How much does a personal trainer make - CPT salary 2023

How much do personal trainers make?

Well, that depends on a lot of factors.

With an increase in demand for personal trainers, we will be exploring the annual salary of a Personal Trainer, and touch upon the following main points:

Average annual Personal Trainer salary
Factors that may affect a Personal Trainer salary
PT salary and career FAQs

If you are reading this article, you’re probably driven to learn more about the typical Personal Trainer salary.

You may often ask yourself, “what is the average salary for a personal trainer?”

We will definitely provide you with the best current information about the average salary for a Personal Trainer.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

Best Fitness Certification Quiz
Best Fitness Certification Quiz

Exclusive TA Offers

Most Popular Cert
3 Certs for 1
Great Option
Save 25%
Best Cert for you?
Get Free Trial
Good Option
50% off
Good Option
50% off
Good Option
50% off

Business/Employment Models vs. Average Annual Salary Roundup

Business/Employment ModelAverage Annual SalaryProCon
Full-Time$36k-$150kEligible for employee benefits.Minimum wage floor salary.
Part-TimeUnder or around $36kEligible for some employee benefits, and there's extra time for supplemental income.Earns less than full-time trainers.
Self-EmployedVariesYou're the boss!More responsibilities and administrative duties.
1099 ModelVariesYou're the boss!Must adhere to the gym’s price points and training models.
Online Coaching$72,436.00+
$108,436.00+ (Popular trainers)
You earn more by doing less.You are responsible for marketing yourself.
Fitness Business$82,514.00You decide what you earn.Running your own business may be taxing, and require more administrative duties.
Passive IncomeVariesSelf-sustained revenue; it’s a renewable commodity that doesn’t require any active work past initial production.Not 100% passive! (You are still responsible for marketing yourself.)

Average Earnings for Personal Trainers

Now for the main subject of the article: How much money does a Personal Trainer make training clients?

The average salary of a Personal Trainer can vary tremendously across the board, and there are many factors that influence earning potential for personal trainers, including experience and your personal training certification.

But let’s avoid getting fixated on a number before working out the actual inputs and outputs!

For example, when you take the steps to become a Personal Trainer the typical starting salary may be lower than the salary for a Head Personal Trainer or celebrity Fitness Trainer.

Also, it may be that the Personal Trainer average salary with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree is higher than a Head Personal Trainer salary, is higher than an entry-level Personal Trainer salary.

Wow, that was a mouthful!

According to a market survey conducted by ACE., the average certified personal trainer salary has gone up by 12% since 2010.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average Personal Trainer earns around ​$40,390.00 per year.

In the same survey, statistics indicate that in a personal training career, you’d expect to earn a national average of $52,333/year, with an average hourly rate of $26/hour.

Other job titles such as Group Fitness Instructor and Health and Wellness Coach show an annual average of $52,848 and $51,219 respectively, which is in the same ballpark as a Personal Trainer.

As I mentioned, there are so many variables and factors that influence these figures.

So what factors and variables affect making money as a personal trainer?

Factors That Affect A PT Salary

What factors influence how much you make as a PT?

Let’s discuss the following:

  • Location
  • Credentials
  • Years of experience
  • Educational background
  • Employment type
  • Certification provider

So now, let’s go ahead and talk briefly about how these variables can influence your PT salary.

Best Fitness Certification Quiz
Best Fitness Certification Quiz


Location, location, location.

You’ve heard that one before.

In the case of a Certified Personal Trainer income, it’s one of the most crucial factors, because it will determine several factors that all play into your total earnings as a fitness pro.

Just think and compare expensive cities like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to other small lesser-known cities/

The first thing a location will decide is the population size because often times the number of people in your area will affect how much money you can make, it’s certainly a numbers game, will affects the personal trainer job outlook.

The income bracket will influence how many people are likely to pay for your services as well as how much you can realistically charge them.

Wealthier people with more assets and disposable income tend to take pride in being able to pay for the best and most exclusive service, and they usually determine how good something is based on the cost.

Quote 1

According to ACE, the top-earning location is North Western United States ( Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana) with the Southwest coming in a close second (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah, and Texas).

Across these regions, we see an income split based on qualification and specialization.

In the Northwest region, average annual earns are:

  • Personal Trainer: $56,281
  • Group Fitness Instructor: $76,565
  • Advanced Certification: $47,162 

In the Southwest:

  • Personal Trainer: $60,120
  • Group Fitness Instructor: $56,331
  • Advanced Certification: $58,884

From this data, we can tell that average income location stats also vary based on credentials and scope of activity.

Being a PT is most lucrative in the Southwest while being a Group Fitness Instructor is the go-to career path in the Northwest.

That then brings us to the actual credentials and qualifications, which ones you need, and what the income looks like for each type.


Credentials allow potential employers, clients, and collaborators to verify and authenticate your value, job description, and trustworthiness as an experienced trainer.

Having the right qualifications also allows you access to important insurance, legal protection, and business resources.

And, a higher salary in most cases!

There are 4 basic types of paperwork you should look at before you embark on your journey as a PT, which will also determine how much you can expect to earn.

Let’s take a look!

Prerequisites are credentials you need to have before you can get the main qualifications.

In fitness, your main qualification is typically a personal trainer certification, and to be able to get that, you would normally need a high school diploma along with being at least 18 years old.

These will be your first aid and CPR/AED certs. 

As a caregiver, which is what personal training essentially makes you, you need to be able to deliver the goods as well as deal with the bad, that’s why first aid and CPR are necessary, and so without them, you can’t even work. This is one of your basic personal trainer responsibilities.

The next type of credential is certification.

A NCCA personal trainer certification is the most common and accepted form of qualification for fitness professionals, but you have to use some discernment when going for additional certification, program costs, if it counts toward continuing education units (CEUs), and most importantly, how much you’ll now be earning.

For example, one of the highest-earning certifications types is a group fitness instructor, with a national annual average salary of $52,848.00. If you’re interested in how to become a group exercise instructor, make sure to investigate the best group fitness certifications.

A nutrition certification also goes a long way with a national average pay of $54,195, while in California it is $64,884. Our Precision Nutrition review explains why we think that is one of the top certs to pick if you want to go along that route and become a nutrition coach.

When it comes to training, top programs include the NASM CPT certification, along with ACE, ISSA, and the NSCA certified personal trainer. If you look at ACE vs NASM, you see that, on average, ACE trainers make slightly more at $51,699 vs $50,075. ISSA average salary is even higher when you compare ISSA vs NASM, with ISSA CPTs earning $58,412 per year.

When you pick a certification make sure to adequately prepare for the test so you don’t have to pay the re-test fees, which can be quite high. If you go with the ACE fitness certification, we at Trainer Academy recommend a quality ACE study guide and ACE practice exam. If you decide on NASM, you might want some NASM flashcards and a NASM practice exam.

Exclusive TA Offers

Most Popular Cert
3 Certs for 1
Great Option
Save 25%
Best Cert for you?
Get Free Trial
Good Option
50% off
Good Option
50% off
Good Option
50% off

Years of Experience

The years of experience you have in your fitness career definitely affect your PT salary.

While entry-level Personal Trainers make an annual $43,677.00 in the United States, more experienced, Personal Trainers earn an annual $58k – $60k.

To break it down even further, the average Personal Trainer in the U.S. who has been in the field makes about $21.00 – $35.00 an hour.

However, full-time Personal Trainers make about $50,000.00 per year with the potential to make a whopping of $130,000.00 per year!

Educational Background

The next type of credential that is known to impact your PT salary is the one earned from tertiary higher education, like going to college or attending a university.

Common PT degrees include kinesiology or exercise science.

The average Personal Trainer salary with a bachelor’s degree is about $50,833.00 per year, which is very similar to the average experienced Personal Trainer annual salary without higher education.

That’s why only about half (52%) of advanced cert holders claim it allows them better income opportunities.

Note also that PTs with advanced degrees may go into research, academia, the healthcare setting, or other exercise science jobs and apply their fitness knowledge in other indirect ways.

Degreed Personal Trainer starting salary in those settings is rough $50k – $78k on an annual basis, which again, is not so far apart from experienced Personal Trainers in the higher-earning percentile.

There are also more highly specialized certifications and degrees you can choose, which have the potential to find you higher paying jobs. There are sports science strength and conditioning degrees you can undergo as an undergrad or in a master program.

In many cases, however, a graduate degree isn’t necessary and the requirements to be a strength and conditioning coach have more to do with the knowledge you can acquire from a good certification. The NSCA CSCS is a highly regarded cert if you decide you want to train athletes, although it is one of the harder exams to pass. If you take it you will want a practice CSCS test and a CSCS study guide to aid you in acing the exam.

Employment Type


Full-time Personal Trainer salary would always vary based on the employer.

Commercial gyms and fitness clubs often have varying pay structures.

You have gyms like LA Fitness and Planet Fitness paying minimum wage for non-training hours, while upmarket gyms such as Equinox might see trainers pocketing over $150k per year.

Furthermore, the typical Planet Fitness Personal Trainer salary, as of this year, sits around approximately $36,000.00.

This is about the same pay that’s offered to Personal Trainers at most other popular commercial gyms.

Another thing to consider when gunning for a full-time position is what sort of benefits you want.

  • 401K: 17%

With most full-time positions, you will get a minimum wage floor salary, then once you actually accrue clientele and run training sessions and/or classes, your pay will go up based on the commission structure.


Part-time Personal Trainer salary is often less from their place of employment, but having the extra time means there is a potential to supplement your income.

According to a salary survey in 2021, the average annual pay for a part-time Personal Trainer in the United States is $34,720.00 per year.

Where are my math geeks at?

For your entertainment, this works out to be approximately $16.69 an hour, which is the equivalent of $668.00 every week or $2,893.00 on a monthly basis.

Also, as far as benefits are concerned, here’s what you can expect as a part-timer:

  • 401K: 5%

Best Fitness Certification Quiz
Best Fitness Certification Quiz


Self-employment in the fitness world means treating yourself and your skills as a business, a one-man or one-woman operation.

A self-employed Personal Trainer salary typically falls between $35k and $66k annually, while earners in the 75th percentile and the top earners generated between $73k and $111k annually!

The one big benefit of being an independent trainer is that you make your own rules, fitness programs, and set your own prices.

Being self-employed does have its tradeoffs, however.

Firstly, you’ll have to say bye-bye to any employee benefits.

You’ll be responsible for your own perks and on-the-job amenities.

Secondly, self-employment means you take on the administrative burdens an employer would normally handle such as marketing, tax, accounting, insurance, legal, and any other day-to-day admin.

When it comes to self-employment in the fitness business, you will still need infrastructure and equipment to conduct your training.

And finally, the most immediate go-to solution is to rent the use of a gym, which means either paying a fixed monthly fee or paying a commission off your earnings, but this would never be an issue if you do house calls.

1099 Model

The 1099 model sort of sits somewhere between being a self-employed private contractor and being employed by a gym or facility.

Salary here can be very lucrative, and your earning potential is what you make it.

It would certainly be much higher than if you worked full-time at the gym, in fact, salary can be as high as $58k – $75k per year.

This is because the gym will contract you as a Head Trainer to run sessions with existing members and personal training clients, and instead of paying you a fixed salary, they simply charge a commission based on an agreed split.

Unlike self-employment where you get to set your own pricing structures and service packages, the 1099 model means you have to adhere to the gym’s price points and training models.

But just keep in mind that you would also need to take care of your own taxes and other admin, just as a self-employed trainer would.

Online Coaching

Online coaching entails creating and delivering prescribed health and fitness solutions based on client health and fitness goals through an online platform or social media.

The entrepreneurial nature of starting an online personal trainer business means you can earn more by essentially doing less.

As of this year, the average Online Personal Trainer salary is approximately $72,436.00 per year, similar to the average private Personal Trainer salary!

Quote 2

The average cost of a custom program is between $100.00 and $200.00 and the average sales figures range between 5 to 10 units per week.

If you are more popular or your brands are more established, you’ll be able to sell more personal and group training programs.

Another important factor in how to be a successful online trainer is the ability to maintain your in-person, offline duties, and clients.

Doing this is often referred to as hybrid training. Either by having online clients and separate real-world clients, or integrating your client’s services with both online and real-world components.

Trainers in this category earn more, approximately $108,436.00 per year on average.

Since the in-person earnings are around $58k per year on average, you simply need to adjust for the time diverted towards online program design, and voila, you have an average income of $36,000.00 for real-world coaching + $72,436.00 for work done online.

Exclusive TA Offers

Most Popular Cert
3 Certs for 1
Great Option
Save 25%
Best Cert for you?
Get Free Trial
Good Option
50% off
Good Option
50% off
Good Option
50% off

Fitness Business

You don’t have to limit yourself to personal training as a fitness professional, you can run your own business!

For instance, if you become a gym owner, you will need a slew of administrative fixtures in place to ensure your business is up to code.

These include:

  • Admin Hardware and Software solutions (up to $2,500/year)
  • Commercial Licenses and Business Permits (cost varies)
  • Equipment Costs (approx $50,000 for a fully equipped gym)
  • Facility Costs(approx $3/sq ft)
  • Legal and Insurance ($200/hr up to $15,000.00)
  • Marketing, Sales, and Advertising (varying recurring costs)
  • Payroll (dependant on payment structure and staff number)
Quote 3

As a business owner, you are no longer self-employed but rather employed by the company you are running.

That means you are back to a fixed monthly income, albeit one you can determine.

That’s why fitness business owners, such as health club owners, net among the highest avg. annual income of any other fitness professional, clocking in at $82,514.00 per year.

According to IHRSA, there are approx 111,055 fitness businesses in the US.

As far as commercial gym franchises, there are about 9,997. In this capacity, fitness has seen $36 billion in revenue in 2019, with franchises accounting for $4billion.

If you want to get into the business of running a gym or business, there are some serious pros and cons to weigh out and it’s something that requires a hefty amount of down-the-road experience.

Passive Income

Passive income is the idea that you can release a product or service that generates self-sustained revenue because it’s a renewable commodity that doesn’t require any active work past initial production.

This is something you can achieve by selling courses, ebooks, and other information products.

What’s the salary of a Personal Trainer in this scenario? Typically anything from as low as $30k to as high as $200k per year.

The thing you are not really told about passive income is that it’s not really 100% passive.

Sure, past the initial work required to create and publish an information product, you will require less direct input, but you will still need to market and promote your product for it to get the traction it needs to generate the sales you want.

Quote 4

Passive income may sound great, but it still actually is a lot of work to get the ball rolling and to keep it rolling.

Having a passive income stream should only come as a complement to your existing business model or employment position, since having influence and reputable status count heavily towards the success and value of information products.

In other words, you need to have an existing and valuable brand presence to create the right level of exposure to make passive income-earning products popular enough to generate a significant income, so this is something you want consider after a bit of experience. If you’re wondering how long does it take to become a personal trainer, this stage is going to be a lot later in your career.

With that being said, when it comes to monetizing your ideas and knowledge, fitness is one of the most lucrative sectors of the information product passive income market, so it’s definitely one to keep tabs on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Your salary as a Personal Trainer can take many shapes and sizes and is influenced by many factors and variables.

Once all is said and done, it all boils down to how you see and value yourself, and what you’re willing to do to confidently secure that value.

Personal training is valued as the 18th best job in America in terms of quality of life.

It certainly brings a lot of fulfillment and allows you to maintain a healthy lifestyle yourself.

The following complete reviews will serve as a guide for learning more about other certifications you can get on top of your personal training certification that may definitely increase your salary!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

See if our exam pass guarantee study system is right for you!


Try The CSCS MVP For Free 🤓

See if our exam pass guarantee study system is right for you!


Try The ACSM MVP For Free 🤓

See if our exam pass guarantee study system is right for you!


Try The ACE MVP For Free 🤓

See if our exam pass guarantee study system is right for you!


Try The NASM MVP For Free 🤓

Which Certification is best for you?

See if our exam pass guarantee study system is right for you!


Try The ISSA MVP for free 🤓

Find out if our study system is right for you!


Try the NSCA MVP for free 🤓

Scroll to Top