Personal Trainer Job Description Explained

personal trainer job description

For anybody who wants to pursue a career in the fitness industry, looking at a personal trainer job description is a great way to get to know what a personal trainer does, what skills they have, and what qualifications are required for the role.

As a personal training course provider, we get tons of questions about the role of a personal trainer from people who are confused by the various descriptions online.

To clear things up, we have created this guide, covering:

If you already know that this is the career for you, check out our range of CIMSPA endorsed personal training courses. Or, if you’re a qualified PT looking for help with writing a job description, enquire about our Level 5 Nutrition for Sport course!

Alternatively, you can download our latest course prospectus here.


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Why Are There Different Personal Trainer Job Descriptions?

Before we break down the typical job description of a personal trainer, we thought it best to start by explaining why there are such differences between job descriptions for the same role.

The main reason for the discrepancies is that there are tons of employers out there, and we mean tons. With around 750 health and fitness clubs across Ireland and an estimated 504,000 gym-goers (according to Fora Ireland), it's clear that there's a huge demand for personal trainers.

When you think about the fact that all of these gyms and health clubs have their own managers with their own hiring process and preferences for the qualifications, experience, and skills that PT’s possess, you can start to see why there are such differences between job descriptions.

Not only that, but there are multiple career routes that a personal trainer can take, from being employed by a gym, working on a freelance basis, or even starting your own business. For each of these career paths, the responsibilities of a personal trainer do vary slightly, so it only makes sense that this is reflected in each respective job description. 

For example, whilst a personal trainer working in a gym might be expected to lead group classes, run inductions for new members, and maintain the gym floor, a self-employed PT wouldn’t carry out these kinds of tasks. 

However, a PT working on a self-employed basis would have the added responsibility of marketing their business and keeping on top of administrative tasks.

We’ve talked more about the various career paths for personal trainers in this YouTube video:

What Do You Need to Become a Personal Trainer?

Now, we’re going to hazard a guess that, if you’re researching the job description for a personal trainer, then you’re pretty set on pursuing a career in the fitness industry.

Or maybe this is the first time you’ve thought about the possibility of becoming a PT, either way, you’re on the right track to pursuing a career that is rewarding in many ways.

In what is a rapidly growing market, more and more people are surprising themselves by considering sudden career shifts from corporate settings into the fitness industry.

While we would never discourage someone from pursuing their dream job in the fitness industry, we are huge advocates of doing your research before taking the plunge into a new career.

The truth is, when it comes to personal training, the basics are not that hard to grasp! Most people have a rough idea of what a personal trainer does. However, if you’re looking to get qualified as a PT, you’ll need more than just a rough idea. 

If you have found yourself scratching your head while reading a certified personal trainer job description, sit back, relax, and let us take you through the basics of what you need to kick-start an exciting career in the fitness industry.

Personal Trainer Job Description: What Qualifications Do I Need? 

If you’ve ever read the requirements section of a PT job advert, you might already know that all employers ask for two qualifications. Those are:

In essence, these are your ticket into pretty much any area of personal training and the industry as a whole. Whether your goal is to become a PT or to take your career further, for example by starting a bootcamp business, passing your Level 3 and Level 4 exams is the essential first step.

No employer will hire a personal trainer that doesn’t have their Level 4 Personal Training Certificate as a bare minimum. On the rare occasion that this requirement isn’t specified in a job description for a personal trainer, the employer will still expect you to gain your Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications as part of your training. 

Being qualified is also an essential criteria for personal trainer insurance, so you won’t be able to work as a freelancer or start your own business either. 

Level 3 Gym Instructor Qualification

So, you know that if you want to work as a PT,  you’ll need to complete a Level 3 Gym Instructor (also known as a fitness instructor) qualification - but what does this course involve? 

Think of the Level 3 Gym Instructor Qualification as an entry-level qualification for fitness instructing and personal training.

Yes, this course will qualify you to fulfill the role of a fitness instructor, but you will not yet be able to work as a qualified personal trainer.

The Level 3 course is all about teaching you the principles of exercise and the basics of the fitness industry. This is reflected in the job remit of a gym instructor, which is restricted to tasks like gym inductions and helping with group classes, rather than one-to-one training or creating specific programmes. 

So, what will you learn on a level 3 gym instructor qualification?

All course providers will structure their content slightly differently, but at the very least, a regulated Level 3 fitness instructor course will cover:

  • Basic theory of human anatomy and physiology, covering the heart, as well as circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. 
  • Principles of exercise and fitness, such as how to lead warm-ups and cool-downs, and how to incorporate different kinds of exercise into a fitness routine.
  • How to communicate with and motivate clients and members.
  • The importance of health and safety and how to uphold it within a fitness establishment (gym, leisure centre, etc). 
  • How to generate exercise plans that cater to certain exercise goals.

Level 4 Personal Trainer Qualification Explained 

Seeing as you’re reading this article, it's safe to assume that you’re keen to go one step further than becoming a fitness instructor by pursuing a career as a qualified personal trainer.

Now, let’s clear up a few things before we dive into the details.

In order to start your Level 4 course, you must first complete your Level 3 Gym Instructors qualification.

The Level 3 qualification is really important because it gives you the foundation, both in knowledge and qualifications, to push forward and allow you to go on to be a fully-fledged personal trainer.

In terms of what your Level 4 allows you to do…well, it’s the gateway to becoming a personal trainer.

If you come across a job description of a personal trainer asking for “all necessary qualifications,” then that will be shorthand for having your Level 3 and Level 4 certificates.

In terms of what you should learn during your Level 4 qualification, here’s are the modules that make-up OriGym’s Ofqual regulated personal training courses:

  • Advanced Anatomy & Physiology for Health and Exercise
  • Personal Training Delivery (how to motivate clients, set goals, and see results!)
  • Programming Training Sessions for Individual Clients
  • Demonstrating Leadership
  • Learning the Business (marketing, career progression, and implementing an effective business model).

Public Liability Insurance

Outside of getting qualified, becoming a personal trainer also requires you to get insurance. Specifically, you will need Public Liability Insurance.

Public Liability Insurance is by no means exclusive to the fitness industry, however, it is absolutely essential as it covers both you and your clients against potential accidents and legal battles.

Just as with a first aid qualification (which we’ll discuss shortly), a gym or leisure centre might hire you without specifying that you need to have public liability insurance.

That’s not to say they will. In fact, the vast majority of businesses in this industry will check that you are insured before they even consider you in the hiring process.

While you can practise personal training without public liability insurance, you’d be absolutely mad not to have it. And you should seriously question any gym willing to hire you without requiring that you are insured (with the rare occasion that a gym’s insurance covers its employees).

Public liability insurance will cover you should a claim arise as a result of inadequate supervision or instruction on your behalf, if a piece of equipment malfunctions causing an injury, if a client makes a claim of professional misconduct (including sexual harassment), or if you or a client damage a third parties property.  

First Aid Training

First aid training is not essential for PTs, nor do your course providers have to include it as part of your personal training certification.

In fact, the answer to ‘do personal trainers need to be first aid qualified?’ is a firm no. However, this is something that employers may include in a job description for a personal trainer, so it doesn’t hurt to do first aid training! 

Being first aid trained is more something that can improve your chances of getting a job as a personal trainer, rather than something that you need to become a personal trainer.

Every gym or fitness facility is required to have at least one first aid trained member of staff on-site at all times. When it comes to organising staff rotas, it makes a manager’s job much easier if all staff are first aid qualified. For that reason, a first aid certification can be a deciding factor when managers are hiring a new personal trainer. 

Not to mention if you go onto work as a self-employed PT, for example training people in their homes, outdoors, or any other setting where it is just you and a client, it's a good idea to get your first aid certification - you might just save a life! 

What is The Role of a Personal Trainer?

Before we go on to break down what exactly makes up our average personal trainer job description, it only makes sense that we outline what exactly it is that a personal trainer does.

Whilst it's true that no two days are the same in the life of a personal trainer, there are some roles and responsibilities that you should expect to be included in any PT job description or job advert - here they are!

Ok, so you don’t need us to tell you that the main role of a PT is to run personal training sessions, but we still needed to include it!

Whether you work for a gym, as a freelancer, or you run your own personal training business, a large portion of your time will be spent in the gym, running 1-1 sessions with clients and leading group personal training sessions. 

What the job descriptions for personal trainers rarely include, is all of the tasks that you’ll need to complete in order to facilitate those training sessions.

There's so much more to being a PT than just showing up to the gym and shouting at a client as they perform a routine of exercises. Any decent personal trainer will take the time to carefully write out a training programme that is tailored to a client, their individual needs, and their specific exercise goals.

For some PTs, this can even include writing up workouts for the client to do outside of the session or creating a generic nutrition programme to complement the client’s training.

Other personal trainer responsibilities include carrying out client health checks, physical assessments, and having sit-down conversations with clients to discuss what they hope to achieve by working with a personal trainer. 

Personal trainers should also keep track of client progress, monitoring how the training programme is helping them to achieve their exercise goals. If a PT notices that a client isn’t quite on track, initiative is required to sit down with the individual, ask about how they are finding their programme, and make changes accordingly.

The other roles and responsibilities of a PT are very much dependent on the type of role (employed, freelance, or business owner), and the facility that the job description is for.

Generally speaking, here are some other tasks that can be expected of a personal trainer:

  • Cleaning and maintaining the gym floor
  • Signing up new gym members 
  • Admin duties such as following up on enquiries
  • Ensure the safety of clients and gym members
  • Run group exercise classes
  • Marketing PT sessions to acquire new clients 

What Makes a Personal Trainer Job Description? Full Breakdown

In order to give an accurate overview of what makes up a personal trainer job description, we analysed hundreds of available job adverts online and concluded that the typical job description for a personal trainer is made up of the following sections:

  • Overview of the role
  • About the business 
  • What the business can offer you
  • What the business expects from you
  • Job description and responsibilities 

Whether you’re writing a job description or you want to know more about what to include in your personal trainer CV, let’s go into more detail about what exactly you should expect from each section.

Overview of The Role

This section is usually pretty short as it’s expected that somebody searching for personal trainer jobs already has a pretty thorough idea of what a personal trainer is. 

For reference, here’s an example from a job post we spotted on Indeed:

“As a Personal Trainer/ Fitness Coach you will be carrying out Health and Wellbeing checks, conducting gym inductions and delivering Personal Training sessions alongside on-going health and safety duties and ensuring the gym is clean and tidy at all times.”

Although this is typically a really brief overview of the role, it can say a lot about the kind of roles and responsibilities that you can expect to have if you were to get this particular job. Pay close attention to the details of this description, as it might not be what you’re looking for!

For instance, with the above example, notice that running health and wellbeing checks and gym inductions are referenced as responsibilities of the role. Many people in the fitness industry see these tasks as the responsibility of a fitness instructor, but this job advert suggests that in this particular role, the personal trainer is required to do them. 

It’s absolutely fine for the company to ask personal trainers to do these tasks, but if you’re keen to spend the majority of your time training clients, then the content of this section suggests that this might not be the most suitable role.

About the Business 

In the next section of a PT job description, you can expect to read a little bit about the business itself.

Typically, this will start by introducing the name of the business, stating the size of the company (for example whether they are an independent studio or part of a chain), and a sentence or two about the business’ values.

Here’s an example from a personal trainer job advertised in Dublin:

By reading this description, you can get a clear idea of the size of this business, the kind of services that it offers, the facilities available, and where the job is located.

From the description, you can also get an idea of how this business markets itself and the kind of clients you should expect to work with. The text really emphasises that they offer high-end services with language such as ‘state-of-the-art’ and ‘high standard’, suggesting that this is a premium gym working with more affluent clients.

Some larger companies will also include an ethos within this section, for example, The Gym Group’s ethos is ‘to make fitness affordable and accessible’.

Note: Small details about the company are your chance to impress. If a company includes specific details about its values in a job description, make reference to these points in your application. By editing your CV for every job that you apply for, you can emphasise how your skills match the values of that company!

What The Business Can Offer You

The next part of the job description of a personal trainer is where it gets more specific. In this section, employers outline what you will get if you are successful in landing the job.

This section is particularly important in the fitness industry as different gyms and employers have different frameworks in terms of whether they hire personal trainers or recruit freelancers.

If it is a permanent post working for the gym, then this is where you should be able to see how many hours you will be expected to work, what your annual income will be, and whether there is any kind of commission or bonus structure in place.

If it is a freelance position, the job description should be slightly different to account for details of how the position will work.

For example, a freelance personal trainer job description should explain whether you will need to pay ‘rent’ to the gym, give them a percentage of your earnings, or whether you will be required to work a certain number of hours in the gym in exchange for being able to train clients in the facilities. 

Here’s a good example from David Lloyd's:

In the section that starts ‘a career as a David Lloyd's pesonal trainer’, the company has clearly outlined what they are offering you, as a prospective employee. This section comes pretty early on in what is a brief job description for a personal trainer, so it's easy for you to continue your search if this structure isn’t suitable for you.

Some more detailed job descriptions might reference further company perks, for example, this job description posted by Envisa Gyms, in Ranelagh includes:

  • Contracted salary of €24,000
  • Annual leave allowance, with an additional day of leave for your birthday
  • Funded First Aid qualification 
  • Free Gym Membership for a friend or family member 
  • Group Exercise training 
  • Management development training programmes 
  • Access to courses and coaching to help you build and run your business 
  • Discounted CPD courses with industry experts 

What The Business Expects From You

The following section is where we get into the requirements for the role. Seeing as there are set requirements for becoming a personal trainer in the UK, this section is usually similar for most employers.

As we established above, the route to becoming a personal trainer is fairly straightforward, you need to have a Level 3 Fitness Instructing certification and a Level 4 Certificate in Personal Training.

For that reason, this section is typically pretty short, consisting of something as simple as:

“We are looking for Level 4 Personal Training qualified individuals who are determined, driven, and passionate to join us on the next steps of our journey.”

Some personal trainer job specifications might reference the need for experience in the industry, but since Level 4 courses do cover a lot of the practical elements of the job, experience isn’t always required.

Once again, there are some slight differences between the job descriptions of freelance PTs and those employed by a gym. Whilst it's not always the case, it is more likely that employers seeking freelance personal trainers might specify the need for experience or a preference for PTs with an existing client base. 

This is why most personal trainers start out working as an employee for a gym and then go on to pursue a freelance position once they have a couple of their own clients. 

Occasionally, you might find that skills and traits are included in this section. For example, a lot of employers will express that they are seeking somebody with a ‘love for fitness’ or somebody who is ‘passionate about helping people achieve their exercise goals’. 

Whilst it can be useful to reference these skills and traits in your CV or during the interview process, you would like to think that these are a given for anybody applying for a job in the fitness industry!

Job Description and Responsibilities 

The final element of any personal trainer job description template should be a breakdown of the job, and the roles and responsibilities that will be expected of the successful candidate.

The detail of this section can vary greatly between job adverts, so it's always a good idea to ask about the roles and responsibilities at the interview stage if it isn't clear from the job description.

For a thorough insight into what employers can list as roles and responsibilities of a PT, here are some example personal trainer responsibilities from Indeed

  • Assume the responsibility of training existing clients who are interested in increasing their fitness levels, losing weight and entering competitions
  • Provide clients with safe, reasonable exercises that they can perform in the gym as well as at home
  • Give clients ample notice if you need to change appointment times and respond quickly to clients who need to change their schedules
  • Talk to members of the gym about their goals and introduce them to our personal training packages
  • Collect weekly payments from your clients and turn them over to our accounting department
  • Lead group fitness classes when necessary
  • Advise clients about important safety concerns and demonstrate exercises or manoeuvres as needed

This section will vary between job descriptions, for example, an advert for a freelance PT paying rent for a gym shouldn’t ask you to lead group classes or run gym inductions. 

The Personal Trainer Job Description of Tomorrow

So, we’ve discussed what a personal trainer needs in order to start looking for work in the fitness industry, and we’ve covered what to expect from a typical job description or job ad, but what's next?

If you want to succeed in any area of life, it's always useful to look at what the current situation is, where it is heading, and what you can do to keep ahead of the curve.

On that note, we’ve identified some of the big shifts in the industry which might be indicators of how the certified personal trainer job description will change in the future.

So, if you’re serious about pursuing a career in the fitness industry, and you’re planning on being in it for the long haul, here are our predictions for how personal training will change over the next couple of years! 

#1 Offering Group Classes

Even if you know nothing about the fitness industry, you’ve probably realised that over the past couple of years, group classes have become big business.

In fact, some of the biggest fitness trends of the past few years have been born from incredibly popular group class formats. Just think about how much the demand for Spin classes, CrossFit boxes, Yoga sessions, and HIIT circuits has boomed over the last couple of years…

All of these trends come back to the fact that there are tons of benefits of group exercise classes, with the main one being that people genuinely enjoy them! 

A lot of people feel overwhelmed about attending their first personal trainer session or the gym alone, but group classes and group PT sessions take away a lot of that anxiety.

So, how can you keep on top as this fitness industry transitions towards group sessions?

Continuous Professional Development courses (or CPD courses) are your answer!

CPD Courses allow personal trainers to develop their skill set, and as a result, improve their client reach and increase the range of services that they can offer.

Offering group classes and group PT sessions not only makes the service cheaper for the client but training multiple people at the same time boosts your earnings too!

#2 Online Personal Training

For the last decade or so, exercising online and at home has become a much more attractive prospect, and the popularity of online personal training has risen exponentially.

Clients love the flexibility of online PT, and the fact that it is typically cheaper than face-to-face training makes it a much more attractive option too! It really is a great way to train as proven in the OriGym article discussing the top benefits of online personal training.

With online personal training, you can reduce the number of hours you spend on the gym floor while increasing the number of clients you have and as a result, your income. You also remove the barrier of location, which opens up your business to tons more clients.

The job description of an online personal trainer has a lot more flexibility as online PTs are almost always self-employed. 

#3 The Future is Nutrition

What personal trainers have known for many years is finally just catching on…that fad diets are not sustainable, and that a well-planned, balanced nutrition plan is the best way to achieve your exercise goals. 

Acknowledging this, many established personal trainers have made the decision to capitalise on the growing demand for nutrition services by expanding their knowledge of nutrition through further qualifications.  For example, by completing OriGym’s Level 5 Sports Nutrition course.

By gaining further knowledge of the relationship between nutrition and exercise, personal trainers can offer bespoke meal planning services as part of personal training packages, or even go on to become a sports nutritionist.

The Ultimate Personal Trainer Job Description Checklist

Having read everything in this article, you might be a little overwhelmed with information.

Nevertheless, knowing how to understand or write a personal trainer job description is crucial for your future career success. For that reason, we’ve compiled the ultimate personal trainer job description template and checklist!

Next time you’re searching through job adverts or advertising a personal trainer job, keep our checklist in mind!

Before You Go!

If you’ve read this article in full, you should have a good idea of what to expect from a job description for a personal trainer as well as how to write one yourself. 

Whether you came here looking to know more about what a PT does, or as an employer needing help with writing a job description for a personal trainer, we hope that this article was useful!

If you’re ready to take on a career in the fitness industry, download our personal training prospectus or check out our Personal Training diploma now

Already a qualified Personal Trainer? Check out OriGym’s range of Level 5 fitness courses to see how you can progress in your career.


Enrol On OriGym's Prestigious Personal Training Diploma Today

Qualify as a personal trainer in as little as 4 weeks with our comprehensive personal training packages.

Written by George Aird

Fitness Professional & Marketer

George Aird is a content writer and marketer with specialist knowledge of health and fitness, online marketing, and start-up businesses. In his spare time, he is a keen climber, and a (reluctant) runner. 

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