Blog

Differences Between Level 3 and Level 4 Personal Training

level 3 and 4 personal training

Are you thinking about becoming a PT and wondering what is the difference between Level 3 and 4 personal training? Or perhaps you’re already a Level 3 qualified PT wondering what a Level 4 course involves?

We answer all of these questions in more in our ultimate guide to Level 3 and 4 personal training qualifications! We’ll cover:

Before we start, become a qualified Level 4 personal trainer by taking one of OriGym’s Level 4 personal trainer packages. You can also browse our full range of fitness courses by downloading our free course prospectus here!

What Is A Level 3 Personal Trainer?

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 8

A Level 3 personal trainer is simply someone who has a Level 3 personal training qualification. Level 3 is the minimum personal trainer level required to work as a certified PT in the UK. 

With this, an appropriately qualified personal trainer is able to:

  • Deliver one-on-one sessions with clients
  • Work on the gym floor
  • Carry out inductions with new gym members
  • Conduct fitness assessments with new clients
  • Lead group fitness classes

A Level 3 personal trainer course provides you with a strong foundation of knowledge, skills and practical experience to become a personal trainer.

All Level 3 courses are a blanket covered qualification that every OFQUAL regulated provider offers- they will cover all of the same core units that most employers look for.

These units consist of:

  • Advanced anatomy and physiology 
  • Nutritional principles
  • Delivering personal trainer sessions
  • Programming training sessions
  • Marketing and business skills

As you can see, a Level 3 course covers a wide range of areas within health and fitness, as the aim is to provide you with an in-depth, yet broad knowledge and skill set. 

What Is A Level 4 Personal Trainer?

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 10

Level 4 is the highest level of qualification you can get as a personal trainer in the UK and allows you to specialise in a particular niche of the fitness industry. 

Level 4 courses are for those already qualified Level 3 personal trainers, who want to gain further knowledge in a particular area of fitness.

Level 4 personal trainer courses are a lot more detailed and specific in terms of course content, since they cover a niche area of fitness and allow you to train more specific types of clients. This is what can make a Level 4 course more difficult. 

Having a niche Level 4 qualification allows you to distinguish yourself as a personal trainer, enabling you to branch out and diversify your career in interesting, profitable ways.

Here at OriGym, we offer a wide range of Level 4 courses:

As you can see, taking a Level 4 course can help you take on a wider range of clients, compared to being a Level 3 personal trainer. We will discuss the benefits of being a Level 4 PT in more detail later in this article!

However, if you want to progress beyond Level 4, there are lots of other ways to do so! Check out our guide to personal trainer career options for some inspiration for how you can progress your career.

 

Become a personal trainer with OriGym!

Enquire today about our Ofqual-regulated Level 3 and Level 4 personal trainer courses

Why Is A Level 3 Qualification Required to Begin a Level 4 Course?

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 3

Almost all Level 4 courses have a Level 3 as a prerequisite, as it ensures that you have a strong foundation before you go on to specialise. Having this base of knowledge will therefore make a Level 4 course less difficult, as it is more of a natural progression.

For example, where a Level 3 course qualifies you to train clients in general, a Level 4 course in Diabetes and Weight Management qualifies you to train clients with this specific health issue. This therefore requires a deeper level of knowledge into diabetes, which you would not cover on a Level 3 course.

You would, however, cover topics related to weight management, therefore equipping you with the foundational knowledge you’d need to undertake the Level 4 course.

Another example is that the Level 3 course contains a module on nutrition- if you were to take a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course, you will then build on this existing knowledge in order to specialise further.

What Is The Difference Between Level 3 and 4 Personal Training Courses

Now that you know what each level covers, let’s now break down the differences between Level 3 and 4 personal training courses, so you know which one is best for you! 

The Entry Requirements of Level 3 and 4 Personal Training Courses

level 3 and 4 personal trainer

Another difference between Level 3 and 4 personal training courses are the entry requirements to enrol in the course. 

To enrol on a Level 3 personal training course, you will need to first have a Level 2 Gym/Fitness Instructor qualification

A Level 2 course is an entry-level course, meaning that you do not need any previous qualifications or experience to take it. Once you have this, you can then go on to take a Level 3 Personal Trainer course. 

If you are just starting your career in fitness, OriGym’s Personal Trainer Diploma is the quickest and most cost-effective way to become a personal trainer. This combines both Level 2 and Level 3 courses for a cheaper price than enrolling in them both separately, and you can become a qualified Level 3 personal trainer in as little as 4 weeks!

The entry requirements for Level 4 courses vary greatly.

For the Level 4 courses in Lower Back Pain Management, Obesity & Weight Management and Diabetes Control & Weight Management, you will need a Level 3 qualification to enrol. This can be either a Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification or a Level 3 in Exercise Referral

However, the one exception is our Level 4 course in Advanced Sports Nutrition which has no entry requirements- aside from being 16 or over. This is because the content of this course is totally separate from anything you'd learn on a Level 3 course, so it requires no foundational knowledge to get started.

If you are currently unqualified and want to get into sports nutrition, OriGym’s ‘Master Diploma’ is the quickest and most cost-effective route to become a Level 4 personal trainer. As you can see from the table we referenced above, it combines both a Level 3 personal training course and a Level 4 Sports Nutrition course at a discounted rate! 

The Cost of Level 3 and 4 Personal Training Courses 

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 5

With so many different course providers out there, there is unfortunately no concrete answer to how much a Level 3 or Level 4 course costs. 

This is because there are lots of factors that can affect the price of a PT course, such as:

  • Course length
  • Online vs in-person teaching
  • Registration fees 
  • Full vs part-time study 

Check out our guide on how much it costs to become a personal trainer here for more detail about the factors affecting course costs. 

But for now, let’s use our courses here at OriGym as an example. 

OriGym’s Level 3 personal trainer course costs £1049

What sets OriGym apart from other course providers is that there are no hidden extra fees for things such as enrollment or exam resists.

The various cost OriGym’s Level 4 personal training courses are:

You may have noticed that Level 4 courses are cheaper than Level 3 courses. This is simply because they are more niche qualifications and are shorter in length, compared to a Level 3 personal training course which is longer and covers more content. 

If you are just starting your career in the fitness industry or only have a basic qualification, you can save money by choosing a personal training package that’ll boost you straight to a Level 4 status.

Here are the packages that we offer here at OriGym, combining various courses for a cheaper price than buying them separately.

what is the difference between level 3 and 4

For example, if you are just starting your career in the fitness industry and know that you want to ultimately become a Level 4 personal trainer, choosing the Elite Diploma is the most cost-effective way to do this. 

As you can see, the cost of the Elite Diploma is £2,699

If you were to buy each of the courses that are included separately, this would cost £4,594. So choosing the package option would save you a huge £1895! 

For a more detailed breakdown of course costs, we have a whole article on how much it costs to become a personal trainer here.  

 

The Difficulty of Level 3 and 4 Personal Training Courses

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 6

As you would expect, Level 4 courses are more advanced than the Level 3 personal training course. This is simply because as a higher level of qualification, they cover a higher level of content. 

A Level 3 personal trainer course provides you with an in-depth yet broad foundation of knowledge, skills and practical experience to become a personal trainer.

However, Level 4 personal trainer courses are a lot more detailed and specific in terms of course content, since they cover a niche area of fitness and how to train specific types of clients. This is what can therefore make a Level 4 course more ‘difficult’. 

For example, where a Level 3 course qualifies you to train clients in general, a Level 4 course in Diabetes and Weight Management qualifies you to train clients with this specific health issue. This therefore requires a deeper level of knowledge into diabetes, which you would not cover on a Level 3 course.   

This is also why all Level 4 courses have a Level 3 as a prerequisite, as it ensures that you have a strong foundation before you then specialise. Having this base of knowledge will therefore make a Level 4 course seem less difficult, as it is more of a natural progression. 

For example, the Level 3 course contains a module on nutrition. If you take a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course, you will then build on this existing knowledge in order to specialise further. 

That said, remember that the idea of ‘difficulty’ is ultimately subjective- what one student finds difficult, another may find easy!

This is due to personal factors such as your previous education level. For example, someone with an A-Level in Biology may find the modules on human anatomy easier than someone who doesn’t have experience in that field. 

For a more detailed discussion of course difficulty, check out our guide to how hard it is to become a personal trainer here.

Level 3 and 4 Personal Training Courses Assessment Methods

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 11

For the Level 3 personal trainer course, you can expect a combination of online exams and practical assessments. 

However, with Level 4 courses, the method of assessment will vary depending on the type of course.

For example, OriGym’s Level 4 Lower Back Pain Management course is assessed via online exams, as well as a practical assessment in which you deliver a programme for a client with lower back pain. 

This practical assessment reflects the fact that a large part of working with clients with lower back pain involves practical, hands-on work.

However, OriGym’s Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course is assessed purely through online examinations and written coursework. Again, this simply reflects the fact the role of a nutritionist is largely knowledge-based, rather than practical.

So when it comes to the difference between Level 3 and 4 personal training assessments, it really depends on the type of Level 4 course you are comparing it to!

Enjoying this article so far? Here’s 3 more that we think you’ll love:

What Are The Benefits Of Being A Level 4 Personal Trainer?

So, we have established that compared to Level 3, a Level 4 personal trainer is a higher level of qualification. 

But you may be wondering- especially if you are already a qualified Level 3 PT, why should I take a Level 4 personal training course? Here are 3 of the main benefits of becoming a Level 4 personal trainer:

Being a Level 4 Personal Trainer Helps You Refine Your Marketing Strategy

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 7

As we have said, Level 4 qualifications means that you can specialise in a particular area of fitness, giving you a USP, or Unique Selling Point. In other words, something that sets you apart from the thousands of other PTs in the industry. 

You can take advantage of elevated language to market yourself as a more advanced trainer, capitalising on your USP. Some great terms to use are:

  • Master
  • Specialist 
  • Expert

Essentially, a Level 4 personal trainer can also call themselves a ‘master personal trainer’. This is why you may find jobs advertising for a master personal trainer- which we will discuss in more detail later in this article. 

Potential clients are far more likely to sign up with you over a standard, Level 3 qualified PT purely based on the prestige that comes with these words, and by extension, a Level 4 qualification.

Check out our guide to how to become a master personal trainer for a more detailed explanation of this term!

Doubling down on this personal trainer marketing strategy can then provide direction for things such as:

  • Your business name
  • Your branding e.g. logo
  • Your personal trainer bio
  • Your social media 

For example, this personal training business below specialises in training obease clients- which is something you can only do with a Level 4 qualification in Obesity Control and Weight Management

As you can see below, this PT has based their whole business around training plus sized women. This has allowed her to create a clear marketing strategy, from her website to social media!  

what is the difference between level 3 and 4 3

what is the difference between level 3 and 4 4

what is the difference between level 3 and 4 5

Marketing is a huge part of running a personal trainer business, as it is what helps you build your brand and ultimately attract clients! The more focused your marketing is, the more you can target and dominate a particular niche within the fitness industry.

With this in mind, a benefit of being a Level 4 personal trainer rather than just Level 3 is since it allows you to specialise in a particular area of fitness and market yourself more easily- which you cannot do with just a Level 3 qualification. 

 

Become a personal trainer with OriGym!

Enquire today about our Ofqual-regulated Level 3 and Level 4 personal trainer courses

Being a Level 4 Personal Trainer Helps You Attract A Unique Demographic 

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 10

Another way that being Level 4 qualified can benefit your PT business is that it allows you to take on a wider range of clients, compared to if you were just a Level 3 qualified. 

For example, if you have a Level 4 qualification in Obesity and Weight Management, you will then have the knowledge needed to train clients with obesity or other weight-related issues.

Considering that 28% of people in the UK are obese and a further 36% are overweight, this qualification means that you can now market to and take on clients from a huge percentage of the population.

Having access to this unique demographic of the population will of course then increase your earnings, as you will ultimately have more paying clients!

This is something that you cannot do as a Level 3 personal trainer, as you are not qualified to take on these kinds of clients, making it a huge benefit of taking a Level 4 course.

 

Being a Level 4 Personal Trainer Qualifies You For More Roles

One of the main benefits of being a Level 4 personal trainer is that it will increase your employment prospects.

Personal training can be a highly competitive job market. So having a Level 4 qualification can really help you stand out as a personal trainer and give you an advantage over other applicants. 

Many personal trainer job adverts will either state a Level 4 qualification as a requirement or a strong preference. 

The job advert below, for example, states a Level 4 qualifcaition as a requirement:

level 3 and 4 differences

Even if it is not explicitly stated as a requirement, the job advert below states that a Level 4 qualification is a 'massive bonus'. This indicates that if you are a Level 4 PT, you will have a big advantage over other applicants who may only have Level 3.

level 3 and 4 differences

As these job adverts demonstrates, being a Level 4 personal trainer will therefore make you a much more favourable applicant, compared to someone with just a Level 3 qualification. 

Being a Level 4 personal trainer shows that you have specialist knowledge 

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 12

Even if an advert does not specifically ask for a Level 4 qualification, employers will almost certainly favour more highly qualified applicants. 

For example, say an employer is choosing between you and one other applicant for a role. If the only difference between your applications is that you are a Level 4 personal trainer, and the other is only Level 3, they will almost definitely choose you! 

This is simply because compared to a Level 3 qualification, having a Level 4 qualification proves that you are more skilled, experienced and have specialist knowledge in a particular niche, which will ultimately make you a better personal trainer! 

Whereas if you only have a Level 3 qualification, you simply will not have this specialist knowledge.

Being a Level 4 Personal Trainer Can Increase Your Overall Earnings

level 3 and 4 personal trainer 4

We have established that being a Level 4 personal trainer increases your employment prospects and allows you to attract more clients. All of these things ultimately increase your overall earnings, compared to Level 3 personal trainers.

Due to the range of different Level 4 courses, there is no set average salary for a Level 4 or master personal trainer.  

However, according to Payscale, the average yearly salary of a personal trainer in the UK is £22, 219, ranging from £16k-33k

As a Level 4 personal trainer, you can only expect this to be on the higher end of the scale- if not more! 

This is because the more qualified you are, the more you can charge for your sessions, as you are essentially offering a higher level of service to your clients. 

For example, a personal trainer with a Level 4 qualification in Sports Nutrition can offer specialist nutrition advice to clients. This is an extra service that many clients will be happy to pay more for, compared to a Level 3 personal trainer who is not qualified to offer nutrition plans.

But don’t just take our word for it! As you can see from the data from Payscale below, having skills in things like nutrition and weight management (both of which are Level 4 courses) have been shown to increase personal trainer salaries by a considerable percentage. 

level 3 and 4 personal training

Plus, the salaries of Level 4 personal trainers is generally higher than Level 3 personal trainers because the Level 4 PTs have usually been in the industry for longer, so have built up a larger client base. 

Check out our guide to personal trainer salary for a more detailed breakdown of the salary differences between Level 3 and 4 personal training. 

So in summary, as a Level 4 PT, you will be more qualified for highly paid jobs that you would not be qualified for if you only had a Level 3 qualification, as well as being able to charge more for your sessions if you are self-employed. 

 

Become a personal trainer with OriGym!

Enquire today about our Ofqual-regulated Level 3 and Level 4 personal trainer courses

FAQs

What is the Best Qualification for a Personal Trainer?

Now that we have compared the differences between Level 3 and 4 personal training courses, you may still be wondering which is ultimately best.

If you simply want to be a personal trainer, then a Level 3 qualification will allow you to do this. Many people stay as a Level 3 personal trainer, and this is fine!

However, if you want to optimise your career prospects, increase your earnings and work on your self development, then we highly recommend becoming a Level 4 personal trainer.

But remember that you will need a Level 3 qualification first, before you can then go on to take a Level 4 course. 

 

Become a personal trainer with OriGym!

Enquire today about our Ofqual-regulated Level 3 and Level 4 personal trainer courses

Are There Any Levels Above Level 4?

If you are already a Level 4 personal trainer or are simply looking ahead to your career, you may now be wondering whether there are any levels beyond Level 4. 

In short, Level 4 is the highest level of personal training course you can get. 

There is no such thing as a ‘Level 5 personal trainer’!

However, if you want to progress beyond Level 4, there are lots of other ways to do so! Check out our guide to personal trainer career options for some inspiration for how you can progress your career. 

Before You Go!

So, we hope that you now have a clearer answer to the question, ‘what is the difference between Level 3 and 4 personal training?’, as well as the benefits of being a Level 4 PT.

With this in mind, enquire today about OriGym’s industry-leading Level 4 personal training courses. Or, check out our free downloadable course prospectus to find out more about the range of fitness courses we offer.

References

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn03336/ 

Written by Alice Williams

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Alice is a content writer at OriGym. With a first-class degree in French and Linguistics, she loves all things language, fitness and culture. As part of her degree, she spent a year living in France where she worked for a lifestyle blog, gaining professional experience in both translation and content writing. 

When she’s not writing, you can usually find Alice practicing yoga and she hopes to one day become a yoga instructor herself. She also loves running, tennis and cooking up a vegan storm in the kitchen! It was this passion for health and fitness, combined with her love for writing, that brought Alice to OriGym.

Recommended Posts

Download Your FREE Course Prospectus & claim 15% OFF on Prompt Payment

free prospectus

Download Your FREE Course Prospectus & claim 15% OFF on Prompt Payment

free prospectus