As people become more concerned about living a healthy lifestyle and companies provide more fitness-related benefits to their employees, the demand for fitness workers continues to rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for fitness workers will increase 10 percent between 2016 and 2026 -- faster than the average for other occupations. If you want to get in on these opportunities, you've got to start somewhere.
The education required to become a fitness worker depends on a large number of factors, including what type of job you’re aiming for. Group fitness instructors might receive on-the-job training or they can be hired based on past experience, even if they have no certification.
Some entry level fitness jobs will require a degree in exercise science, kinesiology or a related field. Other jobs may only require an associate's degree or a high school diploma. Generally the responsibilities and pay will reflect the level of education.
Personal trainers and strength coaches usually need a fitness certification even for an entry-level job. These certifications are obtained through short workshops and studying for and taking a standardized test. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) offer two of the most respected personal training certifications available. To obtain either one, students prepare on their own and then attend a test at a predetermined facility.
Types of Jobs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fitness workers are employed in a number of fields, as instructors, personal trainers, coaches and teachers. Most entry-level jobs are likely to be related to general fitness. An entry-level job might involve teaching a fitness class, but it’s unlikely to involve teaching yoga or Pilates, which require more specific training.
Other entry-level fitness jobs might be as assistants to fitness department heads at health clubs or physical education coaches. Many people even get jobs working at the front desk of a fitness club to learn the ropes while they train to become a fitness instructor or personal trainer.
In 2016, the median salary for fitness workers was $38,160. That's slightly more than the median pay for all workers in all occupations. The top 10 percent earned over $72,000, while the bottom 10 percent earned under $20,000.
Many entry-level jobs pay by the hour. In 2016 the median hourly wage was $18.34, the top 10 percent earned $35.09, and the bottom 10 percent earned $9.21 per hour. Most entry-level fitness jobs are part-time or have varying schedules depending on the week. Because of this, benefits like health insurance are unlikely to be part of the package.
Entry-level fitness workers are likely to take on basic duties. Those duties will vary based on the place of employment. Entry-level personal trainers hired by a gym might be in charge of showing new members the premises, teaching them the basics of using the machines and conducting fitness assessments.
In some facilities, entry-level fitness workers tend the front desk or work on selling training packages. They can also “supervise the floor,” which means they walk around ensuring people are using the machines properly, picking up dumbbells, cleaning and ensuring everybody is comfortable and safe.