Best Career Specializations For Personal Trainers in 2023
Career Specializations for Personal Trainers

Coach Tyler here!

Thanks for taking the time out to read another one of my blog posts. I love spending time researching important developments in the world of fitness, bringing you the information that I think you need to know.

I also love speaking from my experience as a personal trainer. Believe me when I say that the world of fitness continues to grow at a phenomenal rate as more and more people start to take their health seriously.

And the easiest way to make a change in your life is by looking after your body, watching what you put into it and adding some exercise to your daily routine. After all, the heart is a muscle and getting it beating a little faster will certainly benefit it.

In this blog, I want to investigate the career specializations that you can have as a personal trainer.

You certainly don’t need to just work in a gym, waiting to help clients that need your guidance, that’s for sure. This career path has literally exploded with opportunities and many personal trainers are choosing a specific area as their niche to make their mark in. Of course, most of them will require more studies as they are specialized, some taking a few month and others a couple of years.

But let’s take a look at a few that I find fascinating.

As A Personal Trainer, The Opportunities To Specialize Are Huge!

As A Personal Trainer, The Opportunities To Specialize Are Huge!

Variety and opportunity. That’s what I love about the world of a personal trainer.

There are just so many doors open to you. Of course, many of us get accredited as personal trainers so we can be our own bosses. And that means working on our own by securing clients that we guide in one-on-one sessions. And it’s a great way to help others and to make a living that’s for sure. But if you are looking for something different to specialize in, carry on reading!

Because today, we are going to look at a range of specializations that are open to you as a personal trainer.

These are just some of them:

  • Strength and conditioning coach
  • Group exercise instructor
  • Fitness manager
  • Senior fitness specialist
  • Youth fitness specialist
  • Weight loss transformation specialist
  • Bodybuilding specialist
  • Corrective exercise specialist
  • Health coaching

So let’s take a look at each specialization in turn

Strength & Conditioning Coach

Strength & Conditioning Coach

The first specialization that I want to cover that I think personal trainers can consider is that of the strength and conditioning coach.

This is an area that has come to the fore over the last number of years, especially as people look to improve the overall strength of their muscles and bodies as a way to improve their performance. At all pro sports franchises, you can rest assured that you will find plenty of strength and conditioning coaches.

There are other areas where a personal trainer, specializing as a strength and conditioning coach, can gain employment. They are becoming a popular addition to high school sports staff, you will find them at colleges as well as outside of educational institutions, for example, at a wellness center or corporate gyms.

But they are making the move into personal fitness as well. In fact, sports enhancement classes are becoming more and more popular at local gyms and in general, these are run by a strength and conditioning professional.

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To become a strength and conditioning coach, you will need to be accredited over and above your regular personal trainer certification. There are many excellent institutions that I would recommend for this certification including:

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Performance Enhancement Specialist
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (perhaps the best one out there)
  • International Sports Science Association’s Strength and Conditioning Specialist

These are just three excellent examples. Read more about them in my “How To Become A Strength And Conditioning Coach” blog post here.

Group Exercise Instructor

Group Exercise Instructor

For some personal trainers, the idea of working with groups of people appeals more than working in a one-on-one situation. If that’s you, you might consider looking to specialize as a group exercise instructor.

And when you’ve been at your local gym working out, you can see the demand for group exercises. The growth in this area of fitness has being nothing short of phenomenal.

While it all started out with aerobics, group exercise options have literally exploded over the last decade. There are so many more to choose from nowadays including:

  • Spinning
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • High-Intensity Interval Training
  • Dance Fitness
  • Water Aerobics
  • Crossfit
  • Boxing/Kickboxing
  • Boot camp
  • And more…

The thing about a group exercise instructor is that it’s not only about leading the classes. There is so much more to this career choice.

Of course, there is plenty of planning involved – somebody has got to get those classes scheduled perfectly so nothing overlaps – as well as the fact that you have to play the role of a motivator.

And you will deal with clients on a daily basis. These range from regulars to newbies. It’s about working out in which classes they will see the greatest benefit, ensuring that people stay motivated and more.

If you think that working in the group exercise field is for you, you can look into one of these certifications offered by some of the best online training companies in the United States. I would recommend the following:

  • ISSA Specialist In Group Fitness
  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor
  • ACSM Certified Group Exercise Instructor

Why not take a look through my group fitness certification blog post for even more options.

Fitness Manager

Fitness Manager

If you like pulling the strings and running the show as well as managing others, as a personal trainer, you could look to specialize as a fitness manager.

Now you’ve spent plenty of time in a gym or fitness center. And you know the hard work that goes on behind the scene to ensure it runs like clockwork. All that is under the auspices of a fitness manager.

Things like staff recruitment, membership, sales and marketing, finances and scheduling are just some of the tasks a fitness manager will deal with on a daily basis. It’s about keeping the inner workings of a fitness center running as smoothly as possible, helping to make the gym experience something that clients love and want to return to.

It’s an interesting job that’s for sure with plenty to keep you occupied. Today, most employers will require a bachelor’s degree in the field of exercise science or perhaps even some form of business studies. And of course, your personal trainer certification is going to help as well.

Senior Fitness Specialist

Senior Fitness Specialist

Senior fitness is certainly a growing market in the fitness world. More and more people continue to go to the gym, even as they reach their retirement years. It’s because they know that keeping their body fit and healthy is a huge benefit as they age.

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And as a personal trainer, senior fitness is definitely a niche that many choose to specialize in. While most personal training certifications will cover special groups, including seniors, it’s important that if you want to specialize in this field, you need to get accredited further.

That means taking the time to get certified as a senior fitness specialist. This will enable you to:

  • Draw up fitness plans with seniors in mind (that means finding the right exercises dependant on any health conditions or injuries they might suffer from)
  • Design specific cardio, strength and other fitness programs particularly with seniors in mind
  • Understand chronic conditions that seniors might suffer from and build fitness plans around them
  • Properly assess new senior clients overall fitness
  • Learn to motivate seniors

If this is the path you see your career taking as a personal trainer, there are many excellent certifications that you could consider. These include:

  • ISSA Senior Fitness Certification
  • NASM Senior Fitness Specialist
  • ACE Senior Fitness Specialist

Youth Fitness Specialist

Youth Fitness Specialist

On the opposite end of the scale, another specialization you might consider is working with youth specifically. And if you love working with kids, this certainly might be the perfect niche in the personal training world that you could excel at.

There certainly is a demand for youth-focused exercise programs. That’s because around 18.5% of children and older kids in the United States are considered to be obese. That’s 13.7 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With kids leading a far more sedentary life than they did two decades ago, these numbers are just going to increase. But thankfully, many parents and kids themselves are understanding the need to exercises more.

But there is even more scope in this field. For example, your clients can include kids who take their sport extremely seriously and want to take their strength and conditioning to the next level.

Remember, you are working with every changing bodies here, clients will certainly evolve as they train with you, and not only from a strength or fitness point of view!

Many of America’s top training organizations offer youth fitness specialist certifications. Some to consider are:

  • ISSA Youth Fitness Certification
  • ACE Youth Exercise Specialization
  • NASM Youth Exercise Specialization

Weight loss Transformation Specialist

Weight loss Transformation Specialist

Many people start their fitness journey because they are overweight and want to claim their lives back. Carry extra weight can really put a strain not only on the heart and lungs, but also on our muscles and joints.

Many personal trainers opt to specialize in helping overweight people lose pounds and keep them off by devising specific exercise programs for them. And it’s mental too as you try to find the causes why clients overeat.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most rewarding parts of personal training.

It’s not only about devising the right program for each individual but it’s about keeping them motivated and instilling a change in behavior, even when they want to give up.

And the reward? Well, when clients reach their goals, they are literally changed for life!

If this is an area in which you see yourself excelling as a personal trainer, consider one of these certifications.

  • ISSA Transformation Specialist Certification
  • NASM Weight Loss Specialization Certification
  • ACE Weight Loss Specialist

Bodybuilding Specialist

Bodybuilding Specialist

You see them at every gym in America. Those ladies and gents that love to pump iron, who want to build their physiques and ultimately, have the ultimate body possible.

To reach that point, they often turn to personal trainers that specialize in bodybuilding, especially if theu are preparing themselves for bodybuilding competitions.

A bodybuilding specialist is able to guide their clients, not just in the best exercises, to target various muscle groups but to optimize overall muscle size. And all that without overtraining which could cause significant injuries. It also includes knowledge of nutrition and supplements.

ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist is one of the only certifications specializing in this area.

Corrective Exercise Specialist

Corrective Exercise Specialist

Specializing in corrective exercise means helping to keep your personal training clients injury-free. That’s because as a corrective exercise specialist, you will learn how to assess clients in a new way, finding out weak points in their muscles and movements and designing relevant and effective exercise programs to help them overcome any potential problems.

In my book, the three top corrective exercise specialist certifications are:

  • NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist
  • ACE Corrective Exercise Certification
  • ISSA Corrective Exercise Certification

Health Coaching

Health Coaching

By using a holistic approach, a health coach can help a range of clients towards a better life. They do this by changing habits and instilling the need to make the right choices to ensure a happier, healthy life.

A health coach can help someone improve their lives in so many different ways, but all from a health point of view. For example, a health coach can help to quit smoking, fight chronic diseases through lifestyle changes and more.

In terms of health coach certifications, here are a few to consider:

  • ACE Health Coach Certification
  • NSHC Health Coach Certification
  • The Wellness School of Coaching Certification
  • The Duke Integrative Health Coach Program

Last Words

Last Words...

Well, there you have it. I hope you have enjoyed this post on specialization options that a personal trainer can look at when wanting to further their career. I am sure that at least one of these pricked your interest a little.

It’s always nice to know that should you wish to advance your career in the world of fitness even further, there are plenty of ways to go about it. And bettering yourself throughout your career is always a good thing, right?

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.



  1. NASM
  2. NSCS
  3. APTA
  4. ISSA
  5. ACE
  6. ACSM
  7. ACSM
  8. CAATE
  9. NATA

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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4 thoughts on “Best Career Specializations For Personal Trainers in 2023”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Amazing post! I like the ideas that it’s always nice to know that should you wish to advance your career in the world of fitness even further, there are plenty of ways to go about it.

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