How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer in Pennsylvania
The work of a certified personal trainer is both challenging and fun, but most importantly it is rewarding. Some of the daily duties of a trainer include:
- Recruiting new clients
- Assessing new clients and learning their goals
- Developing training plans to help clients meet their goals
- Demonstrating exercises and correcting form
- Encouraging and inspiring clients
- Helping clients make healthier diet and lifestyle choices
In other words, as a certified personal trainer you will have the privilege of helping people get healthier, fitter and stronger. Learn what it takes to be a trainer in Pennsylvania, where demand for qualified workers is high.
What Do I Need to Start Working as a Trainer in Pennsylvania?
To work as a trainer in Pennsylvania, you should have at a minimum a high school diploma or GED and training in First Aid and CPR. For most clients and employers, however, this is not enough. You may be able to get into an internship or training program, but to really be a personal trainer you need an education. The state does not require any particular type of program, but look for certificate and degree programs in personal training, exercise science or kinesiology to get started.
Pennsylvania Programs for Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer
There are several options for learning and training to work in this field. Any type of post-secondary program in a related field is a good place to start. You can choose from a certificate, which typically takes less than a year to a complete, and a two-year associate’s degree.
- HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, Harrisburg and York. HACC has two campuses offering a non-credit course in learning to become a personal trainer. It’s offered twice a year starting in February and July, and includes 316 hours of coursework and training. The program will prepare you to pass the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) exam for national certification.
- Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell and Pottstown. Montgomery offers a 31-credit certificate program in personal training. It includes courses in human anatomy, kinesiology, exercise physiology and functional training as well as hands-on training in the gym. Graduates are ready to pass the ACSM exam.
- Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport. For a more in-depth education choose the associate’s degree program in exercise science. This program takes about two years to complete and is one of just two in the state that is recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. It’s designed to get you working as a trainer right after graduation, but you can also transfer the credits to a four-year degree program.
Certification is not strictly required to begin working as a trainer in Pennsylvania, but it will set you apart. And, there are many employers who will require that you hold certification from a recognized national organization such as:
- American Council of Exercise (ACE)
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- International Sports Science Association (ISSA)
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
- National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT)
- National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)
To get certified, you need to pass the exam offered by one of these groups. Any recognized education program should prepare you with everything you need to pass a certification exam.
Pennsylvania Personal Trainer Career Outlook and Salaries
Growth in jobs for personal trainers is strong across the country. In Pennsylvania, the projected growth is 7.3 percent from 2016 to 2026, which translates to more than 2,000 jobs available for new trainers each hear. Demand is high as more people turn to fitness and healthier lifestyles.
Salaries for trainers are reported as fitness training and instruction, which is a career that requires less education and experience. So, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the annual average salary as $39,820, you can expect to earn more as a certified personal trainer.
Finding Work in Pennsylvania as a Certified Personal Trainer
With such strong growth in the industry, finding your first job or client shouldn’t be difficult. You’ll have the most opportunities in and around the state’s larger cities: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading and Scranton. Even in rural areas, though, you should be able to find work.
Most trainers work in gyms and are employed by gyms to take on clients requesting personal training. This is a great way to start your career and to get experience working with clients. From there you may choose to start your own training business or to take on clients on a freelance basis.