Exercise Referral Specialist Salary

exercise referral salary

If you’re looking to change careers, you’ll want to know what is in store financially, which is why we have created this guide to the exercise referral specialist salary. 

In this article, we will cover:

If you are wondering how to become an exercise referral specialist, you can get started in the best way with our Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral

What Is An Exercise Referral Specialist?

An exercise referral specialist is somebody who is qualified to create tailored fitness programmes for people that suffer with a chronic physical condition or illness. This could mean that a patient has one or various conditions that could be improved with physical activity.  

A referral specialist is trained to deal with patients dealing with a range of illnesses and conditions, and they typically acquire clients through referrals from NHS professionals, GPs, or private doctors and medical practitioners.

Some of the medical complications that are typically associated with hiring an exercise referral specialist include:

  • Asthma and COPD
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Osteoporosis
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Non-specific lower back pain
  • Arthritis
  • Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
  • Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

This list is not limited to these issues specifically, indeed there can be many more conditions. Essentially, patients can be referred to an exercise specialist for any condition or illness that negatively affects their health and wellbeing. 

That said, the conditions listed above or those that we see most often being treated with the help of an exercise referral specialist.

Who Hires An Exercise Referral Specialist?

If you’re wondering ‘how much does an exercise specialist make?’, you should know that this is dependent on who you wish to be hired by, and whether you're self-employed or on a salary.

Many fitness professionals enjoy the freedom of self employment that comes with working in the industry, but for some the thought of being out there on your own can be intimidating. If you’re in any way worried about how the career path you choose will affect your income, we’re here to tell you that this really isn’t a concern, regardless of the route you take.

Working in the fitness industry takes dedication, but it is equally one of the most rewarding careers, particularly in the case of being an exercise referral specialist. The thing that makes exercise referral courses so attractive is the fact that landing a salaried role is certainly a possibility.

Arguably, you may have a better chance of getting a salaried position as a referral specialist than you would as a personal trainer, as there are plenty of job advertisements for a contracted referral specialist. This makes this area of the industry a lot more appealing as it allows for peace of mind in the sense that you know how much and when you will get paid. 

Though many enjoy the flexibility of working as a freelancer, having a salary is something that many people, such as those with families and a house or mortgage to pay for, do look for. This includes those who may be used to the lifestyle and routine of a 9-5 role. Possible places of work that offer salaried exercise referral roles could include:

  • Leisure centres
  • NHS GPs
  • Private GPs
  • Medical professionals

As opposed to the contract job providers listed above, there are partnership organisations that can help to bridge the gap between yourself and your clients if you do prefer the idea of working as a freelancer. This helps to network you as an exercise professional, gain more dominance in the industry with your area, and ultimately get more clients referred your way. 

To show you the kind of company that offers this service, Everyone Active allows clients to get in touch with you so long as you are partnered with this company. So for instance, you could start as a self employed personal trainer at one of their centres then after taking the exercise referral course, you could have more clients and thus a higher salary with the help of referrals from GPs and health professionals.


Enquire to Become an Exercise Referral Specialist

You can pursue your dream career by enquiring about our Level 3 Exercise Referral Course now!

Exercise Referral Specialist Salary: Explained

How much money does an exercise specialist make per year, per hour or per day? All of this is about to be explained! Below, we have shared some examples of exercise referral roles advertised online so that you can get an idea of what to expect salary-wise based on your skill set, qualifications and experience.

Beginning with a role in Bath, below is an advert for an exercise referral instructor role with a clear salary range:

This job description clearly states that the position offers a potential salary of between £22,101 and £23,153. This salary is based on a 30 hour week and entails all of the responsibilities of an exercise referral instructor. Whilst the job description does not specify that you need relevant work experience, it does clearly state that you do need specific qualifications for this role.

In order to meet the qualification requirements for this role, you would first and foremost need to complete a level 2 gym instructing course, before going on to acquire a level 3 exercise referral qualification. 

While it is only necessary to complete a level 2 in fitness or gym instructing course to become an exercise referral specialist, a level 3 certificate in personal training is certainly desirable as some job roles, the above included, do specify a level 3 qualification as a requirement rather than a preference.

Though the advert above does say it requires a level 3 fitness instructor qualification, do note that a level 3 qualification in personal training and fitness instructing are typically used interchangeably in the industry. 

The best approach to tackle this would be to complete a diploma in fitness instructing and personal training. This way, you can complete both a level 2 and 3 combined in a much more succinct approach.

With both of these qualifications under your belt, you will be eligible to apply for an exercise referral role, such as the one included above. Once you start searching for jobs in exercise referral, you’ll see that there are opportunities of varying requirements in terms of qualifications, experience, and your own personal commitment to the role.

For example, there are actually a couple of part-time positions advertised. These are a great option if you want to ease yourself into the role without quitting your current job, or if you want to work as an exercise referral specialist alongside being a part-time personal trainer

One job post on Indeed in particular is hiring for part-time work on an hourly basis, advertising between 0 and 10 hours per week. This would be a great opportunity for those who are qualified in exercise referral and currently working as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, or in any other profession for that matter.

This job pays an hourly wage of £15.64 - £32.50 an hour, which is way over the minimum wage across the UK. Even though the hours are part-time, this would still be a great income on top of any other freelance commitments, or the perfect way to get your foot in the door as an exercise referral specialist! If you ask us, over £15 an hour isn’t a bad starting salary!

In some roles, employers will pay you your exercise referral salary through a set daily rate. Daily rates are something that typically come with career progression, for example in tutoring or teaching roles. Check out this advertisement for an exercise referral tutor and assessor to get an idea of the various opportunities that an exercise referral course can offer. 

Do note that an exercise referral course does not limit you to one-2-one clientele, you can carry this qualification over to teaching and assessing jobs with the help of a fitness teaching and assessing course.

This particular job role has a salary of £165-£185 daily. This is a very high income and though the working hours aren’t specified, it is clear that this is a role that can pay well for the hard work done leading up to this point. 

This is just one of the ways that you can open doors to other opportunities and increase your exercise referral specialist salary by gaining further qualifications and acquiring more experience in the field. Keep reading to find out more about the ways in which you can gain more income as an exercise referral specialist!

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If you are interested in getting started in this area of the fitness industry, read our articles below:

How To Maximise Your Salary as an Exercise Referral Specialist

Maximising your salary is of course everyone’s goal no matter what area of work you are in. Fortunately, climbing up the career ladder in the fitness sector may be easier than you think!

In this industry, there are plenty of further qualifications and specialised courses available, and the more that you have under your belt, the better!

If you have the basics covered, this being level 2 fitness instructing and level 3 personal training, you have all the necessary prerequisites to get onto an advanced course and expand your knowledge to the likes of nutrition or other specialist areas such as weight management and diabetes control.

Gaining further qualifications and obtaining more knowledge means that you are more likely to attract clients, but it also allows you to present yourself as a much better candidate in the eyes of employers. Becoming an expert through further study, and as a result making yourself more of a valuable asset to a company, is one of the best ways to increase your salary as an exercise referral specialist.

Find Your Niche

Though you can have many different areas of expertise, you can choose to focus on one area as a speciality; the way to do this is by opting for one or more specialist courses. For example, a candidate may head into a job role as a qualified exercise referral specialist with a fitness instructing level 2 certification, though this is sufficient, you may look more attractive on paper with courses such as:

There are plenty of other courses, however these ones specifically align with the problems that clients who require an exercise referral specialist, may struggle with. Lower back pain management, for example, can be useful for those struggling with arthritis, as it is in this course that you can get more knowledge on how to deal with clients in pain. 

The likes of diabetes control and weight management is especially useful for any clients dealing with obesity. These kinds of qualifications are valuable not only to employers, but for you to feel more confident in your role in dealing with vulnerable clients.


Enquire to Become an Exercise Referral Specialist

You can pursue your dream career by enquiring about our Level 3 Exercise Referral Course now!

Becoming A Nutritionist 

Not only are these specialist areas useful, but you can also get qualified in becoming a nutritionist, which is particularly beneficial for any referred patients that are dealing with weight management or type 2 diabetes. 

With a level 4 course in advanced sports nutrition, you will have the knowledge and expertise to provide educational nutritional guidance. Ultimately, by having more information about how food can interact with the body, you will feel more confident with how specific food impacts the conditions that you could come across with a GP referral patient. 

Taking your Services Online

Another way to maximise your exercise referral specialist salary is to offer online coaching, this can come from any angle of your expertise whether it be nutrition or personal training. Online coaching is becoming increasingly popular in the industry and this doesn’t just consist of workout videos.

You can be an online nutrition coach, or an online personal trainer and these are both great ways to maximise your salary during your spare time. In particular, if you are a freelance exercise referral specialist you can be extremely flexible in your time management. 

You have the ability to choose what days you work and to come to agreement with clients on what time and day suits them best. This kind of planning and consistency opens avenues for your spare time as you can then focus on other revenue streams in whatever time you have available throughout the week. 

For example, if you have exercise referral clients throughout 3 days of your week, you could focus the rest of the week on online coaching sessions. This way, you have time to have a break to avoid burnout, and two methods of making money in the fitness sector. You may find that once patients no longer need your service, they become interested in staying in touch and active by becoming an online coaching client. 

This would be a perfect opportunity for them as you know who they are and their previous issues to coach them in the right way.

Valuing Your Service: How Much Should You Charge?

One of the problems that many freelance fitness professionals come across is pricing their service correctly. Of course, as a freelancer, how much you charge your clients will directly determine your income.

If you are just starting out, it's a good idea to scope out the professionals in your area, particularly the successful ones, and see what they are charging per hour. This can give you a better understanding of the base rate in your area and what clients are willing to pay.

In the UK, different cities have a varied income and the cost of living is higher in the likes of London compared to Leeds, for example. Therefore, the cost of your service should reflect this, the standard charge in the smaller cities sits around a range from £15-£30 per hour. As you can see in this job advert below, this particular role as an exercise referral instructor pays £15.64-£32.50.

This is a common price to charge among many exercise referral professionals, and it is roughly around the same amount as a personal trainer salary would be in a similar location with the same amount of expertise. Of course, if you have more experience and can justify a higher charge, you should certainly do so. 

Knowledge is power in the fitness industry, especially with the role of an exercise referral instructor. This role requires a lot of responsibility so increasing your rate more than the average personal trainer would certainly be justified.

In a nutshell, it is best to start low and work your way up. Similar to that of regular personal training, exercise referral training requires practice to perfect. Not only this, but to work with vulnerable people it is vital to have a compassionate personality and a lot of patience, so make sure you obtain these traits before starting in this role. 

This leads to a more in-depth look at how you can get paid freelance vs contracted for the best exercise referral specialist salary. If you are interested in online training, check out the online personal trainer prices here.

Contracted Vs Freelance

There are benefits of both contract and freelance work as an exercise referral instructor, but first to understand what each consists of, we have laid out the details of a contracted exercise referral specialist. You can see an example of a contracted job below:

This advertisement offers a maximum of £23,153 a year. This equates to around £16 an hour for the 30 hours that are contracted. As we previously discussed, the standard freelance charge is similar to approximately £15-£30 per hour. So, to understand what this could mean for you as a hired exercise specialist, below we have gone into a little more detail.

Guaranteed salary

The pros of a career as a contracted exercise referral specialist is the salary is guaranteed. You can do a set amount of hours per week, know when your next pay cheque is coming in and ultimately feel more secure in a job role. 

The salary in the example of a contracted role is still a great income considering the National Minimum Wage is £9.50 as of 2023. This role is offering just under double of this which is an amazing opportunity that an exercise referral course could bring.

It is a great opportunity to get a job as an exercise specialist with a company that assigns you clients, it does a lot of the hard work for you and ultimately puts your work on a plate! It makes it easy for you to get started straight away and learn from peers who may also work in the gym. 

However, though a contracted salary in this role is extremely comfortable and a great opportunity for security, it is arguably limiting your ability to make more money. A freelance profession can help you get qualified in more areas as you can plan your own time on your terms. So what are the benefits of a freelance exercise referral specialist salary? 


Enquire to Become an Exercise Referral Specialist

You can pursue your dream career by enquiring about our Level 3 Exercise Referral Course now!

Freelance Income

This way, you’re able to offer a range of services such as personal training sessions or even sports massage sessions for various kinds of clients. There is also the possibility of making even more money with a freelance career as it doesn’t put a cap on how many hours you can do or how much you can earn. 

This is one of the beauties about working as a freelance exercise specialist, you can raise your prices based on your level of expertise and even have the spare time to take more courses and further your education. This kind of freedom opens many doors to new career paths and is even a great way to make different connections in the industry, particularly in your area. 

Overall, there are pros and cons to either approach to working as an exercise referral specialist, however you should consider the limitations you could face or the security of your income. It is difficult to assign a particular kind of person to a freelance or contract position, it is completely subjective to your lifestyle and what works best for you.

We would recommend weighing up the pros and cons and which would impact your life more in order to make a decision. 

Before You Go!

By now, you will have hopefully decided whether the rewarding career path of an exercise referral specialist is for you. Becoming a part of the fitness industry is rewarding in itself, but helping those where it can really make a difference in their lives is even better.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to dive into this career, take our Level 3 in Exercise Referral for the best start. Alternatively, you can browse through our extensive course prospectus here!

Written by Kimberley Mitchell


Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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