Become the Trusted Go-to Certified Personal Trainer

Every AFPA personal training certificate equips you with the confidence, resources, and industry-leading expertise you need to help clients achieve their health and fitness goals. You’ll learn how to design exercise programs (that include an appropriate mix of flexibility training, resistance training, and aerobic exercise), train clients effectively, and provide fitness advice rooted in the latest scientific research.

What You Will Learn


Evidence-Based Exercise Programs

Learn how to apply the principles of exercise science, human anatomy, and biomechanics to craft results-getting exercise programs that’ll help position yourself as the go-to fitness pro in the health and fitness industry. No need to start from zero with every new client, either: Every personal trainer certification program provides dozens of ready-to-use programs you can implement from the get-go.


Injury Prevention and Treatment

Injuries hurt clients’ training longevity and quality of life. Our personal training certificates educate you on everything you need to know about sports medicine so that you can train clients safely—and keep them progressing toward their fitness goals. You’ll also discover injury treatment options that speed up clients' recovery by alleviating discomfort and restoring function.


How to Get Clients to Make Lasting Behavioral Changes

Getting clients the results they want isn't simply about fitness training. It's also about motivating clients so they (actually) stay consistent with their exercise programs long enough to reap their benefits. Every AFPA personal training certification is designed to help you master tried-and-tested behavior change strategies, setting you apart from other personal trainers.

Key Benefits


Turn Your Passion into a Fulfilling, Lucrative Career

The continued growth in the health and fitness industry has increased the demand for fitness professionals with industry knowledge. As an AFPA-certified personal trainer, you'll be highly sought-after because our comprehensive personal training certifications focus on providing our students with the most robust, updated fitness knowledge. This increases your earning potential. You get to do what you love while earning an income—a win-win situation from all angles.


Learn, Progress, and Get Certified at Your Own Pace

All our personal trainer certification programs are self-paced. Work through study materials (choose from a physical or digital textbook—we offer both) and preparation materials (e.g., study exams) included in our comprehensive training program in 6 months or less. You’ll take your final exam online, saving you the hassle of traveling to a local testing center. Receive your testing results and personal training certificate immediately upon completing and passing your exam.


Gain an Edge Over Other Fitness Professionals

When you become a certified personal trainer with AFPA, you’re not left to figure out how to carve out a space for yourself in the fitness industry. Instead, we help you gain a competitive advantage right away by continuing to prioritize your professional development and growth. Every AFPA personal training certification gives you unlimited access to business resources and guidance, along with opportunities to connect with fitness mentors and the option of specialized credentials (e.g., continuing education courses).

Not sure if coaching is the right path for you? Hear what our graduates have to say

Lauren Rasky's Profile image

The certification program changed everything in my overall life. It changed how I ate, my health, and how I help other people. It also changed my career in the health space. I liked that the information presented had studies and actually showed you the research as it was teaching you things."

Lauren Rasky, Holistic Health Coach Certification
Andrew Schuth's Profile image

I looked at a lot of certifications out there. You name it, I’ve looked at it, but AFPA stood out to me. They’re out-of-the-box thinkers and so am I. The certification process was fairly easy, it was very effective, and fun to learn."

Andrew Schuth, Personal Trainer Certification
Brett Bennett's Profile image

AFPA instantly gives you credibility and is super well respected in the industry. Clients know that if you have that certification, that they’re getting credible, reliable information. I also chose AFPA because of the course structure. With the courses, you get to make your own schedule and it’s perfect for anyone who may have another job, is going to school, or has a family."

Brett Bennett, Nutrition Consultant Certification - Master Level

Read More Testimonials

Nationally Recognized Personal Training Certificates

Voted as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Trainer Certifications by LiveStrong and Huffington Post.

AFPA is a proud member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) in a show of our support for the credentialing community and our commitment to strive for excellence in all our certification programs (which, of course, includes our personal trainer certification programs).


AFPA is an approved Continuing Education Courses (CEC) provider for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). Completing one of our personal training certification programs could earn you valuable continuing education units to renew existing credentials with other organizations.

Personal Trainer FAQs

Can You Make a Lot of Money with Personal Training (100K or more)? Answer

The median pay for a trainer is $40,700 annually (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of November 2022). However, keep in mind that pay in this field varies wildly, and there are opportunities within health and wellness to create multiple streams of revenue. Many personal trainers work their salaries up to over six figures. In this digital age, the possibilities for reaching a wide clientele and scaling a business are limitless.

  • How Much Should I Charge for a Personal Training Session?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fitness trainers and instructors make an average of $19.57 per hour, but this number is much higher for 1:1 training sessions. How much you should charge for a personal training session will depend on your experience and credentials, the area you live in, and the type of clients you’re working with. Research what other exercise professionals in your area or in your niche are charging, or conduct a survey to get a good idea of what your target market is able and willing to pay for your services. Don’t be afraid to adjust your prices if they are not working out.

How Do Personal Trainers Get Clients? Answer

There are many ways personal trainers can find clients, including:

  • Engaging on social media
  • Building an email list
  • Leveraging their personal networks
  • Networking within the fitness community
  • Asking for referrals

Can Personal Training Be a Side Job? Answer

Yes—personal training can be a side job or a part-time job. Many personal trainers are not full-time personal trainers. Many personal training jobs, especially if you work for yourself, allow for flexibility and room to make your own schedule.

What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Personal Trainer? Answer

Most personal training certification programs require students to have a high school diploma or equivalent. You don’t need a formal background in fitness or wellness to be a personal trainer. Although experience in health and wellness is a plus, the best personal trainers come from diverse career backgrounds and life experiences.

How Do I Start a Career in Personal Training? Answer

Here are some basic steps you can take to start a career in personal training:

  • Step 1: Research
    The first step to becoming a personal trainer is to do your homework and find a comprehensive training program.
    • Some considerations:
      • What kind of certification do you want or need?
      • Does the course offer online study?
      • Are all study materials and textbooks online, or are there hard-copy options too?
      • Is the test online, or do you need to go to a testing site?
      • What kind of supplemental materials does the course offer?
      • Will there be career support during and after the course?
      • Does the program offer complementary certification for specialized populations?
      • What kind of specialized population or niche do you want to work in or with?
  • Step 2: Hire a Trainer
    Hiring your own personal trainer can provide valuable insight into the world of personal training. The more you understand how other trainers work with clients, the better equipped you’ll be to formulate your own training style and approach.
    • Here are some questions to consider:
      • How do they treat clients?
      • What type of approach do they take?
      • What types of workouts do they focus on?
      • What type of equipment do they use?
      • How do they reinforce the workout after a session?
      • How do they keep tabs on their clients’ progress?
      • What type of digital tools do they use?
  • Step 3: Gain Experience
    Getting certified is just one part of the path toward a successful career as a personal trainer. You should consider obtaining some practical experience, whether that’s through training sessions with colleagues, friends, or family members or by shadowing another exercise professional in the workplace. These real-life experiences will help to build your confidence and skills—not to mention your résumé.
  • Step 4: Get Certified
  • Step 5: Secure Insurance (if you’re starting your own business)
    Whether you’re working with clients in their homes, in your home, at the park, or in a fitness center or gym, having the right personal trainer insurance is priceless. It protects you, your clients, and your business.
    • Depending on how you are operating your business, you may want to look into the following types of insurance:
      • Commercial general liability (CGL)
      • Product liability
      • Professional liability
      • Sexual misconduct liability
      • Disability
  • Step 6: Get Hired
    Whether you work for yourself or decide to pursue a career as a corporate fitness instructor, getting hired in today’s fast-paced health and wellness industry is a full-time job in itself. Keep your résumé up-to-date and use health industry job boards to find the right gig for you.
  • Step 7: Stay Certified
    Long after you’ve become certified and landed the perfect job helping others see how powerful a more active life can be, you must keep your certifications current, which may require completing continuing education courses. Additionally, it might be worth exploring complementary certifications in areas such as nutrition or health coaching to round out your personal training chops.

Can You Do Personal Training Without a Qualification? Answer

You are not legally required to have any qualifications to train clients. So technically, yes—you can practice personal training without a personal training certification or another fitness credential. However, we do not recommend this for several reasons.

Firstly, without proper training, you risk hurting a client. You don’t want to find yourself in a  situation where you’re putting the health and safety of your clients at risk, not to mention the liabilities and consequences you may face if something goes wrong.

Also, you may have a hard time finding employment without a personal trainer certification. Companies and individuals seek out fitness professionals with credentials to back them up. Getting a credential from a reputable fitness organization will ensure you qualify to pursue available opportunities. If you really want to stand out and open up your options, consider getting an additional certification within the field of health and fitness, such as a group fitness certification, sports nutrition certification, or senior fitness certification.

Certification is the best thing you can pursue to make sure you are set up to be a good personal trainer with the skills to make a positive impact and build a successful career.

Are Personal Training (PT) Courses Hard? Answer

While it is important to find a personal training course that is robust enough to adequately prepare you for a career in the fitness industry, these courses are generally not incredibly difficult. In fact, easy entry into the field of fitness training is one of the reasons why many people are drawn to this career path. 

You could spend years going to school to get a degree in sports medicine, exercise science, kinesiology, or physical education, or you could get a personal trainer certification and bring your enthusiasm and expertise to clients more quickly. If you don’t have the time and the tens of thousands of dollars needed to pursue a four-year degree, a personal training certification is a great way to put your passion into practice. Also, some personal trainers choose to get certified first and then pursue a university degree in one of the aforementioned fields part-time so they can gain experience and make money while pursuing further education.

How Long Does a PT Qualification Take? Answer

At AFPA, you can become a Certified Personal Trainer in six months or fewer. Some students may choose to work at a faster pace and complete the program in four weeks, while others may choose to extend and take a year.

It may be different at other certifying organizations, but generally, online PT qualification programs allow for this type of flexibility. This makes the field of health and fitness a great option for someone looking to start a career by earning a credential at their own pace.

Is there such a thing as a license to be a personal trainer? Answer

Personal trainers are not “licensed” practitioners. You can conduct your training business how you choose, keeping in mind the AFPA Code of Ethics.

Why should I become an AFPA Certified Personal Trainer? Answer

AFPA is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in fitness, wellness and nutrition education and certification. Earning your AFPA Personal Trainer Certification is the first step in gaining the knowledge to successfully train various populations of individuals, gain professional recognition and financial rewards. You will learn all the important information necessary to get you started as a Certified Personal Trainer.

Who completes the AFPA certification programs? Answer

Many people with different backgrounds and education have participated in AFPA certification training programs: doctors, chiropractors, gym owners, college and high school coaches, wellness coordinators, weight loss counselors, non-certified instructors and trainers, and individuals who are currently certified by other organizations. There are no state-by-state regulations for personal training, and your certification is therefore valid in any state and country.

Are there any pre-qualifications I need to become an AFPA Certified Personal Trainer? Answer

AFPA requires that individuals be at least 18 years of age, have the equivalent of a high school education, and have a sincere desire to help others obtain their fitness and lifestyle goals.

How long does it take to complete the AFPA Certified Personal Trainer program? Answer

Completion time varies by individual and will depend on what certification program you enroll in, educational background, reading and writing skills and efficiency. Most individuals can become a competent Certified Personal Trainer within less than 6 months when studying 7-10 hours a week.

What is the enrollment fee to become an AFPA Certified Personal Trainer? Answer

The price for AFPA Certification varies depending on the certification course chosen. Please review the individual certification courses for the prices. These prices include all courses materials and examination fee - there are no hidden costs or additional fees!

How soon after I enroll can I get started? Answer

Enrollment orders can take up to 24 business hours to process. If you enroll in a digital delivery option, you will be sent your enrollment email with online digital access. If you have selected to receive printed materials, shipments take 3-5 business days.

How long do I have to complete the Personal Trainer program, and how do I take my exam? Answer

The Personal Trainer course includes multiple textbooks/eBooks, self-assessment quizzes, online videos, course guideline and final exam. Typically, it takes 100 hours. This is a self-paced, self-study program that’s typically completed in less than 6 months. The final exam is completed on your own desktop or mobile device. For details, click here.

Do I have to go to a testing site for the final exam? Answer

No. You can complete the final exam on your own desktop or mobile device.

Does my certification include Professional Liability Insurance coverage? Answer

Due to the varied nature of the positions held by AFPA professionals, liability insurance coverage is not included with your enrollment fee. Once you complete your AFPA certification, however, you may apply for professional liability insurance with several AFPA-approved insurance providers.

Do I need First Aid and/or CPR certification prior to enrolling in a fitness or personal trainer certification program? Answer

No. First Aid and CPR certifications are not required prior to completing your certification program.

What if I don't pass the certification exam? Answer

If you don't pass the certification exam, you may retake the exam for a retest fee of $75.00.

How much time is required to complete the Master Personal Trainer certification program? Answer

You will have up to 2 years to complete the Master Nutrition Consultant program. The average student takes approximately 400 hours to complete all 4 courses. The hours include reading, listening, watching, note taking, self-assessment quizzes/activities, assignments and the final exam for each program.

The courses included are:

  • Personal Trainer
  • Nutrition & Wellness Consultant
  • Advanced Personal Trainer
  • Strength and Conditioning Specialist

For details, click here.

AFPA Personal Trainer Guide 2019


Personal Trainer Career Guide

Download our comprehensive Personal Trainer Career guide to learn everything you need to know about the industry, career opportunities and AFPA’s curriculum.
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