What Education Is Needed to Become a Personal Trainer?

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

When trying to become a personal trainer, it’s important to always keep long-term goals in mind, as the educational requirements for personal trainers can vary drastically among different career paths. For some, a college degree may be necessary, while for others, certification in a particular specialty may be more important.

High School Diploma and Vocational Programs

The first step to becoming a personal trainer is to obtain a high school diploma, or GED. This is necessary to enroll in classes and obtain the proper certifications to gain employment as a personal trainer. However, some high schools do offer vocational programs that allow students to work toward obtaining the necessary personal trainer credentials before graduating from high school.

College Degrees

While not all employers require college degrees for personal trainers, it is becoming a more common practice in the early 2000s. Many employers prefer to hire candidates with a minimum of an associate degree, or even a bachelor’s degree in a health- or fitness-related field. Common areas of study include exercise science, kinesiology and physical education. Having a degree is especially beneficial for personal trainers who plan to teach their trade to personal trainer students at some point during their career.


While college degrees are required by some employers and not by others, the majority of employers all require personal trainers to be certified. In the United States, many certifying bodies exist, each with specific requirements for certification. Examples include the American College of Sports medicine, the International Sport Sciences Association and the American Council on Exercise. Basic universal certification requirements include being at least 18 years of age, becoming CPR certified, completing coursework, working under another certified personal trainer and passing a certification exam.

Specialized Training

Some areas of practice may require more specialized training than just obtaining a fitness degree and certification. A good example of this is the training for yoga instructors. Some training programs for yoga instructors are known to last upwards of two years. For example, the Yoga Alliance offers a program that requires a minimum of 200 hours of instruction with a specified number of hours required for each category of training. These categories include areas such as anatomy, philosophy and teaching techniques, just to name a few.

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