Personal Trainer Job Description: [An Eye-Opener in 2023]

Are personal trainer roles intriguing to you?

Do you envision yourself in the personal trainer position?

Maybe, you even ask yourself, “what do personal trainers do?”

In this article, you learn basic personal trainer career info. and a comprehensive personal trainer job description.

Personal trainer responsibilities and duties
What you do
What you do not do
Necessary skills
Education requirements
Continuing education
Experience requirements
Places you can work

As you embark on educating yourself on the ins and outs of the personal trainer life, you will feel much more confident in your decision to become a fitness professional.

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Best Fitness Certification Quiz

Let’s move forward!

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Responsibilities and Duties

Are you hooked on fitness?

Is training all you do and dream about?

You will also have the opportunity to be your own boss, and set your hours accordingly.

But first, it is very important to know the duties and the responsibilities of your job as a personal trainer.

The scope of practice for personal trainers has a predominant emphasis on prevention and often involves the improvement of overall health and fitness levels.

Secondly, personal trainers are to maintain professionalism at all times and abide by their fitness certification’s Code of Conduct.

Personal trainers are to respect their colleagues and their clients.

You represent not only your fitness certification but also your company or business entity.

Therefore, establishing and maintaining good rapport is absolutely key!

It is your responsibility to create safe and effective exercise programs to help clients improve their overall strength, cardiovascular health and fitness levels, flexibility, and balance.

Briefly put, it is your job to help clients reach their goals and achieve an overall improvement in their health and fitness!

Sounds challenging!

But it sure is fun!

Keep in mind that every individual client is different and may or may not need certain exercises to be slightly modified or entirely omitted.

Before you train any client, the client needs to have an initial pre-participation screening.

This screening typically includes client health history, current health status, and even current lifestyle, which all definitely influence how you should design your programs.

Once you obtain the pre-participation screening, you can consult with the individual client, and figure out how to create the most appropriate, effective exercise routines, and take it from there.

Next is helping individual clients acknowledge and set their goals.

Jane wants to lose 10 pounds.

Mark wants to train for a marathon and needs to improve his speed.

Sharon is recovering from knee surgery and wants to start exercising again.

Robert is an active senior who wishes to improve his balance after a frightening fall.

Okay, so now, say that your individual client has proposed a goal.

What does a personal trainer do?

It is one of the most important personal trainer duties to determine if your client’s goals are S.M.A.R.T.

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Best Fitness Certification Quiz

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In mostly all of the top personal training certifications in the industry, S.M.A.R.T. goals can be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Personal trainers determine specific goals which are often clear and concise.

Specific goals can serve as a motivation tool for clients.

Can your client’s goal be measured?

Oftentimes, clients will have goals that seem virtually immeasurable or vague.

Like losing 20 pounds in one week!

Personal trainers need to be able to measure a client’s goals, to keep track of his or her progress.

Tasha just told you that she wants to lose 30 pounds of visceral fat in the time span of a week and a half.

Is this achievable?


You need to make sure that clients set achievable, realistic goals to avoid disappointment and bodily harm.

Next, goals should feel relevant, or “in alignment” with the client and his or her fitness goals.

What may be a relevant goal for a bodybuilder may be entirely different from a relevant goal for a dancer or a swimmer.

When goals are relevant and are in line with the client’s sport or current situation, the goals become more personal.

Without a doubt, clients will be much more motivated to achieve goals that are personal and feel important to them!

Lastly, your client can set a goal to increase his or her cardiovascular fitness level in the time frame of four to six weeks.

This is a perfect example of a time-bound goal.

The client gives a realistic span of time to improve his or her cardiovascular fitness level.

Personal trainers can use time-bound goals as motivation tools as well!

Now, here’s food for thought.

Yes; pun intended!

We are discussing nutrition!

Say your client brings up nutrition during a session and asks for your advice?

What do you, as a personal trainer, do in this situation?

First, recognize the nature of the question.

Personal trainers will acquire some basic nutrition knowledge.

But even then, not all nutrition covered in CPT textbooks are up-to-date and adequate to cover nutrition and diet with a client.

You will encounter clients who follow all different types of diets and lifestyles, and most often, they will all have distinct ways of thinking regarding what constitutes proper nutrition.

It is NOT within a personal trainer’s scope of practice to create diet and nutrition plans.

A professional more qualified, such as a nutritionist, may be able to deal with this.

Therefore, personal trainers should refer clients who have further questions about nutrition to a more qualified professional, like someone with a nutritionist certification.

And now for the fun part; exercising!

As a personal trainer, it is your responsibility to instruct clients on proper form and technique in regards to exercising.

This ensures the client will be safe and avoid potential injury.

“Don’t strain; just train!”

You will instruct clients on how to properly use gym equipment and machines.

Once clients feel comfortable on machines, her or she may progress to free weights.

Overall, you will help clients complete their exercise routines in a safe, effective manner.

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What You Do

So far, we have reviewed a comprehensive breakdown of the responsibilities and duties of a personal trainer.

What does a trainer do?

Let’s now cover the basic job summary of a personal fitness trainer.

So what exactly is the certified personal trainer job description?

Here is where you will learn the fundamental personal trainer roles:

  • Appropriately applies fundamental knowledge to practice
  • Implements safe and effective personal and group exercise programs
  • Understands the importance of pre-participation screening and interpretation of results
  • Strong desire to help clients reach their goals
  • Excellent communication skills and motivational skills
  • Dedicated to maintaining integrity, client confidentiality, and professionalism
  • Committed to evolve physically as well as mentally

Mostly all of the leading NCCA personal trainer programs cover basic areas as it applies to fitness.

You cover anatomy and physiology, bioenergetics, biomechanics, nutrition, exercise program designing, exercise techniques, pre-participation screening, special populations, and more.

Knowing this is beneficial, but applying it, even more!

Are your clients straining, paining, or training?

It is very important to create exercise programs and routines which are safe and effective.

Monitor your clients.

How are their knees when they squat?

Should Sharon really be doing box jumps after her knee surgery and her complaints about some residual pain?

Do you spot Mark to ensure his wrists are in line with his hands as he bench presses?

Personal trainers MUST design workout templates that are safe and match individual client goals and current health status.

But prior to clients exercising, it is recommended to make sure clients go through pre-participation screening to ensure appropriate fitness training.

You must also be familiar with common fitness assessments and the interpretation of results.

You love fitness, enjoy motivating others to reach a goal and enjoy helping others.

Does this sound like you?

If so, then without a doubt, you will thrive in a career as a personal trainer!

Personal trainers must have a strong desire to motivate clients and a drive to help them reach their health and fitness goals.

Key characteristics in becoming a personal trainer also include top-notch communication skills and motivational skills.

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Instructing and motivating clients through their exercises makes training much more effective and enjoyable!

As a personal trainer, it is best to maintain integrity and good rapport in your workplace environment.

Your credibility depends on this.

Moreover, maintaining client confidentiality is crucial.

To establish a healthy client-trainer relationship, personal trainers must be mindful of any client-related information they obtain and keep it strictly confidential.

In the case of personal training, sharing is NOT caring!

Personal trainers do their due diligence to maintain the utmost professionalism as they represent their fitness certification and company; and, well, themselves.

On a final note, personal trainers have a strong desire to improve themselves both mentally and physically, self-educate, and exercise self-awareness.

Again, if this sounds like you, you will thrive as a personal trainer!

Preach what you practice.

But first, make sure that you practice exactly what you preach.

What You Do Not Do

As important as it is to know what a personal trainer does, it is equally important to cover and understand what a personal trainer does NOT do.

According to the industry’s top fitness programs, here are some common things to avoid:

  • Diagnosing
  • Giving medical advice
  • Creating specific meal plans
  • Massage or touch clients
  • Provide counseling
  • Have romantic relationships with clients
  • Allow your credentials to expire

Personal trainers are to refrain from diagnosing and providing medical advice at all times.

This is beyond our scope of practice and may cause harm to clients.

If a client has a question that addresses a medical condition or an injury, personal trainers should refer him or her to a qualified physician.

Personal trainers refrain from creating specific meal plans for clients.

You are only to create exercise programs!

Furthermore, according to the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF), personal trainers should avoid training all clients in the same fashion.

Everybody is different and has different goals.

This would be ineffective training.

Personal trainers must prioritize client’s goals above all else.

Moreover, massaging and other forms of inappropriate touch are strictly prohibited at all times.

It is incorrect and unprofessional.


Although clients may naturally feel more inclined to vent to us and express their thoughts and feelings, we are not their therapists.

So we are not to provide any type of mental health counseling or talk therapy to clients.

It is beyond our scope of practice.

When do personal trainers have romantic relationships with clients?



Do not engage in any romantic relationship with clients at any time.

This is beyond inappropriate!

Finally, personal trainers must keep up with their licenses and certifications so that they do not expire.

It is unprofessional for personal trainers to allow their credentials to expire.

Necessary Skills

To be a successful personal trainer, it is crucial to have the following skills:

  • Professionalism
  • Communication skills
  • Motivational

Professionalism ensures that you do your due diligence to keep your rapport and expertise on par!

Communication skills are absolutely key, especially when coaching clients.

Without proper communication skills, personal trainers will encounter difficulties with keeping clients engaged.

Finally, being motivational is very important as clients strive to reach their health and fitness goals.

When you choose the correct certification for you know that each organization is going to have a slightly different focus.

If you are interested in a particular piece of knowledge, choose accordingly.

Our ISSA review covers how the ISSA CPT teaches business skills a bit better than the others while if you look at ISSA vs NASM, you see that NASM has more coverage on corrective exercises. Our free NASM study guide and NASM exam questions are a must have if you go for that cert.

If you’re deciding between NASM or ACE, know that the ACE CPT has the best exercise psychology info. We have ACE test questions and an ACE guide to help you “ace” their exam.

The best athlete performance certification is the NSCA CSCS. It’s a hard one to pass so pick up our CSCS study material and CSCS test to make your life easier.

Finally the ACSM certification is a good option for those going into careers in exercise science.

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So how much do personal trainers make?

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, personal trainers are paid roughly $40,510 per year or $19.48 per hour as of 2020.

Note these various factors which may definitely influence your income:

  • Geographic location
  • Education level
  • Certifications
  • Experience level
  • Specialization

Master Personal Trainers (MPTs) may generate anywhere between $21.00 and $36.00 per session.

In commercial gyms, you may be paid hourly to provide general service to members on the gym floor.

This can help you meet new people and acquire clients

Per session, you may earn between $8.50 and $15.00, depending on your education, certifications, and experience.

For instance, a trainer who is a group fitness instructor may often have a higher salary.

Whether you work full-time or part-time is another factor that influences your total salary.

Keep in mind that this rate is just a percentage of the actual value of the individual training session.

There may also be sales bonuses at most commercial gyms, meaning you can be rewarded for completing “x” amount of sessions in a given period of time.

However, Equinox is one of the highest-paying commercial gyms for experienced personal trainers.

On-the-floor hours make between $26.00 and $31.00 per session.

Additionally, you may earn $64.00 or $74.50 per training session.

Personal trainers working independently or in private studios have much greater income potential.

This rate is typically between $35.00 – $65.00 or more per session.

However, your salary in a private studio depends entirely on whether you are an employee, an independent contractor, or a rent-by-the-hour trainer.

Working independently from your own home gym, in a client’s home, or even virtual training makes your income much more flexible, as you may set your own rates!

However, just because there are fixed rates in most gyms and studios, your total salary is up to you.

Education Requirements

To work at a gym, you will need to have a high school diploma, a current certified personal trainer and/or group fitness instructor certification(s), and also current CPR/AED and First Aid certifications. You must be at least 18 years of age.

Having some post-secondary education, or a college degree in a related field, such as exercise science or kinesiology, is not required but can certainly be useful.

Learn more!

Did you know you can work as a personal trainer without being certified?

Now you know!

However, take very strong caution. There are no current laws that require personal trainers to be certified, but this may change.

Though it is technically legal, you run a major risk of hurting a client, big legal fees, and simply not being able to find work.

So, do you have to be certified to be a personal trainer? Yes and no.

To be a successful, good personal trainer, please get certified.

Just because you could never mean you should!

You shouldn’t stress yourself when obtaining a personal trainer certification of your choice.

No matter the certification you choose, the well-researched MVP study packages from Trainer Academy will help to reduce your study time and achieve a 99% pass rate – not forgetting our money-back guarantee!

Click on the links below to access them:

Best Fitness Certification Quiz
Best Fitness Certification Quiz

Continuing Education

As a personal trainer, you are required to maintain a certain number of continuing education credits (CEUs) to renew your license and keep it in good standing.

The number of CEUs required to obtain depends on which certification you have.

For instance, with the NSCA personal trainer certification, you have a three-year cycle to obtain 6.0 CEUs, whereas, with a NASM CPT certificate you have a two-year cycle to obtain 2.0 CEUs.

CEU courses are available both in-person or online and may be completed at your own pace.

Most of the best personal training certification programs provide multiple courses, books, articles, and even journals you can access for CEUs as well.

Obtaining other fitness credentials, such as Pilates certification, becoming a Spin Instructor, TRX Instructor, Barre Instructor, or NASM’s Corrective Exercise Specialist, also adds to your total CEU requirements.

You may take most of these training courses either online or in person.

Do you want to know how to become a group exercise instructor?

Read up on group fitness instructor job descriptions here! Here’s a list of the best group fitness certifications.

Experience Requirements

Now that we covered the bulk of the personal training job description, let’s dive into the personal trainer job requirements.

What are they?

Though there are no general personal trainer job requirements, the more experience you have as a personal trainer, the higher your accreditation and rapport.

In other words, new personal trainers may gain experience by working in a health club or commercial gym shadowing other personal trainers.

But what if you made a career change?

You are now 40 years of age and want to be a personal trainer.

Can this be so?

YES. Your life is what you make it.

Age is just a number!

It is never too late to get into shape or become a certified personal trainer to help clients with their health and fitness goals.

Younger, older, or different, the world could definitely use more personal trainers!

You will gain the necessary experience and make of it what you can just the same.

See Lori’s Story.

You should check out our links to ACE CPT, ISSA CPT, and NCSF to see how different organizations certify trainers in their own way.

Places You Can Work

Once certified, there are a variety of places which you may work!

And the personal trainer job outlook is great!

Say that again?

You heard me.

Yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that there is a 15%, or “much faster than average” job outlook for personal trainers!

With the rise of chronic disease rates, metabolic diseases, obesity, and an aging population, the demand for personal trainers has been booming more now than ever before!

Note that the personal training profession is not restricted by venue and how to make money in fitness is not dictated by one location.

In other words, personal trainers may work in fitness facilities, in their personal homes, in client homes, over live video (also called “virtual personal training”), or even outdoors!

The majority of personal trainers work in physical fitness facilities, health clubs, and fitness centers, rehabilitation centers, and even community centers.

Most personal trainers get their first job in commercial gyms. Commercial gyms are a great launch point for your career.

For instance, you would typically get clients handed to you, along with access to all types of equipment you would need to train them.

Also, since you are new to personal training, the commercial gym environment is highly encouraging for you to ask questions and learn from any mistakes.

Overall, commercial gyms provide you with the proper tools to learn and prosper as a personal trainer!

Do you have a specific niche?

If not, do you have one in mind?

Rather than commercial gyms, private studios are the best option for specific niches.

Private studios are more focused on individual and small group training and may charge more.

They appeal predominantly to the affluent and are often equipped with high-end fitness equipment as well as high quality, fancy floors, and rooms.

But note that not all private studios are high-end. Some specialize in specific niche markets, such as athletes or clients who are rehabilitating.

Here, you will have to develop and implement the appropriate knowledge to the clientele and deliver more individualized programs.

Personal trainers who work in private studios often vary in their levels of education, from high school to bachelor’s degrees, master’s and graduate degrees, or beyond!

However, it is your people skills that matter a whole lot more than your credentials.

Compared to working in commercial gyms, you will have a lot more accountability in private studios because you serve as your client’s direct point of contact, and represent the company.

Finally, there is much more leeway in private studios than in commercial gyms, which allows you to work in your own fashion.

Are you more of a fitness coach?

The CrossFit-type facilities are more your cup of tea!

Compared with commercial gyms and private studios, CrossFit-type facilities offer more industrial-style training programs

These facilities are very popular among fitness enthusiasts and “weekend warriors.”

Most of these clients want to really work a sweat!

They want to shred fat, gain more muscle, improve endurance and speed, and even earn some bragging rights by being able to do outrageous things!

Unlike commercial gyms and private studios, which both emphasize the use of equipment, CrossFit-type facilities contain very minimal equipment.

Instead, there is much more, if not, total emphasis on creative, body-weight strength training, and street-style “hardcore” “garage” workout plans.

Given that it is a group environment, if you want to learn how to be a fitness coach, then this is for you!

Ever want to open your own fitness business?

Crossfit-type facilities serve as a great model for keeping start-up and operating costs low.

With proper management, this can certainly be a rather lucrative business!

Additionally, you can find work here, too:

  • Apartment Complexes
  • Outdoor Boot Camps
  • Online Training
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Resorts and Cruise Ships
  • Athletic Performance Centers
  • Client’s Home
  • Your Own Home Gym

In apartment complexes, there is a concentrated, diverse group of people available to train.

You can design exercise programs and even boot camps based on residents’ needs.

Already have a niche?


Do some research and find apartments that cater to your targeted clientele.

Then, check with the complex’s activity director or management team to find out information about getting on board.

Outdoor boot camps are another great way for personal trainers to help their community stay fit!

Click here to access these study materials and get started.

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Want to know something cool?

You can become an online personal trainer. Online training; that’s cool!

But why?

Because everything is done online!

This adds convenience for not only yourself but for your clients as well.

You can do online strength training, aerobics, and more!

Also, check this out: your reach is boundless!


Your potential client base is infinite!

For instance, even if you live in the United States, you can have potential clients in Turkey, Sweden, or even Guam.

Now that’s cool!

Online training is very popular nowadays.

Working as an online, or “virtual” personal trainer keeps you competitive, and you will benefit from the latest fitness trends.

How to be a successful online trainer is little different for everyone but there are some key marketing tips we can give you at Trainer Academy

Here’s one quick idea for you: pre-recording your sessions and marketing them enables you to continue to pull in revenue for work already done.

Pros & Cons

Like many things in life, you must consider that there are upsides and downsides to being a personal trainer.

In this section, you have the chance to weigh the pros and cons of being a personal trainer.

What we liked:

  • Opportunity to be your own boss, and set your hours accordingly
  • Great for those who love fitness, and motivating and helping others
  • Great employment outlook, as demand for personal trainers, is higher than average
  • Lucrative career
  • You have the opportunity to work as a “virtual personal trainer,” as online training is becoming increasingly popular
  • Positive work environment
  • Encourages self-care

What we didn’t like:

  • Starting salary for new personal trainers working in a commercial gym is low
  • Dealing with client cancellations and no-shows
  • Unsteady hours which affects income
  • Nutrition covered in most CPT textbooks is inadequate, as you will encounter clients who follow all different types of diets and lifestyles


Here are some common questions most people ask, that we cover for you!



If you are reading this, then you have successfully reviewed the personal trainer job description and are ready to explore this career.

Or, are you?

Now that you have read this content, what do you think about becoming a personal trainer?

Well, if you love fitness, motivating others, and helping others reach common goals, then you can be very successful in this field!

The work environment is often positive, and there are many different places, including online, that you may find employment.

Although there is no law stating that you must be certified to work, PLEASE get certified. There are so many fitness certification programs.

Getting certified is easy, and the more you study for your fitness certification exam, the more smoothly everything will flow!

Also, having a current, valid CPR/AED certification is required as well.

Depending on which certification you choose to obtain, you still need to acquire and maintain CEUs on a cyclical basis to ensure your credentials do not lapse.

CEUs are often easy to access in-person, online, or even by volunteering and contributing to your field.

Keep in mind that your salary will often start being very low, and depends on various factors. Some being education level, certifications, and experience level.

Also, note that your study material may cover some basics, such as anatomy and physiology, bioenergetics, biomechanics, nutrition, exercise program designing, exercise techniques, pre-participation screening, and special populations.

However, not all content is in-depth enough to provide sufficient guidance, and may even go beyond the scope of practice of a personal trainer.

But overall, if you have exceptional motivational skills, communication skills, and maintain good rapport and professionalism, you have the potential to become very successful!

By now, you should decide – to be or not to be (a personal trainer)?

That is the answer – not the question!



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