Personal Trainer Apprenticeships Explained

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If you’re a young person looking to kick-start a career in the fitness industry, completing a personal trainer apprenticeship is a great place to start!

We’re about to answer any questions you might have about personal training apprenticeships, from the entry requirements to a full breakdown of the pros and cons of using this qualification route.


If you want to discuss your study options with one of our experienced careers advisors, you can enquire about our Ofqual regulated Personal Training Diploma here

To find out more about the range of courses we offer here at OriGym, why not download a free course prospectus?

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a PT?

how to become an Apprentice personal trainer uk

Before we explain the ins and outs of pursuing an apprenticeship in personal training, let’s quickly outline the key qualifications that personal trainers need so that you know what to look for from your apprenticeship.

In order to become a qualified personal trainer in the UK, you will need the following qualifications: 

  1. Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instruction
  2. Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training 

It is essential that each of these qualifications is regulated by an Ofqual approved awarding body, such as Focus Awards. It is also useful to complete qualifications that are endorsed by CIMSPA. 

These qualifications can be completed as part of personal trainer apprenticeships, or they can be completed with a private training provider. Once we have discussed personal training apprenticeships in more detail, stick with us because we’re going to weigh up the pros and cons of choosing a private training provider over an apprenticeship.

What is an Apprenticeship?

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An apprenticeship is a type of study programme that combines on the job training within a workplace and studying for a recognised qualification.

A typical apprenticeship involves one day worth of study at a local college and the rest of the week is spent learning on the job in full-time employment. 

There are multiple levels of apprenticeships, from intermediate (or Level 2), which is the equivalent to 5 GCSEs, up to Level 6 & 7 apprenticeships which offer a qualification equivalent to a full degree.

Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular option for school-leavers and people pursuing a career change as they offer the opportunity to gain a formal qualification as well as real-life skills, work experience, and the opportunity to earn an income at the same time.

All those things considered, it would seem that applying for an apprenticeship is a no-brainer! Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s break down personal trainer apprenticeships into a little more detail.

What does a Personal Trainer Apprenticeship involve?

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An apprenticeship in personal training is an advanced level apprenticeship, the equivalent to a Level 3 qualification or 2 A-Levels.  

Some of the benefits of qualifying through a personal trainer apprenticeship include gaining practical skills, working and learning from experienced staff, and all of the perks that come with being an employee, such as a stable wage and holiday pay!

According to the UK Government official apprenticeship website, Level 3 Personal Training apprenticeships take around 15 months to complete.

Within this time frame, you should expect to spend around 20% of your working hours completing training either within the workplace, at a local college, or in some cases, online - it really depends on your individual apprenticeship. 

The rest of your time will be spent learning on the job, carrying out the day to day tasks of a personal trainer, such as:

  • Greeting members and running gym inductions 
  • Showing members how to use equipment 
  • Holding 1-1 and group PT classes (or shadowing a qualified PT)
  • Giving advice to members
  • Cleaning and maintaining the gym floor 

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from this kind of role directly from an advert for a PT apprenticeship: 

personal fitness trainer apprenticeships uk image


Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Study a Personal Trainer Diploma with us and qualify in as little as 4 weeks!

What Are The Entry Requirements for A PT Apprenticeship? 

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The exact entry requirements for advanced personal fitness trainer apprenticeships vary slightly depending on the college and employer of individual apprenticeships, however, there are some general prerequisites that you should know about.

The three core requirements of all apprenticeships is that you must be at least 16 years old, living in England, and you can not be in full-time education. 

The vast majority of employers will require that you have at least 5 GCSEs at grade A*-C (or 9 to 4 for the new grade scale), and those must include both English and Maths. 

Unsure that you will achieve the necessary GCSE grades to get onto an apprenticeship? You can achieve the exact same qualifications by studying with a private training provider without the need to have any prior experience or qualifications!

In some cases, employers and colleges will take you on without GCSEs in English and Maths, but you will have to retake these subjects and pass them before you can complete the apprenticeship.

Specific to personal trainer apprenticeships, there are often some additional entry requirements. Whilst some employers will allow you to apply with basic requirements outlined above, many prefer candidates to have some relevant experience in the health and fitness industry.

There are a handful of PT apprenticeships that cover both Level 2 & 3 qualifications, however, some will require that you already hold a Level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification prior to starting your apprenticeship. 

For example, this apprenticeship advertised in Liverpool:

personal fitness trainer apprenticeships uk

As you can see, this employer has outlined that it is desirable that candidates already possess their Level 2 Gym Instructing course or equivalent, and that they have an existing knowledge of using fitness equipment. 

For that reason, this isn’t really a suitable personal trainer apprenticeship for a 16 year old.

Whilst this isn’t the case for all personal training apprenticeships, it does limit the number of opportunities for those who haven’t completed a Level 2 course, raising the question of whether it would be easier to pursue a Personal Training Diploma which covers both your Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications. 

Another thing to consider as part of the process of applying for a personal trainer apprenticeship is that most apprenticeships require that you write out an application and attend a formal interview. 

Whilst not technically an entry requirement, this is something that will need to go successfully in order for you to begin an apprenticeship. On the other hand, completing a Personal Trainer Diploma with a private training provider, such as OriGym, only requires you to have a casual chat with one of our careers advisors. 

Do You Have to Pay for Personal Training Apprenticeships?

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Arguably the most appealing aspect of an apprenticeship is that, in most cases, students don’t have to pay any course fees or take out a student loan.

As stated on the Government’s apprenticeship website

“Apprenticeships are funded from contributions made by the government and your employer. This means you will not have any student loans or tuition fees. You'll just need to cover the cost of your day-to-day expenses, such as lunch and travel.”

If you’re wondering whether this applies to you or unsure about the cost of personal training apprenticeships for those that aren’t included, allow us to explain!

Anybody aged between 19 and 23 years old without 2 or more A-Levels or equivalents, is able to pursue any apprenticeship funded by the Government, meaning the student will not have to pay any course fees at all. This Government funding extends to up to £4000 worth of course fees. 

However, as per the criteria above, if you are over 24 years old, or you have already completed 2 A-Levels (or equivalents), then the course fees are not covered in this way. 

As mentioned when we discussed the entry requirements for personal training apprenticeships, apprenticeships (and the subsequent funding) are only available to individuals who are at least 16 years old, living in England, and not in full-time education. 

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How Long Does A Personal Trainer Apprenticeship Take?

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Depending on the level of apprenticeship you enrol on and the qualification that you gain as an outcome, apprenticeships can take anywhere between 1 and 5 years to complete.

Specific to an advanced personal training apprenticeship, this level of qualification usually takes between 15 months and 2 years to complete. Again, the length of fitness apprenticeships depends on the qualifications that are included.

Whilst the example referred to earlier is only expected to take 15 months to complete, many personal trainer apprenticeships will take around 2 years to complete - especially if your studies are carried out at a college.

The explanation for this is simple. The earlier example required students to have a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification prior to applying for the course, and therefore that specific apprenticeship only covered the Level 3 Personal Training qualification. Meanwhile, the apprenticeships that cover a full 2 year period usually cover both Level 2 and Level 3, as shown below:

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How Much Will You Earn As An Apprentice PT?

For anybody who is torn between going to college and applying for an apprenticeship, the fact that you can earn a wage during an apprenticeship is usually one of the key selling points.

If this is something that is swaying your decision, it only makes sense that you’ll want to know more about how much you can earn during a PT apprenticeship. Fortunately for you, we’re about to discuss exactly that.

All apprentices in England are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, however, the apprentice minimum wage is only £5.28 (as of January 2023), which is lower than the general minimum wage.

Here’s a table of the various rates of minimum wage in the UK: 

Apprenticeship personal trainer image

*The Apprentice wage applies if you are under 19 years old or in the first year of your apprenticeship. Otherwise, your apprentice wage will be determined by the relevant rate for your age.

Now that you have an idea of the hourly rate that you can expect as an apprentice personal trainer, you’re probably wondering how many hours you will be paid for. 

As an apprentice, you are entitled to paid for all working hours (as determined by your employment contract) and your training. If you are required to study for your English and/or Maths GCSE as part of your apprenticeship, your employer should also pay you to do this within your contracted working hours.

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Here’s the Government's advice for employers:

“You must pay your apprentice for time spent training or studying for their apprenticeship. Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their normal working hours training. ... somewhere else (for example, a college or training provider).”

As well as a minimum wage, as an apprentice PT, you are also entitled to other employee rights, such as:

  • Holiday pay
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Statutory minimum length for breaks
  • Maternity leave
  • Time off for emergencies 


Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Study a Personal Trainer Diploma with us and qualify in as little as 4 weeks!

Should I Study With A Private Training Provider?

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At this stage, you might have only considered studying at college or applying for an apprenticeship, but did you know that there is actually a third option that offers all of the same qualifications?

Studying with a private training provider, such as OriGym, is a great alternative to a personal trainer apprenticeship for a 16 year old, or anybody else pursuing an apprenticeship for that matter. 

In order for you to make an informed decision, we thought we would create a comparison of apprenticeships vs private courses, breaking down the pros and cons of each route - here goes!

Is There Any Difference Between The Qualifications?

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Whether you study as part of a personal trainer apprenticeship or with a private training provider, you will be able to achieve the exact same level of qualification necessary to become a certified personal trainer.

Any good training provider will offer both Level 2 and Level 3 personal training courses, as well as specialist courses such as Sports Massage Therapy, and advanced qualifications including Level 4 Nutrition!

Private training providers even offer what is known as a ‘personal trainer diploma’, which combines both the Level 2 gym instructor and Level 3 personal trainer course within one qualification. 

Courses with some private course providers even come with free CPD courses. For example, OriGym currently offers 10 free CPD courses for anybody who signs up for their personal training diploma!

As long as a course provider offers regulated qualifications, where or how you study will have no direct effect on your ability to land a job as a personal trainer. To ensure that your qualification is regulated, all you need to do is look out the following logos on the training providers website:

Level 3 personal training apprenticeships graphic

Alternatively, you can ask about Ofqual regulation when you enquire about a Personal Training Diploma. We can’t stress enough how important regulation is, so you really shouldn’t feel rude for asking a course provider who their awarding body is!

Benefits of Qualifying With A Private Training Provider

#1 Lower Entry Requirements

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One of the best things about choosing a private course provider is that, unlike apprentice personal trainer jobs and courses, there are no entry requirements or course prerequisites if you choose to study in this way.

As long as you are at least 16 years old, you don’t need to worry about your GCSE grades and there is no need for you to acquire any relevant work experience. As an added bonus, you also don’t need to worry about writing out a long application or attending a formal interview!

Instead, you just need to have a casual chat with an experienced careers advisor!

#2 Get Qualified Quicker

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Another benefit of choosing to study with a provider such as OriGym is that you will have full control over how long it takes you to get qualified.

As we mentioned earlier, personal trainer apprenticeships can take anywhere between 15 and 24 months to complete. Compared to how long it takes to become a personal trainer with ourselves, this is a pretty long process!

Courses with private training providers are completely self-paced, meaning you have full flexibility over when and how you study, when you complete your coursework or assessments, and how quickly you get qualified. 

Whilst the obvious benefit of choosing an apprenticeship is that you do get paid over that 2 year period, studying with a private course provider would allow you to qualify much quicker and then pursue a better-paid job.

Just how quickly you can complete your Level 2 & 3 qualifications depends on the study method you choose, but as a rough guide, here’s the average time OriGym students take to fully qualify for their respective study method:

  • Full-time students: 4 weeks
  • Part-time students: 12 weeks
  • Online students: 16 weeks

As you can see, this is only a fraction of the time it takes to complete apprenticeships in personal training.

#3 Learn from Industry Experts

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Another benefit of studying with a private training provider is that you can learn from industry experts who have worked as successful personal trainers, and therefore truly know the ins and outs of the fitness industry.

Whereas the college courses that are completed as part of apprenticeship training are typically led by generic teachers without experience working in the industry, the opposite is true with the tutors that work for companies such as OriGym! 

Colleges offer a whole range of courses, from fashion to fitness and everything else in-between. Meanwhile, private training providers offer specialised training specific to their respective industry. In this case, the fitness industry. 

This means that private training providers can offer you a lot more in-depth support both in regard to the course and your career post-qualification. The advanced knowledge of private tutors means that the content itself is a lot more specialised, offering tons of useful resources beyond the bare minimum curriculum that is covered in a college. 

For example, at OriGym all of our staff have expereince in the fitness industry. Some have worked for big chain gyms, and others have started independent business’. As a result of this insider knowledge of the industry, our courses offer a unique insight into what you really need to know in order to be successful as a personal trainer.

#4 Flexible Study Options

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As we mentioned just above, the majority of private course providers will offer three study methods: full-time, part-time, and online learning. 

Whereas apprenticeships require you to commit to upto 2 years of full-time study and work, private courses are much more flexible. Some study methods even allow you to qualify from the comforts of your own home, saving you time and money on travel costs, childcare, and other expenses.

For that reason, studying with a private training provider is not only a better option for anybody who wants to speed up the process of getting qualified, but also for anyone with other commitments that they need to work around their studies.

So, what option is best suited for you? Let’s discuss each study method in a little more detail…

Full-time Courses 

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Full-time courses are the fastest way to get qualified. They involve 4 full weeks learning at a training centre. The first two weeks of the course cover your Level 2 fitness instructor qualification, and the latter 2 weeks cover Level 3. 

During this course, you can expect to learn from experienced, knowledgeable tutors. You will be taught in a classroom-based environment but you will also take part in practical learning on the gym floor. 

At the end of the 4 weeks, you will sit your final exam and, provided you pass on your first attempt, you will leave as a qualified personal trainer!

Part-time Courses 

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Part-time courses are a more flexible approach to qualifying. These courses are often referred to as ‘blended learning’ as they combine elements of full-time courses with online learning.

On a typical part-time course, students can access online resources and assessments to study for and complete elements of their course, but they are also able to attend practical workshops (usually at the weekend).

This option is often favoured among people who work full-time and want an element of flexibility whilst still having access to face-to-face interactions with experienced tutors.

Online Personal Trainer Courses 

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Online courses are the most flexible way to become a PT. As you can probably guess, online courses are almost entirely online-based. In fact, the only time that your physical attendance is required as an online student is to complete your final practical assessments. 

These courses are a great option if you want to balance your qualification alongside another job, your family, or other commitments. Whilst you will need an element of motivation to get through this completely self-paced course, as long as you choose a professional course provider, you will still receive plenty of support from staff. 

For example, OriGym’s online students have access to:

  • Tutor support over the phone and via email (covering evenings and weekends)
  • A live chat box to talk to experienced tutors in real-time
  • Award-nominated e-learning platform 
  • E-books & electronic manuals
  • Online lectures
  • Interactive quizzes

Not to mention, online courses are typically the cheapest way to get qualified with a private training provider!

Despite what you might think, qualifying with a private trainer through any of these study methods is actually a really affordable way to qualify as a personal trainer as most providers offer interest-free and flexible payment plans! Check out this article on personal trainer course costs to find out more!


Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Study a Personal Trainer Diploma with us and qualify in as little as 4 weeks!

#5 Higher Pass Rate 

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Another benefit of choosing a private course provider is that the pass rate for these courses is higher than that of a personal trainer apprenticeship.

For a level 3 personal trainer apprenticeship, the national average pass rate is 79%. Meanwhile, over 90% of OriGym students pass their practical assessments on their first attempt!

Paired with the fact that you can complete the course content much quicker if you study with ourselves, it's safe to assume that private training courses are a much quicker way to start your career as a personal trainer.

#6 Career Support

personal training apprenticeships uk

One final benefit of qualifying as a personal trainer with a private provider is the unrivalled post-course support that is offered.

Any good private course provider will offer free career services to help you to land that first role in the fitness industry. A lot providers have existing relationships or partnerships with reputable brands and gyms, and allow their students to utilise these connections when searching for a position.

As an example of what you can expect from private training providers over apprenticeships, here are just some of the career support services available to OriGym students:

  • Guaranteed post-course interviews 
  • Free CV analysis & distribution
  • Guidance on interview preparation
  • Access to our exclusive jobs board
  • Advice on social media and digital marketing
  • Free business & marketing resources

As you can see, the support and resources offered by private training providers are much more extensive than the advice that you would get from just one day in a college as part of an apprenticeship. 

Not to mention, because these services are often ran by people who have worked, hired, and ran business’ in the industry, you know that you’re getting reliable, specialised advice!

Before You Go!

How you choose to enter the industry is your choice but if you want to talk more about your course options or discuss how we can help you to kick-start an exciting career in the fitness industry, enquire about our Personal Trainer Diploma today.

If you'd like to know more about the range of health and fitness courses you can study with us here at OriGym, download your FREE prospectus now.

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Manager, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

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 and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. 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 enjoys going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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