How Much Do Personal Trainers Make + 4 Hacks to Earn More

Aug 3, 2018 · 8 minutes to read


Did you know that personal training is one of the fastest growing careers in America with projected 330,000 jobs by 2026? It boasts flexible hours, low barriers to entry and limitless income potential, just a few of the benefits of the job. It’s no wonder that more and more former athletes or just those interested and somewhat experienced in fitness make it their career of choice.

Of course, with an abundance of new entrants into this field, or any field really, means that you need to work hard to compete and reach your income potential.

In this blog post, we want to shed some light on how to be a successful personal trainer by answering that burning question- how much would I make as a personal trainer? As well as four hacks on how you could earn more.


Let’s go!

How much does a personal trainer make?

This is one of the most common questions you may ask yourself when deciding on your career choice.  And it’s an important one. After all, it’s vital to go into anything new with your eyes open, understanding what you can expect to make, and more importantly the income potential.

Let’s break it all down.

How much does a personal trainer make an hour

As a new personal trainer, you will most likely start at a fitness club as one of their junior trainers. A junior trainer typically works on the floor during their shift, doing tasks such as wiping equipment and re-adjusting racks all the while looking for clients amongst the members of the gym.

The pay will be minimal. Usually, you will get anywhere between $8-$15 an hour depending on the location (gyms in bigger cities typically pay better) and how upscale the gym is.

As we mentioned earlier, your starter wage will be small, probably a little above minimum wage. Once you get someone to put their trust in you and book sessions with you, the fitness club will split the cost of the package with you. Different gyms have different splits that they practice.  The typical splits are anywhere between 40 and 60 per cent of the cost of the package going to the trainer.

So, for example, if your gym offers a 60/40 split, you would get $72 off a $120 package.

Factors that may affect your compensation:

  • experience level
  • any advance certifications (more on that below)
  • referrals
  • location of where you are
  • a big chain gym vs. boutique, upscale fitness club
  • group fitness trainer or a personal trainer (group trainer typically earns less)
  • specialization

According to payscale.com, after factoring in everything, including the average $$ amount for sessions booked, the total hourly wage hovers between $10 – $49 per hour.

Monthly and Yearly Compensation and Budgeting

As with the hourly pay, the total monthly and yearly compensation for a personal trainer can vary a lot based on location, certifications etc.

According to payscale.com, the monthly compensation for a personal trainer can vary from $2,300 to over $6,000 a month.

The yearly compensation would be anywhere from $28,000 – $80,000 roughly. Of course, these are the averages. You are fully in charge of how much you make. It all depends on your hard work, how personable you are (you are in a customer service business after all!) and of course, just a little bit of luck.

Keep in mind, that this number (and any statistic that we will provide in the blog post or that you see on websites such as salary.com, Glassdoor, etc.)  apply only to company employed personal trainers. 

Independent contractors tend to earn more both hourly and yearly since they have the freedom to charge what they want and don’t have to give up part of their earnings.

We also mentioned the word “budgeting” in the header above. Yes, yes, we know, the dreaded budget word that is hard to get excited about.

Even though we are mainly focusing on how much a trainer makes and how to get started, we can’t talk about the earnings without mentioning the seasonality of the business and the importance of budgeting around it.

When you are just starting out, it’s key to understand that this business is seasonal. While the seasonality affects you less as your business grows and you have a steady stream of clients, it’s a big part of the business at first.

In a traditional job you get your paycheck every month, regardless if it’s winter or summer. This is not so with personal training.

Winter tends to be the busiest time when everyone flocks to the gyms in January to achieve those New Year’s resolutions. It gradually tapers off around spring and really slows down in Summer. When considering your yearly income, keep in mind that in summer months you will make less, guaranteed.

A healthy budget, where you save a portion of your checks in the bigger months will help you through those initial slow seasons in the business.

4 Hacks on How to Earn More

Certifications – the simplest way to increase your earning power in this business is through attaining advanced certifications. On an instinct, people tend to trust the professionals that are certified in whatever service they are interested in purchasing. Think about a mechanic. You are much more likely to serve your shiny new BMW at a certified shop rather than at a John Doe Mechanic situated in a gas station.

Certifications give you the ability to charge more, and there is a lot to choose from. Top certifications include:

  • ACE (American Council on Exercise)
  • ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)
  • ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association)
  • NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
  • NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association)

–    Break away from the gym – Even though the gyms provide a safety net of an hourly wage and do most of the marketing for you by bringing a lot of potential clients through the door daily if you want to earn more – eventually you got to go your own way. Of course, there is no reason why you can’t or shouldn’t stretch out this process. You can simply reduce the hours in the fitness club and dedicate more time to pursuing clients outside of the club.

The ultimate goal to maximize your earning potential should be having your own studio or training clients at their homes or another independent place you can rent.

Creative marketing – when attempting to strike out on your own it’s essential to stand out from the pack. Creative marketing can help with that. Utilize all the tools at your disposal. Consider recording some YouTube videos and being active on popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Host Bootcamps -Bootcamps are all the rage nowadays. Trusting a trainer both with your health and your money is easier when you have something to go on. A bootcamp provides a platform for you to impress your prospective client, give them an idea of what kind of trainer you are. Of course, it is also an easier sell because bootcamps typically cost less and are shorter. They are much easier for a consumer to commit to.

Insurance Protects Personal Trainer’s Business

One of the ways of treating your new personal training career as a business is purchasing insurance to protect you from lawsuits. As a personal trainer, you work with many different people every day. You are in charge of the exercises they perform during your sessions, correcting their form and you also might be giving them nutritional advice. It’s easy to see how a simple mistake may happen, after all, you are human. Unfortunately, mistakes like these can have dire consequences – injuries, illnesses etc.

A professional liability insurance will help offset the financial blow a lawsuit would cause. It covers the cost to investigate and defend a lawsuit, as well as any settlements or judgement awards against you.

Fill out a short form on BizInsure’s website to receive instant quotes for personal trainer liability insurance.

As you can see, a career in Personal Training can be very lucrative. Does it require hard work? Absolutely! Will you have a few leaner months or even years? Probably.

However, do not give up! The averages that we shared with you today, are just that – averages. Believe in yourself. Work hard. Follow the process. As with any business, persistence is essential and all the hard work you put in today will come back to you tenfold.  As they say, the sky is the limit!

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