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Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors

At a Glance

  • Work for gyms, fitness centers, and sports clubs
  • Have a high level of social interaction
  • Have good communication skills, especially public speaking
  • Most are certified
  • Many work part time

Career summary

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors help people get in shape. They teach aerobics classes or set up individual training programs.

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Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors work at gyms and sports clubs. They show people how to use fitness equipment. They test each person's fitness level to see what exercise they can handle. For example, a person who has knee problems would most likely be advised to do low-impact aerobic activities.

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors may be responsible for maintaining and storing equipment. They often sell memberships to fitness clubs and keep track of new members. In addition, some organize and lead tournaments.

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors are trained in CPR and first aid to treat minor injuries or refer people to doctors.

Fitness trainers

Fitness trainers usually work one-on-one with clients. They show people how to get in better shape. They teach people to breathe properly during exercise. They teach people about their target and maximum heart rates.

Trainers observe clients and participants to make sure they have proper form. Fitness trainers talk to people about how to eat better and make better lifestyle choices. They may write eating plans for clients and monitor their weight loss. They also talk to clients and participants about proper workout clothes and shoes.

Aerobics instructors

Aerobics instructors teach fitness classes. They teach a variety of classes, including:

Instructors plan routines for participants to follow, making sure that all muscles are exercised. Music is a key part of a fitness class. Instructors spend time picking music that is fun and has the right tempo. Since all types of people take fitness classes, it is important for aerobics instructors to offer alternatives for those who cannot do all the moves.

Related careers

This career is part of the Human Services cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to fitness trainers and aerobics instructors.

Common work activities

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors frequently:

It is important for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a fitness trainer or aerobics instructor, you typically need to:

Education after high school

The education and training required to teach aerobics classes or work as a personal trainer depends on your employer. Some entry-level jobs only require prior teaching or training experience. However, most aerobics instructor jobs are often filled by people who have taken aerobics classes and then become certified to teach them. Personal trainers often take college-level courses in anatomy, biology, and kinesiology and also complete training to become certified. It is becoming more common for personal trainers to have a bachelor's degree in sports medicine or a related field.

Many two- and four-year colleges and universities offer degree programs in exercise science, nutrition and fitness, physical education, or sports medicine.

Work experience

In addition to formal training, nothing is better preparation than direct experience. Most fitness trainers and aerobics instructors have been avid participants in fitness programs and aerobics classes. Being able to show someone the right moves and explain the reason for them is very valuable.

On-the-job training

Many employers offer short-term training, up to one month. This training may be hands-on or in a classroom. Many fitness centers send new aerobics instructors to "master" classes taught by experienced instructors. New instructors pick up tips and receive specialized instruction at these classes.

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors usually need to obtain certification in CPR and first aid. This training is available in most communities through the Red Cross and local hospitals.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many fitness trainers and aerobics instructors are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Many employers prefer applicants who are certified. Applicants who have taken some college course work are often desirable.

Employers of all types of fitness trainers and aerobics instructors prefer applicants who can relate well to and motivate people.

A high school diploma is usually required. Some health clubs require workers to have certification from associations such as the American College of Sports Medicine or American Counsel on Exercise. For more information on these associations, see the Other Resources section of this description. Employers may prefer workers with an associate or bachelor's degree in physical education or a related field. Employers look for strong interpersonal and communication skills. Knowledge of a variety of weight training and cardiovascular machines is valuable.


A healthy physical appearance with weight in proportion to height and ability to do the exercises are important. Employers prefer applicants who have a cheerful, outgoing personality. Physical education background is helpful, as are dance and cheerleading experience. High school sports activities are important. Talk with people who work as fitness instructors about their jobs. An education background that includes both classroom and hands-on experience can be beneficial.

Costs to workers

Many fitness instructors must purchase their own uniforms and music CDs or digital music downloads, and pay for continuing education seminars. They may also have to pay for certification. Those who join professional associations may need to pay membership fees and annual dues.


Certification is very helpful for fitness, aerobics, or any other kind of sports trainer. Applicants for certification often must be 18 years old and CPR certified. Training requirements vary depending on the standards for the type of aerobics class or personal training. Contact the certifying organization specific to your desired area.

Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (external link)

American Council on Exercise (external link)

American Fitness Professionals & Associates (external link)

International Fitness Professionals Association (external link)

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


The minimum wage for Washington State as of January 1, 2020 is $13.50 per hour. Some areas of the state may have a higher minimum wage.


Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors (SOC 39-9031)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $13.95 $18.10 $24.48 $30.32 $41.17
Monthly $2,418 $3,137 $4,242 $5,254 $7,135
Yearly $29,010 $37,650 $50,920 $63,070 $85,630
    Bellingham Hourly $13.21 $15.57 $26.10 $30.84 $36.47
Monthly $2,289 $2,698 $4,523 $5,345 $6,320
Yearly $27,475 $32,388 $54,291 $64,150 $75,862
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $12.41 $13.85 $18.79 $26.77 $36.21
Monthly $2,151 $2,400 $3,256 $4,639 $6,275
Yearly $25,807 $28,806 $39,084 $55,695 $75,312
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $11.89 $15.88 $21.29 $25.18 $29.62
Monthly $2,061 $2,752 $3,690 $4,364 $5,133
Yearly $24,722 $33,034 $44,280 $52,389 $61,610
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $15.97 $18.55 $23.22 $28.88 $34.98
Monthly $2,768 $3,215 $4,024 $5,005 $6,062
Yearly $33,220 $38,584 $48,303 $60,073 $72,753
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $14.13 $17.13 $21.66 $27.92 $33.15
Monthly $2,449 $2,969 $3,754 $4,839 $5,745
Yearly $29,395 $35,636 $45,068 $58,064 $68,957
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $12.21 $12.97 $18.46 $21.14 $24.25
Monthly $2,116 $2,248 $3,199 $3,664 $4,203
Yearly $25,397 $26,977 $38,398 $43,966 $50,449
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $15.72 $20.72 $27.55 $35.11 $49.95
Monthly $2,724 $3,591 $4,774 $6,085 $8,656
Yearly $32,700 $43,108 $57,296 $73,030 $103,895
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $15.71 $18.62 $22.99 $28.09 $31.49
Monthly $2,723 $3,227 $3,984 $4,868 $5,457
Yearly $32,682 $38,718 $47,827 $58,436 $65,500
    Vancouver Hourly $11.09 $13.37 $19.69 $28.29 $34.75
Monthly $1,922 $2,317 $3,412 $4,903 $6,022
Yearly $23,069 $27,803 $40,953 $58,835 $72,285
    Wenatchee Hourly $13.78 $16.52 $18.26 $20.24 $24.58
Monthly $2,388 $2,863 $3,164 $3,508 $4,260
Yearly $28,652 $34,363 $37,982 $42,092 $51,140
    Yakima Hourly $12.85 $15.57 $20.34 $25.28 $30.46
Monthly $2,227 $2,698 $3,525 $4,381 $5,279
Yearly $26,737 $32,396 $42,312 $52,579 $63,361
United States Hourly $9.69 $12.39 $19.15 $27.29 $36.58
Monthly $1,679 $2,147 $3,319 $4,729 $6,339
Yearly $20,160 $25,780 $39,820 $56,760 $76,090

Some fitness trainers and aerobics instructors are paid a salary. Others are paid by the hour, session, or number of participants.

Wages for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors vary widely by employer and area of the country. Wages also vary based on the trainer's or instructor's education and certification.

Trainers and instructors who work full time may receive benefits. Typical benefits include paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Those who work part time or who are self-employed are unlikely to receive these benefits.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors (SOC 39-9031)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 10,949 19.4% 16.1% 2,425
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 379 21.4% 13.4% 85
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 244 18.4% 8.6% 54
    Benton and Franklin Counties 356 22.2% 15.0% 82
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 639 16.7% 11.9% 135
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 468 17.7% 15.2% 102
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 642 21.2% 14.1% 146
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 548 16.4% 14.6% 116
    King County 4,464 19.7% 19.6% 989
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 157 16.6% 13.8% 33
    Pierce County 1,212 22.1% 15.2% 278
    Snohomish County 1,091 21.3% 12.4% 248
    Spokane County 597 15.7% 13.9% 126
United States 356,900 12.8% 5.2% 67,600

National employment

About 11% of fitness trainers and aerobics instructors are self-employed.

Major employers:

National outlook

Public interest in fitness is expected to continue to grow. As retirees are expected to be active and want to stay in shape, many of them will take fitness classes. There have been recent increases in children’s health club membership as parents worry about childhood obesity. In addition more companies are providing incentives to their employees to stay healthy. They do this so that their employees will be more alert and feel better while at work.

Additional job openings will occur as current workers leave this occupation. Part-time jobs will be easier to find than full-time jobs. Job prospects will be better for people with certifications.

Other resources

Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (external link)
1750 East Northrop Boulevard, Suite 200
Chandler, AZ 85286
American College of Sports Medicine (external link)
401 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
American Counsel on Exercise (external link)
4851 Paramount Drive
San Diego, CA 92123
American Fitness Professionals and Associates (external link)
PO Box 214
Ship Bottom, NJ 08008
American Kinesiology Association (external link)
1900 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191
American Kinesiotherapy Association (external link)
American Red Cross (external link)
Growth Projections for Fitness & Sports Centers 2018-28 (external link)
Bureau of Labor Statistics Career Outlook
International Fitness Professionals Association (external link)
National Recreation and Park Association (external link)
22377 Belmont Ridge Road
Ashburn, VA 20148
Society of Health and Physical Educators (external link)
PO Box 225
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster