Becoming a Fitness Specialist: Job Description & Salary Info

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A fitness specialist's average salary is around $39,000. Is it worth the education and training requirements? Check out real job duties to get the truth about career prospects to learn if becoming a fitness specialist is right for you.
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Becoming a Fitness Specialist: Pros and Cons

Fitness specialists, also known as fitness trainers, lead and motivate people to exercise. Take a look below at some of the other pros and cons to becoming a fitness specialist.

Pros of Becoming a Fitness Specialist
Good job growth (13% increase in employment from 2012 to 2022)*
Minimal job requirements in certain circumstances*
Employment growth is expected from a growing elderly population seeking to become more active*
Additional job growth for fitness specialists may come from a national need to combat obesity and other health problems*

Cons of Becoming a Fitness Specialist
Weekend, evening, and night hours are needed depending on your clients*
Traveling from gym to gym or home to home is often necessary of fitness specialists*
Many fitness specialists also hold down other full-time jobs*
Average income for fitness specialists is below the national average for all occupations*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description

A fitness specialist typically works in a gym, health club, or fitness center. You may work with clients one-on-one or in small groups. In some cases, a fitness specialist leads larger-sized classes. Regardless of the work environment, your goal as a fitness specialist is to get people exercising. You'll demonstrate exercise routines so that your clients know the proper techniques to use and how to avoid injuries. It's important to keep in mind the level your audience is at. If you're working with beginners, you have to lead them through beginner exercises. You'll also want to enforce all safety regulations at all times to keep everyone safe throughout the exercise.

Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2014 reported that fitness trainers earned around $18 an hour which resulted in an average annual income of $39,000 or so (www.bls.gov). The top ten percentile of wage estimates for this vocation was noted to be about $67,000. Management, scientific and technical consulting services paid fitness trainers the highest income on average in 2014. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, and New York were the states that paid the highest on average for fitness trainers.

Occupational Requirements

Education and Training

You'll almost always need a GED or a high school diploma to become a fitness specialist. Some employers are starting to look for fitness specialists that have bachelor's or associate's degrees in an area like kinesiology, physical education, or exercise science. It will also be beneficial for you to take classes on group fitness and exercise techniques.

However, first and foremost, you'll need training to properly teach exercises. If you don't acquire this knowledge through post-secondary education, you can look into receiving training materials from a nationally recognized athletic organization. There are various visual and audio items you can use to educate yourself along with workshops and seminars.

What Do Employers Want?

Most employers are looking for fitness specialists with excellent motivation and speaking skills. You have to be able to properly explain the exercise while remaining upbeat and encouraging. Employers want a fitness specialist that can attract customers and keep getting them to come back on a regular basis. In May 2012, several job postings were examined from real employers looking for fitness specialists and summarized for you below.

  • A fitness specialist job opening in Virginia calls for each applicant to possess a professional demeanor and have a bachelor's degree.
  • A Maryland athletic club is looking for fitness specialists with two years of experience in this field.
  • In Minnesota, a fitness specialist position is available for people with first aid certification.
  • A community college in Illinois requires a fitness specialist that is proficient with Microsoft Office programs.

Standing Out as a Fitness Specialist

Fitness specialists who take the time to acquire a professional certification or designation demonstrate a commitment to fitness and professionalism to the field. You can stand out from your peers with a certification from the American Council on Exercise. The certification option a fitness specialist would be interested in is the Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist Certification. To qualify for it, you need to have at least 300 hours of work experience in exercise programs. You must also have a CPR and AED certification, and you must meet the minimum age requirement of 18. Study materials are also available that can help prepare you for the examination you need to take for your certification.

Other Career Options

If you'd like to apply your skills as a fitness specialist towards rehabilitating people, consider becoming a physical therapist assistant. By meeting and observing patients, you can help assess the physical injuries and difficulties they're having. As you work with a physical therapist, you'll aid patients in performing exercises as part of their treatment. Additionally, you might treat patients by stretching or massaging them. In May 2011, the BLS found that physical therapist assistants earned roughly $51,000 annually on average.

If you want to focus on preventing injuries in other people, look into starting a career as an athletic trainer. Often hired by athletes, coaches or sports organizations, you come up with a program that helps prevent illnesses and injuries. You'll walk athletes through these routines and apply protective items, like braces, bandages, or tapes to them beforehand. At the end of the day, you have several other tasks, like report writing or record keeping, to perform as well. The average yearly salary for an athletic trainer is about $45,000 according to the BLS in May 2011.

Popular Schools

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    1. Georgetown University

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Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management

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George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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American University

  • Master of Science in Sports Analytics Management
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Northcentral University

  • Ed.D. - Sports Management
  • M.Ed. - Athletic Coaching
  • Education Specialist - Sports Management

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise

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Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Health Administration

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Kaplan University

  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
  • AASBA in Health Club Operations

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Full Sail University

  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

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