The Fitness Zone

The difference between Cert III and Cert IV in Fitness, and Master Trainer

Dec 14, 2020 | by AIF

Unsure about what level of fitness education you need to start your career in fitness? The fitness industry offers a range of roles and employment opportunities, so it’s a good idea to get your head around the qualification options available to you before you jump in. Based on your interests, skills and qualifications you may find that one opportunity is better suited than another or better meets your career aspirations.

Your fitness career opportunities

Do you want to become a personal trainer, assist members on the gym floor or maybe teach group exercise classes? Read on to discover the differences between Certificate III and Certificate IV in Fitness – as well as how you can increase your accessibility to a variety of fitness employment opportunities.

Certificate III in Fitness (Fitness Coach)

The Cert III in Fitness is an entry-level qualification required for fitness industry employment. It provides students with the essential baseline knowledge and necessary skills to work as a fitness coach, group fitness instructor or fitness professional. The course can be studied on-campus full-time (7 weeks duration), on-campus flexible (13 weeks duration), Online full-time (16 weeks) or Blended (Online and On-campus) for 12 weeks.

Formerly known as the ‘Fitness Instructor’ qualification, in October 2020 the qualification evolved into ‘Fitness Coach’ (SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness) which includes specialisations as a Group Exercise and Gym Instructor.

Taught by AIF’s expert Coaches in a fun and engaging learning environment, students learn how to incorporate the latest health, fitness and training principles into program writing, as well as the most up-to-date nutritional information to consider when conducting fitness tests and appraisals with clients. In addition, students gain an understanding of how to work effectively in sport, fitness and recreational environments, including how to apply risk management processes.

First Aid is also covered within the course, as are a range of gym activities that focus on strength, stamina, flexibility and effective circuit training. Upon completion, students have the foundation of a new career in fitness and are able to then progress to the expanded career opportunities afforded by studying for their Cert IV in Fitness.

Certificate IV in Fitness (Personal Trainer)

Cert IV is a higher level of qualification that can only be studied for after completion of Cert III. It provides students with the opportunity to increase their foundational fitness skills and knowledge so that they can work as personal trainers, delivering effective one-on-one training sessions. The course can be studied via our Online modality (32 weeks duration) Online Plus﹢(12 weeks duration) Full time on-campus (6 weeks) or on-campus flexible (13 weeks).

The Personal Trainer course offers interactive, fun coursework and the latest fitness know-how, developed and delivered by industry leaders and expert Coaches. The program covers all the fitness fundamentals, plus much more, including nutritional guidance, anatomy, physiology and exercise prescription, as well as training principles and solutions for a range of different populations such as adults, adolescents, older adults, amateur athletes and people with body composition and endurance-based goals.

Business is also a key focus, with students learning how to set up and operate their own small businesses, and learn the fundamental sales and marketing skills needed to acquire clients. The course also teaches students how to select and use technology for sport, fitness and recreational work, as well as how to provide motivation to positively influence exercise behaviour.

Certificate IV in Fitness is mandatory for a successful career as a personal trainer. Without it, you can’t obtain personal trainer insurance, train clients one-on-one or deliver small group personal training sessions.

The Master Trainer Program™

The Australian Institute of Fitness’ Master Trainer Program™ delivers the most recognised fitness qualification in industry and is the number one qualification employers are looking for. The course can be studied on campus over a duration of 30 weeks full-time, 35 weeks part-time, 31 weeks with Online PLUS or online self paced at a duration of 52 weeks.

In October 2020 the qualification was upgraded to ‘Master Trainer’ (SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness + SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness), which includes both the Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer qualifications.

In addition to all of the content covered in the Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach courses, the Master Trainer Program™ also assesses on six extra criteria. When successfully completed, the qualification will elevate you from a standard Trainer to an AIF Certified Master Trainer Level 1, equipping you with the skills and know-how to gain a competitive advantage in the fitness industry. With this in mind, it’s clear to see why the AIF’s Master Trainer is the most sought after qualification by industry employers.

Study on campus or online – your choice

For those who learn best in the face-to-face environment, courses can be studied on campus, with our highly rated Coaches delivering sessions at classrooms across the country.

Of course, in-person study is not convenient for everyone. Location and other work/life commitments should be no barrier to a new career, however, so if you prefer or require more flexibility with your learning, the AIF offers industry-leading online study options and unrivalled support for all courses.

If you’re ready to take the next step to advance your personal training career, don’t wait. Learn more about the learning opportunities available to you and how you can advance your skillset by getting in touch with us today.



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with purpose-built campuses in and around every major Australian city and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more Personal Trainers and fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

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Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness or Cert III/cert 3 is mentioned, it refers to SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42015 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52015 Diploma of Remedial Massage.

Important Information: As of 9th November 2021 SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness have been replaced by SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. A transition period applies to enable currently enrolled students to fulfil their study goals and complete their qualification. The transition period concludes on 8th November 2022. If you have not completed all the requirements by this date you will be transitioned and enrolled into the replacement qualification SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. View the SIS40221 Master Trainer Program Flyer here. View the SIS30321 Certificate III – Fitness Coach Flyer here.