Personal Trainer Programs and Careers Q&A

What careers can I pursue with a personal athletic training certificate?

Your career as a personal athletic trainer will depend on what level of degree you achieve, as well as what specific type of training you want to practice. If you achieve a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you may have opportunities for athletic training jobs with leadership and managerial elements. And with any certification level, you can decide for yourself what type of athletic training career interests you; for example, you might pursue a career at a gym or fitness club, or you may be more interested in personal training at a hospital or rehabilitation clinic.

What degree programs will I take?

The only education you really need to practice personal training is a certification in the field, but you can definitely enroll in a degree program if that interests you. Should you choose to enroll in a degree program, you can work toward an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree in personal training. As you decide whether you want to earn a certificate or a degree, consider the benefits of both: a certificate is less expensive and can be completed more quickly; a degree will let you advance to manager-type roles during your career.

What can I expect after I submit a request for information to a school?

After you request more information from a program or school, they’ll contact you to talk about opportunities and courses that interest you. You should use this time to get answers to all your questions about personal trainer school. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about curriculum, instructors, accreditation, financial aid and more. The answers you get will help you ultimately choose the program for you.

Is financial aid available for personal training school?

Financial aid is available from a variety of sources. Government financial aid is the most common, but before you can be considered for aid, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other types of financial aid include scholarships, grants, private loans and PLUS loans.

What types of courses will I take?

Personal training coursework generally covers anatomy, nutrition, exercise science and specialized topics such as asthma and arthritis. If you decide to earn an undergraduate degree, you’ll also take liberal arts courses.

Is it better to work for myself or an employer?

Only a small percentage of personal trainers are self employed. Generally, personal trainers can find success working for an employer, such as a hospital, fitness center or civic organization. Some of the benefits of working for someone else include medical benefits and structured hours. Self-employment offers you a flexible schedule, but you’ll need to work hard to maintain a large client base. You’ll also want to consider if you have the right personality to run your own business.

If I work for myself, what else will I need to learn?

Any self-employed individual should take classes in business administration and accounting in order to keep books, manage payroll and keep up on health insurance policy. If you plan on hiring employees you’ll want to take some courses in management or human resources.

Does school accreditation matter for personal training careers?

Accreditation by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is the seal of approval that a personal training program has met the standards and policies accepted by the fitness industry. Without accreditation, you may not be eligible for certain types of financial aid.

What type of licensing (if any) will I need?

Some states have introduced the idea of licensing personal trainers. Most employers (and clients) expect a personal trainer to have certification, which can be earned from a number of organizations.

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