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Being a personal trainer without certification

Can You Be a Personal Trainer Without Certification (UK)?

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Every month, tons of people search something along the lines of ‘can you be a personal trainer without certification?’ in hope of finding an article telling them that it is perfectly fine to work as a personal trainer with no qualifications.

Unfortunately for those people, articles explaining how to become a personal trainer without certification don’t exist for the simple fact that it just isn't possible to do so.

If you’re unsure as to why this is the case, you aren’t alone! As a personal training course provider, this is something we get asked a lot, so we thought it would be best to write this guide, covering:

Are you keen to kick-start your career in the fitness industry? Save yourself some time by enquiring about OriGym’s Personal Training Diploma now or check out our REPs endorsed online personal trainer certification here.

Alternatively, you can click here to download our full course prospectus

Can you be a Personal Trainer without certification (UK)?

personal training without a certification

So, you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the fitness industry and wondering ‘can I be a personal trainer without certification?’ - here’s what you need to know.

Despite the fact that ‘Personal Trainer’ is not a protected title in the UK, we strongly recommend that you do not run personal training sessions without holding a Level 3 Personal Training certificate as a bare minimum. 

There are a number of reasons why being a personal trainer without certification is not a good idea, all of which we will discuss very soon. 

The 2 key reasons being that without an Ofqual regulated PT qualification, you will be unable to get a job as a personal trainer and you will not meet the criteria for personal trainer insurance.

If you’re thinking that you could get around being a personal trainer without certification by starting your own business instead of looking for employment, our advice would be to absolutely avoid this too. This ties in to the need to be insured to work as a personal trainer, something that is covered in more detail in the section just below. 

You can read all about what insurance personal trainers need in this OriGym guide or check out this personal training business checklist for a list of everything you need to start your own PT business. 

Whilst you're here, feel free to download your guide to a "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer":

Why Can’t You Become a Personal Trainer Without Qualifications?

Now that you know that the answer to ‘how to be a personal trainer without certification’ is that you can’t, allow us to explain exactly why that is the case.

#1 Employers Won’t Hire You

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As we briefly touched on just above, the main problem with trying to become a personal trainer without certification is that employers will not hire you. 

Be that big chain gyms, independent studios, or any other fitness facility, you will not be able to land a job as a PT if you are not qualified.

Almost all personal trainer job adverts will specify that applicants must have a Level 3 Personal Training certificate at the very least. In very few cases, you might find that qualifications are not part of the person specification, but this is usually because either:

  • The employer assumes that you have a Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification, or 
  • The employer will require you to pay to get qualified as part of your training 

Whilst there are plenty of job opportunities out there for personal trainers, there are equally plenty of qualified PTs working in the UK.

This doesn’t mean that you will struggle to land a job as a qualified personal trainer, but it does mean that employers are in a position where they won’t need to hire a personal trainer without a certification as there will be other candidates who do have the appropriate qualifications. 

Some employers will even go as far as to request that job applicants have a REPs or CIMSPA endorsed qualification, so it's best to do your research and find a reliable course provider that offers an accredited and regulated qualification.

For advice on finding the best PT course for you, we recommended the following articles:

#2 You Won’t Be Able To Get PT Insurance

How to become a personal trainer without certification

A lot of the time when people hear that they won’t be able to get a job as a PT without the right qualifications, their immediate response is that they would work on a freelance basis or start their own personal training business.

While this could be seen as a clever way around finding employment, it’s actually a really bad idea. Want to know why? Allow us to explain…

Without a Level 3 Personal Trainer certification, you will not meet the criteria for Personal Trainer insurance. Whilst insurance might not be something that you have even thought about at this stage, we’re here to tell you that working as a personal trainer without insurance in any capacity is extremely risky. 

As a minimum, you need to have the following before running personal training sessions:

  • Public Liability Insurance 
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance 

Can you be a personal trainer without certification UK

When you apply for either of the above insurance policies, the insurance provider will request that you provide proof that you are qualified to operate as a personal trainer. If you can’t show them that you have a Level 3 Personal Training certificate from an Ofqual approved awarding body, your insurance will either be rejected or invalid. 

Public liability insurance covers personal trainers for claims made from a third party. This could be a claim from a client that was injured during a session, for example they hurt themselves on a faulty piece of kit, or a client that became ill as a result of following nutritional advice that you provided.

The purpose of professional indemnity insurance is to cover personal trainers in the event that a client makes a negligence claim, for instance if a client believes you have given them bad advice (even if you have done everything right!).

Regardless of whether the claim is true or if you agree with the client, representing yourself in court can be very expensive and understandably, it's a situation that is best avoided. It's hard to see why anyone wouldn’t get qualified and insured if it means avoiding putting themselves into such serious financial difficulty.

#3 You Won’t Have The Knowledge 

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A qualification is so much more than a certificate that you show to your employer, a personal training qualification provides you with the necessary knowledge and experience that allows you to fulfill the role of a personal trainer

Level 3 personal trainer courses teach you everything you need to know in order to help clients to succeed in achieving their exercise goals. 

Just a few of the topics you can expect to study as part of this qualification include modules on the principles of anatomy & physiology for health and exercise, techniques for planning and delivering 1-1 personal training sessions, and advice on starting, marketing, and running a successful personal training business.

The whole purpose of this qualification is to prepare you for the role of a personal trainer, teaching you everything from the basics of health and fitness to the finer details about motivating, teaching, and setting goals for clients. 

#4 Clients Won’t Want to Work With You 

can I be a personal trainer without qualifications

If you were to ignore our advice on the importance of having PT insurance and you decided to work as a personal trainer with no qualifications anyway, who's to say that clients would want to train with you?

With so many qualified personal trainers working in gyms, fitness clubs, and even online, it's hard to see why any client would choose to train with a ‘personal trainer’ that didn’t have the appropriate qualifications. 

Without being qualified, your client has no way of knowing what you know about personal training, or whether you know anything at all! Without your personal training certificate, you are arguably no more qualified to give health or fitness advice than the client themselves. 

Considering a client will be paying for your personal trainer services, it's perfectly reasonable that they expect you to be qualified. There are plenty of affordable personal trainers out there, so there really is no need for clients to risk getting injured or compromise on the quality of sessions by training with an unqualified PT.

Want to know more about the price of PT sessions? Go ahead and check out our article on personal trainer prices

#5 You Can’t Start a PT Business

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Considering the points above about not being able to get insurance, struggling to attract clients, and not having the right knowledge, this might seem a little obvious, but we thought we would quickly mention it just to make ourselves crystal clear.

The final core issue with trying to pursue a career in personal training without certification is that you will not be able to start your own business.

Becoming a self-employed PT and running a gym are two of the most lucrative career paths that a personal trainer can pursue, but without qualifications, neither of these roles are achievable.

When it comes to starting any kind of PT business, industry experience, an existing client base, and insurance are all absolutely essential. None of these things are achievable without first working as a personal trainer for a few years, which obviously requires you to be qualified. 

Not to mention, OriGym’s Level 3 PT course itself actually covers a module on ‘Learning the Business’ which is designed to help Personal Trainers understand how to market themselves, maximise their business opportunities, and create a successful business model.

Without acquiring this information from industry experts and experienced fitness tutors, knowing where to start with tasks such as writing a personal trainer business plan won’t be easy.

If you want to give your business the best possible chance for success, we strongly suggest signing up for this personal trainer business CPD.

Is it Illegal to be a Personal Trainer without Certification in the UK?

is it illegal to be a pt without certifcation

Often once we explain all of the reasons why you should not work as a personal trainer without being qualified, there are a persistent few people who go on to ask ‘well, is it illegal to be a personal trainer without certification?’. 

Whilst it technically isn't illegal as it is not a crime to call yourself a personal trainer without having a Level 3 qualification, it is illegal to operate as a personal trainer without insurance, so take that as you will.

Seeing as you won’t be able to get insured without proof of your qualifications, you could say that it is illegal, or at least a very bad idea, to offer personal training without a certification.

Some people argue that they don’t need to get insured because they ‘know what they’re doing’, but nobody ever expects to have to use their insurance policy. Not having insurance is a huge risk, not just for the financial reasons mentioned earlier, but for the legal implications, too.

Say a client was to have a heart attack or even die during a session, if you are not qualified and not insured, this could result in you being charged with corporate manslaughter. You could be charged regardless of whether your programme was ok or not.

Whilst this situation might sound a little far fetched and yes, the chances of it happening are slim, it's not impossible and if you ask us, it's just not worth the risk.

You could find yourself in some pretty serious financial or even legal trouble, and for what? To save a few hundred pounds on a personal trainer course? Getting qualified is actually a lot more affordable than you think, just head over to our article where we break down personal trainer course costs

What If My Clients Sign a Waiver?

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If you were thinking that getting your clients to sign a waiver would help you get around the issue of being a personal trainer without certification, that unfortunately isn’t the case.

The purpose of a personal trainer waiver or disclaimer is to protect PTs from any legal responsibility or action should a client become injured as part of their training programme.

However, the issue with waivers is that unless written out correctly and with all of the right terminology, they rarely stand up in court. We advise that even qualified PTs have their waiver written out by a professional but even that won’t guarantee that a lawyer won’t find a loophole in the agreement. 

Can You Be a Personal Trainer Without Certification? 2 Qualifications You Need

personal trainer no qualifications

By now, it should be fairly clear that the answer to ‘can I be a personal trainer without qualifications?’ is no, you can’t.

With that in mind, you’re probably wanting to know what qualifications you do need to work as a qualified personal trainer in the UK.

First things first, you will need to complete a Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing. This course will qualify you to work as a fitness instructor (also known as a gym instructor) and acts as the prerequisite qualification for your Level 3 PT course. 

Depending on whether you study full-time, part-time, or you do an online course, your Level 2 qualification can take anywhere from 2 weeks to around 8 weeks to complete.

After completing your Level 2 qualification, you will then need to move on to a Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training. Once you’ve completed that course, you’ll be able to go ahead and start looking for personal trainer jobs!

If you’re in a hurry to get qualified, full-time Level 3 courses take just 2 weeks to complete. Otherwise, part-time and online courses are completely self-paced, with the majority of students taking an average of 6 weeks to complete the course.

A lot of people choose to study a Personal Training Diploma as this course covers both the Level 2 & 3 personal trainer courses, and is usually cheaper than buying each of the courses separately. 

 

Get Qualified as a Personal Trainer!

Enquire about OriGym's personal training diploma here to kick-start an exciting new career in the fitness industry

We’ve broken down the various types of PT courses and study methods, and how they affect how long each takes to complete, in our article on ‘how long does it take to become a personal trainer?’.

One thing to know is that each of these qualifications must be Ofqual regulated. Having a qualification that is not approved by Ofqual is no better than having no qualification at all, so it's really important that you ask your training provider about Ofqual regulation prior to signing up for a course.

This is something that we have covered in a lot more detail in our article explaining personal trainer levels in the UK.

When enquiring about a course, you should also ask about REPs and CIMSPA accreditation, as this is something your employers will look out for when you apply for jobs!

REPs and CIMSPA accreditation acts as a stamp of approval for your certificate, showing employers that you have completed a course that meets an industry-agreed standard. Some employers will even specify that you have a REPs or CIMSPA endorsed Level 3 qualification, so it's best to look out for this to keep your options open.

5 Benefits of Getting Qualified as a Personal Trainer

Outside of the fact that getting certified as a personal trainer is essential, there are some further benefits of getting qualified as a personal trainer - here they are!

#1 Build Credibility 

PT WITHOUT CERTIFICATIONS

If you are a personal trainer without qualifications, you have no credibility when marketing yourself as a personal trainer. Your clients have no way of knowing whether you are actually good at the job, and employers have no idea of the level of training or knowledge that you possess.

Being qualified enables clients to trust that you will offer them a service that is not only effective in helping them to achieve their goals but also worth their time, effort, and money.

#2 You Can Be Confident in Your Services

personal training without certification

Not only does being qualified give you credibility in the eyes of your clients, but it will also benefit you by allowing you to be confident in your role as a personal trainer.

Being qualified means that you can be confident in any advice that you offer and any training programme that you put together. Having confidence in yourself will not only make you feel better about your job, but your client will feel a lot more comfortable as your confidence will reassure them that they are working with a professional. 

#3 Courses Come With Extra Perks

personal trainer without qualifications

Another benefit of getting qualified as a personal trainer is that the vast majority of personal training courses come with a range of added extras that will help you in your career.

For example, at OriGym, we provide all of our students with a range of alumni benefits, such as exclusive discount codes for a range of relevant products and services such as softwares, first aid courses, and insurance.

In addition to our course content, we also provide our students and alumni with a range of complimentary business & marketing resources to give them the best possible chance of starting a successful and sustainable business.

As an added bonus, we are currently offering 10 free CPD courses for anybody who signs up for their personal training diploma!

 

Get Qualified as a Personal Trainer!

Enquire about OriGym's personal training diploma here to kick-start an exciting new career in the fitness industry

#4 Post-Course Support

How to be a personal trainer without certification

Provided that you study with a reputable course provider, another benefit of getting qualified as a PT is that you will receive post-course support to help you to get started in your new career.

Post course support can vary massively between training providers, so we strongly suggest asking about the career services that are available when you enquire about a course.

The right career support from your course provider can make all the difference when it comes to kick-starting your career in the fitness industry, so it's a good idea to do your research, read reviews, and enquire with different course providers to compare the kinds of post course support that are available.

For reference, here are the free post course support services that OriGym offers to all students and alumni: 

  • CV analysis
  • Guaranteed interviews
  • Business start-up advice
  • Sales & marketing resources
  • 1-1 interview preparation
  • Access to an exclusive job board.

#5 Allows You to do Further Qualifications

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As if the benefits above aren’t enough to convince you that being a personal trainer without certification isn’t a good idea, one final perk of getting qualified is the amount of opportunities that it opens up.

Having your Level 3 PT certification in the bag means that you will be able to go on to study a whole range of specialised fitness courses, such as a Level 3 Exercise Referral qualification, a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course, or a Level 4 course in Lower Back Pain Management.

Whichever specialisation you choose to pursue, further qualifications allow you to expand your business, develop a niche, and market yourself as an expert in an area of the industry that you are truly passionate about.

In turn, you can offer more services and bump up your prices, boosting your overall income.

For more inspiration on how you can expand your career as a qualified PT, check out this OriGym guide to professional development for personal trainers.

Before You Go!

We hope that our article has helped you to understand why the answer to ‘can you be a personal trainer without certification in the UK?’ is, unfortunately, no.

That said, becoming a personal trainer is still a great career choice, so don’t be put off! If you’re eager to get started with your new fitness career, go ahead and check out the range of regulated personal training qualifications that you can study with us here at OriGym.

Alternatively, download our full course prospectus now - it’s FREE!

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, 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 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. 

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