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Career Change To a Personal Trainer Role: In 4 Simple Steps

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Through performing a career change to a personal trainer role you can explore countless professional opportunities within the fitness industry. In order to understand how you can pursue this profession this article will cover:

In order to make this career change a reality, you will absolutely need to obtain a personal training diploma. This is essential if you’re looking to work in the role, as without it you will be considered unqualified for the position.

Alternatively, download our FREE course prospectus to learn more about each OriGym course! 

 

Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Kickstart your career with OriGym's Personal Training Diploma! 

What Qualifications Are Needed to Execute a Career Change to Personal Training?

What qualifications are needed to career change to personal training

One of the biggest misconceptions newcomers have about the fitness industry is that anyone can become a PT, but simply having a passion for physical activity isn’t enough! 

Instead, if you’re interested in making a career change to a personal trainer role you will need to earn the right qualifications.  A personal training diploma is an ideal option for unqualified individuals, as this combines two courses in one, including:

Whilst you can choose to enrol on these certifications separately, the Level 3 fitness instructor qualification is a prerequisite for the Level 4 PT course, which you will need if you wish to work as a personal trainer. 

Completing both qualifications through a personal training diploma is therefore the cheaper and more convenient option, which can see you qualified in as little as 4 weeks! 

Career change to become a personal trainer study

The time you take to complete the course is also dependent on how you choose to study. With Origym, the following options being made available to you:

  • Part-Time Course - Combines in-person practical workshops with learning from OriGym’s online learning platform. Students on this course typically take 8 weeks to complete the course.
  • Online Course - With no deadlines you can work on the qualification at your own pace using our online training platform! 

Choosing a method like the online course can be highly beneficial if you’re interested in changing your career to become a personal trainer. In doing so, you can study whilst still at your current place of employment. 

Career change to become a personal trainer diploma

This can make the career change feel less drastic, as you won’t have to go without your current salary, and can still remain employed whilst looking for personal training jobs.

When enrolled on the course you will learn vital skills and knowledge required to become a personal trainer. This includes an in-depth module that develops your understanding of how to create bespoke training programmes for individual clients. 

If you’re looking to make a career change to a personal training position, this qualification and the skills it imparts are absolutely essential.

This can be seen in the following job advertisement from Unit 17 Health & Fitness, who stress that they are looking to hire a Level 4 PT who can deliver a range of bespoke sessions and consultations:

Career change to become a personal trainer IRELAND

In order to ensrue this career change to personal training is as smooth as possible, you should esnrue that these qualifcations are regulated by bodies such as CIMSPA. This acronym refers to ‘The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity’, who are the professional development body for the sport and physical activity sector

Essentially, CIMSPA provides regulation on vocational training across the UK and Ireland (including OriGym), ensuring that every PT is working to the same standards. 

Change Your Career To Become a Personal Trainer on a Part-Time Basis

Change Your Career To Become a Personal Trainer on a Part-Time Basis

Making a career change to become a personal trainer can be intimidating, but once you’re qualified that doesn’t mean you have to instantly quit your current job. Instead, you can look for employment as a part-time personal trainer to make the transitional process easier. 

The process of becoming a part-time personal trainer is fairly straightforward, as you can look for employment in gyms and fitness centres on sites like Indeed. An example of which can be found below: 

Ireland Change your career to become a personal trainer Part-time

Working in gyms part-time will see you cover 1-20 hours per week, which can be juggled alongside your current place of employment - e.g. you could work 9-5 at an office job and then work 2 hours at the gym for 4 days of the week.

Part-time roles can make the career change feel less drastic, as you will already have experience working in a PT’s environment. As a result, this can help to inform how you interact with clients and fellow employees.

In addition to this, these part-time positions will also allow you to get acquainted with the roles and responsibilities of a personal trainer, such as:

  • Hosting personal trainer consultations 
  • Planning and leading bespoke training sessions for clients
  • Setting specifically tailored goals for your clients to follow
  • Upselling personal training packages that are more financially lucrative

Naturally, every employer will have different expectations of their employees, meaning that other responsibilities may be required of you when working in contracted roles. 

Another benefit of securing contracted employment is that you’ll receive a fixed salary. This will prove to be beneficial, as you will now have two sources of income, one from your full-time role, and another from the part-time PT position. 

Career change to become a personal trainer part-time gym

Alternatively, instead of opting for contracted employment you could start your own personal training business

In doing so, you could set your own part-time hours and work at a pace that fits around your existing professional and personal life. In addition to this, you won’t be fixed to one location either, and can train clients from:

  • The comfort of their own homes
  • Private training facilities 
  • Outdoor sites - e.g. parks 
  • Gyms - Once a rental agreement between you and the owner has been made.

An added benefit of owning your own business is that you’ll be in charge of the pricing structure of your PT packages, a process which could prove to be more financially lucrative.

Essentially, working as a part-time personal trainer will allow you to gradually ease into the role, without becoming too emotionally overwhelmed or physically overworked. 

Decide How You Want to Work Full-Time Before Making a Career Change to Personal Training

Decide How You Want to Work Before Making a Career Change to Personal Training

Before making a full-time career change to a personal trainer position, you need to consider what capacity you want to work in. To help you make an informed decision, this section will cover contracted and freelance positions in further detail.

#1- Making a Career Change To a Personal Trainer Role Under Contract 

Making a Career Change To a Personal Trainer Role Under Contract

As previously stated, personal trainers can seek full-time contracted employment with establishments such as gyms and fitness centres. 

When working in this job you will follow a set-rota established by your employer. For example, the advertisement for Ketogym clearly shows that contracted PTs will be expected to work full-time hours specifcally during the day shift (no evenings):

Ireland Career change to personal trainer shifts

In addition to working set hours, you will also receive a fixed annual salary, which in this instance would be €25k–€30k year per year. 

As previously stated, the duties you’re required to fulfil as a PT in a gym can vary from one employer to another. Some may even ask you to complete the responsibilities of a fitness instructor too - such as leading fitness classes alongside your 1-to-1 personal training sessions.

An example of a job that combines these responsibilities can be found below, in which the duties of the position are clearly laid out: 

Ireland combined duites Career change to personal trainer

As the job description alludes to, the clients you work with as a PT will be paying customers at the gym. These individuals may be assigned to your services by your employers, or personally recruited when you work the gym floor.

Pros and Cons of Making a Career Change to a Personal Trainer Position at a Gym

Pros and Cons of Making a Career Change to a Personal Trainer Position at a Gym

Some of the benefits of making a career change to become a personal trainer in a contracted role include:

  • A Stable Source of Income -  As a contracted employee you will receive a guaranteed salary every month.This provides you with financial stability, something that many new personal trainers often worry about.
  • Access to An Eager Pool of Clients - Your clients will be made up of the gym’s existing customers. This removes the pressure of finding your own clients, which can be difficult to master when initially starting out in the business. 
  • Insurance is Often Included - Personal training insurance can protect you in the instance that a client makes a legal claim against you. If your employer provides this insurance, it can help cover legal fees and even save you from potential jail time.
  • No Rental Fees - When employed by a gym you won’t have to pay any rent in order to use the gym’s facilities. 
  • Structure and Routine Are Provided - With set working hours comes a natural routine for you to follow. This allows you to plan other personal and professional commitments around your shifts. 
  • Allows You To Make Industry Connections - Following your initial career change you may lack industry connections required to immediately go freelance. Working at a gym will allow you to connect with other fitness professionals and passionate clients, building up a strong network for your future. 

PT Barbell Career change to personal trainer

Whilst the benefits of contracted employment are plentiful, it’s not without faults. Here are some of the biggest drawbacks of working as a PT in this position:

  • Lower Wages - Freelance PTs can set their own fees, meaning they could earn higher salaries than contracted employees for working the same hours. 
  • Less Opportunities for Professional Development  - Contracted PTs have fewer development opportunities, as they don’t have control over the services they offer. This can result in a stunted skill-set, with the inability to incorporate newer practices such as nutritional guidance.
  • Limited Flexibility - As a contracted employee you will need to adhere to the rules and regulations set by your employer. This leaves little room for flexibility, meaning you will always have to work set hours, and only offer the services approved by your employer.
  • No Sense of Individual Brand - In this position you will be a representative of your employers, and will therefore be unable to build an individual brand.

As evident from the lists above, the positives of this position far outweigh the negatives. This means that if you’re looking to make a career change to a personal trainer position in a gym, you can expect a highly rewarding experience that provides you with professional fulfilment.

#2 - Change Your Career To Become a Personal Trainer On a Freelance Basis

Perform a Career Change to Personal Training on a Freelance Basis

Becoming a self-employed personal trainer is an entirely different process than contracted roles. One of the biggest differences being that freelance positions will require you to be a lot more proactive and self-motivated, as you will be in charge of your own success.

On top of the regular duties associated with the role of a PT, such as creating bespoke workout programmes, freelance trainers will also be required to:

  • Attract and retain a dedicated client base
  • Create their own pricing packages 
  • Manage their own schedule 
  • Market their their services across a variety of platforms - e.g. in-person, social media, and personalised websites
  • Keep track of their own finances 
  • Securing their own personal training insurance from sites such as First Ireland

This is why gaining initial experience is so important, as going into the role without it could cause you to become overwhelmed by the responsibilities at hand.

The first step in making this career change to personal training will be registering as either a sole trader or a private limited company on the Revenue websiteThis process is entirely FREE, and will recognise you as an independent business owner in the eyes of the law - Note, this must be completed for tax purposes. 

Register Career change to become a personal trainer IRELAND

Part of this registration process will be disclosing where you intend on training your clients. As a newly qualified PT be aware that different locations will require you to adhere to specific processes: 

 

Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Kickstart your career with OriGym's Personal Training Diploma! 

Freelance at a Gym Under a Rental Agreement

Career change to become a personal trainer at a gym freleance

If you want to train clients at a gym, you will need to look for a location that offers rental agreements. For those unfamiliar, this will simply involve paying a set fee in order to use the space and equipment.  

Popular gym chains that offer this service include Educogym and Anytime Fitness.

Many independent businesses will also offer rental agreements too, such as the following example from TNDOFitness in Dublin:

Rental Agreement Ireland Change your career to become a personal trainer

Not every location will follow the same rental format, so be sure to check out gyms and fitness centres in your local area for relevant information.

Offering Personal Training in Outdoor Locations Like Parks

career change personal training in park

If you want to offer personal training in parks, then you will need to apply for permission  through the council, parish, or landowner in charge of the site. 

This process will typically require you to divulge various details associated with your business - This is not a blanket process and will differ from one location to another. 

For example, in order to train at locations under their jurisdiction, Dublin City Council requires applicants to divulge:

  • Proof of relevant qualifications - e.g. a copy of your personal training diploma
  • Photographic ID
  • Information about what training you offer - e.g. 1-to-1, group sessions, bootcamps, etc.
  • What dates you require the space for
  • Evidence of a risk assessment  - Someone must be first-aid trained 

In addition to paying a VAT fee, which is influenced by how long you need the space for, and by how many clients you have:

Ireland Change your career to become a personal trainer in parl

If you decide you want to offer personal training sessions in parks, you will need to conduct your own research into the location of choice. Following this, read the application process diligently in order to determine what information they require of you.

Offer Personal Training Sessions From Your Home

Career change to personal trainer at home

Alternatively, you may decide to start a personal training business from your home. In this instance you will be required to adhere to the following processes:

  • If you rent your living space a landlord will need to provide you with written permission
  • If you own the property check with your mortgage provider whether this would be appropriate
  • Request a DBS check - This reassures the general public that you’re safe to work with.
  • Obtain a first aid certificate - Can be acquired through the likes of the Irish Red Cross
  • Get personal training insurance that includes coverage in areas such as - Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, Loss of Earnings, and Equipment Cover

For more information on how to pursue this career path, check out our article exploring how to start a personal training business from your home.Through these comparisons you will now be able to see just how varied the role of a freelance personal trainer can be. 

This isn’t to say that you have to confine yourself to one fixed location either, as one of the perks of freelance work is that it’s entirely flexible. This means that you could realistically work at one, or all of these locations if you so wish! 

Pros and Cons of Changing Your Career to Become a Freelance PT

Career change to personal trainer role freelance

Being your own boss can prove to be incredibly rewarding, some of the benefits of making the career change to become a freelance personal trainer include:

  • Vast Flexibility - Not only will you decide where you work, but you also have control over who you train, and the hours you work too.
  • Higher Earning Potential - With direct control over your own salary, you can essentially earn more money than contracted employees.
  • Create Your Own Brand - As a self-employed PT you are responsible for the creation of your own brand. Everything from the marketing of your business, to the training programmes themselves. are all reflective of you, and not just an employer.
  • Limitless Room For Expansion - You can grow your own business however you choose - e.g. what services you offer, whether you take on additional employees, etc. 
  • Specialise In Your Chosen Area - With your own business you could choose an area to specialise in such as Advanced Sports Nutrition. This can allow you to charge more for your services, as you will be regarded as an expert in your field.

Career change to personal trainer role

Once your freelance business is well-established you may find yourself being twice as successful as personal trainers in contracted roles. With that being said, there are some downsides to pursuing this role, such as:

  • Greater Financial Risks - You won’t have the safety net of a dependable  annual salary. This could result in financial insecurity, as your earnings can vary from month to month.
  • Pay Your Own Fees - When running your own business you will have to pay for fees such as equipment and insurance, which could prove to be a costly burden.
  • Competitive - The PT industry can be incredibly competitive. If you don’t stand out from the crowd you could find yourself losing clients and money to other businesses.

Starting your own personal training business is a huge undertaking, and is a process that cannot be rushed. Arguably, it may be worth gaining initial experience at a gym prior to pursuing this career path, but the decision is ultimately yours to make.

For reference, there is not a ‘correct’ way of being a personal trainer. Some may prefer to work at a gym, whilst others will prefer to be self-employed, you simply need to find what works for you!


If you’re interested in learning more about to how to make a career change to personal training, check out these OriGym articles:

Expand Your Career Change in Personal Training 

Expand Your Career Change in Personal Training

Once you have established yourself as a personal trainer, you may choose to expand your practice into a niche area. This could include offering specialist services, or working with a specific demographic of clients.

To understand how you can expand into these areas, this section will incorporate real examples of trainers who have successfully branched out beyond general personal training.

Expand Your Career Change in Personal Training With SMT

Expand Your Career Change in Personal Training With SMT

If you’re looking to incorporate additional services into your PT business, sports massage therapy has proven to be particularly popular within the industry. When applied correctly, these techniques can be used to improve a client’s athletic performance, and promote recovery from injury.

The first step in expanding into this service is earning a Level 4 Sports Massage Therapy qualification. Whilst enrolled on this course, you will learn about the principles of injury management, including how to deliver functional stretching techniques that deal with soft tissue trauma. 

Once fully qualified you will be able to provide SMT alongside your personal training packages, much like the following example from JJ Haly's whose personal training and Sports Massage prices can be found below:

Ireland Personal Training career change

Ireland Personal Training career change with SMT

As evident from the example above, incorporating additional services has the potential to be a highly lucrative venture. This is largely due to the fact that you will be able to target an entirely new demographic of clients.

Think of it this way, incorporating SMT into your practice will help to target clients who are specifically interested in this service, and would have otherwise gone to a competitor. 

For example, let’s say you had 5 clients signed up for SMT, each of whom pay €70 for an hour session every week. In total, you would generate an additonal €350 per week, that would have otherwise gone untapped.

In addition to this, expanding into other practices can also help you to retain existing clients too. For example, if a client injuries themselves when training you could transfer them from their pre-existing PT package onto a sports massage therapy programme.

This will ensure said client remains in your service, rather than losing a stream of income. 

Expand Your Career Change in Personal Training By Working With Niche Demographics

Expand Your Career Change in Personal Training By Working With Niche Demographics

In addition to offering specialist service, some trainers may wish to expand their practice into working with a niche demographic of clients. This could include vulnerable members of the general public, including:

  • Individuals with medical requirements - e.g. Obesity 
  • The elderly 
  • Children
  • Disabled individuals 

For example, take a look at Chris Loughrey's LinkedIn page, in which he clearly states he specialises in training diabetic clients:

career change personal training LinkedIn

Please Note: You can’t just claim to be an expert in training a niche demographic of clients. Instead, you will need a substantial amount of experience working with said clients, and knowledge in how to craft workout programmes specifically for their needs. 

This could come from general experience, or earning additional qualifications, such as a Level 5 in Diabetes Control and Weight Management. Whilst on courses such as these you will learn how to craft a safen bespoke training programme that takes a client’s medical condition into account. 

Finding a niche demographic can also prove to be financially rewarding, as you will be regarded as an expert within a particular field. In doing so, you can justify charging higher prices for your services in comparison to holistic trainers. 

Before You Go! 

You will now have a clear understanding of how to make a career change to a personal trainer job a reality. Remember, gaining initial experience will help ease you into this role, and make the transition period less intimidating. 

Earning a diploma in personal training is the vital first step in this process. When enrolled on this course you will develop skills and knowledge that help to facilitate this change in career. 

You can also download OriGym’s FREE course prospectus here! 

 

Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Kickstart your career with OriGym's Personal Training Diploma! 

Written by James Bickerstaff

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.  

When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.

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