If you’re here on PTPioneer, you’re probably interested in becoming a personal trainer.
But, how much do personal trainers make?
PTPioneer proudly presents the ultimate guide to personal trainer salary in 2023, which covers the following:
Though my goal in writing this article is to educate you on personal trainer salary, I recommend that before you work, you should definitely consider becoming certified.
Make sure to take the quiz to get a good idea of which personal trainer certification is right for you.
Let’s get started!
Personal Trainer Salary Video (YouTube)
Personal Trainer Salary (Podcast)
Getting the Right Certification
Earning a high personal training salary always starts with getting certified through an NCCA-accredited CPT certification.
For a comprehensive breakdown of the top CPT programs, you can check my article on the best personal training certifications.
Earning your certificate from any of the best personal trainer certifications can lead you toward success, and this will far outweigh how long it will take to become a personal trainer.
I also suggest taking the quiz if you are still confused about which certification is best for your goals.
Maximizing Your Personal Trainer Income
Unlike some jobs with very specific salary ranges, personal trainer salaries vary wildly.
On the low end, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that personal trainers in the bottom 10 percent earned less than $22,960 per year, while the top 10 percent earned more than $75,940. The reported median pay for “fitness trainers and instructors” in 2021 was $40,700 per year or $19.57.
Maximizing your personal trainer income and making it to the upper realm of personal trainer incomes requires you to stand out from the crowd.
Offering additional services such as nutrition coaching and serving niche clientele is an absolute must to get ahead of the curve on your personal trainer salary.
I highly recommend looking into a nutrition coaching certification on top of your CPT.
Additionally, think about what specific type of clientele or employment setup you want to work in and consider getting a specialist certification in line with your desired career.
Examples of specializations include group exercise, corrective exercise, and strength and conditioning certifications.
Stacking these certifications adds up quickly, so I recommend looking for certification bundle deals.
The best deal in the fitness industry by far is the ISSA Elite Trainer Program, which includes the acclaimed ISSA CPT, ISSA Nutritionist, and a third ISSA specialization of your choice.
Additionally, the Elite Trainer includes the CPR certification required to take the CPT exam, and offers 12-month, interest-free financing.
You can sometimes find additional promotions on the ISSA Elite Trainer Package directly on the ISSA website.
If ISSA is currently running an Elite Trainer deal, it’s tough to pass up.
Oftentimes, people ask “how much does an average personal trainer make,” or “how much do personal trainers make a year?”
To best answer this question, you need to understand the three primary places trainers work and the base salary in each.
Commercial Gym Trainer
This is the most basic setup in which you operate as an employee of the gym and gain a minimum, fixed wage.
The gym will typically incentivize your job performance by offering raises or bonuses based on how much traffic you generate.
Some important personality traits that are best for personal trainers include being firm but friendly, organized, and exceptional time management skills.
If your sales skills are sharp and you know how to sell personal training, you’ll earn a decent cash flow through a commission-based model.
Though commercial employment offers the lowest earning potential of the three, commercial gyms provide the most stable income, as it comes with a W2 form and basic benefits you can expect as an employed individual.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the personal trainer job outlook has grown faster than average as more people are becoming proactive with their health and fitness.
Independent Personal Trainer
One of the greatest independent personal trainer benefits includes the freedom to work, schedule, and charge whatever you feel like.
With your own personal training business, you can create your own work environment and set your own prices (within industry standards) without pressure from a corporate overlord.
You can even get creative with your exercises and workouts without having to adhere to a strict training protocol.
The only downside is that you are less exposed to a regular stream of clients, so you’ll need to optimize your networking and personal training marketing ideas in order to convert sales.
And since you aren’t guaranteed a fixed salary as an independent personal trainer, you’ll have to rely on how well you can obtain and retain clients in the long run.
In a sense, building your own personal training studio means all the administrative technicalities, such as tax and insurance, rest squarely on your shoulders.
Overhead costs such as facility use, which counts as a rental fee, are also deducted from your earnings.
Most independent trainers charge between $60 and $100 per 1-hour training session, and even at the higher end, business expenses and taxes will eat away at approximately 25% of your total income.
1099 Contract Structure
A 1099 arrangement is sort of a hybrid between being employed and independent, where you work as an independent contractor who supplies a gym with your expertise to serve their clients.
This allows you a general degree of freedom like you would expect if you were independent, plus some of the perks of income security you would enjoy as an employee.
Unlike private or in-home personal training rates where you keep all your earnings, a 1099 arrangement works by having you split your earnings with the gym or facility based on an agreed percentage split.
Typically, the trainer and the facility split the payments received by the clients 50/50, which means if the client pays $70 per session, the trainer gets $35 and the facility gets $35.
Considering most trainers start their careers in gyms, I developed a list of popular gyms in the United States so that you can learn how to generate income by associating yourself with them.
Highest Paying Gyms (The Top 9)
How much does a personal trainer make in a gym?
Where do personal trainers get paid the most?
Keep reading to find out.
In the process of my study, I’ve reached out to several big gym brands to see how their trainers earn so that you can decipher how to charge your clients if you’re going to fill a vacancy in a gym.
While the aim here isn’t to teach you which gyms accept which certifications, this information will help you decide where you want to get your foot in the door.
24 Hour Fitness
The personal trainer starting salary is $7/hour per session and is based on trainer tiers.
The 24 Hour Fitness personal trainer salary also includes a 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
|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
|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|
|Bonus||5% bonus for 60+ sessions||$232|
|Total monthly income||$4,872|
Equinox has a complex wage tier structure, but wherever you land, you’ll be earning more here than at most gyms, even at entry level.
Also, take into account that Equinox trainers work an average of 27 sessions per week, and with that said, their average Equinox personal trainer salary should reflect that.
The incentive program kicks in once a trainer works more than 42 sessions per 2-week pay cycle.
Location-Based Earning Stats
None reported outside of the increased earning capacity for conducting group sessions.
None reported as of reaching out.
LA fitness seems 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’s salary also varies according to gyms and locations.
YMCA personal trainer salary consists of a 4 tiered earning structure that starts out at $15/hour per session.
Tier structures are as follows:
Benefits include payment of $100 towards recertification fees as well as trainer continuing education credits (CEUs). (Pro tip: There are plenty of cheap CEUs for personal trainers.)
None outside the tiered structure.
The personal trainer salary range at Gold’s Gym starts at $10/hour per session, going up to $30/hour session depending on your experience and length of employment.
The hourly rate for personal trainers at Gold’s Gym is $12 – $15/ hour per session (minimum wage is location-dependent).
No specific figures or stats were given on how that’s all structured.
On top of your base personal trainer hourly wage, you get $400 for every 55 sessions.
Though the starting salary for a personal trainer at Snap Fitness is $10/hour per session and can rise to $15/ hour per session, the total personal trainer annual salary here is still somewhat low.
The base Planet Fitness personal trainer salary is also $10 to $15/hour per session, and based on the trainer I reached out to, 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 bonus structure was reported.
The personal trainer average salary at Crunch Fitness varies based on franchise location.
Incentives also vary from location to location, and trainers earn different commission structures based on what and how much they sell in terms of packages, and this ranges from 40% to 65%.
Bonuses and incentives are tied in.
While the Anytime Fitness personal trainer salary depends on location, you can expect the minimum starting wage to fluctuate between $10 to $15/hour per session.
None other than commission split for packages sold and the ability to increase earnings by running group classes.
Yes, a group trainer salary could upgrade your overall income.
You get bonuses for selling monthly packages.
By providing some basic personal training tips, I hope you gained more insight into which gyms may be worth your while.
Also, it’s easy to land personal training internships at gyms you’re interested in working at if you just ask.
Now let’s delve into private personal training.
Private Personal Training
What’s better than being an independent personal trainer who pays a gym fee?
Being a private personal trainer.
Let’s discuss private and self-employed personal trainer salaries.
People who consider becoming fitness professionals often have prospects of a lofty, lucrative career that affords them freedom and financial security beyond maintaining their cost of living.
But truthfully, this route requires a lot of experience, preparation, and hard work.
While most trainers will opt for the ease of gaining employment through gyms, others will seek out a more self-sufficient route and rent space or facilities from an established fitness operator.
While the former has the advantage of employee benefits, as an employed trainer, your income is fixed for as long as you remain in the position you find yourself in the company structure.
When W2-employed, your schedule is not your own, and there’s limited flexibility and time which you could otherwise use to be proactive, creative, and industrious in ways that could elevate your career and income.
Conversely, independent trainers set their own prices and decide how to deliver their services and what those services are.
You’ll 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.
However, although you’re operating your own business, you’re still at the mercy or whims of someone, unless you outright own your space.
If you’re renting space and equipment, you’re subject to that company’s policies and guidelines and will have no ultimate say in decisions that would be made which could affect you.
If the gym is full, you won’t have access to floor space or personal training equipment you may want to use, and if the gym closes temporarily, or permanently, you are out of luck.
So despite operating independently, you’re still pretty dependent.
Is it even possible to actually operate as a truly self-sufficient trainer?
Yes, it is.
Let me introduce the most lucrative option: private personal training.
As a private personal trainer, you can operate a fitness business with complete autonomy and self-reliance, and any necessary infrastructure you would normally rent is no longer a concern.
You are completely free to decide every aspect of your operation.
Also, you may want to look into personal trainer insurance to guarantee protection from any possible legal issues.
While building a name and client base without access to gym traffic can be arduous, overall, private personal trainer salary can fall in the highest-earning percentile using the right strategies.
These personal trainer stats show the average annual earnings across different employment models.
|Average Annual Earnings|
|Gym Employed PT||$34,000|
With average session fees, you can now see where private training has an edge over the other two income options.
|Rate per hour|
|Gym Employed PT||$22|
Despite having a lower premium on what you’ll earn, gym employment might prove to be more rewarding with the benefits factored in.
Exclusive PTP CPT Offers
|Gold Standard Cert||Most Popular Cert||Best Study Materials
|A Good Option||A Good Option||Best CPT for you?
Kindly note that independent trainers actually often earn more than this; in some cases they earn double, a large portion of which gets gobbled up by rent or commission.
Let’s also consider the amount of time, or hours worked.
While gym-employed and private trainers seem to work similarly, the difference is that the private trainers make their own schedules whereas the gym-employed trainers must deal with a roster.
Independent trainers are likely working more hours to make up for any earnings lost to commission or rent. Don’t forget, either, that an independent trainer is a business owner, and business owners must deal with operations, administration, marketing, taxes, bookkeeping, and much more.
|Hours/Sessions per week|
|Gym Employed PT||30|
Though it’s clear that being a private trainer is the winning strategy, then why isn’t every trainer a private trainer?
Perhaps it could be that establishing your own business takes much more work initially and 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 without the hassle of investing in equipment and infrastructure?
Well, two words: online training.
Online Personal Training
There’s just no denying that online personal training is here to stay.
How do personal trainers make money online?
What is the typical online personal trainer salary?
Let’s talk money.
Did you know that as many as 46% of the top earners in the United States have an online segment from which they earn limitless amounts of passive income?
According to top-earners, the internet can definitely help you reach potential clients and increase sales.
So how much money do fitness influencers and online trainers make from the internet?
According to my survey, online personal trainers earn a big chunk of their monthly revenue from passive income received from services offered online.
Statistics demonstrate that trainers with an online component or those whose entire business model runs online are among the top-grossing earners on average.
So what makes online fitness such a big income stream?
To answer your question, let’s review the different services offered, which mostly include the following:
- Billed consultation
- Once-off customized
- Ongoing/recurring service
A billed consultation is something like Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or phone calls, where you communicate with clients in real-time in a remote or virtual capacity.
While you could bill such sessions at a per minute or per hour rate, most bill per hour, which is typically between $40 and $50.
The number of calls you receive depends on your level of influence, reputation, and the volume of clients, and most well-established trainers receive up to nine consultation calls per week.
With a call running up to about $50/week, the annual salary of a personal trainer here is roughly $23,400/year.
A once-off customized plan consists of something like a 6-, 9-, or 12-week fitness plan, and beyond delivering the program, the trainer will have no further guarantee of business with this client.
The going average for such fully customized programs is around the $200 to $500 mark, so let’s work with an average of $350.
With this in mind, the average volume of sales for customized programs is five to seven per week, which elevates the average salary for a personal trainer who delivers once-off plans to $109,200 per year.
Some clients prefer long-term retention of an online trainer’s service, as sort of a fixed component to their lifestyle to help them with adherence and accountability.
This is a more hands-on approach consisting of regular follow-ups, progress tracking, and feedback–just like you’d do with in-person clients.
The trainer would set a monthly fee, which is a great way to ensure income stability.
The typical personal trainer monthly salary in this situation is approximately $500/month.
Established trainers work with up to 10 or even 15 clients, but the more common number seems to be around 6, which even then, they can expect to net around $36,000 annually from retainers.
When looking at these figures, you can easily see what different types of online trainers make.
|Service||Potential Annual Earnings|
If you ask yourself, “how do personal trainers get rich,” the proof is in the pudding.
Based on these stats I’ve gathered, an online private trainer could earn up to $168,400 before any running deductions.
With the right amount of work taken into consideration, both private and online training seems to be the way to go.
Earnings By The State (Map)
What is the average personal trainer salary in California? New Jersey?
Take a look at this map.
Report on the Top-Earning Trainers in the USA [STUDY]
Here’s an important study that reveals which personal training specializations and certifications will make you the most money.
The Highest Earning Specializations
Since most certifying agencies provide a general approach to health and fitness, there will be areas of focus and tiers of specializations, so my goal is to help you determine the most valuable ones.
Let’s dive in.
Strength and Conditioning
Results from my nationwide survey of people holding some of the best strength and conditioning certifications conclude that this is the most valuable and sought-after certification in the industry.
The top-rated trainers I surveyed earned a whopping 42% more than those without those certificates.
With billions of dollars thrown into most schools to create sports stars at the professional level, there will always be young athletes requiring your skills to help strengthen and condition them.
Imagine a Cristiano Ronaldo or Dwayne Johnson without a strength and conditioning coach.
These celebrity fitness trainers who athletes pay good money to see week-in and week-out are expected to stay in top shape.
It gets even better.
With such skills and experience helping professional and amateur athletes, my research indicates that this knowledge is one of the easiest to transfer to other areas in the field.
So, beyond sports, you can also work in a gym, at home with a client, or 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.
Following closely is the general certified personal trainer (CPT) certification.
With this certificate, you can earn 34% more than those without it.
While part-time personal trainer salary is roughly $25,000 to $35,000, the top 10% of full-time personal trainer salary is usually between $70,000 and $100,000 or more.
With so many CPT certificates to choose from, I’ve narrowed it down for you by listing the easiest personal training certifications.
If price is something you’re concerned with, no worries: You can browse through some of the industry’s cheapest personal trainer certifications.
How do general personal trainers make money?
Since the skills you acquire while becoming certified allow you to work with many groups of people, a general CPT can work with high school students, professional athletes, and more.
You can give novice athletes some tips for beginner core workouts, or you can help people recover from broken bones, other injuries, and/or illnesses.
No other certification in the fitness industry provides such wide-range access to all kinds of clients.
Ever consider obtaining a group fitness certification?
Those who hold this certificate earn 32% more than those without it, so I’d suggest you look at some small group personal training tips as well as group fitness programs.
Modern urban life is gradually conditioning people to seek out health and fitness clubs where they can feel loved and valued, and gyms are becoming popular places for group activities.
And people qualified to lead such groups are essential in the grand scheme of things, so if you become a group fitness instructor, you’ll thrive!
Whether it’s yoga, Zumba dancing, aerobics, calisthenics, Pilates, or trekking through a trail, urban dwellers are increasingly needing the services of group fitness instructors.
While not as popular as the first two, certifications in sports and fitness nutrition are quite important, too.
My research suggests that a trainer who wants to become a nutrition coach would also be sought out in the sports sector just as much as in-home or in-gym personal training clients.
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.
Earning 29% more than people without a certificate, these head personal trainers commonly work with physiotherapists or alone, helping people correct their posture or recover from illnesses.
Though the intensity of studying and exam difficulty are deterring factors, if this interests you, then I recommend doing some research to find the best corrective exercise training program for you.
Overall, the certificate you hold largely determines your initial personal trainer salary.
Although not mentioned, another popular certification personal trainers can obtain to enhance their career is that of Certified Health Coach.
To learn how to become a health coach, you can take a look at which certifications best match your career goals.
And if you truly want to thrive as a successful personal trainer, find your niche!
Youth, pregnant women, athletes, or personal training for seniors are among common niches.
I conducted a survey on the most successful trainers in the United States who all agree that spending more time building your profile by offering specialized services is the way to go.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having diverse skills, it’s true that most people seek a specialized trainer rather than the “Jack of all trades,” so I suggest you find your niche and stick with it.
Let’s explore the top-earning personal trainer certifications.
My research indicates that overall income potential is greatly influenced by the certifying body that issued the certification.
Given the proliferation of certifying bodies offering full or “short courses” traditionally or online, gym owners and athletes alike are wary of the paper trainers carry about.
Based on my study, there are hundreds of purportedly legitimate certifying bodies, of which many grant 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 with dozens of top earners in the fitness industry, my research indicates that certifying bodies accredited by the NCAA and DCEA are the most recognized.
Also, interviewees confirm that NSCA-CPT professionals are the highest in the industry, and following NSCA in that order are ISSA, NASM, and ACE.
With such a strict study requirements and tough exam, it’s no wonder that trainers who pass the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) exam are the most respected.
And if you wonder who is the highest-paid personal trainer, it’s most likely a CPT/CSCS.
ISSA, on the other hand, is a unique fitness certification body that operates quite differently from the other three in the list above.
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 alone make holders of the certificate earn more.
The ISSA personal trainer salary falls second in line, after the NSCA personal trainer salary, earning 48% more than NASM and ACE trainers.
NASM and ACE are more or less on the same pedestal, trusted over the years for providing quality study materials and standardized tests.
Whereas The NASM personal trainer salary is 32% higher than others, the ACE personal trainer salary is 20% higher.
In the end, your certificate matters in determining your overall certified personal trainer salary, so I’ll leave you these individual reviews in case you want to further explore them:
Do You Need a Degree To Earn More?
Let me break down the difference between trainers with and without higher education.
While it’s not compulsory to have a degree to work as a trainer, and you can still earn decent money without one, the average personal trainer salary with a bachelor’s degree is higher.
A college degree proves that you’ve endured all the required training, passed your exams, and have been authenticated by the school as qualified to train and give advice.
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 combined with additional specialist certificates greatly increases your value and credibility.
Trainers (like myself) who hold a degree can branch out to other fields such as writing and publishing books for exercise, being paid to give advice, managing big athletes, and much more.
It goes without saying that a relevant post-grad degree (a master’s degree or a doctoral degree) pushes your worth and earnings even higher.
So, it’s no surprise that studies indicate that 32% of the top earners hold advanced degrees.
Additionally, 28% of the top trainers that earn over $100k per year hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (among other industry-specific certificates).
So does a college degree matter?
Judge this for yourself.
CPT Salary Infographic
Personal Trainer Salary Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Conclusion: What Is The Average Salary For a Personal Trainer?
Is it hard to get a job as a personal trainer?
How do personal trainers make a living?
After seeing each of the personal trainer pay scales, I hope you learned that there’s plenty of money to be made in this industry.
With these findings from my study, I ensure I have all the angles covered to help you make the right choices as your progress in your career.
Utilizing outcomes and stats sourced from some of the highest-paid and most recognized trainers in America will help guide you properly as you shoot for the top.
Is becoming a personal trainer hard?
Is becoming a personal trainer worth it?
Be that as it may, I’ll strongly recommend that you stick to what you have a passion for.
That fitness trainers with CSCS certification earn more than sports nutritionists does not mean you must choose that path if your passion is helping people stay fit through proper eating habits.
I hope that my well-researched report will help you find your path and do great things.
Happy training, happy gaining!
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Fitness Trainers and Instructors. BLS.