How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer in Illinois
If you’re passionate about helping people reach their fitness goals, you might consider becoming a certified personal trainer. These health and fitness professionals are trained to provide exercise, fitness and nutrition instruction to clients in one-on-one or small group settings. Their goal is to help clients meet individual health and fitness goals through activities like cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching.
Certified personal trainers may work in gyms, fitness centers or visit clients at their homes. They’re trained to measure and monitor the fitness levels of clients, motivate them to improve their health and assess their progress. It’s important that personal trainers have good people skills so they can communicate with clients and motivate them to reach their goals.
How to Become One
To become a certified personal trainer, you must first be 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Most trainers who become certified complete a two-year program of study in kinesiology, physical education or another related fitness field. This course of study usually includes CPR and AED training. Then, they should have the skills to complete a national certification exam and become certified.
What and Where to Study for Your Personal Trainer Career
Many programs can prepare you to become a certified personal trainer. Two-year associate degrees are the standard way to prepare for certification and get started in your career. Here are some educational options in Illinois:
- Lewis and Clark Community College. Located in Godfrey, this school offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Exercise Science. The program prepares students for national certification after graduation. It also includes hands-on internships at selected fitness facilities. Coursework includes study in human biology, ethics, exercise physiology and sport psychology.
- McHenry Country College. Earn an AAS in Health and Fitness Education at this Crystal Lake community college. The two-year degree includes a communications component that focuses on either the health-fitness instruction or health-fitness management track. McHenry County College has a bridge program with Northern Illinois University, allowing students to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Sciences. Students get hands-on experience at this school’s on-site fitness center.
Where to Get Certified
While certification isn’t required to be a personal trainer, it makes you more valuable to employers because it shows you understand the standard material personal trainers should know. There are many certifying agencies for personal trainers, but it’s best to choose one that’s been accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Popular choices for personal trainer certification include:
- American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Employment Figures and Salary Expectations
While individual statistics for certified personal trainers aren’t available on their own, the Projections Managing Partnership predicts a 6.1 percent growth in employment fitness trainers and aerobics instructors by 2026. On average, there are 2,830 job openings in this field per year in Illinois. These numbers suggest that personal trainers have a bright future in Illinois.
In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median income for Illinois fitness trainers and instructors, which includes certified personal trainers, was $20.03 per hour. Note that certified personal trainers are paid on the higher end of the spectrum in the broad fitness trainers and aerobics instructors field.
Distribution of Employment in Illinois
Big cities seem to attract the highest numbers of personal trainers. In Illinois, the highest number of fitness trainers and aerobics instructors were employed in the Chicago area in 2018, with 14,480 reported. Excluding Chicago, the highest numbers of these professionals worked in Rockford and the west central Illinois nonmetropolitan area that same year.
The highest paid fitness trainers and instructors worked in Bloomington and Chicago in 2018, where they made median incomes of $22.38 and $21.27 per hour, respectively. With more people wanting to reach fitness goals and become healthy, the job demand for certified personal trainers is bound to continue growing. No matter where you work in Illinois, you should be able to enjoy a strong career as a personal trainer.