Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study

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    Personal Trainer Salary [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 1

    Welcome; Coach Tyler here to present the result of our nationwide study into the earnings of personal trainers which also highlights the factors that determine the salaries of a personal trainer.

    In my years of experience as a Personal Trainer and coach to entry-level personal trainers, “how much will I make” is the most common question I’ve come across.

    Beyond the passion for helping others achieve their fitness goals and stay healthy, the most important reason most people have for taking up this profession is to make a life out of it – to earn a living from training others.

    That is actually a good thing; scientists generally agree that the thought of getting rewards from your work is a big motivating factor to keep you going and surmounting all kinds of challenges as they come along.

    So, how much will a personal trainer make?

    Talking about science, PTPioneer likes to be scientific in its approach; we rely on data to make decisions, and money matters are not different.

    So, we commissioned the most authoritative and data-packed study to find out how much PT professionals actually earn.

    The purpose of this study is to help budding trainers to easily determine how to maximize their earnings.

    From past experiences, we have seen that the simplest method to achieve that is to compare a trainer’s current earnings with what top-earning personal trainers receive for their services relative to what the others down the ladder actually earn as wages.

    How was the result compiled?

    Let’s dig in!

    The menu at the top of this page will answer any question related to personal training that you have. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here (I’ll respond within 24 hours). Also, visit the home page for the most recent and popular articles.

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      How we went about the research


      As thought leaders in the industry, a lot of trainers have reached out to us to find out what they should charge clients and also want to know what top-performers in the industry earn.

      To provide scientifically backed answers, PTPioneer commissioned Pollfish, who is trusted by academic institutions and multinational corporations, to conduct a survey of 600 active personal trainers scattered around the USA.

      Furthermore, a team comprising the staff at PTPioneer interviewed personal trainers and managers working at the top 11 gyms in the United States gyms in the country to gain first-hand insights.

      Other than their earnings, the study also set out to discover other related personal trainer and fitness-related considerations that trainers will want to examine when determining the appropriate direction of their personal training career.

      The data extrapolated from the interviews and survey form the core of the study which was conducted over several months in the United States.

      Owing to our position as leading professionals in this field, we welcome the re-use of the data from this study.

      This is our own contribution to the body of knowledge.

      That being said, reusing any part of this study will require that you pay attribution under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0.

      This license permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, as long as the original source is cited with attribution to “PTPioneer.com.

      So, How much do Trainers Make?


      Introduction to PT Salary

      The health and fitness field emerged as a viable platform for professional growth over 3 decades ago, steadily rising as a major component of an essential approach to health and wellness.

      Because of this, many industries and career paths have opened up, creating lucrative and legitimate personal training business opportunities for corporations and individuals alike.

      Job growth in personal training, for example, has a projected 10% growth for the next decade, well above the national average for most industries in the US.

      Our research also buttresses some important statistics already out in the public.

      For instance, CNN.com ranks personal training as the 18th most sought after and potentially lucrative employment opportunity.

      Similarly, research conducted by auditing firm Deloitte in a fitness industry also shows that the US fitness industry is the biggest of all its global counterparts.

      Simply put, If you are in America and are seriously considering a career in fitness, expect access to over 30,000 new job opportunities if the 10-year projections are anything to go by.

      Based on the evidence we collected from the field, they most certainly are.

      This higher than average growth warrants a deeper look, so you can go in equipped with a full game plan and an idea of how to successfully manage and maximize your personal trainer income and value.

      This will help you not only enjoy your personal trainer career at the moment, but also help you plan for a comfortable future, whether that future involves starting up your own fitness brand, or securing a cozy retirement.

      Personal Trainer Salary


      Personal Trainer Salary - How much do Trainers Make

      The personal trainer 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.

      You do need to remember that your PT income isn’t as black and white as these numbers suggest.

      Earning capacity in the fitness industry, especially as an independent contractor is a multi-variable number, reliant on many factors.

      The most crucial element to success is your networking and marketing capability and you also need to have a knack for sales in order to convert inquiries into paying clients.

      This rings truer if you happen to land a permanent gig at one of the large gym chains such as Golds or Planet Fitness.

      Your exposure to a vast, dedicated number of potential clients is a sure way to get your earnings up.

      Networking and outreach is an active process, in most cases, especially at the beginning; this will count as the majority of the work you do as a trainer.

      The goal as a trainer is to hybridize your client base. That means tapping into both the existing pool of members or attendees at your location as well as wrangling external clients.

      This gives you a diverse and constant income stream allowing you to achieve the perks and earning potential full-time employment offers.

      Personal Trainer Earning Potential

      The Factors

      personal trainer Earning Potential

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

      That’s hard to answer right off the bat because of all the variables at play.

      That’s why the research team reached out to several popular fitness chains as well as pull some research data for you to get an idea of your earning potential.

      Personal Training Earning Structure

      So now that you have a general idea of how to start earning, it’s important to understand the different payment structures that come with personal training.

      Here are the 3 main earning structures you will encounter:

      1099 personal trainer
      Commercial gym
      Independent personal trainer

      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.

      Independent Personal Trainer Salary

      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.

      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.

      1099 Personal Trainer Contract Structure

      1099 Personal Trainer salary

      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.

      CPT Salary Infographic

      personal trainer salary

      Personal Trainer Salary by Gym (The Top 11)

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

      This part of the research process is key given the fact that we are trying to benchmark what you should earn against what the 11 top gyms pay their workers.

      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 [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 2


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

      Personal Trainer Salary [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 3


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

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

      Personal Trainer Salary [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 4

      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

      EXOS Salary

      EXOS Salary

      After attempting to reach out to EXOS training and careers dept for a week, the research team managed to get on a call with one of their training personnel.

      He went ahead to reveal that they cannot divulge fitness instructor salary-related information outside of the interview and hiring process.

      Let’s assume EXOS trainers have a reasonably high earning potential based on the positioning of the brand.

      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 [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 5


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


      None outside the tiered structure

      Lifetime Athletic Salary

      Lifetime Athletic Salary

      All Lifetime locations called did not divulge wages or incentive information.

      What I can say for sure is that you can expect to make a decent amount of cash working as a trainer here owing to the high end, luxury positioning of the Lifestyle brand.

      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

      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 [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 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 [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 7

      LA Fitness Personal Training Salary

      LA Fitness Salary

      Minimum wage:

      Personal Trainer Salary [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 8

      Location-Based Earning Stats

      Personal Trainer Salary [year]: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study 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.

      Make sure to Take the quiz to find out which PT certification is right for you!

      The study report on the top-earning personal trainers in the country

      Put these considerations at the back of your mind

      So, how much do physical trainers make and which factors determine how the highest-paid personal trainers are compensated?

      Aside from the income structures you can expect, it’s important to look into other benefits on offer.

      Things such as medical and dental benefits, 401k and employee/partner discounts are all important to take into account.

      These factors don’t count as direct money in the bank, but they still ultimately affect your net income and quality of life, which is the main objective at the end of the day.

      You may also want to look into career options outside associating with a fitness facility.

      As a certified trainer, you can embark on many career options including working as an online personal trainer or a private, in-call/out-call trainer who doesn’t necessarily rely on a gym or facility in order to work with clients.

      Private training presents the ultimate earning capacity, whether online or in-person.

      That’s because you set your own rates regardless of what the industry determines to be fair.

      I do recommend that you strategize your career in stages over the long term.

      Start off as a gym trainer and build your rep and experience to a point where you can strike out on your own, and maybe even open your own gym down the road.

      So, are you ready to start providing the world with value in health and fitness, while also making a decent income for yourself?

      You need to consider the following factors – whether you are wondering about a part-time personal trainer salary or not sure what a personal trainer salary per hour rate should be.

      Which certification(s) you hold
      Amount of trainer experience, reputation, and credibility
      Specialization, if any
      Level of education

      These are the fundamental considerations for any personal trainer worth their salt.

      You need to nurture and strategize around these key points and the rest will usually figure themselves out.

      You will also find that one or some of these factors will inadvertently influence some others.

      For example, your experience will influence your reputation.

      In effect, these all combine to influence a physical trainer’s salary.

      Make sure to check out my article on the top five personal training certifications.

      The Highest Earning Personal Trainer Specializations

      Which certification specialization is the most bankable?

      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.

      Specialization is the Key to Special Opportunities!

      Find your niche; build your career!

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

      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!

      The Most Bankable Certifying Agency

      Which certifying agency will earn you the most money?

      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.

      To Degree or Not to Degree?

      What academic proficiency and experience should you aim for as a PT?

      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!

      The Best Personal Trainer Marketing Push!

      Where do you want to be to get more eyeballs on your business?

      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!

      Online Personal Training: A Booming Business

      The online coaching business is increasing in popularity and profitability

      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.

      Many create and sell interactive courses through webinars, market fitness books, and make money from other such resources.

      These sales bring in lots of passive income while they concentrate on working in the gym or with clients in their homes.

      With an online presence, a great and responsive website, and valuable services, you too can join that league of online personal trainers.

      Thanks to the power of the internet, you can reach and service more customers at the same time and as well spend much lesser time engaging with clients, since all the information they need is right there on the website.

      Our respondents say that automating the marketing, sale, and customer support processes have helped them drastically reduce time spent on such things, which in turn, means more time to focus on the clients’ needs.

      Furthermore, the internet avails personal trainers the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world and with anyone from any part of the world while decreasing risks and liabilities at the same time.

      A fitness trainer’s salary is also influenced by this factor.

      My Recommendations

      Other important things that will influence your average PT salary

      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

      The Name you Build Determines the Career you Build!

      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

      Where you train impacts how you earn!

      Location, Location, Location. Where you Train impacts how you Earn

      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


      Find your passion; live your passion

      Conclusion: Find your passion; live your passion

      There you go!

      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.

      Don’t hesitate to reach out through the comment box below or email me at tyler@ptpioneer.com for any requests of additional insights or suggestions for the next survey.

      Good luck and happy training!


      About The Author

      21 thoughts on “Personal Trainer Salary 2020: Top 11 Paying Gyms + New 600 Trainer Study”

      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.

        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.

      7. 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.

      8. 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.

      9. 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.

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