How to become a Personal Trainer: costs and how to get started

To become a Personal Trainer (PT) in the UK you will need to complete a CIMSPA endorsed Level 3 Personal Training course, which qualifies you to work as a Personal Trainer. On average the cost to become a Personal Trainer is around £1500. Some courses cost more than this, and some less (see our complete list of all PT courses with prices). But learning to be a Personal Trainer isn't only about money. If we're talking costs, we need to consider how much time and commitment is required. In other words, how much it costs in all the areas that are important to you. If you’re considering how to become a Personal Trainer at the moment you need to take all of these areas into consideration.

Let’s consider these factors in reverse order. You need to muster up a lot of commitment to complete a demanding Personal Training course. And to make a success of becoming a Personal Trainer after that – meaning, to become a good one – you need an equal amount of commitment on an ongoing basis. So before choosing a career in Personal Training, you need to ask yourself if you already have the necessary qualities to make this a good life choice. For example, are you a gym user? Do you look forward to your workouts when you’re doing your everyday job? Do you like variety and challenge in your work? You’ll get plenty of both working as a PT.

Are you the go-to guy when other people have questions about fitness and health, and do you have a real desire to help other people? Can you be an effective motivator for others, especially when they’re struggling to achieve their goals? Are you good at analysing and evaluating other people's problems and can you suggest sensible solutions? Are you patient? These are all essential qualities for a Personal Trainer.

Getting started as a Personal Trainer

So, what do you need to get started as a Personal Trainer? The essential qualification you need in order to practice as a Personal Trainer is a CIMSPA endorsed Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification. A Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing will qualify you only in Gym Instructing and allow you to work as a Gym Instructor but not as an independent Personal Trainer. Some, but not all, Level 3 Personal Trainer courses incorporate the Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification in the package. For the best chances of getting a job in a major gym, all Level 2 Gym and Level 3 Personal Trainer qualifications need to be endorsed by CIMSPA – if not they may not be recognised, so do check!

Also any training provider that you choose should be endorsed by CIMSPA as a Training Provider Partner. Be careful, as some providers will claim to be CIMSPA endorsed, with some even displaying the CIMSPA logo, when they are in fact not, so do your homework on anyone you consider! Checking if a provider really is endorsed is easy - this can be checked by going onto the CIMSPA website directory and searching for a “Training Provider Partner”.

Some CIMSPA endorsed providers who carry the endorsed “Training Provider Partner” status include:

  • Study Active
  • YMCA Fit
  • Future Fit

It’s vital that whichever training provider you choose, their courses are accredited by one of the main regulatory bodies who are recognised by CIMSPA. These include:

  • Active IQ
  • YMCA Awards
  • Transcend

Every provider will have an awarding body who they work with, so do check this. Remember the certificate that you are issued with comes from the awarding body so if you want an Active IQ certificate then you need to study with a provider who uses Active IQ as their awarding body!

How long does a Personal Trainer qualification take?

With regards to how much time is required to become a Personal Trainer, the answer is – it depends. There are many paths up a mountain and there are many possibilities when it comes to choosing a training course to become a qualified PT.

If you study online, you are essentially studying at your own pace so you could complete at a speed that suits you. If you are studying part time (like most working adults would) then it usually takes around six months. If you are studying attendance based, then there is likely a set time frame that you would adhere to. Many attendance-based courses are around nine months part time. Of course, these time frames could be accelerated if studying full time.

How much does a Personal Trainer course cost?

Once again, it depends. There seem to be as many different prices as there are course providers. The average figure that we mentioned at the top of the article is usually around £1500.

One factor that makes it difficult to fully compare prices is that many course providers like to offer course bundles or packages with extra modules included. These modules are really part of CPD or Continuous Professional Development and are not essential to achieving the Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification. So, you must check exactly what the course entails before making a choice. If you have an idea of what you would like to specialise in, then you can probably find a course with those elements included. For example, Level 3 Personal Trainer with Level 4 Nutrition is a popular combination.

Most course providers now offer financing but what is the repayment term? Is it at 0% interest? How much is the deposit?

Personal Trainer career support

It is important to ask any provider if they offer a guaranteed job interview at the end of the course and is there any career support. Most providers do offer some post course support, and many offer a guaranteed interview with a top gym chain. It’s important however not to base a decision just on the number of gyms cited on a providers guaranteed interview scheme - as most top gyms will be only too pleased to offer an interview to any L3 PT graduate regardless of where they studied (as long as it was CIMSPA endorsed of course!)

Summary of how to become a Personal Trainer

Choosing a Personal Trainer qualification can take a lot of time. We've made it easier by compiling a list of courses and providers, along with information to help you decide. Check out our complete list of Personal Trainer courses.

Even though there’s no simple answer to the question “what is the best Personal Trainer course?”, it is hoped that this article has given you some useful pointers in your search for the best Personal Training course for you. Remember there is a lot to consider when choosing a Personal Trainer course so it is important to take the time to explore and make the decision that is right for you. Good luck!