When you’re looking at a personal trainer job description, it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s important from what – quite frankly – isn’t.
This can be a problem…
With thousands of beginners entering the fitness industry every year, we’re getting more and more questions along the lines of: What exactly do I need to become a personal trainer and why are personal trainer job descriptions so varied?
Now, there’s good news and there’s bad news.
The bad news is, the reason that one personal trainer job description might be so different from another is because there are loads of different employers out there. And we mean loads.
In 2018, there are an estimated 7,038 gyms in the UK alone – most of which will be prime employers of new personal trainers. All of these gyms will have their own managers, who will all be looking for different things, whether its qualifications, prior experience, or a decent set of soft skills.
The good news is that we’re here to help!
In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about reading between the lines of a personal trainer job description:
What You Need to Become a Personal Trainer: The Basics
Now, we’re going to hazard a guess that, if you’re researching things like personal trainer job descriptions and personal trainer careers, you’re pretty sure of where you’d like to work in the future…
If not, that’s totally fine.
In fact, in what is a rapidly growing market, more and more people are surprising themselves by considering sudden career shifts from corporate settings to the fitness industry.
While we’d never discourage someone from pursuing their fitness career dreams, we are huge advocates of doing your research before taking the plunge into a new career.
And the truth is, when it comes to personal training, the basics are not that hard to grasp.
However, if you have found yourself scratching your head while reading a personal trainer job description, sit back, relax, and let us take you through the basics of what you need to kick-start your exciting career in the fitness industry.
Personal Trainer Job Description: Qualifications Walkthrough
When you’re reading a personal trainer job description, you’ll see that any job in major gym chain or reputable fitness establishment asks for applicants to have attained their Level 2 and Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualifications.
In essence, these are your ticket into most strands of fitness training and the industry as a whole.
Want to become a kettlebell instructor? Gain experience by passing your Level 2 and Level 3 exams.
Want to know how to become a spin instructor? Make a start in the industry by gaining a level two qualification and shadowing more experienced trainers.
Long story short, gaining these qualifications is kind of a big deal…
So let’s break them down into what you’ll learn, and what the qualifications will allow you to do…
Level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification
Think of the Level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification like an entry level qualification for fitness instructing and personal training.
Yes, it will allow you to start applying for jobs once you’ve completed it (specifically, jobs as a gym instructor), but you will not yet be able to become a personal trainer.
The Level 2 is all about teaching you the basics of the fitness industry.
This is reflected in the job remit of a gym instructor, which is restricted to tasks like gym inductions and helping with group classes, rather than the more hands-on work of one-to-one training (but more on that later…).
So, what will you learn on a level 2 gym instructor qualification?
All course providers will structure their content differently, but at the very least you should be taught:
Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualification
If you’re looking at personal trainer job descriptions, or more generally, if you’re looking at becoming a personal trainer, then the Level 3 qualification is where things get exciting.
Now, let’s clear up a few things before we dive into the details.
In order to complete your Level 3, you must first complete your Level 2 Gym Instructors qualification.
This is why your Level Two qualification is so important: it gives you the foundation, both in knowledge and qualifications, to push forward and become a fully fledged personal trainer.
In terms of what your Level Three allows you to do…well, it’s the gateway to becoming a personal trainer.
If your personal trainer job description is asking for “all necessary qualifications,” then that will be shorthand for having your Level Two and Level Three qualifications.
In terms of what a course provider should teach you during your Level 3 qualification, keep an eye out for the following:
Public Liability Insurance
Public Liability insurance is by no means exclusive to the fitness industry.
However, it is absolutely essential in terms of covering you and your clients against potential accidents and legal battles.
Like the first aid qualification, theoretically a gym or leisure centre might hire you without checking your public liability insurance.
That’s not to say they will…In fact, they almost certainly won’t.
While you can practise personal training without public liability insurance, you’d be absolutely mad not to have it. And a gym would be incredibly questionable not to check you had it in the first place.
All of this is because public liability insurance offers you cover for the following:
First Aid Training
Like Public Liability Insurance, first aid training is not essential, nor do your course providers have to offer it in their services.
However, a personal trainer job description might ask for it, and to be on the safe side, you might want to try and seek some basic first aid training before sending away applications.
In this case, it’s more of a case of what makes you a better personal trainer, rather than what you need to become a personal trainer.
So, while not essential, definitely something to keep in mind…
The Ultimate Fitness Instructor Job Description
Knowing the basics of what a personal trainer job description might ask for is one thing...
But knowing what a personal trainer job worth applying for looks like is an entirely different question.
See, with the rapid expansion of the fitness industry, a ton of opportunities have opened up covering all aspects of personal training and fitness.
We took a quick look at the three biggest job sites to see how many current jobs there are being advertised for fitness instructors in the UK:
What’s more, over 70% of the jobs we found were for chain gyms and leisure centres, which means not only that there are a lot of new jobs out there, but that job security in these positions tends to be higher in these kinds of posts than in freelance and independent contexts.
With this rapid expansion then, the problem has now become one of telling the good opportunities from the bad ones.
But there’s no need to worry.
More often than not, knowing a bad personal trainer job description from a future dream career is simply a matter of knowing what you’re looking for.
Beyond the essentials (qualifications, insurance, first aid training, required experience), there is a tendency in personal trainer job descriptions and job adverts to use convoluted language, and jargon terms that don’t make much sense to anyone outside the industry.
That’s why we took a sample of all the fitness instructor job descriptions that we found, and compiled the ultimate fitness instructor job description template.
What you can see below then, is an example of what you might expect to find in the real jobs market, when you’re on the hunt for gym instructing jobs.
The Ultimate Fitness Instructor Job Description: How to Read it
For the most part, we’ve removed any unnecessary jargon, or anything that would cause a beginner unnecessary confusion, from our fitness instructor job description.
What is left are the bare bones of what you need to know: or in other words, the core of every fitness trainer job description that you are likely to read.
Below, we’ll further highlight the important bits, so when it comes to writing your personal trainer application, and preparing for your interview, you’ll know exactly which areas you need to focus on!
Small details about the company are your chance to impress
Notice in our example fitness instructor job description how it outlines that the company is inclusive, and places emphasis on welcoming clients into venues.
Well, take this on board!
You need to keep an eye out for the small details, so you can emphasise your social skills, and start highlighting your soft skills in the application and interviewing stages of the process.
Flexible hours for new candidates
Now, this may come as bad news, but if you’re new to this industry you’re going to have to put the hours in. And that means, you’re going to have to put the hours in wherever they want you to fit them.
In your first two years, make yourself available. If they mention it in their job description, then you better be ready to prove you can match their expectations.
Taking responsibility and bring your own ideas to the gym floor
Being a beginner isn’t all about taking orders and grinding away long hours on the gym floor. It’s also about contributing your own ideas.
In our research, we found that more than half of the job description samples we looked at wanted their fitness instructors to contribute ideas for group classes and programmes for clients.
Even if you’re not at the stage of your career where you can take the lead, be sure that your voice is heard, and that your ideas reach the people who can make a real difference in your organisation.
Personal Trainer Job Description: The Official Breakdown
Now for the really exciting bit…
Want to know all the essential parts of a personal trainer job description, alongside an example comprised of all the frequently occurring features we identified in our research?
Look no further!
Just like in our fitness trainer job description example, we took a sample from hundreds of available job adverts (live as of the end of 2018), and condensed them all down into one ultimate personal trainer job description.
This allows you to look at a personal trainer job description that should apply across the industry.
Well, let’s dive in!
Spotting the difference: Fitness Instructor vs. Personal Trainer Job Description
Notice anything different here, compared to our fitness instructor job description?
One of the biggest differences between a personal trainer job description and that of a fitness instructor is that employers will sell themselves to personal trainers.
This is not to suggest that gym instructing is a role that requires little skill, but employers value personal trainers because a good one is worth their weight in gold to the overall business. In our research, we found that most personal trainer job descriptions open and close with details about the company and why you might want to work there.
This is not an accident…
We also noticed that most personal trainer job descriptions were reluctant to post the wage on the job description itself.
Try not to view this as a negative.
The nature of personal training means that your wage may fluctuate, depending on your client lists and group class timetable. However, if this is something that was worrying you, check out our quick graphic guide below, or take a look at our comprehensive guide to personal trainer salaries for some realistic earning expectations.
The above salaries are reflective of roles where you are hired directly by a gym. If they seem a little low compared to your expectations, that may be because you’ve been researching salaries of Freelance personal trainers.
See, while a position hired directly offers you more job security, a freelance position has a much higher earning potential.
The role of a freelance personal trainer can also differ quite significantly to a personal trainer hired directly by a gym.
That’s why we’ve mocked up a quick freelance personal trainer job description template, so you can see exactly how the two roles differ from one another!
Personal Trainer Job Description vs. Freelance Personal Trainer Job Description
The differences in the two jobs should be fairly clear…
In freelance roles, all of the emphasis is placed upon what opportunities there are if you join that particular gym.
This may be phrased in terms of ground rent, of facilities, or even access to clients and flexibility of working hours. What is key is that a successful personal trainer may, for the first time in their career, have the upper hand when applying for freelance jobs.
If you’re arriving with a full client list, a gym will do everything they can to get you on board. This means that freelance personal trainer job descriptions are a lot more sales-oriented, compared to other roles in the industry.
If you are struggling to keep track of which personal trainer job description best suits you, just remember these simple guidelines:
Expectations and Myth-busting: What is it like to be a personal trainer in 2019
By now you’d think that you have a pretty good idea what a career in personal training looks like, never mind what a personal trainer job description should and shouldn’t include.
The thing is, you might be surprised to hear that this may not be the case.
When it comes to personal training, there’s no substitute for first-hand experience.
Whether that’s working one-to-one with clients, helping out on the gym floor, or hosting your own group sessions, you need to get the experience under your belt to know what it’s really like to work in this industry.
Bit of a problem if you’re right at the start of your fitness career journey, right?
Below, we’ve interviewed some of the most experienced personal trainers we know to find out exactly what it’s like to work as a personal trainer in 2019…
Looking Ahead: The Personal Trainer Job Description of Tomorrow
So, let’s recap.
We’ve covered all the basics of what a personal trainer needs in order to start looking for work in the fitness industry.
We’ve taken an in depth look at what a fitness trainer, personal trainer, and freelance personal trainer job description looks like, and how to read between the lines before writing your next job application.
And we’ve asked some expert personal trainers for their view of the industry as it stands right now.
That leaves one obvious question: where next?
When looking at a personal trainer job description, it can be tempting to look at everything that is already established in the industry and claim that this is how things should be done.
In fact, what is much more useful is to look at where the industry is heading, and what you can do to keep ahead of the curve.
On that note, we’ve pinpointed some of the big shifts that we’ve identified in the industry, which might be indicators of where we are heading in the future.
Keeping up with group class trends
Even if you know nothing about the fitness industry, you’ve probably realised that over the past half decade, group classes have become big business.
In fact, some of the biggest fitness trends of the past few years have been born from incredibly popular group class formats. Just take a look at spin classes, CrossFit boxes, Yoga, and the enduring popularity of HIIT, and you’ll be able to identify one common theme…
They all lend themselves to group class formats.
We also saw in our research on personal trainer job descriptions that at least one group class a month is becoming mandatory for a lot of personal trainers and freelance personal trainers, with even gym instructors getting in on the group class action.
So, how do you keep on top of an endless changing fitness industry? Three words…
Continuous Professional Development (or CPD courses for short!).
CPD Courses allow personal trainers to continually develop their skillset. Want to improve your client reach by learning how to coach suspension training sessions? There’ll be a CPD for that.
The question is not one of availability, rather which CPDs do you choose to maximise the chances of fitness business success.
For what it’s worth, here’s what we reckon are the highest value CPDs of 2019:
Becoming a Fitness Influencer: The Power of Online Followings
Had a look on Instagram these days for hashtags like #Fitnessgoals and #Fitspiration?
You may be surprised to see that the online space is being dominated by just a handful of fitness influencers.
In fact, if you have a sharp eye for branding and marketing, you can increase your personal trainer business ten times over.
But the really exciting part of becoming an influencer on platforms like Instagram is the ability to make the most of brands using influencer marketing in their own campaigns.
If you are lucky enough to become an influencer for a large fitness brand, you will receive pay for featuring their products in your social media posts, in addition to free equipment and products to help prop up your fitness business.
Want to know a little more about some of the best fitness influencers and accounts on Instagram? Check out our recent awards article here!
Online Personal Training: Saving time
Let’s say you’ve become a successful fitness influencer with a good following of people all around the UK.
Unless all of your followers happen to live in the local area (or they’re willing to travel to spend an hour with you on the gym floor), there’s no way you can capitalise on all of your potential new clients.
That’s where online personal training comes in.
With online personal training, you can reduce the number of hours you spend on the gym floor while also increasing your pay. There are loads of services you can offer on a remote basis, but some of the most popular are:
The Future is Nutrition
There’s a reason many trainers pull their hair out when their clients tell them they aren’t losing weight…
…And usually, that reason has something to do with nutrition.
See, what personal trainers have known for many years is only just catching on…that diets are not sustainable, and that a well-planned, balanced nutrition plan is the best way to supplement gym work.
Now, there still remains a ton of nutrition fads and trends which may or may not help your fitness journey (check out our Keto vs Paleo vs Whole30 article if you want to find out more!), but if you want to capitalise on a rapidly growing market, then be sure to brush up on your nutrition knowledge during your Level 3 qualification.
You may also want to consider a Level Four qualification, which gives you further tools and knowledge to specialise in nutrition-based consultations.
The Ultimate Personal Trainer Job Description Checklist
The end is nigh!
Having read everything in this article, you’re probably a little saturated when it comes to taking in all the important stuff.
And because it is all important stuff – knowing how to understand a personal trainer job description is, after all, crucial for your future career success – we’ve made the ultimate personal trainer job description checklist!
Next time you’re searching through job adverts, or reading up on personal trainer jobs and fitness jobs in your local area, keep our checklist in mind to help better understand the job you may be about to apply for, and to judge whether you are adequately qualified!
And as far as personal trainer job descriptions go, that’s it!
If you’ve read this article in full (we’ll know if you haven’t!), you’ll have everything you need to read between the lines next time you are confronted with a personal trainer job description.
Even better, the more you understand personal trainer job descriptions, the more likely you are to land your dream job in the fitness industry.
Now it’s your turn!
Tell us what you think makes a personal trainer stand out in 2019, and where the industry might be heading in the next few months.