How to become a Personal Trainer

Written by: James Luscombe
Published on: 24 Sep 2021

With the fitness sector worth over £5 billion, it’s no wonder that a career as a Personal Trainer is one that appeals to many. If you like helping people to be fit, healthy and to eat well, then this could be the career for you.

How do I choose the best Personal Trainer Course for me?

Firstly, you need to make sure any provider you choose is CIMSPA approved. To check who is approved go to CIMSPA’s website, click directories, then click partner directories to search. An example of a reputable CIMSPA provider is Study Active. You may then wish to research into what awarding body the provider uses (this is who awards your certificate). The largest and most recognisable awarding body in the UK for fitness is Active IQ.

What qualifications do I need?

You will need a Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing and a Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training. Often these can both be combined into one big course. Some courses are attendance, some are online, some are a bit of both – it’s all about what works best for you – if the provider is CIMSPA approved then the course delivery method will equal the exact same qualifications.

Do I need a separate nutrition course?

Level 3 Nutrition is automatically embedded into Level 3 Personal Training.  So, everything that a Personal Trainer needs to give nutritional advice (based on established Government guidance) is embedded. According to the Association for Nutrition (AfN) if you want to write meals plans then a Level 3 or 4 in Nutrition is not sufficient, you will need a University Degree in Nutrition or Dietetics. 

Do I need Exercise Referral?

An Exercise Referral qualification (also referred to as Supporting Clients with Long-term Conditions) allows the Personal Trainer to work with clients with common medical conditions, so this is useful if this is your goal. It does not however mean that a GP will refer patients directly to you – a GP never refers directly to a PT, more so a GP may refer patients to a Gym which runs an GP Referral scheme.

Do I need Level 3 or Level 4 Personal Trainer qualification?

The sector looks for Level 3 to operate as a Personal Trainer. Level 4 is optional but is not compulsory and does not necessarily increase earning power. The qualification needed to become a generic Level 4 Personal Trainer is the “Level 4 in Advanced Personal Training”. If you see a Level 4 course in “Low Back Pain” or “Diabetes” then these are specialist qualifications for if you want to work clinically within these disciplines - they would not make you a generic Level 4 PT.

Overall, a career as a Personal Trainer can be extremely rewarding and a very popular way for fitness minded people to earn a living. Choosing the right qualification is an important first step to set the right foundation. Hopefully this article has been helpful in helping you choose.

How can I find out more?


Active IQ

Study Active