesy : Ezypay Fitness Survey)

So overall the job is very different from normal desk jobs you get to meet new people, you get to workout, stay healthy, eat healthy, motivate people, bring a smile to their faces, and be a valuable contributor to the society by helping others in need.

Qualifications for Personal Trainer

Qualifications which a prospective employer in Australia look for, are related to 2 courses that you need to clear. These are Certificate III and IV in fitness.

In order to start working as a PT you will need to complete Certificate IV in fitness. Also note that prerequisite for application to Certificate IV Fitness is that you must have already complete Certificate III in fitness.

Cert 3 Fitness allows you to work as a

  • Fitness Instructor
  • Gym Instructor
  • Exercise Instructor
  • Aqua Instructor

After completing Cert 4 Fitness you can gain employment in following areas :

  • Gyms, Fitness Clubs, Health Clubs
  • Cruise Ships
  • Resorts and Spas
  • Outdoor Fitness Clubs
  • Personal Training Studio
  • Group Fitness Studio

While doing the Cert 4 course you can also specialize in following areas :

  • Older Adult Training – This will help you in delivering training programs for older people in coordination with health and medical practitioners.
  • Child Training – This will allow you to deliver exercise programs for children, younger segments.
  • Advanced Aqua Training – You can take water based classes and deliver water based training exercises for clients.

More detailed info about these certifications is present here.

Training Institutes

There are many registered training organizations which are authorized to provide training which will help you to complete these certifications. Some of these are :

TAFE CollegesTAFE is South Australia based college which is the largest training provider delivering over 800 courses to over 83,000 students. TAFE is registered with Australia Skills Quality Authority. Refer to the below table for Fees and Duration of different personal training courses TAFE provides.

Course National Code Duration (Study Hours) Half Yearly Fees Annual Fees
Certificate III SIS30313 489 $419 $838
Certificate IV SIS40210 515 $570 $1,140
Diploma in Fitness SIS50210 508 $757 $1,514

Private Training Providers – These providers charge more money but are able to complete the courses in less duration. Go through each of their websites in detail and ensure that they provide Cert 3 and Cert 4, not Certificate I or Certificate II which will not help you in getting jobs in reputable gyms, fitness centers, fitness studios.

There are also many higher education institutes, community education centers which offers these certifications. Also note that duration of these certifications will vary from college to college.

All these training providers deliver either face to face training which maybe full time or part time. Also all of these now provide personal training courses online. Ensure that for Online Personal Training courses you have regular interaction in form of webinars, hangouts so that you do not feel alone and demotivated. A good online course will have :

  • Easy and detailed notes
  • Access to fellow teachers and a forum for students interactions
  • Access to practical learning

It is important that before selecting these RTOs you must do proper research and ask few of the below questions before enrolling :

  • What is the duration of the course?
  • Are there any additional charges apart from fees? (Some colleges charge for equipments, books)
  • How is the course delivered?
  • How will the assessment be done? What is the weightage of practical and theory in the final exam?
  • Ask about facilities and if possible have a visit to campus and check the feedback with existing students

All registered RTOs can be found by visiting


Now after completing the certifications above mentioned it is important that you register with any one of the 2 organizations mentioned below.

  1. Fitness AustraliaFitness Australia is the national health and fitness industry association which is not for profit organization with over 26,000 registered exercise professionals, fitness businesses, industry suppliers.
  2. Physical Activity Australia – This was earlier known by the name Kinect Australia. It is mainly a not for profit organization which promotes physical activity, healthy and active living.

Both are Health and Fitness Industry Associations. There are some requirements you have to meet for registering with these organizations –

Fitness Australia Registration

  • If you have complete a minimum of Certificate III in fitness you are eligible for registration for Fitness Instructor but for PT registration you need completion of Certificate IV.
  • You hold a Senior First Aid and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate.
  • Also ensure that you do the registration within 2 years of passing the certificate exam else you are required to complete 20 Continuing Education Credits.

Registration Price is $250 and it can be done online.

After you register with Fitness Australia, it means the trainer has :

  • Completed a fitness certification
  • Holds Senior First Aid and CPR Certification
  • PT License granted
  • Is eligible for professional insurance

Physical Activity Registration

Again the requirements are very similar as those of Fitness Australia. The registration price is $177 and it is valid for 2 years after which you need to renew your membership.

Advantages of Registration

  1. You get instant recognition across Australia being registered exercise professional.
  2. You get access to industry experts, peers, clients, employers.
  3. You are eligible for getting professional insurance at affordable rates.
  4. Fitness Australia registration is transferable with REPS UK, REPS NZ, ICREPS in Europe.

It is important that you complete 20 Continuing Education Credits (CEC) every two years to maintain your registration with these organizations. CEC also help you learn new skills, help you to advance your career and enhance your skills.

Personal Trainer Jobs Opportunities

Fitness Jobs are most rewarding and satisfying. You are burning those calories, reducing stress levels, motivating and helping others and earning money by doing all of these. So let us discuss now where all you can find personal training jobs :

  • Gym/Fitness Centers/Fitness Studios – So if you are new to this field, it makes sense to apply to some reputed Gyms near your area. Why? It is an easier option, attracting clients, selling to them and other business related things you don’t need to focus upon. You just need to focus on meeting you client goals, and slowly building your reputation as a good fitness trainer. Also you are in a great learning environment where you get to build great skills working with other qualified fitness professionals.
  • Cruise Ships – What better way to travel around the world in luxury, and at the same time earn money by working as a trainer on a cruise ship. These jobs are highly rewarding but at the same time challenging as you are working in an unpredictable environment. Also you get to meet new people and helps you build contacts which are important if you want to start your own studio some day.Cruise Fitness Jobs
  • Spas or Resorts – Another great option, as most five star resorts and good quality spas provide fitness trainers in their facilities to their guests. You get to work in some of those exotic islands and hospitality industry is ever growing.
  • Corporate Offices – This is a big sector which is coming up. Corporate Wellness jobs are the next big thing. You may start doing this part time as these programs are held during the daytime. So as most of clients in gyms prefer to work out in early morning or evening, you get a chance to add more revenue as a part time Corporate Wellness expert. You can organize boot-camp classes, competitions, lunch time nutrition sessions and so on. Also you meet lots of potential trainees by working in corporate sector.
  • Rehabilitation Centers/Health Clinics/Sports Clubs – Working at these is more suited for Specialised Fitness Trainers who have passed Diploma in Fitness as this may involve working with clients who are recovering from injuries, recovering from illness, clients in requirement of sports conditioning etc.

Above personal training careers options are more suited for trainers who want to work as an employee and gain some experience and knowledge under their belt. You may look at this guide to find out roles and careers other than PT in Australian Fitness Industry.

Once you do it is time to move on the next level which is opening your own personal training business. You earn much higher income, there is more flexibility, and you get to choose your own clients to work with. Let us look at various options :

  • In Home Training – This involves traveling to your client homes and delivering the sessions. This option allows you to save on the rental cost of your own studio, allows you to work in various locations. But you need to manage your time well, carry your own equipments around the city and manage travel around city in your own vehicle.
  • Own Studio – Once you have accumulated good financial wealth and have a good brand name of yourself with some good network, you can open your own fitness studio. You have to rent out a space, buy various equipments, hire some staff to manage the gym, and very important you will need to purchase liability insurance for yourself and for other trainers in your studio.
  • Online Personal Training – Very new field but since all businesses are going online, personal trainer careers online is something you might want to consider. You can create a membership site where you have standardized programs, specialized courses, customized and one to one online coaching. Based on course type and membership duration you can charge fees. You can lower your costs significantly, you have enhanced reach, and you can recurring revenue if you are able to create a high value product for your customers.

You may want to check out our guide on how to start your own PT business by clicking here.

Personal Trainer Salary

As per the Sportspeople Workplace Survey 2013, some interesting facts are :

  • Fitness Jobs salaries have decreased by 6.7%
  • Sydney and Melbourne are leaders for jobs in fitness, sports and aqua.
  • Mean Full Time Salary for males in sports, fitness and aqua is $70,884 while for females it is close to $59,223.
  • Mean Full Time Salary in Fitness sector is $53,392.
  • Mean Full Time Salary in Aquatics sector is $65,857.

The below table captures Salary range and Median Salary in Australia for Prsnl Trainers (Source : Payscale AU)

Type Range of Salary Median Salary
Hourly Rate AU$17-$61 AU$24
Annual Salary AU$34,382-$123,992 AU$41,449

Let us now look which PT Salary by various regions (courtesy : Payscale AU).

  • National Average Salary comes close to AU$50,000
  • PTs in Gold Coast and Canberra earn about 25% more than AU$50,000 making these hot zones for PT Jobs (AU$62,500)
  • Sydney is at third spot in terms of PT Salary with average of AU$58,500
  • Adelaide, Perth are below the national average by 1% and 2% respectively

PT Salary

Now these salary figures are more reflective of trainers who are working in gyms, fitness centers therefore if you have your own business then you can charge between $20-$100+ per hour rates.

So for a rough calculation assume you have 5 clients and in a week you have 5 training sessions one on one with them for a hour. Taking an approximate rate of $60 per hour, you can make $1500 per week which translates to $78,000 annual salary. And frankly once you have your own business, then there is no upper limit. You can do any of these to earn more

  • Increase number of clients
  • Increase in your hourly rate
  • Increase in number of sessions

At the same time focus on reducing your administrative expenses, marketing expenses, equipment and other maintenance charges.

Insurance Cover

PT should have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance. If you are already registered with Fitness Australia or Physical Activity Australia then you can avail insurance from them at lower costs.

Professional Indemnity protects you for claims that arise from third party in this the client who may press charges that due to your negligence they incurred a loss, in the form of body injury, financial loss, damage to property.

Public Liability insures for claims against you for body injury, damage to property to a third party which may occur due to the operation of your business as a fitness trainer.

Below is a sample of Insurance cost taken from Physical Activity Australia website :

Type 1 Year Policy 2 Year Policy
Public Liability Insurance ($10 Mn), Professional Indemnity Insurance ($5 Mn) $115 $189
Public Liability Insurance ($20 Mn), Professional Indemnity Insurance ($10 Mn) $135 $225

Personal Training Insurance is advisable for trainers who operate their own business because if you are employed in a gym then the gym owner usually takes care of the insurance for personal trainers. But if you are on your own or run your own studio it is advisable that you take the insurance cover for any potential claims.

So we hope you learnt from our Comprehensive Guide on Personal Training, if you have any doubts or questions feel free to ask them in the comments section.