The first step to becoming a personal trainer is studying for valid qualifications. You will need to obtain either your Fitness Essentials Prerequisites and SIS40221 - Certificate IV in Fitness qualification, OR your SIS30321 - Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness qualifications.
The Certificate III in Fitness will allow you to become a gym instructor/fitness coach, but if you want to train clients one-on-one, either in your own business or somebody else’s, you will also need to complete your Certificate IV in Fitness.
In your studies to become a personal trainer, you will learn all the fitness fundamentals, as well as nutritional guidance, anatomy, physiology and exercise prescription. You will learn training principles and considerations for a range of groups and special populations, such as adolescents, older adults, amateur athletes and people with body composition and endurance-based goals.
Certain courses, such as AIF’s Personal Trainer course, also have a strong business focus, with units addressing how to prepare for and set up your own fitness business, and the basic sales and marketing skills necessary to acquire clients.
If you want to gain additional skills - and therefore a competitive edge - AIF’s Master Trainer Program™ assesses students on six additional criteria which, when achieved, will elevate you from being a standard trainer to an AIF Certified Master Trainer Level 1. This course primes students to become the best PT possible and is highly recognised and sought after by fitness industry employers.
In order to study for your Certificate IV in Fitness you will first need to have completed either your Certificate III in Fitness (see above section ‘What qualifications do you need to be a personal trainer?) OR Fitness Essentials Prerequisites. The AIF’s Master Trainer Program™ conveniently includes both the Fitness Essentials Prerequisites AND Certificate IV in Fitness qualification. You will also need to have up-to-date Provide First Aid and Provide CPR certificates.
How long does it take to become a certified personal trainer?
If you choose to get qualified with the Australian Institute of Fitness, you can become a certified personal trainer in as little as 5 to 14 Months. If you have already attained a qualification, such as a Certificate III in Fitness, this may reduce your study duration.
Once you’re qualified, you can set yourself up for a successful first year as a personal trainer with the right preparation, budgeting, research and upskilling!
Is it hard to become a personal trainer?
If you enjoy learning the ropes of something you are passionate about, then the process of becoming a personal trainer will be an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience. There is considerable commitment involved in undertaking a qualification of course, with many hours of study and practical assessments, but if you ensure that you’re choosing an RTO that provides you with the level of support you require, the process of learning how to become a successful PT will not be hard.
Once you’re qualified as a fitness professional, it is important to get registered with an industry body such as Fitness Australia or Physical Activity Australia. This registration, which requires proof of your ongoing professional development, can reassure clients of your professionalism, help you stay up-to-date with industry best practice and guidelines, and, importantly, provide employers with confidence in your credentials and abilities as a personal trainer.
You will also need to be insured. In order to work in any Australian fitness facility, you should have public liability and professional indemnity insurance to protect you against potential legal action from clients and members. There are insurance policies available that have been designed specifically to cover the activities performed by today’s fitness professionals. You can find out more about that here.
Once you’re fully qualified, registered and insured, you can search for jobs in the industry. Alternatively, you can start your own business - though many trainers find it useful to gain real-world experience at an existing facility before striking out on their own. Whether you are employed by a club, work as a contractor, or run your own fitness operation, as a working PT you will now have certain responsibilities to your clients. These include:
By adhering to these responsibilities, you will not only reduce the risk of clients getting injured (and of legal liability), you will also increase the results they achieve and establish a reputation as a highly professional trainer.
How to market yourself as a PT
You don’t have to have a degree in marketing to successfully market yourself as a personal trainer. You simply have to establish your point of difference from other personal trainers, identify your target market, and position yourself in a way that will display your services to it.
Thanks to social media, marketing yourself online for FREE has never been easier. Many personal trainers will use Instagram and Facebook to create a business page in which they promote and post their offerings. There are also local sports directories like Playsport that allow you to list your PT business for free, reaching local sport and fitness enthusiasts who might enjoy your services.
Of course, you can also use traditional methods such as chatting to people on the gym floor and handing out flyers, which can be very effective because it gives you a chance to showcase your friendly, caring and professional personality. Whichever approach you choose, the most important thing is being clear in your messaging of WHY people should hire you (again, your point of difference!) to help them improve their lives. Once you have this, the rest will come easy!
How much money do personal trainers make?
The income estimator site PayScale states that Personal Trainers in Australia can earn, on average, from $29-$68 per hour. These are averages, however, and experienced trainers can charge considerably more for their time - some over $100 per hour. The more experienced you are, and the more in-demand you are, the more you will be able to charge.
There are many ways to boost your income as a personal trainer, ranging from delivering Small Group Training sessions to selling training-related products and creating online programs that enable you to potentially reach clients all over the world. So, when it comes to earning potential, the sky really is the limit.
Personal training is a rewarding career that enables you to positively impact people every day
Work as a personal trainer can be very varied, and you can specialise in an area that most interests you
Depending on your study mode, you can become qualified in as little as 5 months
Once qualified as a personal trainer, it is important to become registered and insured in order to work
As a personal trainer, you can be employed by gyms, work as a contractor or set up your own business
Depending on a range of factors, personal trainers can earn from approx $30-$70+ per hour
Once you have qualified as a personal trainer and have set up your registration and insurance, you’re ready to get out there and work with clients. To keep doing so, however, you will need to regularly undertake professional development. This generally takes the form of online courses, as well as face-to-face events and workshops that provide upskilling in specific fitness-related areas, from training pregnant clients or adding Pilates techniques to training sessions, to coaching skills and training specific populations. This requirement for personal trainers to continually progress their knowledge enables the fitness industry to uphold professional standards.
Now you’ve got an overview of what a career as a personal trainer looks like, you may be considering your next steps.
Where Certificate III in Fitness or Cert III is mentioned, it refers to SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness.
Where Certificate IV in Fitness or Cert IV is mentioned, it refers to SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness.
Ready to find out more about getting qualified as a personal trainer with the industry’s largest and most recognised fitness educator? Check out the AIF’s courses here.
If you have any questions about getting started on your personal training journey, you may find them answered in these FAQs.