How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)

Jun 8, 2021 by

Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer – Recreation

Are you looking to start a career as a certified personal trainer? If so, you’ll love today’s post where we outline how to get certification and become a successful fitness instructor.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to help people lead healthier lifestyles. Perhaps you already have a different job in health and fitness but would like to switch to personal training.

Do you already have experience in sports and fitness? If that’s a resounding yes, specializing as a certified personal trainer is a great career move in what is a $10-billion dollar industry that’s still growing.

Personal training is a challenging but rewarding career path perfect for passionate men and women who want to help people get the most out of their fitness routines.

Isn’t that why you are here today; to help others and enjoy a flexible career while at it? If you want to become a certified personal trainer every employer wants, you’ll benefit greatly by reading this guide to the very end.

In the next few paragraphs, we cover personal trainer career outlook, job requirements, why you need certification and much more so you can hit the ground running.

Without further ado, let us get to work because there is always a lot to learn and so little time. Please don’t forget to drop your thoughts and suggestions in the comment box at the end of the article.


What Do Certified Personal Trainers (CPT) Do?

For the absolute beginner considering your options in the fitness industry, it might be hard to tell what personal trainers do.

Heck, you probably don’t even know the requirements to enter a personal trainer program. So, how can anyone expect you to know the ins and outs of personal training?

Well, let us start with some background info about personal trainers and what they normally do, even when they aren’t helping clients to burn fat or build muscles.

A certified personal trainer is basically a fitness professional who pushes you to follow through with your exercise regime for the best results.

Personal trainers are ultimate multitaskers who wear many different hats on a daily basis. Here are some of their duties:

  • Access a client and create personalized workout plans according to the client’s health, fitness skill level, and other factors
  • Guide clients in performing various workout routines to improve fitness and avoid injuries
  • Design diet plans that ensure clients are realizing their goals
  • Perform emergency first aid if a client is injured during a workout session
  • Offer clients useful information about fitness and wellness in general
  • Track the client’s progress and adjust the exercises as required
  • Tending the front desk at the gym
  • Market their services or facilities
  • Et cetera

Personal trainers juggle many balls, but at the center of it all, they are simply super-helpful people who want you to achieve your fitness goals.

How Much Do Certified Personal Trainers Make?

Personal training is one of the best paying careers in the fitness industry. Keep in mind that your salary depends on a number of factors such as education, location, client, employer and experience.

All in all, personal trainers make a pretty decent sum. Plus, the more education, experience and certifications you get, the more marketable you become.

That’s right; the sky is the limit. For instance, if you know a thing or two about running a business, you could start a fitness practice and make a killing.

But where are the numbers, amigo? How much do personal trainers actually make?

Well, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, certified personal trainers earned a median annual salary of $40,510 in May, 2020. The highest 10% earned more than $76,550 and the lowest 10% made a little less than $21,640 per annum.

From a different source,, the average annual salary for personal trainers is $62,337 as of April, 2021. Depending on the aforementioned factors i.e., education, experience, etc., your salary can range between $45,010 and $76,636.

If you climb the corporate ladder and become, say, the president and CEO at RadNET, Inc., you earn as high as $3.1 million per year. At the end of the day, how much you make in fitness depends largely on your hard work and how far you’re willing to go.

The best part is personal trainers have a bright future. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for fitness trainers are expected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations.

That out of the way, let us now look at how to become a certified personal trainer that rocks. But before that, do you really need certification?

Why Do You Need Personal Trainer Certification?

While some people started their personal training careers without certifications (but later got them), it’s crucial to earn as many industry certifications as you can. Why? For starters, very few employers are willing to hire trainers without certification.

Secondly, earning certifications means you have the necessary knowledge and skills to help clients achieve their goals effectively, and more importantly, safely.

Without the right education aka certifications, you might injure a client and end up with huge legal fees. You might not have the necessary skills to meet your goals, which makes you a less attractive candidate in job interviews.

Certifications also equip you with a lot of other skills that can make you highly successful as a personal trainer. For example, with the right training, you can administer procedures such as CPR or AED in case a client is injured under your watch.

You also learn other things such as professionalism, ethics, leadership, communication, analytical thinking, biomechanics, and scientific principles of exercise, among other important topics.

Earning certifications is incredibly easy thanks to a horde of nationally (and, at times, universally) accredited certifying bodies such as NASM, ACSM, ACE, and AFAA, just to mention a few.

Now that you understand why it’s important to earn certifications, how do you become a certified personal trainer?

How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Becoming a certified personal trainer is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is get some basic education, take certifications, build a portfolio, get the job done and never stop learning. Here’s how to become a CPT who never runs out of work.

Requirements to Enter a Personal Trainer Program

To join a reputable trainer program and become a CPT, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have at least a high school diploma, GED or equivalent
  • Be over 18 years old
  • Take a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) course beforehand. Many personal training programs won’t accept your application without CPR/AED certifications. If you don’t know where to start, check with your local Red Cross branch.
  • Register with an accredited personal trainer program such as NASM or the other certifying institutions we mentioned earlier. When choosing your trainer program, ensure they have certifications for the personal training specialty you’d like to pursue.
  • Select a study program. You want to choose your specialty based on skills, professional goals and personal interests. Do you want to work with specialized crafts such as Yoga or Pilates? Perhaps, you prefer group settings to individual sessions. Choose your path wisely and begin your training. You’ll pay between $100 and $1000 for the training.
  • Take and pass the exam. Once you’ve covered the course material and had some hands-on practice, you must then pass the final certification exam. Once you pass the exam, you become a certified personal trainer and can now add “CPT” to your title. As simple as A, B, C. Here’s a NASM practice test showing you what to expect, so you can prepare for the exam adequately.

Where Can You Find Employment Once Certified?

When you become a CTP, you’re eligible for a number of jobs in different working environments. You can work at hospitals, community centers, and government facilities.

That’s not all. As more companies invest in the health of their employees, personal trainers will find more opportunities in the corporate world.

If you like flying solo, however, you can follow your dream as an independent contractor. You could be anything you want and work for any fitness institution in the world. And do you know what? There are many roles to fill.

All in all, try your best to gain work experience as fast as you can. The best way to do that is by joining a mentorship program with personal trainers and fitness experts in your local area, at events and online.

Also, continue learning, build your portfolio, market your services and network extensively with other personal trainers and peers in your niche.

If you need some help, you can start your search on websites such as, and

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