How much money does a personal trainer make?

Updated May 10, 2017

The personal training industry has become a big business. It is no longer just a luxury for the rich or famous. With advances in home exercise and more portable equipment, trainers have more tools and options than ever before. However, people often wonder if it is really possible to make a living as a personal trainer. The answer is yes, but the amount of money you make depends on several factors.


To make it in the personal training industry, you will need to invest up front in your career. While it is possible to specialise and only work with the types of clients you are comfortable with, setting these boundaries can limit your income potential. By getting a good base of education first, you will be able to attract a wide variety of clients and enhance your earnings. If you plan to work in a medical setting, you will need to obtain at least a four-year degree, if not a master's degree, in a field such as exercise physiology, exercise science, health promotion, athletic training, therapeutic recreation and other health-related options. If you just want to work on your own or in a gym setting, you can choose from a few good certification programs.

In addition, depending on your work setting, you may need to buy insurance and equipment. If you are certified through a reputable organisation, you are required to take continuing education courses and maintain CPR certifications.

Time Frame

Getting and maintaining clients is hard work. You may need to start off in a large chain gym for less money just to get your name out there and to gain experience. The fitness industry relies heavily on word-of-mouth. It can take anywhere from a year to five years to build a successful business. That is why many trainers start in a gym with a regular salary and where expenses are covered by their employer. They then can work part time to start building their own client base.


If you want to make the really big bucks, say more than £130,000 a year and upwards, you may need to re-evaluate your goals. If you are lucky enough to land a job training a celebrity or high-level executive, then you are all set. However, people who work at this level of a personal training must make a lot of sacrifices--be available whenever and wherever your client needs you. You may also need to be available to travel with your client so they can continue to work out on the road.


Many trainers who live in or near major cities such as New York, Boston or Los Angeles can do quite well making £39,000 to over £65,000 per year. In these areas, you will find clients who are well-paid executives who have the extra money to spend on a trainer and are committed to working out on a regular basis.

You can also do well if you can find a management position in a larger health club or luxury residential community. These positions can pay £26,000 to £39,000 per year.

You can also end up making much less. If you only want to work part time, live in a small community or in an area where there are no high-paying jobs or large gyms, you can make anywhere from £9,750 to £19,500 per year.

Expert Insight

Take time to research personal trainer certification programs to find the right fit based on the type of clients you want to work with. Stay clear of internet or weekend certifications. A good gym will not hire you without the right certifications. Try asking at a gym near you to see what their requirements are. The most well-known certification programs include the NASM, or the National Strength and Conditioning Association; the ACSM, or the American College of Sports Medicine; ACE, or the American Council on Exercise; and the AFFA, or the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

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About the Author

I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.