Fitness Manager Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Learn about a fitness manager's job description, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a fitness manager career.
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Pros and Cons of a Fitness Manager Career

Working as a fitness manager allows you to combine your entrepreneurial skills and passion for physical fitness. Take a look at the following list of pros and cons to decide if this career is right for you.

Pros of Being a Fitness Manager
Education requirements for some positions are minimal*
Compensation can include benefits as well as bonuses for bringing in new clients**
Management training provided by some employers**
Advancement opportunities include self-employment as an independent business owner*

Cons of Being a Fitness Manager
Can require years of fitness work experience***
Professional certification could also be required*
New management responsibilities might be overwhelming without proper employer training**
Continuing education in the latest training techniques is often needed to maintain certification****

Sources: *March 2012 job posts, **American Council on Exercise, ***Salary.com, ****American College of Sports Medicine.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Fitness managers use their sales skills and knowledge of exercise science to ensure that a personal training department helps a gym or fitness center meet its bottom line. If you take a job in this field, you could be responsible for implementing promotional campaigns, selling personal training services to new members or ensuring that current customers are satisfied. You might also find yourself briefing a personal training staff on a gym's customer service procedures or sales goals. Other responsibilities could include hiring, training and evaluating an organization's personal trainers.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the salary range for most fitness managers was around $25,000 to $51,000 as of July 2015. However, this does not include bonuses and commissions. After including these figures, the approximate total pay for the majority of fitness managers was between $26,000 and $57,000.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide employment figures specific to fitness managers, it did report that 33,500 new job opportunities were expected for fitness trainers and instructors over the 2012-2022 decade. This 13% employment growth could indicate a favorable job outlook for managerial positions in this industry.

Career Skills and Requirements

Education

According to recent job posts, a high school education is sufficient for some fitness manager positions, provided you have experience as a personal trainer. However, the BLS states that many fitness workers who are promoted to managerial positions have bachelor's degrees in fields ranging from exercise science to kinesiology. These 4-year programs can provide instruction in such topics as motor development, exercise prescription and nutrition. Some schools even offer concentrations in fitness or sport management.

Certification

Employers often require fitness managers to hold personal trainer or related professional certifications from organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). To earn one of these credentials, you'll need a high school diploma and CPR certification. You'll also need to pass an exam that includes topics in fitness assessment, program design, anatomy, physiology and nutrition.

Career Skills

In addition to sales skills, the ability to effectively communicate is one of the most important traits of a successful fitness manager. Whether your clients are voicing complaints or outlining fitness goals, communication skills are key to ensuring that gym members get the most out of their training programs. Personnel management skills are also a plus. You'll need these to delegate tasks among your training staff and hold them to performance goals.

What Do Employers Look for?

Recent postings on job boards highlight that professional certification is a common qualification for fitness manager positions. An ability to keep up with the latest training techniques was also specified. Experience requirements can vary. Below are details from some March 2012 job posts:

  • A Texas gym needs a fitness manager to hire and coach the personal training staff. Certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), ACE, NASM or ACSM is required. Applicants will also need two years of experience; an exercise-related bachelor's degree is preferred.
  • A New Jersey fitness group needs general and assistant fitness managers who can oversee the personal training department. They'll also need to meet biweekly revenue and client retention goals. Minimum qualifications include personal training certification or a fitness-related degree.
  • A national chain of gyms is looking for a fitness manager with sales experience and customer service skills for one of its California locations. Personal training certification and a high school diploma are required. A knowledge of nutrition and experience in the field is a plus.

How to Beat the Competition

Recent job posts indicate that employers prefer applicants who are bilingual. To get an edge on other job applicants, you might consider enrolling in a school's continuing education program to develop your second-language skills. Learning how to use personal training software, such as Fitness Maker or Personal Trainer Pro, could also be a plus when trying to set yourself apart from the competition.

Other Careers to Consider

Coach

If you'd like to organize a high school or college team rather than manage personal trainers, you might consider pursuing a career in coaching. These professionals teach and train athletes during practices, giving them exercise and physical fitness routines regularly. A downside to this profession is that you'll need some familiarity with the sport you're coaching. Additionally, you might need a teaching background before you can coach at a high school. The BLS projected a 29% employment growth for coaches, a category that also includes scouts, between 2010-2020. Their median annual wage was around $28,000 as of May 2011.

Recreation Worker

A job as a recreation worker could be a better career fit if you'd prefer leading a recreational program's activities or supervising the work of camp counselors. Most full-time positions in this field require a bachelor's degree. However, you might want to take a look at the salaries of recreation workers before deciding to invest in a 4-year program. As of May 2011, these professionals earned a median annual salary of just over $22,000, according to the BLS. Moreover, an average 19% job growth was projected for this field for the 2010-2020 decade.

Popular Schools

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    1. Georgetown University

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    Master's
      • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
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    2. American University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Sports Analytics Management
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    3. George Mason University

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    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
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    4. Grand Canyon University

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    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
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      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business
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      • BS in Sports Management
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    5. Full Sail University

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      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
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    6. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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      • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
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    7. The University of Scranton

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      • MBA - Healthcare Management
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    8. Saint Joseph's University

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      • MS - Health Admin
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      • MSHS in Health Care Quality
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      • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality
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    10. Colorado State University Global

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    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

American University

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

What is your highest level of education?

George Mason University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business
  • BS in Sports Management

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

The University of Scranton

  • MBA - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Health Administration
  • Executive Certificate in Health Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS - Health Admin

What is your highest level of education completed?