How to Become a Fitness Coach



Career Path Guide

If you want to become a fitness coach, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for it:


A fitness coach must have a natural passion for, and aptitude in exercise and health. They are typically people that have a genuine interest in the health and wellness of other people. They also have a varied skill set that helps them understand what a client’s current level of fitness is, what their goals are, and how to help them accomplish those goals.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to become a fitness coach. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Fitness Coach

The educational requirements for working in this field can vary greatly from region to region, from employer to employer, and from specialty to specialty. For example, some employers may hire you with only a high school diploma and train you on the job, while other employers will require you to have a master’s degree in kinesiology, exercise science or physical education.





General Job Description

A fitness coach is responsible for instructing individuals or groups on how to maintain their fitness levels by implementing exercise plans and diet strategies. They may work as consultants or lead groups of people in places such as wellness centres, recreation centres and hospitals. 



Typical Job Duties

• Plan physical education programs aimed at promoting the development of participants’ physical and social well-being

• Evaluate the needs and abilities of individual participants

• Develop suitable training programs to meet individual or group requirements

• Monitor the progress of participants and adjust programs as necessary

• Instruct individuals and groups regarding the proper use exercise equipment

• Explain and enforce safety rules and regulations governing sports, recreational activities, and the use of exercise equipment

• Teach proper breathing techniques

• Instruct participants regarding the maintenance of exertion levels in order to maximize benefits from exercise routines



Who Employs Fitness Coaches? Where Do They Work?

Fitness coaches work for organizations that are involved in promoting exercise as a healthy lifestyle by teaching strength, endurance, aerobics or flexibility exercises. Some work on a contract basis, and be employed by different organizations at the same time. Organizations that employ fitness coaches include:


• Health clubs and gyms

• Recreation and leisure centres

• Retirement facilities

• Dance studios

• Municipal recreation centres

• Community leagues and associations

• Businesses

• Hotels and resorts

• Self-employment


Certification Needed to Become a Fitness Coach

Most employers will require that you become certified as a fitness coach in the province or state in which you work before you are allowed to teach and train clients without supervision. Be sure to check with your provincial/state fitness training certification authority to get specific information about certification credentials, as they vary greatly by region.


Most, if not all, fitness coach certification exams contain a written test, and many contain practical elements.




Career Advancement Possibilities

With enough experience and education, fitness coaches may advance to supervisory and management positions. Some employers may require management candidates to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology or Physical Education, although for some employers a certain amount of experience and training as a fitness coach may qualify the candidate in place of an advanced education.


Fitness coaches that accumulate enough experience in their profession may also decide to become self-employed, either working on a contractual basis, or opening their own fitness coaching business.



Tips For Success

If you want to learn what a career as a fitness coach is like, hire your own fitness coach or personal trainer, even if only for a brief period of time. Working with one will not only help you improve your own level of physical fitness, but will also introduce you to techniques that professional fitness coaches use to ensure your motivation stays high and your fitness goals stay on track.


If you tell your coach or trainer that you want to get into the profession, they may offer you very helpful information regarding how to get started in this career, where to look for a job, and other tips.



Typical Salary Level

The salary level of fitness coaches can vary depending on factors such as their level of training, their level of experience, where they work, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many others.


Fitness Coach Salary - Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness occupational group earn an average salary of $23,737 per year (working part-time hours). According to job bank data gathered from WorkBC, those working in British Columbia in that same occupational group earn an average of $39,520 per year.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of workers in the Fitness Trainers and Instructors occupational group is $39,820 (2018 figures). The lowest 10 percent of salaries for this group are less than $20,160, and the top 10 percent are more than $76,090 per year.



Fitness Coaching Jobs

Our job board below has “fitness coach” job postings in your area, when available. If you don't see what you're looking for, try using alternate terms to describe the profession, such as “personal trainer” and other related terms:





Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "fitness coach", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Aerobics Instructor 

Personal Trainer

Physical Education Teacher

Sports Coach

Strength and Conditioning Coach




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a fitness coach.


Occupations in Alberta:Personal Trainer.” (March 19, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 21, 2019.

Personal Care & Service:Fitness Trainers and Instructors.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 21, 2019.

Explore Careers: “Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness.” (December 11, 2019) WorkBC website. Retrieved November 21, 2019.


Please Note: Much of the information for this career guide was gathered from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as sources.



Scholarships for Becoming a Fitness Coach

Scholarships in our system that are relevant for becoming a fitness coach, are all of those that can be found on our Exercise Science Scholarships, Kinesiology Scholarships and Dance Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting started in this profession. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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