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Do I need a bachelor's degree to become a personal trainer?

    Personal training is a profession perfect for health and fitness enthusiasts, people who love to help others, and those who like to be active (this isn’t a desk job)!

    If you’re interested in becoming a personal trainer, you might wonder if you need a college degree. The short answer is, for the most part, no, but that might depend on if you’re hoping to work for a specific company that requires its employees to have bachelor’s degrees. Another factor to consider is if you want the degree as a foundation for career growth. A bachelor’s degree might be helpful if you want to work your way into management at a gym, for instance.

    Lastly, while you might not need a bachelor’s degree to become a personal trainer, you might be required to get certain certifications to land a job.

    Keep reading as we break down common questions on this topic.

    Do you need a degree to become a personal trainer?

    Generally speaking, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become a personal trainer. However, even though a bachelor’s degree is usually not required for this job, having one could help when it comes to achieving your future career goals.

    To make the decision on whether a bachelor’s degree could be helpful if your pursuing personal training, it might be helpful to map out what you’d like your future career trajectory to be.

    Personal training careers vary depending on what you want to do and how you want to work. For instance, you can work independently, you can start a company bringing on other personal trainers, you can work for a gym chain, you can work for a sports team, you can work as a fitness advisor to a movie production — the list goes on and on. There might be more options than you might think!

    Depending on where you want your career to go ultimately, there might be an upside to getting a bachelor’s degree, and there might not be.

    Pros and cons of seeking a bachelor’s degree to become a personal trainer

    Like with anything in life, there are pros and cons to consider if you’re deciding whether or not to pursue a bachelor’s degree before becoming a personal trainer.

    The potential pros of getting a bachelor’s degree to pursue personal training

    • It could provide opportunities for career growth, particularly at large corporations
    • Your degree might make you stand out as an applicant to employers
    • Having a degree could provide a fallback if you decide personal training isn’t for you and you want to pursue something else down the line

    The potential cons of getting a bachelor’s degree to pursue personal training

    • A bachelor’s degree may be costly, and you might not see a return on the investment depending on what your career goals are
    • You may need to take out student loans to pay for some or all of the cost of the degree, which will likely present  its own challenges
    • You may need certifications and training before getting an entry-level job in the field, regardless of whether you get a bachelor’s degree or not
    • Seeking a degree may delay you starting your career in personal training

    Do you need certifications to become a personal trainer?

    Whether you pursue a personal training career with a college degree or not, you still may need to complete certain certifications. It’s important to note that no state has a law requiring personal trainers to be certified, but still, many gyms require that their personal trainers have certifications.

    Many gyms specifically look for certifications from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE), or Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) recognized. Beyond these certifications, you might want to consider specialized certifications in specialties like yoga or Pilates.

    And besides fitness-specific certifications, it’s considered a general best practice to get Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certified, too. Some gyms might not even consider applicants who don’t have these certifications.

    Final thoughts

    You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become a personal trainer. That said, if you want to become a personal trainer, it might be worth identifying your long-term goals to make a thoughtful decision about whether or not a bachelor’s degree will ultimately be helpful to you.