Ever find yourself lost in research when it comes to the highest paying fitness jobs, or caught yourself glancing over your shoulder in the gym wondering what exactly the well-dressed trainer with all the latest tech is doing for a job?
Yeah, you’re not the only one…
Everyone is guilty of being nosy when it comes to careers in fitness, especially when there are so many different fitness career paths to consider. The good news is you no longer have to wonder alone!
With our ultimate guide to fitness career paths, we’ll take you through everything you need to know in terms of breaking into the fitness industry, including all the different routes to success before finishing on the 9 highest paying fitness jobs in 2021.
Also feel free to download your Our "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer" Guide:
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So sit back, relax, and let us do the hard work for you!
Breaking into the Fitness Industry: Your step-by-step guide
As you may have come to realise, there’s no one set route for breaking into the fitness industry.
And – unsurprisingly – this has a huge effect when it comes to fitness career paths.
As we’re about to find out, different routes into the industry tend to foster different kinds of ambitions and abilities, which drastically affects an individual’s choices later on in their career.
Evidently then, your route into this industry is something that you want to put some thought into. Did you know, for example, that the fitness sector has been deemed to be the fastest growing business sector in the UK as of 2018?
With such an increase in competition, you can’t afford to miss opportunities in the early stages of your career.
So, what are the main routes into the industry, and what fitness career paths might they lead to?
Personal Training Course Provider vs. Sports Science and Academia
Now, it’s important to preview this next section by saying that there’s no set route that will fit everyone.
When we talk about fitness career paths, we have to talk about things in general.
Think about it, when you’re dealing with clients there’s not a magic, catch-all fitness programme that will work for everyone, and careers are exactly the same!
Here, we’re going to look at two of the most popular ways of entering the fitness industry, and what both routes can offer you in terms of fitness career paths later on in your career.
Pros and Cons of either route
So, here’s the good news: when it comes to fitness career paths, every year thousands of future trainers make successful careers by using these routes into the industry.
Often, it isn’t a case of choosing the better route in general terms, but choosing the route that suits you.
For example, here at OriGym, we’re a personal trainer course provider will full accreditation and a full range of additional courses like CPDs, Sports Massage Therapy, and packages that will fully qualify you to start training in a gym.
By going through us, students gain a direct route into working in a gym, which can lead onto future careers as independent trainers, gym owners, and even positions like strength and conditioning coaches for professional sports teams.
We find that this route suits a large number of entry-level fitness career professionals.
With the rapid expansion of the industry, and constantly shifting trends and workout regimes, our students often tell us that they would be reluctant to spend three years studying something that could become outdated six months later.
A university qualification, on the other hand, may offer something like a Sports Science degree, which will go into depth on the theory behind sports rehabilitation and fitness, and may prepare an individual for research later in their career, or a position as part of a wider team of sports therapists.
Neither route into the industry is right or wrong: but you do have to factor in what your needs and ambitions are in order to make the right choice when it comes to fitness career paths
But don’t worry! You don’t have to do this alone…
Check out some of our top pros and cons of each career path, along with some of the factors you should definitely be considering when it comes to choosing how you want to enter the industry.
Now, our next section is going to take a closer look at personal trainer courses, and what to look out for to make sure you choose the right one…
If however, you’re more interested in finding out about the 9 highest paying fitness jobs, skip to our next chapter below!
What to look for in your personal trainer course provider
Step one, you’ve decided on a personal training course provider…
Step two, which personal trainer course provider is best for you?
This one’s a little more tricky as there are hundreds of course providers out there, and as we’re about to find out, not all course providers are born equal.
The reason this is so important is that your choice of course provider can drastically affect your choice of fitness career paths further down the line.
For example, if your ambition is to become a personal trainer in a gym, then (at the very least) you’ll need your Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications from a reputable provider.
Getting the Level 2 and 3 is all fine and well, but if your provider isn’t recognised by a regulating body and if your training isn’t up to scratch, then you’ll soon run into trouble.
So, how do you avoid this?
Luckily for you, when it comes to choosing your course provider and maximising your fitness career paths later on down the line, there are certain criteria that you should look out for before investing in your training…
What? You thought we were just going to let you guess at what they were?
Highest Paying Fitness Jobs: Your best options in 2021!
And now for the most important bit!
You now should have a good idea of how to get started in the fitness industry, but knowing what the highest paying fitness jobs are is definitely a bonus for you and your future careers in fitness.
Some of the best (and most lucrative!) fitness career paths luckily fall under the highest paying fitness jobs UK category, and building your knowledge of what they are is going to help propel your career to the next level.
Everyone needs a goal or ambition when it comes to their career in fitness, so think of this next chapter as a kind of pick and mix when it comes to building your own foundations.
By picking one of the options below, you can guarantee that you’ll be on the right lines!
NOTE: some of the highest paying fitness careers in this list will overlap, or fall under ambiguity depending on hours worked or whether the individual works at multiple careers in fitness at once.
Thus, we’ve ordered them according to recorded salary amounts published on job websites to keep things as sequential as possible.
#1 - Gym Owner
First on our list of the highest paying fitness jobs is becoming a gym owner! We know that it probably won’t come as a surprise, but hear us out.
If imposter syndrome is nagging at you right now, perhaps let the wage packet speak to you instead.
If you worked your way up to becoming a gym owner, you could earn an average of £53K per year or up to £102K per year according to Indeed, with the right skills, expertise, and marketing of your gym. Check out our article on writing a gym business plan for more info on this!
For mid-career or late career trainers, owning their own facilities is becoming an incredibly popular option.
Think about it…
When you work for a gym, you don’t own any of the equipment so have no control over refurbishments and updates, and you’re almost certainly going to be paying some form of ground rent in order to keep the gym happy.
Even if you’re an incredibly successful trainer, that’s going to eat into your profit as the year’s add up.
By purchasing your own venue and equipment, you cut out the middle man.
This will allow you to rapidly expand, to take on more trainers under your brand (who will now be paying YOU ground rent), and is the only way to advance your career once your client lists are saturated and your profit margins have stalled.
What's it really like?
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#2 - Sports Massage Therapist
Fortunately for those interested in starting a career in sports massage therapy, the average wage for sports massage therapists is a generous £41K per year…
This certainly isn’t bad for an average, and makes becoming a sports massage therapist pretty worthwhile if you ask us!
After all, if the fitness sector is growing for the average Joe surely you’d also expect the sector to grow for professional and semi-professional athletes?
And that’s exactly what’s happened over the last decade.
Where a sports massage therapist may have once been quite an obscure fitness career path to take, the growth in funding for university sports teams and physical education departments means more institutions are hiring such professionals to look after their athletes.
Television and media deals have also funded semi-professional sports teams, and even niche sports teams, meaning that there’s a growing demand for fitness trainers and professionals with a knowledge of rehabilitation.
But what does that mean in terms of paving your fitness career paths?
Basically, if you are detail-oriented, enjoy research, and want to help professional and semi-professional athletes reach peak fitness and return from industry, that there’s a space in the market for you.
What you do need to keep in mind is that you’ll need to gain your Sports Massage Therapy qualification before going any further with this career path, which isn’t too much of a burden considering it leads to one of the highest paying fitness jobs!
#3 - Physiotherapist
Up next on our list of the highest paying fitness jobs UK is the role of a physiotherapist.
Getting straight into the talk of salary (as we know that’s why you’re here!), the average earnings of a physiotherapist are around 33K per year according to Indeed.
To top that, high-end physiotherapists have been recorded to earn up to £57k per year.
If you’re thinking about career progression when browsing the highest paying fitness jobs, then this could be a strong contender!
Apart from carrying a hefty salary, working in physiotherapy is one of the most rewarding careers in fitness. Depending on what you want from a career, this may strike a chord with you and give you that final push to go out there and get qualified.
Fitness isn’t just about bulking up and achieving optimal endurance; it can also involve a lot of recuperating from injury and the wear and tear that exercise has on the body.
Keeping physiotherapy in mind when choosing from the list of careers in fitness could see you working with people from all walks of life, day in and day out.
It will be your job to get them back on their feet, and we can’t think of anything more rewarding!
How about the demand for physiotherapists?
In truth, as with our other named careers in fitness, physiotherapy is high in demand.
Performing a quick search on Indeed.com showed us 3,940 results for physiotherapy jobs. Need we say more?
NOTE: you will need a degree in physiotherapy before embarking on a career in the field.
If you need help with this decision, revisit our section on the pros and cons of different fitness career paths and their requirements before deciding which route to take.
However, as you can see from this list; a degree isn’t necessary to land one of the highest paying fitness jobs in the industry!
#4 - Fitness Lecturer
We couldn’t talk about the highest paying fitness jobs without mentioning one in education, and this one certainly trumps others fair and square!
If becoming a fitness lecturer is one of your ideal careers in fitness, then the average take-home wage of over £30K per year may be music to your ears.
If things didn’t already sound good enough, then how about the highest recorded salary on Indeed being £61K per year?
Yes, earning as a fitness lecturer could actually surpass each career above it on the list of the highest paying fitness jobs!
The question is, how do you get to this point of earning?
To land a role as a sports or fitness lecturer, you will need an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, a masters degree, and a PhD as this will mean you can work full-time and earn top dollar in the position.
In terms of the demand for lecturers across the UK, Indeed provided us with 1,991 career opportunities in this field. Education is always going to be around, as are the ever-growing number of students that go with it.
According to the Universities UK website, during 2017-2018, there were 1.77 million undergraduate students studying at universities across the UK.
This number is expected to increase in coming years, as well as the number of lecturers being taken on at higher education facilities to manage the demand!
NOTE: as with considering a career as a physiotherapist, it all boils down to whether or not you wish to obtain a degree before pursuing careers in fitness.
You can use this article to help you make this decision, or research each of the highest paying fitness careers on this list and see which one truly resonates with you.
#5 - Sports Reporter
We thought we’d go with something different to mix up our list of the highest paying fitness jobs, especially due to its high earning potential.
If you’re here as a newbie to the fitness industry and the multitude of careers in fitness that exist, you might just have the skill set or expertise to go into this field!
With our trusty job website Indeed at hand, we found that reporter salaries range from an average of £28K per year, to the generous amount of £57K per year if you work your way to the top of the ranks.
With the most important aspect out of the way, what exactly does being a sports reporter involve?
There are a few different takes on this relatively niche career, but typically a sports reporter’s duties will be to cover a certain area of sports in the news media with sports fans in mind as the target audience.
This can include interviewing players/athletes, being involved with TV or radio coverage of sports matches, commentation, or reporting live on TV and online channels.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, when you can read this full guide from Study.com on how to become a sports reporter.
It probably goes without saying that a career as a reporter requires a degree in journalism or a relevant subject, so do keep this in mind.
How in demand are reporters in this day and age?
According to our Indeed search, there are currently 239 reporter jobs across the UK. This isn’t too bad, considering niche the field is!
In fact, PwC (the current largest professional services business operating in the world) state that the UK media and entertainment industry has an annual growth of 3%.
Considering how big the industry already is, this is a great sign that business in this sector is going nowhere.
If this isn’t encouraging enough to start thinking about careers in fitness within the media industry, then we don’t know what is!
#6 - Strength and Conditioning Coach
If you already have your Personal Training Diploma under your belt then you’ll be glad to know that there’s even more of an earning potential than the one that you are already receiving.
You can skip to the next section if you want to clue up on personal trainer earnings per annum, or stick with us to learn a little about what further fitness qualifications can bring to your and your existing careers in fitness.
While we can’t offer an accurate prediction of a strength and conditioning coach salary, we can say that once you are established as a personal trainer and are making a substantial amount of profit, you will want to look into different fitness career paths.
Gaining further qualifications can increase your overall earning potential, especially as long as you are apt in marketing your services and gaining clients.
The demand for strength and conditioning coaches is rising rapidly along with the popularity of weightlifting as a recreational activity and competitive sport.
In the UK alone, the fitness industry saw 275 new fitness clubs and gyms open in 2018 (according to Leisure DB’s state of the UK fitness industry report).
This reflects the growing popularity of these facilities as a whole, and coincidentally the number of those wishing to build strength and muscle mass.
If you already work as a personal trainer then you will know that there are many clients with these goals in sight.
If you qualify as a strength and conditioning coach, then you can market your services to these clients and earn a higher salary from your expertise. Give it some time, and you could even have people referring clients to you!
Why watch as your competitors attract the clients willing to pay you to coach them in strength?
Gain further qualifications, wipe out competitors with your expert skills, and make more money whilst doing it!
#7 - Personal Trainer
The point we made about the media industry in our sports reporter section links directly to our next option in fitness career paths.
As you may already know, the highest earning personal trainers are those that break into the media.
Think Justin Gelband (23.5K followers on Instagram), or Jeanette Jenkins (over 500K followers), who have both been successful due to the rise in social media and digital content. Yes, they also train celebrities but everyone has to start somewhere!
If you want to take some risks and see how to break into one of the highest paying fitness jobs out there, check out OriGym’s how to become an online personal trainer article.
While we can’t make an accurate estimation of an online personal trainer’s salary due to a number of reasons, some claim to earn up to £7000 per month, which is obviously impressive if true.
Becoming a group trainer or an online trainer, or in fact, any form of training outside of traditional gym contexts, relies on you to call upon external skills, resources and contacts.
As such, this might be a better fitness career path if you’re approaching it at a later stage in your life, or in other words when you’ve already cemented a stable living situation and can afford to take more risks.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the more traditional personal training jobs.
Getting straight to it, the average salary for a personal trainer in the UK is £27K per year, and the highest recorded salary on the website is £62K per year.
As we said, careers in fitness are somewhat ambiguous when it comes to salary.
It can depend on a multitude of things such as how often the individual works, the qualifications they have, and how much effort they put into marketing themselves.
However, if you want a more concrete understanding of your earning as a personal trainer then head over to our complete guide on personal trainer salary, where we go through everything you need to be clued up on.
What about the job itself... is it in demand?
There’s a reason that personal trainer numbers are growing, and it has a little something to do with the rapidly increasing health consciousness of UK residents.
Where, once upon a time, having a personal trainer may have been viewed as a luxury – something only one in a handful of people had access to – now every man, woman, and their dog seems to enjoy the services of a professional PT.
As far as fitness career paths go then, becoming a personal trainer offers you a stable and endlessly flexible career.
The even better news is that if you can bag yourself a job in a large gym complex or leisure centre, you can enjoy the salary of a successful freelance trainer with the job security of a contracted trainer.
Plus, there are currently 3,770 personal training jobs in the UK listed on Indeed.
This is perhaps a sign that whilst not technically being top of the list of highest paying fitness jobs, personal training could be the career that you land in immediately and earn a huge profit in!
#8 - Nutrition Coach
Jumping straight into salary with our next career on the list of highest paying fitness jobs, nutrition coaches earn an average of 26K per year, courtesy of Indeed’s salary declarations.
There’s also the capacity to earn up to 52K per year in the more established roles, which as you must agree isn’t too shabby.
There are currently 181 nutritionist jobs available on Indeed throughout the UK, and undoubtedly those earning from creating bespoke nutrition plans online (just as online personal training works).
Alongside the growing need for more personal trainers, health enthusiasts and casual citizens alike have become obsessed with what they eat.
In fact, a recent survey found that 77% of American citizens when asked told researchers that they were actively trying to eat in a healthier way. These findings coalesce with a wider trend in the fitness industry…
That is, it is no longer enough to just go to the gym three times a week (though, that would undoubtedly benefit a lot of people).
The health industry in 2021 takes a more rounded, holistic approach, encompassing physical fitness, mindfulness, and – yes, you guessed it – nutrition.
This push towards nutrition does come with its own issues though.
The diet industry is notoriously an aggressive and volatile one, full of big players trying to rip off clients with unsustainable diets that are never going to last.
As a fitness professional, you of all people should be aware that, for a lifestyle change to stick, it has to be sustainable and realistic.
The nature of the diet industry has, however, cause a counter-culture of professional nutrition coaches, offering realistic and research-driven advice to clients who simply want to improve how they eat.
As it turns out, nutrition coaching has now become one of the most popular fitness career paths of 2021, and one of the most rewarding.
#9 - Sports Psychologist
Last but not least on our guide to the highest paying fitness jobs UK is a role in sports psychology!
Before we jump into anything, you should know that the average salary range for a sports psychologist is from 27K-37K per year, rising up to 48K per year or more in senior positions, according to Prospects.
There are also 148 sports psychology jobs listed on Indeed currently, and yes, the job requires a degree.
So, what does a career in sports psychology involve?
In short, it’s seen as a very rewarding yet demanding role. You will be responsible for counselling clients who are suffering from their mental or physical health, as well as pointing them in the right direction when it comes to their recovery.
You should expect to work in environments such as schools, universities, hospitals, doctor’s surgeries, sports events, etc., which shows that the career options in this field are pretty diverse!
If you’re seeking a more in-depth description of what a career in sports psychology looks like, it’s worth taking a look at Prospects’ sports and exercise psychologist job profile.
Although working as a sports psychologist is seen to be one of the highest paying fitness jobs, it is also proof that you don’t need a degree to make significant financial gain from careers in fitness.
We’re not saying that there is anything wrong about this career, or that it isn’t well-paid. If you’re going to be earning up to 48K per year as an expert in your field, then we can’t argue with that!
However, the fact that it isn’t at the top of the list demonstrates that it is down to you to decide which qualifications to take in order to make good money in the fitness sector.
What’s not to say that a certified personal trainer without a degree can’t make more than a qualified fitness lecturer or physiotherapist?
And that’s our 9 highest paying fitness jobs in 2021!
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