How much do personal trainers really make? CPT Salary 2022

How much do personal trainers make? This is the ultimate guide to personal trainer salary in 2022.

You will learn:

Which gyms pay the most
How much private trainers make
How much online trainers make (HUGE)
Which states earn the most (interactive map)
The 3 main types of PT salary

Also, I just completed a study on 600 of the top-earning personal trainers in the US. The results are shocking.

Make sure to take the quiz to get a good idea of which certification is right for you.

Let’s get started!

Personal Trainer Salary

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    Personal Trainer Salary Video (YouTube)

    💰 Personal Trainer Salary: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How much do Trainers Make in 2021? 🤔

    Personal Trainer Salary (Podcast)

    3 Primary PT earning structures

    Factors That Affect Personal Trainer Salary

    In this section, we will go over the 3 most common earning structures for personal trainers.

    After this section, you will learn which gyms pay the most. Let’s start.

    So many people ask me “how much does an average personal trainer make,” “how much do personal trainers make a year?”

    To best answer this question, you need to understand the three primary places that personal trainers work and how much they get paid in each.

    Let’s start with the commercial gym salary.

    If you find that personal training is a career you would like to pursue, make sure to check out my free running start course that will help you A to Z with starting as a PT.

    Commercial Gym Trainer Salary

    This is the most basic setup with regards to earning and in terms of the average salary of personal trainers in this respect.

    You operate as an employee of the gym and gain a minimum wage based on your work on the floor.

    The gym will typically incentivize your job performance by offering raises or bonuses based on how much traffic you generate.

    If your sales skills are sharp, you will typically earn decent cash through a commission-based model from selling programs, packages and memberships.

    The commercial gym setup is the most stable as it comes with a W2 form for employment and all the basic benefits you can expect as an employed individual.

    The downside of this is that it is also the lowest earning potential of the 3.

    Personal trainers can earn much more as independent or 1099 trainers.

    Down below in this article, I break down the top nine commercial gyms by the salaries that they pay their trainers.

    Independent Personal Trainer Salary

    This structure allows you the freedom to work, schedule and charge whatever you feel like.

    This basically means you are self-employed and running your own business.

    As mentioned, the bonus is that you have the independence to create your own work environment and set your own price with no pressure from a corporate overlord.

    You also get to be more creative with your programs and don’t have to adhere to a strict training protocol.

    The downside of this is that you are less exposed to a regular stream of clients and will need to optimize your networking and marketing processes in order to convert sales.

    You also aren’t guaranteed a fixed income and have to rely on how well you can retain your clients in the long run.

    The fact that you are running your own business in a sense means all the administrative technicalities rest square on your shoulders such as tax and insurance.

    Overhead costs such as facility use, which counts as a rental fee will also come out of your earnings, further affecting your average personal trainer salary somewhat.

    For example, most gyms charge an entry fee for personal trainers to bring their own plants.

    This entry fee might be something like $15 per session.

    If you are charging around $60 per session, that eats away at approximately 25% of your total.

    Although you can charge whatever you want as an independent, you will need to be smart and try to stay within the limits of industry standards in your area, and also play to what you can get away with charging based on the experience and reputation you’ve built.

    With this structure, the personal trainer can really charge whatever they want.

    It’s not uncommon to see trainers charge between $60 and $100 per 1-hour session working as an independent trainer.

    The independent trainer is almost free of costs.

    Later in the article you will learn how much completely private personal trainers make.

    This is the goal of a lot of trainers.

    1099 Personal Trainer Contract Structure

    This structure is sort of a hybrid between being an employed trainer and an independent one.

    In this case, you work as a private contractor who supplies a gym or facility with your expertise in order to service their clients.

    This allows you a general degree of freedom you can expect as an independent and some of the perks of income security you would enjoy as an employee.

    This system works out by having you split your earnings with the gym or facility based on an agreed percentage split.

    With that out of the way, let’s look at which gyms offer what in terms of personal trainer salaries and earning potential.

    I’ve made a list of popular gyms and how you can generate an income by associating yourself with them.

    Typically with this type of structure the personal trainer and the facility split the payments received by the clients 50/50.

    So if the client is paying $70 per session, the trainer will get $35 and the facility will get $35.

    Let’s take a look to see which gyms pay the most in the United States.

    Since this is where most personal trainer start out, this information is extremely important.

    Personal Trainer Salary by Gym (The Top 9)

    Personal Trainer Salary by Gym (The Top 11)

    After this section, you will learn how much money private and online personal trainers make. Very important!

    Keep reading to find out.

    In the process of our study, we reached out to several big gym brands to get an idea of how their trainers earn.

    Now you will get a clear idea of how to charge your clients or how much you should consider if going to fill a vacancy in a gym.

    This information will help you decide where you want to get your foot in the door.

    As such, in this section, we will be able to determine the best gyms to work for, the average income of a personal trainer, which personal trainer career will be worth your time and certificate, and much more.

    24 Hour Fitness Salary

    24 Hour Fitness salary

    Minimum wage:

    $7/hour session starting wage based on trainer tier

    Trainer Tiers:

    PT Elite
    Master Trainer

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 4


    20% upfront on any personal trainer packages sold
    10% upfront on any group class packages sold.

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 5


    5% bonus for every 60 sessions or more over a 1-day period.

    Trainer Earning Capacity Comparison Example (New PT1 Trainer vs Master Trainer)

    Example of a new PT1 trainer

    Salary type
    Hourly income($10/hour x 120 hours)$1,200
    Training income(60 sessions at $7/hour)$420
    Training package sales($2,500 in sales at 20%)$500
    Total monthly income$2,120

    Example of a master trainer

    Salary type
    Hourly income($10/hour x 160 hours)$1,600
    Training income(120 sessions at $17/hour)$2,040
    Training package sales($5,000 in sales at 20%)$1,000
    Bonus5% bonus for 60+ sessions$232
    Total monthly income$4,872

    Equinox Salary

    Equinox Salary

    Minimum Wage

    Equinox has a complex wage tier structure, but wherever you land, you’ll be earning more than at most gyms even at the basic starting level.

    Take into account that Equinox trainers work an average of 27 sessions per week.

    So, their average PT salary should reflect that.

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 6


    The incentive program kicks in once a trainer works more than 42 sessions per 2-week pay cycle.

    All tier earnings are bumped up (see table above)


    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 7

    LA Fitness Personal Training Salary

    LA Fitness Salary

    Minimum wage:

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 8

    Location-Based Earning Stats

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 9


    None reported outside of the increased earning capacity for conducting group sessions


    None reported as of reaching out.

    LA fitness does seem to present the lowest job satisfaction of most major gym chains due to the high trainer turnover and anecdotal accounts.

    Note, at this point, that the corporate trainer salary also varies according to gyms and locations.

    YMCA Salary

    YMCA Salary

    Minimum wage:

    A 4 tiered earning structure that starts at $15/hour session.

    Tier structures are as follows:

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 10


    Benefits that include payment of $100 towards recertification fees as well as trainer CEUs


    None outside the tiered structure

    Gold’s Gym Salary

    Golds Gym Salary

    Minimum wage:

    Starting at $10/hour session, going up to $30/hour session depending on trainer experience and length of time of employment.

    No specific figures or stats were given on how that’s all structured.


    None reported


    $400 for every 55 sessions performed

    Minimum wage:

    $12 – $15/ hour session (minimum wage is location dependent)


    None reported


    $400 for every 55 sessions performed

    Snap Fitness Salary

    Snap Fitness Salary

    Minimum wage:

    $10 – $15/ hour session


    None reported


    None reported

    Planet Fitness Salary

    Planet Fitness Salary

    Minimum wage:

    $10 – $15/ hour session based on the trainer I reached out to.

    They, however, made it clear that wages and bonuses vary from location to location.


    Pay increases based on the amount of time working and overall performance at the discretion of management and based on location


    No specific bonus structure at this location, but others may have.

    Crunch Fitness Salary

    Crunch Fitness Salary

    Minimum wage:

    Varies based on franchise location


    Incentives, like wages, vary from location to location, trainers earn different commission structures based on what they sell and how much they sell in terms of personal training packages.

    The commission ranges from 40% to 65%

    Tiered earning structure


    Bonuses and incentives are tied in.

    Anytime Fitness Salary

    Anytime Fitness Salary

    Minimum wage:

    As a franchise chain, the wages vary depending on the location but expect the minimum starting wage to fluctuate around the industry standard of between $10 – $15/hour.


    None other than commission split for packages sold and the ability to increase earnings by running group classes


    Awarded on top of the minimum wage for selling of monthly packages.

    Private personal trainer salary

    Private personal trainer

    What’s even better than being an independent personal trainer that pays a gym fee? A private personal trainer!

    In the section, you will learn how much private personal trainers earn.

    When many people consider becoming a fitness professional, they often approach the idea with the prospects of a lofty, lucrative career.

    One that affords them freedom and financial security.

    The ability to call the shots, make the rules, and set their own price.

    The reality is, in order to cut it in the market in such a manner requires a lot of experience, preparation, and hard work behind the scenes.

    Most qualified health and fitness trainers will opt for the easier option of gaining employment through a gym or fitness organization.

    Others will seek out a more self-sufficient arrangement and rent space or facilities from an established fitness operator.

    The former will have the advantage of employee benefits.

    Benefits include a 401k, medical, dental, and disability cover to name a few.

    The tradeoff is that as an employed trainer, your income is dedicated to you for as long as you remain in the position you find yourself in the company structure.

    Your schedule is not your own and you have limited flexibility and free time which you could otherwise use to be proactive, creative, and industrious in ways that would elevate your career and income.

    The former also referred to as an independent trainer, would seem to have it all figured out.

    As an independent trainer, you set your own price and decide how to deliver your service and what those services are, to begin with.

    You simply need to have enough resources to manage to pay a gym rental or commission so that you have access to the necessary space and infrastructure to make your business viable and valuable.

    The tradeoff here is even though you are operating your own business, you’re still at the mercy or whims of someone else’s.

    Let’s say you’re renting out space and equipment in a gym. In doing so, you are still subject to the policies and guidelines of that company.

    You also have no ultimate say in and decisions that would be made which could affect your operating status.

    If the gym is full due to a busy class, you won’t have access to floor space or equipment you might otherwise want to use.

    If the gym closes temporarily, or even on a permanent basis, you are out of luck and with little control.

    This means that despite operating independently, you’re still pretty dependent.

    So is it even possible to actually operate as a truly self-sufficient trainer?

    Yes, it is, and it’s called private personal training.

    What Is Private Personal Training?

    Private personal training is being able to set up and operate a fitness business with complete autonomy and self-reliance.

    All the necessary infrastructure you would normally rent is no longer a concern, and you are completely free to decide every aspect of your operation.

    The only drawback is that building a name and client base with zero access to gym traffic can be arduous, but with the right marketing strategies and business acumen, a private PT has the potential to hit the top income bracket as far as personal training is concerned.

    Let’s crunch some numbers to gain a better idea.

    Income Figures

    The income stats show average annual earnings of personal trainers across different employment models.

    As you’ll soon learn with the other variables at play, your employment option affects both how much work you need to put in and how much you get for it, which doesn’t always balance out.

     Average Annual Earnings
    Private PT$78,000
    Independent PT$62,000
    Gym Employed PT$34,000

    Average Session Fees

    With average session fees, we can now start to paint a picture of where private personal training has an edge on the other two income options.

    In this regard, gym employment, despite having a lower premium on what you’ll earn, might prove to be more rewarding with benefits factored in.

    It’s also important to note that independent trainers actually earn more than this, in some cases they earn double, a large porting of which gets gobbled up by rent or commission.

     Rate per hour
    Private PT$50
    Independent PT$30
    Gym Employed PT$22

    Average Hours Worked (per week)

    The amount of time worked obviously factors into how much of an earning you can generate.

    While gym employed trainers and private PTs seem to work the same hours, the difference is private PTs choose that schedule whereas a gym employed PT has to deal with a roster.

    Independent trainers are likely working extra hours to play catch up on the earnings lost to commission or rent.

     Hours/Sessions per week
    Private PT30
    Independent PT40
    Gym Employed PT30

    It’s clear that from an income potential standpoint, being a private PT is a clear winning strategy.

    But if it’s so lucrative, why isn’t every trainer a private trainer?

    Well, it could be the fact that establishing a business this way takes A LOT MORE WORK initially.

    You also need to work around the fact that you won’t have access to top tier equipment unless you rig out your own little gym operation and essentially become a gym owner.

    So how would one actually go about being a private trainer and eliminate the hassle of investing in equipment and infrastructure?

    Well, two words, Online Training…

    Online Personal Trainer salary

    Online Personal Training: A Booming Business

    At this point, there’s just no denying that online personal training is here to stay.

    Online Personal Training is here to stay

    Did you know that as many as 46% of the top earners in the US personal training industry have an online segment from which they earn lots of passive income?

    Our wonderful friend, the internet, can also help you reach more potential clients and increase sales, according to top-earners.

    We asked some of the most successful personal trainers in the US about online personal training and the answers were as emphatic and they were in unison.

    Our survey showed that these ladies and gentlemen earn a big chunk of their monthly revenue from passive income received from services offered online.

    If you want to win the big bucks, especially with the rapid adoption of digital economies, you have to go online.

    Statistics indicate that trainers with an online component or those who’s entire business model run online are among the top-grossing earners on average.

    So what makes online fitness such a big income stream?

    Let’s take a look at exactly what it is to get that answer.

    What is Online Personal Training?

    Online personal training is taking the existing model of health and fitness coaching and delivering it over online channels, simple.

    How this is done works in a few common ways.

    The first is to set up a website and eCommerce platform where you have products and services listed for digital purchases, which then allows you to create.

    The next way of doing online PT is a bit less direct and that’s through the power of content marketing such as producing youtube videos or blogging.

    The earnings in this regard are based on engagement traffic and advertising revenue and really should be treated as a supplement to the first option.

    Lastly, we have an integrated or hybrid approach. This is where you offer real-world, in-person training with components of online service provision.

    An example would include providing online programming or nutritional service in combination with in-person monitoring of workout sessions.

    Online Personal Training Statistics

    Numbers tell the whole story, and while we can go on and on about how lucrative the online PT space is, you need to get a grasp of what that stats say to paint an accurate picture.

    Services Offered

    To understand the statistics of online training, we first need to look at the different services offered.

    In most cases, and online coach would offer fitness in the following categories:

    • Billed consultation
    • Once-off customized
    • Ongoing/recurring service

    Let’s now take a look at each and see what the average income stats come to.

    Billed Consultation

    A billed consultation would be something like Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or phone call, where you as a trainer will discuss concerns or queries with a client in real-time in a remote or virtual capacity.

    You would bill such sessions at a per minute or per hour rate.

    Most trainers in this regard bill per hour and the going standard is similar to what a private coach would charge for the same amount of time in-person.

    That’s a figure of between $40 – $50 per hour.

    Now how many such calls would you receive depends on your level of influence, the reputation of your business, and the volume of clients.

    Based on numbers we could find, the average well-established trainer receives up to 9 consultation calls per week.

    With a call running up to about $50/week, that brings the average annual earnings to about $23,400/year on consultation calls alone.

    Once-Off Customized

    A once-off customized plan would entail something like a 6, 9, or 12-week nutrition or fitness plan.

    After an initial consultation and data gathering, the trainer would then design a health and fitness program tailored to the individual needs of the client.

    Beyond delivering the program, the trainer will have no further guarantee of business with this client.

    Of course, there are many ways of stimulating repeat business and customer loyalty, but for argument’s sake, we’ll look at it as a once-off deal.

    The going average for such fully customized programs is around the $200 – $500 mark. So let’s work with an average of $350.

    With this in mind, we also see that the average volume of sales for customized programs is 5 – 7 per week.

    That can bring up an annual total of $109,200.

    Ongoing Service

    Some clients prefer long term retention of an online trainer’s service, as sort of a fixed component to their lifestyle.

    This helps them with adherence and accountability.

    In such cases, a trainer would set a monthly fee where payment is renewed every month.

    This is a great way to ensure income stability.

    In such instances, trainers tend to net around $500/month on average owing to the more hands-on approach being taken which includes regular follow-ups, progress tracking, and feedback.

    A busy trainer would be working with up to 10 or even 15 such clients at any given time, but the more common number seems to be around 6.

    Given those figures, an online trainer can expect to net around $36,000 annually from retainers.

    When we look at these figures, we can begin to paint a picture of what an online trainer could potentially earn.

    ServicePotential Annual Earnings
    Billed Consultation$23,400
    Once-Off Customized$109,000

    So there we go, based on the stats we’ve gathered, an online private personal trainer could potentially earn up to $168,400 before any running deductions.

    It’s important to note that many factors and variables will ultimately affect these figures.

    We calculated our final numbers based on having consistent, fixed volumes of clients throughout the year.

    But one thing you will soon learn about fitness is that it is a seasonal business.

    Winter months can really be dry, while summer can almost be overwhelming.

    With that said, as lucrative business models, and with the right amount of work taken into consideration, both private personal training and online personal training seem to be the way to go.

    Personal trainer salary by state (Map)

    Personal trainer salary per state

    Hover over your state to see what personal trainers make where you live.

    If you are on mobile, you can zoom in with two fingers to get more exact on the map.

    Also make sure to check out my guide on how to become a personal trainer state-by-state.

    Made with Visme Infographic Maker

    Report on the top-earning PT’s in the USA [STUDY]

    Report on the top-earning PT's in the USA [STUDY]

    In the next section, we will be reviewing a very important study that reveals which personal training specializations and certifications will earn you the most money.

    Let’s find out what it’s all about.

    The Highest Earning Personal Trainer Specializations

    PT earning percentages

    There are tons of certifications floating around out there.

    It’s a typical case of the good, the bad and the ugly.

    My goal with PT Pioneer is to help you not only find the good but also to determine the best especially if you want to go the specialized route.

    Most certifying agencies provide a general approach to health and fitness, but many will have areas of focus and tiers of specialization, so it’s important to know which one offers what and match that with your career preferences.

    So, which of these certificates is more valuable – according to our research?

    Results from our nationwide survey concluded that certificates focusing on strength and conditioning are the most valuable and most sought after in the industry.

    The top-rated personal trainers we surveyed earned a whopping 42% more than those who don’t hold those certificates.

    A strength and conditioning coach is really valuable in the athletic and sports industry, and no wonder such a fitness coach salary is on the high side.

    With billions of dollars injected into thousands of school programs to create more excellent sports stars at the professional level, you can rest assured that there will always be young boys and girls requiring your skills to strengthen them and condition their muscles.

    Imagine a Christiano Ronaldo or Dwayne Johnson without a strength and conditioning coach.

    These athletes who people pay good money to see week-in, week-out are expected to stay in top shape and to do that, they require the services of trainers.

    It gets even better.

    With such skills and experience helping professional and amateur athletes, our research shows that this knowledge is one of the easiest to transfer to other areas of personal training.

    So, beyond sports, you can also work in a gym, at home with a client, and elsewhere.

    As long as there will continue to be professional leagues, billion-dollar sports teams, and a vibrant athletic population, the services of strength and conditioning coaches will always be required.

    Combined, these factors make the strength and conditioning certification highly lucrative.

    Following closely is the general personal certification (CPT). People with this certificate earn 34% more than those without the certificate.

    The name says it all – “general.”

    This is no surprise given the fact that the skills you get to acquire on your way to getting certified allow you to work with many groups of people.

    A CPT professional can work with high school students, professional athletes, people recovering from illness, and many more.

    No other certification in the fitness industry provides such wide-range access to all kinds of clients.

    Hundreds of PT professionals we surveyed conclude that the ease of transferring the skills acquired in the process of becoming a general CPT professional makes this certification quite popular.

    People with the certification all agree that they want to have choices and the ability to control where they work and for how long, hence the desire to pick up a general PT certification.

    The same applies to people desiring a corporate trainer salary which may involve few people from a single office or hundreds working in retail chains or conglomerates.

    Next comes certification in sports and fitness nutrition.

    It may not be as popular as the first two, but this certification is quite important too.

    Our research shows that professionals with this certification are also required in the sports sector just as much as private individuals at home or the gym pay for their services.

    While they may not earn as much as the top two certification types, their job is very exciting too.

    Not too far away are the group exercise certifications. Like the sports and fitness nutrition certificate, people who hold this certificate also earn 32% more than those without it.

    Both certificates are on the same rung of the ladder – earnings-wise.

    Modern urban life is gradually conditioning people to seek out health clubs where they can feel loved and valued.

    As such, gyms are becoming some of the most popular places for group activities and people qualified to lead such groups are very important in the grand scheme of things.

    Whether its yoga, Zumba dancing, aerobics, calisthenics and choreographic training, or trekking through a trail, urban dwellers are increasingly needing the services of group fitness trainers.

    Corrective exercise trainers are not as popular as the others because they work in a specialized field and require in-depth knowledge of human anatomy and other health-related considerations.

    They earn about 29% more than people without the certificate.

    People with these certifications commonly work with physiotherapists or alone, helping people correct their posture or when recovering from illnesses.

    Our survey showed that the intensity of studying and the difficulty the exams pose are factors that put people off.

    However, their trainer jobs are important and necessary in hospitals or gym settings.

    The point is clear!

    The kind of certificate you hold will largely determine the physical trainer salary you will be offered.

    speaking of certifications, I recommend that you Take the quiz to find out which personal trainer certification is the best fit for you overall.

    Specialization is the Key to Special Opportunities!

    Just as not everyone who goes to medical school becomes a surgeon so is the personal training industry shaped too.

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    The most successful personal trainers we surveyed all pointed to the same thing – find your niche!

    They all agree that spending more time building your profile by offering specialized services is the way to go.

    To do this, you need to find the area you love most in the fitness industry and acquire the necessary certification.

    While there is absolutely nothing wrong to have diverse skills, becoming a true professional in one area is what will encourage people to advertise on your behalf.

    A specialist PT professional is what people seek, not a “Jack of all trade.”

    In effect, a Certified Personal Trainer salary is higher when they pick a niche and stick with it!

    Top Earning PT Certifications

    Top Earning PT Certifications

    In this section, we will talk about what the top-earning personal trainer certifications are.

    Keep on reading to find out!

    Accreditation influences your earning

    Results from the research PTPioneer commissioned also indicated that the earnings are greatly influenced by the certifying body that issued the qualification the trainer is wielding.

    As far as this business is concerned, the certificate you hold is as important as where you got it from.

    Given the proliferation of certifying bodies offering full or “short courses” traditionally or online, gym owners and athletes are wary of the paper trainers carry about.

    From the study, we have come to find out that there are hundreds of purportedly legitimate certifying bodies.

    Many of these bodies dish out their certificates after a few hours of the candidate’s viewing of recorded video clips.

    Some are so bad, they just want your money after which they send you materials in PDF format – no video, no hands-on training, nothing!

    After speaking to dozens of top-earners in the fitness industry, our research shows that certifying bodies accredited by the NCAA and DCEA are the most recognized, a validation that authenticates the trainer best.

    Also, interviewees affirm that the NSCA CPT salary is the highest in the industry.

    ISSA, NASM, and ACE are the next three most respected fitness certification bodies, in that order, after NSCA.

    With such a strict study requirement and a very tough exam routine, trainers who pass the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists® (CSCS) exam are not just the most respected, they earn the most in the industry.

    The pattern becomes clearer now.

    Strength and Conditioning Specialists are the highest paid and the CSCS is the most respected in the industry.

    This correlation makes absolute sense.

    The ISSA, on the other hand, is one very unique fitness certification body that operates quite differently from the other three in the list above.

    It is accredited by DEAC and not NCAA like the others and its testing protocols are quite different too.

    Thanks to the recent endorsement by celebrities, the access it offers international candidates, and its work with the military and vets, people have come to trust its specialist certificates.

    These factors make holders of the certificate earn more, according to our research findings.

    NASM and ACE are more or less on the same pedestal, trusted over the years for providing quality study materials and standardized tests.

    I’m sure you can now see why the ISSA CPT salary is different from NSCA CPT salary or an ACE CPT salary, for that matter.

    In the end, your certificate goes a long way to determine the Certified Personal Trainer salary you will earn.

    Do You Need A Degree To Earn More?

    Do You Need A Degree To Earn More?

    In the section below, we will break down the difference between trainers with and without a degree.

    Let’s not waste any more time and Jump Right In.

    Personal Trainers with College degrees earn far more

    While it is not compulsory to have a degree to work as a personal trainer, findings from the study show that people who have at least a bachelors are paid more.

    A college degree (especially in Physiology- or Exercise Science-related fields) proves that you have gone through the necessary training, passed many exams, and have been authenticated by the school as qualified to train and give advise.

    As a Kinesiology graduate myself, I can tell you categorically that my worth is much higher than someone with, say, only an NSCA CSCS certificate.

    Having a degree and then additional specialist personal trainer certificates ups your value a great deal and people will trust you more.

    A college degree also means you understand how the business of personal training works.

    While you can earn money training without a degree, the next trainer (like me) who holds a degree can branch out to other fields like writing and publishing books for exercise, paid to give advice, manage big athletes, and so much more.

    It goes without saying that a relevant post-grad degree pushes your worth and earning even higher.

    So, it is no surprise when the study results showed that 32% of the top-earning personal trainers have an advanced degree like a post-grad certificate.

    We have also discovered that as many as 28% of the top trainers that earn over $100k per year hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (among other industry-specific certificates) and that positively impacts their training specialist salary.

    Does a college degree matter?

    Judge for yourself!

    Marketing Tactics To Earn More As A PT

    Marketing Tactics To Earn More As A PT

    In this section, we reveal some of the marketing tactics some of the top personal trainers use to make more money.

    Buckle your seatbelts to uncover them!

    The most effective personal trainer marketing strategies

    A huge billion-dollar market like personal training will naturally attract a lot of people – some very good, others mere mediocre.

    To distinguish yourself from the crowd and get your message to the potential client, you need to market your service, your unique selling point, and unique value proposition.

    Cutting through the noise is not easy but thanks to modern technology, you can achieve your aim by putting in the work.

    A large percentage of the trainers interviewed during the research say that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.

    In other words, your valuable service and professional delivery will earn you more clients, for free, literally.

    This is true about online reviews too.

    User-generated contents (reviews) and endorsements (star ratings) on trusted review sites go a long way to convince potential clients that you can be trusted to deliver what you are selling.

    Also, Youtube’s massive spread, faster internet speed, and cheaper data costs mean people can watch more videos on the platform.

    The media giant has proven to be one of the most important places to market your services given that people can actually SEE you do your thing and evaluate if you can truly help them.

    The power of visuals is incredible; no wonder many of the survey respondents use this method to market their services.

    Applying digital marketing techniques also helps.

    We found out that a lot of those interviewed actually use multiple digital marketing strategies to put their name and services out there.

    Strategies like SEO optimization, paid ads on search engines, and link building, are said to generate the necessary traffic and, in turn, interest and sales.

    As a personal trainer who is active online, you must consider using social media platforms.

    Instagram is great because you can post pictures and short videos, using visuals to capture the minds of prospective clients.

    You can also use Facebook, given its widespread.

    Twitter, according to the respondents, is not a very good option in this regard.

    Top-earners in the fitness industry use these strategies – use them too!

    So, How much do Trainers Make in the end?

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 11

    The personal trainer’s annual salary in the US is between $42,000 and $72,000 with an average of $59,000.

    If you are working part-time, expect to earn $25,000 to $35,000. The top 10% of trainers that work full time can expect to earn between $70,000 and $100,000 or more.

    CPT Salary Infographic

    personal trainer salary

    My Recommendations To Earn More

    My Recommendations To Earn More

    Here I will talk about my top-secret recommendations to earning top dollar as a PT.

    Get your notebook ready!

    Many years of training lots of people has taught me two things:

    1. You can never stop learning in this industry and that’s how you acquire experience
    2. Your reputation will determine how far you go in the business

    The more you continue on this path, training people, you will come to the same conclusion.

    No wonder experience counts.

    Likewise, the farther you progress in your PT career, raking in more wins, the better your reputation – and that counts for credibility which will bring you more cash in the long run.

    Experience Matters

    This is something that rings true with any profession.

    The more time you’ve put into honing your craft, the more competent you will be at it.

    Nowadays, the hiring process in most career fields focuses more on skillset with less emphasis on what you have on paper.

    As you grow in experience, the strength of your personal brand grows along with the demand and price tag.

    Our research shows that people with the right certifications and who have spent up to five years training many clients earn as much as double what a new entrant into the business is offered.

    Trainers with more than five years in the field can earn far more.

    This is most common with certifications in the Corrective Exercise field.

    Also common in this regard are trainers with strength and conditioning certificates who work with big athletes and sports stars.

    The experience they gain in such a high-intensity environment is priceless and pushes up their value astronomically.

    Imagine for a moment what it will cost to hire LeBron James’ strength and conditioning personal trainer.

    That’s experience speaking, folks.

    That brings us to the next important factor, reputation.

    Reputation is Key

    As your experience in the game builds up, your reputation and associated value will grow with it.

    Maintaining a good reputation is one of the most valuable assets you can possess as a personal trainer.

    The PT world is growing, and with that comes a lot of stiff competition.

    There are thousands of trainers today carrying the same legit certs with similar skills and aspirations.

    Your rep is the only way you can truly stand out, so nurture it and keep it on the good side at all costs!

    Location, Location, Location

    Certain geographical locations have a higher demand for fitness.

    Major metropolitan areas such as New York or LA have populations that seek out health and fitness trainers in higher proportion than more modest or smaller cities.

    Places like Boulder, Colorado has an entrenched culture of a fitness-oriented lifestyle.

    This opens you up to more opportunities, and if you play your cards right, using the best strategies, you can expedite your fitness instructor salary growth.

    To give you an idea of where the money is, here are the top 5 cities with the highest average PT salary earnings for a personal trainer.

    Washington, DC
    San Diego, CA
    New York, NY
    Las Vegas, NV
    Columbus, OH

    Personal trainer salary FAQ?

    Conclusion On Personal Trainer Salary

    Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make? 12

    Well there it is everybody, the full breakdown on personal training salaries.

    I hope you guys learned that there is plenty of money to be made in this industry.

    Especially with the expansion 2 online training.

    Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

    This study has been a long time in the works and we ensured we have all the angles covered to help you make the right choices as your progress in your personal training career.

    Utilizing outcomes and stats sourced from some of the highest-paid and most recognized personal trainers in America will help guide you properly as you shoot for the top too.

    Be that as it may, I’ll strongly recommend that you stick to what you have a passion for.

    That trainers with CSCS certification make more money than sports nutritionists does not mean you have to choose that path if your passion is geared at helping people stay fit through proper eating habits.

    After all, not all of us can be strength and conditioning trainers.

    Find your passion, nurture your dreams, and continue doing what you love.

    A few takeaways from this research include:

    Most fitness chains, especially the large franchise gyms don’t have a fixed wage, incentive or bonus structure
    A lot of the information gathered here was obtained from individual trainers or front desk clerks with their own unique insight or experience regarding earnings
    Pay typically increases the longer you stay at the gym and the more you work/sell
    Corporate head office personnel, who were the only option in a lot of cases, tend to be very covert about payment structures even though this would have been the best way to gain a clear and decisive understanding of earning potentials
    The best way to obtain a full idea of what you can expect to earn is to actually visit one of these facilities and get a hands-on impression.

    Use this information as a rough guide.

    Like I mentioned above, you can use the results and data for references (endeavor to cite this page as the source).

    I hope that our well-researched report will help you find your path and do great things.

    If you are interested in becoming a personal trainer in a specific state, check out my state-by-state Guide to Becoming a personal trainer.

    Good luck and happy training!


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    23 thoughts on “Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Which Gyms Pay the Most? How Much do Private and Online Trainers Make?”

    1. Great article!!! I am changing career from 9-5 cubicle to fitness training and your article encouraged me a lot!

      wish me luck!!

    2. Great stuff. I recently graduated with my B.S. in ES and plan on taking the NSCA C-PT test soon. Hoping my background will cover most of the information already. Not sure if you have any input on the best way to prepare.

      1. I think the knowledge that you already have will be able to help you out in certain parts. I would suggest studying slowly and being consistent on a daily basis. It is a big textbook that is for sure. There are sections to help you review the material you a birdie learn that are helpful.

    3. Hi Tyler, I just found your website and have found it very helpful. I am just finishing up my NASM CPT training. Your website has helped answer some questions I’ve had and just made me feel more secure about my choice of fitness as a career. thanks for doing this!

    4. I’m currently pursuing a degree in food and nutrition ( I already have my bachelors in liberal arts) I find the science of it fascinating. I’m strongly considering becoming a personal trainer in the process. I work full time at an office job but thinking about making the switch to personal training while obtaining this second degree. Your article was awesome, do you have any tips?

      1. Hi Krissy,

        That’s great to hear your considering making the switch! I would sign up and start studying for one of the top personal trainer certifications as well as start doing your research and networking with gyms you may want to start working at.

        After you have obtained your certification, apply to the gyms you think you will obtain the best experience and go for it!

    5. Hello Tyler,
      Before I purchase the NASM practise exams that you offer, I wanted to know if I need special software to get acces or will any browser do to open the tests?

      1. Hello Sandra,
        For the NASM practice tests, they should work fine in any browser whether on mobile, tablet or desktop. I have never heard of any problems with any of the browsers to be honest. You do not need any special software, just an Internet browser for the exams.

    6. Your trainer salaries for LA Fitness are a bit off. Reg personal trainers earn about 8-12$ per half hour with capacity to make 16-24 per hour. While master trainers earn between 16-24 per half hour with capacity to earn 32-48 per hour plus retention bonuses. As a master trainer at a signature gym in FL I was earning between 65K-90k some years. Of course this was hustling at peak 65 hours of training a week 6 days a week and as low as 25 hours a week. Tough biz with its ups and downs but if you’re good it can pay!

      1. Hey Tyler,
        Thank you so much for responding to this information on personal training salary. This is the information I got when I called LA fitness directly. I definitely agree that if you hustle in this industry you could make upwards of six figures if you have experience. Thanks for your valuable input and I will adjust my numbers accordingly.

    7. Can you tell me the differences between a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and a Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT)?

      1. Hey Kate,
        A CPT and PFT are the same thing. Some certifying agencies use one while others use the other. A certified personal trainer is the same thing as a personal fitness trainer. For example I believe that NESTA Calls their personal training certification a PFT. The majority though called their personal training certification a CPT which stands for certified personal trainer.

    8. THANK YOU for your very thorough article! I’m not a trainer but may I ask what you think how much cash gift to give to a NON-personal trainer of a gym class at end of the year? Thanks ever so much! :o)

      1. Hey Rosa,
        Are you asking how much money a group exercise instructor can make? Or are you asking how much money you would pay for group exercise training as opposed to personal training? The salaries for group exercise instructors compared to personal trainers vary greatly.

    9. Wow, First, thank you for all the detail and good information.

      I have a B.S. degree in Kinesology and have big goals to be a great CPT, in a career switch from being a vocational nurse. I have a heart for helping people achieve their health and fitness goals and your website is helping me choose where to go and how to get there, so thank you.

      1. Hey Joseph,
        I’m glad to hear that you already have a bachelors of science in kinesiology. That is a fantastic start. I’m sure you will do just fine in year degree in kinesiology will definitely help you with a lot of the anatomy, physiology and biomechanics sections while studying for your personal training certification.

    10. Hi Tyler, I would like to hear from you, what do you think about ACE Referral Reward program. I am taking their course for PT, still, I didn’t pass the exam, hopefully, I will soon :). But I already work as a group fitness instructor, and I would like make some extra income. Thanks

      1. Hey there Marina,
        They do have a referral program and they pay out approximately 8% of what you can refer to other Fitness professionals. Good luck studying for the personal training and good luck with your personal training and Fitness career in the future.

    11. Kendall Holmes

      Hi Tyler,

      As a Personal Trainer, do you ever recommend cardio equipment for your clients to purchase for there homes? During these times of social distancing, this question has come up more than once.

      Kendall Holmes

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