Blog

How Long Does it Take to Become A Personal Trainer in 2020 (UK)

how long does it take to become a personal trainer banner image

‘How long does it take to become a personal trainer?’ is one of the most common questions that we get asked by people who are considering a career as a PT. 

It seems like a pretty simple question, and it’s definitely an important one. After all, if you’re wanting to pursue a personal training career, you’ll need to have an idea of when you can get started!

So, how long does it take to become a qualified personal trainer? Truthfully, the answer isn’t as straight forward as you’d like to think.

Simply put, it all depends on how long it takes you to gain your Level 3 qualification. However, the amount of time this takes depends on a number of different factors, all of which we’ll weigh up shortly.

Briefly, these factors include the course you choose, your course provider, and how much free time you have to dedicate to studying. But don’t worry, we’ll discuss these factors in more detail.

Keep reading this article to get more of an idea of how long it would take you to become a fully qualified personal trainer!

We’re going to talk you through:

  • Where to Start?
  • What Is the Average Time to Complete A PT Course?
  • What Are the Different Course Options?
  • How Long to Become A Personal Trainer? Other Factors to Consider
  • What Should I Look for In A Course Provider?

When we’re finished, you’ll have all the answers to the important questions that you didn’t even know you had. So, what are you waiting for?!

Before we get started, why not enquire for our personal training diploma to kick-start your career in the fitness industry.

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer!

Become a qualified personal trainer and kick-start an exciting new career in the fitness industry

How Long Does It Take to Become A Qualified Personal Trainer – Where to Start? 

women thinking with thought bubble image

If you’re asking, ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer UK?’, you need to start by considering the education and qualifications that you already have.

When we’re talking qualifications, your starting point will play a big role in how long it takes you to fully qualify as a PT.

To work as a qualified personal trainer, you’ll need to hold a Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification.

If you’re already qualified as a Level 2 gym instructor, you’re one step closer to becoming a qualified PT. You’ll be able to go straight onto a Level 3 course, which means you could get qualified in half of the time it would take somebody starting from scratch (depending on the type of course that you choose of course, but more on that shortly!).

Nevertheless, you’re by no means at a disadvantage if you don’t have a Level 2 qualification in the bag already.

Completing your Level 2 as a separate qualification isn’t entirely necessary as any decent provider will offer training packages that include both Level 2 and Level 3 courses.

women wearing a graduation cap and gown graphic

Another thing to consider in terms of you’re starting point is your current education status. ‘How does it take to become a personal trainer?’ is completely dependent on how long it takes you to pass your Level 3 Qualification in Personal Training. 

Whilst the courses are entry-level qualifications, meaning you don’t need any specific GCSE’s, or A-Levels, etc. to get on to the course, you’ll naturally be at an advantage if you’ve studied a similar subject beforehand.

What we mean is, somebody with a degree in Sports Science will likely get through the course content fairly quickly compared to somebody who’s never completed any relevant qualifications.

pass stamp graphic

Obviously, there’s more to getting qualified than working through the course – you need to pass the assessment in order to gain the qualification.

If you have previous education in the general area of sport and fitness, you’ll have a better chance of passing your assessment first time.

Whilst we can’t answer exactly ‘How Long to Become A Personal Trainer?’ we could say that if you have previously studied sport and fitness you’ll more than likely pass first time, speeding up the process!

However, any good training provider will have a high pass rate (here at our OriGym, ours is 98%), so it’s really not that big of a deal if you’re starting from scratch.

Basically, anybody with a passion for fitness and the motivation to succeed in this industry will be able to complete the necessary courses to qualify as a PT.

How long will it take to become a Level 3 personal trainer? The next section will give you more of an idea of an expected time frame, so keep reading!

How Long Does It Take to Become A Personal Trainer – What Are the Course Options?

Having a Level 2 fitness qualification, or previous education experience that’s relevant to the world of health and fitness, can both speed up the process.

But, how long does it take to become certified as a personal trainer?! We hear you ask.

The biggest factor that will determine how long it takes you to qualify is the type of course that you choose.

When we talk about the different types of PT courses, we’re referring to these three main study options:

#1 Full-time

#2 Part-time

#3 Online

If you’re asking, ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer UK?’ as somebody completely new to the fitness industry, the average time for completing your Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications (also known as a personal training diploma), are as follows:

Level 2 & Level 3 Personal Training Diploma

image of calendar

Full-time: 4 weeks

Part-time: 12 weeks

Online: 16 weeks

These averages are based on completing a Level 2 & Level 3 Personal Training Diploma.

If you already hold a Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing, then you will only need to complete a Level 3 Personal Trainer course.

In that case, you’re roughly halfway to becoming a fully qualified personal trainer, and the average time you can expect to take to get qualified as a PT are as follows:

Level 3 Qualification – How Long Does It Take To Become A Level 3 Personal Trainer?

Full-time: 2 weeks

Part-time: 6 weeks

Online: 8 weeks

Of course, these are only averages. We’ve based these numbers on the time it typically takes our students to complete each of these courses, but they’re not set in stone.

Some people can complete the online course, for example, in less than 16 weeks. But equally, there are others who choose to take a lot longer.

It all depends on a number of individual factors, which we’ll talk you through a little further on in this post.

But firstly, the type of course that you choose will have the biggest impact on how long it takes to qualify. So, below we’ve gone into some more detail on each of the main modes of study (all three are available with OriGym).

Full-time Courses

image of a teacher

A full-time course is often referred to as a ‘fast track’ course. It probably goes without saying, but this is the fastest way to get qualified.

Typically, a full-time course is a pretty intense way to study. Your course will run over 4 weeks (2 weeks for Level 2, and 2 weeks for Level 3).

You’ll be expected to attend a training centre Monday to Friday from around 9 am until 5 pm.

The course will combine classroom-based theory sessions, and gym-based practical learning, taught by experienced tutors.

At the end of each of the two-week periods, you’ll have the opportunity to take your assessment. Provided you pass the exam the first time around, you can be fully qualified in just 4 weeks with this option!

graphic of a scale weighing up pros and cons

Pros of A Full-time Course

The best thing about opting for a full-time course is that this is quickest way to get qualified.

Not only that, you’ll benefit from knowing exactly when you’ll be qualified. Once you’ve chosen a start date for your course, you know that you’ll be fully qualified 4 weeks from that date.

This means that you can plan your next career move without any uncertainty, and you can start to apply for a job to start once the course is over.

You’ll also benefit from face to face learning as you’ll be taught by fitness tutors who can answer your questions in real time.

This is a huge advantage because it completely cuts out any time you would be waiting around for feedback if you chose a different mode of study. Not only that, it means that you can have a real discussion with experienced tutors, as well as your fellow students!

That leads us to the next advantage – you’ll get to meet like-minded people! You’ll study alongside others who share your goal of working as a Level 3 personal trainer.

Your fellow students will be people who are equally as passionate about all things fitness, you’ll learn with them and possibly even from them! One of the best things about this mode of study is that you’ll have the support of other students, who are in the exact same position as you.

Finally, all of your studying will take place in a classroom or on the gym floor – there is no independent learning outside of the set study hours. This means that there are no self-taught aspects, which is a huge benefit for anybody who struggles with independent studying.

Cons of A Full-time Course

man giving thumbs down graphic

Clearly there are a lot of benefits to studying full-time, especially if your main aim is to get qualified as quickly as possible!

There’s no doubt that with the average person taking 4 weeks to qualify, full-time is the quickest course to choose.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of things to consider.

Firstly, having 4 consecutive weeks free isn’t always realistic for most people. Especially those who work full-time or that have family to look after.

If you are fortunate enough to have the time off, then the start dates for the course are always determined by the course provider, which means they might not fit with your free time.

Not only that, the dates that do suit your schedule may not have availability. A lot of the time full-time courses get fully booked, and so there can be a lot of planning required to find a time that works for both you and the course provider.

Finally, you’ll also have to look into whether the course is held at a location that is convenient for you. Because the course is a pretty intense way of studying, your attendance is vital. For that reason, finding a location that is accessible is absolutely essential!

However, if you don’t live that close to a major city, you might struggle to find a location to study at. If that’s the case, it’s worth considering studying on a part-time or an online course instead.

Part-time Courses

group of athletic people exercising

Part-time courses typically involve a mixture of online studying and practical workshops, making this a more flexible mode of study compared to a full-time course, without compromising the benefits of practical studying.

Studying part-time is a brilliant option for anybody who has existing commitments which mean that they can’t attend a full-time course.

As an example of the structure of a part-time personal trainer course, we’ll briefly explain how we do things here at OriGym:

Basically, students on our part-time courses can attend unlimited practical workshops which are held on a weekend. Alongside that, they have access to theoretical content on our online platform.

The qualification is then assessed with online multiple-choice exams, coursework, and practical assessments.

Because these kinds of courses involve online content and unlimited workshops, there are no restrictions when it comes to how long it will take you to complete the course, it’s entirely self-paced.

As mentioned above, our average part-time student takes as little as 12 weeks to complete the qualification. But, how long it takes you to become a qualified personal trainer is down to you as an individual, as well as other factors that we will highlight a little further on.

graphic of pros and cons list

Pros of A Part-time Course

A lot of people would say that a part-time personal trainer course combines the best of both worlds because it combines self-led online learning and practical-based workshops.

The practical workshops are taught by experienced personal training tutors, who you are free to chat with and ask any questions that you may have.

Workshops run every weekend, which means there’s no waiting around for start dates. The best thing about the practical workshops? You can attend as many as you like!

There is no set schedule for the practical workshops, so if you aren’t free one weekend, that’s completely fine too. Your attendance isn’t compulsory like it is with the full-time course.

At the workshops, you’ll meet other students who are also studying on the part-time course. It’s always good to get to know people in your industry, not to mention it’s fun to make friends with people who share the same interests as you.

In addition to the workshops, you’ll work independently using an online learning platform. This means that you can learn at entirely your own pace without any pressure to meet deadlines or keep up with a fast-paced course.

Cons of A Part-time Course

Whilst some people benefit from being able to learn at their own speed, not everyone has the self-motivation to work independently.

Some people need structure and will keep putting off their work when there aren’t any deadlines to miss. If you’re one of those people, then a full-time course might be a better option.

Another con of a part-time course is that ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer?’ isn’t quite as clear with this course option. It all depends on a number of factors, mainly whether you get the work done and how soon you can book onto an assessment day!

Whilst the workshops aren’t compulsory, they are a brilliant way to learn, and the benefits of taking full advantage of these classes are undeniable. Nevertheless, because they only run on weekends, so not everyone will always be able to attend them.

Not only that, this course has the same issue as the full-time course – finding a good location! Workshops are held up and down the country, but that doesn’t mean that there will be one conveniently close to you.

Whether it’s because of work or other commitments on the weekend, or not having a training centre nearby, the part-time course isn’t for you if you can’t make the workshops. If that is the case, then studying online might be a better option!

Online Courses - How Long Does It Take To Become A Certified Personal Trainer Online?

woman typing on a laptop graphic

Finally, online courses are another way that you can study for a personal training qualification.

With an online personal trainer course, you can study completely online, working around your existing commitments, without the stress of coursework deadlines or having to physically attend a class.

This option is a fully flexible way to study, the best option if you prefer to learn entirely at your own pace.

But don’t worry, you won’t be entirely alone! You’ll still have access to the support of qualified fitness tutors, either over the phone or via email, if you ever get stuck or need feedback!

The only time your physical presence is required, is for the practical assessment. This means that if you pass your assessment first time, then you’ll only have to attend a test centre for one day of the entire course.

Again, the average time it takes to become a certified personal trainer with our online course is 16 weeks.

But, even more so than with the part-time course, this time frame can be shortened or lengthened all depending on things that only you can control. For example, how quickly you want to pass, or how many hours a week you choose to dedicate to studying.

For more info on the things that you need to consider when thinking about ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer UK?’ check out the section below ‘Other Factors to Consider’. But first, have a read of our list of the pros and cons of online courses.

how long does it take to become a fitness instructor pros and cons graphic

Pros of An Online Course

There are tons of benefits of online courses, mainly centring around the fact that they are a convenient and flexible way to study.  

On this course, you can work completely at your own pace, in your own time, and from the comfort of your own home – or wherever you find that you work best.

Better yet, there’s no commuting or having to rearrange your schedule around studying.

Although the course is online based, you’ll still have access to the support of experienced fitness tutors, who you can chat with via email or over the phone.

Another pro is that the costs of online personal training courses are generally cheaper than other course options. Not only are the course fees lower, but there are also financial benefits associated with having no travel costs, not having to take any time off work, or having to fork out for childcare fees.

Finally, our favourite thing about online courses is that you can study alongside your career to develop your skillset and enhance your employability!

For example, once you’re working as a qualified Level 3 personal trainer, you could study a Level 4 qualification online and open up opportunities for progression into a more niche area, like nutrition or lower back pain management. 

Cons of An Online Course

Online courses are a great way to exercise your self-motivation and time management skills, however if you are lacking any of these qualities then you may struggle with this type of studying.

Not everybody finds it easy to get stuff done when there isn’t a deadline looming, and so the lack of structure that comes with an online course isn’t always a good thing for some people.

Unlike the full-time course, it’s not set in stone when you’ll qualify. Mainly, the time it takes you to get your level 3 qualification depends on how quickly you get through the course content.

However, there are things out of your control, such as waiting on feedback or results from your course provider, which could mean that it takes you longer to qualify than you might like.

How Long Does It Take to Become A Personal Trainer? 

tick box graphic

Now that we’ve explained the structure of the different course options, and weighed up their pros and cons, you should have more of an idea of how long it takes to become a level 3 personal trainer.

Obviously take the averages with a pinch of salt because there are a ton of different things that can speed up or slow down the process of gaining the relevant qualifications. 

How Long to Become A Personal Trainer? Other Factors to Consider

When it comes to you getting qualified as a PT, there’s more to it than simply the type of course that you choose.

Pretty much everybody who wants to know ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer in the UK’ is starting their career in the fitness industry in a completely individual situation.

These personal circumstances will play a big role in how long it takes you to complete the course:

  • Whether You Do the Work

  • How Much Free Time You Have

  • Your Level of Self-Discipline

  • How You Use the Resources

  • Whether You Pass First Time

  • The Course Provider You Choose

Below, we’ve explained more about these factors and how they will affect the amount of time it will take you to get qualified. Have a read because these are the most important things to consider!

Don’t just go off the averages, be sure to add these factors into the equation when you’re figuring out an idea of how long it will be before you can start working as a PT.

Whether You Do the Work

man typing on computer image

Paying to enrol onto a personal trainer course does not equate to paying for a personal trainer qualification. Well, technically it does, but at the same time… it doesn’t.

What do we mean? What we’re trying to say is that the answer to ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer?’ is not 5 minutes – a quick phone call with the enrolment team and the set-up of a payment plan.

You have to actually do the work (and pass the course) to get qualified. A good course provider will offer plenty of learning resources and support throughout your studies, but they won’t do the work for you!

If you want to know ‘how long does it take to become a Level 3 personal trainer’ but you don’t have the intention of putting the work in, you’ll be waiting a while for that level 3 certificate!

If you don’t get the work done, it will take you a long time to get qualified. If you do, then you’ll fly through the course and be well on your way to working as a personal trainer – it’s that simple!

How Much Free Time You Have

man juggling image

If you’re lucky enough to have the free time to study on a full-time course, then you’ll take a fraction of the time to qualify compared to most people.

However, for most of us, studying full-time isn’t really an option, and so self-paced courses (like our part-time or online options) are a more suitable alternative.

The benefit of self-paced courses is that you can choose how much time you want to dedicate to the course.

Be reasonable when planning out your studies, allow room for some pieces of coursework to take a little longer than expected, and consider that other things may come up, or that you might need to resit an exam or resubmit a piece of coursework.

Regardless of how much free time you do or don’t have, everyone will have to complete the same amount of work and pass the same level of exams.

So how much free time you have, how much of that time you choose to dedicate to your studies, and how well you juggle all of your responsibilites, will have a huge impact on how long or how quickly you get through the content and get the coursework done. 

Naturally, the more of your free time you spend studying, the more you’ll speed up the process of getting qualified.

Your Level of Self-Discipline

graphic of man being lazy lying on sofa

Obviously, to get your personal trainer certification, you need to do the work and dedicate some of your free time to spend on your studies.

If you’re serious about getting qualified, then you need to get your head in the game.

You can allocate all the time in the world to getting your coursework done, but you need to put the effort in, stay motivated, and exercise some serious self-discipline so that habits of procrastination don’t creep in.

Procrastination is a term used to describe any behaviours that you use to put off doing something that you need to do!

For example, if you find yourself suddenly motivated to clean the entire house, sitting on your phone for longer than usual, or making another snack, then you’re procrastinating, and you need to stop!

Research studies, for example a study by Kim & Seo (2015), have showed that procrastination is negatively correlated with your academic performance!

The more you procrastinate, the longer the more time you will add to ‘how long do you have to study to become a personal trainer’.

So put your phone on airplane mode, switch off the TV, get your head down, and do the work!

How You Use the Resources

woman running graphic

When it comes to doing the work, there should be plenty of different resources available so that you can find a way of learning that works for you.

Taking full advantage of the range of learning resources available and putting in the time and effort to work through the content is the best way to get through this qualification.

Let’s be realistic, you can’t complain that it’s taking you longer to get qualified than you expected, if you haven’t logged onto the online learning platform, or if you’ve submitted a piece of coursework without paying any real attention to making sure that it’s a good piece of work!

If you want to get your personal trainer Level 3 certification, you’ll need to do more than the bare minimum!

Our advice is to go to the workshops, get in contact with the tutors and listen to their feedback, and generally be proactive when it comes to studying.

Do those things and getting qualified in a reasonable amount of time will be a breeze.

Whether You Pass First Time

man giving thumbs up graphic

Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan and it’s not guaranteed that you’ll pass all of your assessments first time.

Whilst pass rates are pretty high, they’re not quite 100%. Not everyone passes first time, and while we’d always encourage you to stay positive going into any exam, this is just something to have in the back of your mind.

Finding the time to attend an assessment day, re-booking resits, and everything else that goes into taking your exams, all take up time. Sometimes there’ll be factors outside of your control, like the availability of assessment days, which could delay you getting qualified.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, as long as you go into the exam properly prepared, then passing shouldn’t really be a problem.

The Course Provider You Choose

Finally, the course provider that you choose will also have a significant impact on how long it takes to qualify as a personal trainer.

When choosing your course provider, the most important thing to look out for is accreditation.

In order for your qualifications to be worth having, look out for a course that is accredited and regulated.

Having a qualification that is accredited by REPs and regulated by an awarding governing body, for example Ofqual, shows your employer and your clients that you have reached a set standard of training.

Outside of that, there are other ways that your choice of course provider can affect how long it take to become a personal trainer, keep reading because we’ve outlined them below!

What Should I Consider When Looking for A Course Provider?

When it comes to accredited and regulated personal training qualifications, the course content doesn’t really differ between training providers.

That’s because recognised course providers follow a general curriculum outlined by an awarding body, usually either Active IQ or YMCA Awards.

The main difference between course providers are:

  • How Many Times You Can Resit Exams

  • The Resources Available

  • How Quickly They Mark Your Work

  • How Long You Have to Complete the Course

  • Post Course Support Available

All of these things can impact how long it takes to become a personal trainer. Generally speaking, any admin issues can add to the time it takes you to get qualified, putting your career plans on hold.

This is exactly what you don’t want. So have a read below for the main things to consider when choosing a course provider (especially if you want to qualify quickly!).

How Many Times You Can Resit Exams

graphic personal trainer discussing how long to become a personal trainer with student

In the event that you fail to pass any particular exam, you’ll probably want to re-sit the assessment. It would be silly to let all of the time and money that you’ve put into the course go to waste after all! 

If you’re concerned about not passing the first time, ask your potential training provider about the procedure of re-sitting your exams.

Some providers will offer you unlimited re-sits as part of the course package whilst others will have a standard charge for every time you want to re-sit an assessment. 

Not only that, different providers have different availability for assessment dates. If you’re in a hurry to get qualified, it’s worth asking the course provider about the next available dates for any practical assessments.

Our advice is to plan ahead and book in advance! Nobody wants to be prepared for an exam and then have to wait around for a place on an assessment day to appear.

The Resources Available

The quality of the course you choose in terms of the resources and student support available will also add to the time it takes you to qualify or it could speed the process up!

When choosing the right course for you, have a look at the learning resources they offer. If you learn best in a practical setting, then a part-time course with plenty of workshops is probably a better option than a completely online course.

When you’re signing up, ask the student support available from the tutor team. How can you get in contact with them, and when?

If the help and advice of the tutors are only available Monday to Friday from 9-5, and you work the same shift pattern, then you’ll struggle to get through the content – adding time on to ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer’ for you.

How Quickly They Mark Your Work

checklist graphic

It doesn’t matter how quickly you get through the coursework, if the course provider isn’t efficient in getting your results and feedback back to you, then there will be delays to you getting qualified.

When you’re enquiring for a course, ask the enrolment team about the turnaround time for coursework feedback.

The longer this process takes, the longer it will be until you can get started with your new career – so choose your training provider wisely!

How Long You Have to Complete the Course

Another important thing to ask before signing up for a personal trainer course is how long you have to complete the qualification.

This is especially useful if you’re planning on taking your time, for example studying alongside existing family or work commitments.

Even if you want to know how to become a personal trainer as quickly as possible, sometimes things come up that might put a pause on these plans. If that’s the case, you’ll be grateful if you’ve chosen a course that allows you to take your time with your studies.

Post Course Support Available

image of different major gym brand logos

We’re assuming that by studying a Level 3 personal training qualification, your aim is to get a job as a PT!

As well as asking ‘how long does it take to become a fully qualified personal trainer’, you need to think about how long it will be until you can work as a personal trainer!

Getting a job as a PT is your end goal, but it will be affected by the course provider that you choose. So, you need to have employability in mind right from the beginning.

Outside of course accreditation, the post course support offered by a training provider can determine how and where you find a job.

Look for a provider that has a good reputation amongst, and relationships with, companies in the industry.

Not only that, any good course provider will have a team of industry professionals who can pass on what they’ve learned from their time in the industry to their students.

This can include sales techniques to show off in an interview, or tips and tricks for a good business plan if you’re wanting to start your own personal training business.

These providers can then help you get interviews within big gym brands and guide you through the application process which will boost your opportunity for employment.

Look out for courses that offer more than just the qualification – post course support is arguably just as important!

Recap - How Long Does It Take to Become A Qualified Personal Trainer?

On average, it takes around 16 weeks to complete an online personal training diploma. Alternatively, you could choose to study a full-time course. This course is a lot more intense, but you can become a qualified personal trainer in just 4 weeks.

Before You Go!

Hopefully, now you have a rough idea of how long it will take you to get qualified as a personal trainer!

All things considered, working in the fitness industry is a brilliant career choice. If you think this the right path for you, then you can enquire online for one of our Personal Training Courses.

If you want some more info about the range of courses that we offer at OriGym, then give us a call on 0800 002 9599 and a member of our team will be happy to have a chat about our courses in more detail.

If you prefer, you can download our latest online course prospectus here.

Now Check Out

If you’re about to kick-start a career as a personal trainer, we think you'll love these articles:

References

Kim, K. and Seo, E. H. (2015). The relationship between procrastination and academic performance: A meta-analysis. Personality and Individual Differences. 82, pp. 26-33.

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer!

Become a qualified personal trainer and kick-start an exciting new career in the fitness industry

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer, taking particular interest in Group Exercise. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class.