Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer in California
Have you ever considered becoming a certified personal trainer? These professionals work one-on-one or in group settings to help people reach their fitness and weight goals. Certified personal trainers create and provide exercise programs to meet the unique needs of each client. They regularly conduct client assessments to determine fitness goals, progress and satisfaction. Personal trainers also help clients make healthy nutritional choices and help motivate them to accomplish goals.
This job requires excellent customer service, communication and listening skills. It’s also important that personal trainers have motivational, physical and problem-solving skills. Many certified personal trainers begin their careers as group exercise instructors. Some are self-employed, and others are employed by gyms and corporations. In later stages of their careers, personal trainers may advance to positions such as head trainer or even open their own gyms.
Requirements and Path to the Career
To become a certified personal trainer in California, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Hold adult CPR/AED Certification, including practical hands-on skills
- Become certified by a respected fitness organization
The best way to get started is by studying in an associate’s degree program in fitness, kinesiology, exercise science or physical education. These programs will provide the skills necessary for certification. After that, you’ll take an exam administered by a certification agency. If you pass, you can begin work as a certified personal trainer. However, most personal trainers begin their careers working and training alongside an experienced, professional certified trainer.
Study Options for Personal Trainers
Associate degree programs for personal trainers are all over California. Here are just a few of many options:
- Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Students earn an Associate of Arts for Transfer (AA-T) in Kinesiology. The program lasts 60 units and includes aquatic exercise, body conditioning and weight training.
- Los Angeles City College. While earning their AA-T in Kinesiology at this school, students learn teaching techniques, coaching, group and personal training, sports nutrition and more. Students must demonstrate an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher to graduate.
- Skyline College. Located in San Bruno, just south of San Francisco, Skyline College also offers an AA-T degree in Kinesiology. Courses include wrestling, self-defense, body conditioning and a variety of sports.
Becoming certified isn’t a requirement, but it will greatly increase your job prospects. Most employers prefer to hire personal trainers with certification from a well-known national agency. Certification is offered by many organizations and all require, at minimum, a written test. Look for certification organizations accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Some of the top programs include the American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
Employment and Salary Figures
The job outlook for California fitness trainers and aerobics instructors (which include personal trainers) is very positive. The Projections Managing Partnership expects employment for these professionals to increase 10.4 percent by 2026. They’re also paid much higher in California than they are on average nationwide, with California fitness trainers and aerobics instructors earning a median income of $23.43 per hour in 2018. Certified Personal Trainers are paid on the higher end of the spectrum in this category.
Where Personal Trainers Work in California
Where there are large populations, there tend to be more certified personal trainers. According to the BLS, the highest number of California fitness trainers and aerobics instructors were employed in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in 2018. The BLS doesn’t provide salary data for personal trainers alone, but the statistics show that the highest paid fitness trainers and aerobics instructors that year were in the Oxnard area, earning a median income of $27.85 per hour.
No matter where you live in California, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find a job in this field. Fitness and wellness are becoming more popular over time, so certified personal trainers are bound to keep increasing.