The fitness industry is one of the fastest-growing employment industries with an expected 29 percent growth in jobs from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To excel in this growing industry, education is a must. Fitness trainers usually possess certifications. A vast majority of gyms and facilities that employ fitness professionals will require that a fitness trainer have certification in personal training or a more specialized field depending on the area of fitness you wish to focus on. In addition to certification, fitness trainers may possess bachelor's or even master's degrees in exercise-related subjects.
Fitness certifications come in a variety of forms. Regardless of the type of certification you decide on, make sure you have chosen a nationally recognized organization. Nationally recognized organizations include the American Council on Fitness, International Sports Science Association, American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. A common fitness trainer certification is certification as a personal trainer. Personal trainers design exercise programs and help clients complete these programs. A personal trainer certification can also enable you to complete other certifications where personal trainer certification is often a prerequisite, including performance-enhancement specialist or corrective exercise specialist. You may also want to consider pursuing a fitness certification in group fitness instruction, yoga or Pilates.
A bachelor of science degree in exercise science may be for you if you are considering a career in the fitness industry or love sports. Exercise science is the study of human movement. You will be taught how to help people exercise, about rehabilitation and how to create proper diets. You'll study anatomy and physiology and conduct research on exercise and nutrition. You may also be able to intern with a fitness professional. A bachelor's degree can prepare you to work as a fitness trainer, although you will be required to complete a certification in fitness training at the request of your employer. This degree can also prepare you for graduate school in a variety of sports- and science-related fields, including physical therapy, medicine and advanced exercise science degrees. Related degrees include athletic training, physical education, biology and sports and fitness administration.
A graduate degree--in addition to a fitness trainer certification--in exercise science can lead to a variety of fitness training careers, including physiologist, fitness coordinator, personal trainer, athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist. A majority of graduate programs in exercise science are two years. Students focus on anatomy and physiology, rehabilitation, physical activity and nutrition. Students participate in research and field studies. Many master's degree students go on to earn doctoral degrees in the fields of physical therapy, medicine and rehabilitation.
Fitness certifications are maintained through continuing-education credits. To renew a personal trainer certification, you may be required to take online courses with up-to-date information or take a specialized course. Personal trainer certifications need to be renewed every three years. Group fitness, Pilates and yoga certifications are renewed every two to three years and require online courses or on-site workshops. It is important to remember that regardless of the type of degree--whether it be a bachelor's degree or beyond--current certification is a must to practice as a fitness trainer.