6 Unique Careers You Can Pursue As A Fitness Instructor

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people working out in gym

Being a fitness instructor is an exciting job—you help motivate people to live healthier lifestyles, reach their fitness goals, and feel good about themselves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2020 there were 309,800 fitness professionals, and the industry is expected to grow by 39% in the next decade.

As more people realize the benefits of fitness programs, you have the opportunity to continue down a rapidly expanding career path in a field you are passionate about. Let’s take a look at six unique fitness jobs and some tips for advancing in your occupation.

#1 Exercise Physiologist

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Average salary: $50k

Exercise physiologists create fitness plans to help patients with chronic diseases and cardiovascular conditions maintain or improve their health. They also occasionally help athletes improve their performance. Most entry level jobs only require a bachelors of science in exercise physiology, exercise science, kinesiology, or a related field. A masters degree is required for those looking to work more in cardiovascular rehabilitation.

An exercise physiologist helps her client track his breathing and heart rate with machines as he uses the treadmill.

#2 Private Personal Trainer

Education: Personal Trainer Certification

Average salary: $40k

Unlike a personal trainer who works in a gym, there are special types of personal trainers who work one on one with clients in their homes or private facilities—private personal trainers. They can also work with small groups at spas, retreats, or corporate offices. While you typically only need to be a certified trainer, you have a better chance of landing more specialized roles by completing additional certifications and having years of experience.

#3 Wellness Coach

Education: Wellness Coach Certification

Average salary: $60k

As a wellness coach, you can help individuals live a healthier lifestyle beyond the walls of a gym. You can work with groups or individuals to help them reach their health goals. This means advising people in exercise, nutrition, self-care, and work-life balance. With your guidance, you can help people better understand healthy living by turning their goals into measurable milestones. Wellness coaches can work in wellness centers, retreat centers, corporate offices, or even host virtual sessions.

#4 Cruise Ship Fitness Instructor

Education: Personal Trainer Certification

Average salary: $2,500 per cruise

Take your training to the next level and work with clients on the sea. Cruise ship fitness instructors contract with cruise lines on a monthly or annual basis. You have the opportunity to be different kinds of instructors by hosting large and small group training sessions to a variety of age ranges—all while getting to visit destinations around the world. You need to be a certified personal trainer to get started, but knowing multiple languages, having experience leading group sessions, and an understanding of working with kids or seniors can set you apart in the application process.

A cruise ship yoga instructor leads a student in a stretch on the ship’s deck.

#5 Athletic Trainer

Education: Master’s degree

Average salary: $55k

Athletic trainers work primarily with injured athletes by carrying out personalized rehabilitation programs. Under the direction of licensed physicians, athletic trainers identify injuries, provide emergency care, oversee rehabilitation, and help prevent future injuries. They can work in sports medicine clinics, performing arts studios, athletic training facilities, sports stadiums, or directly with a sports teams.

#6 Registered Dietician

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Average salary: $63k

As a dietitian, you help patients identify nutrition plans to help them avoid allergic reactions, lessen the side effects of diseases, and live healthier lifestyles. By evaluating everything from eating habits to daily routine and food choices, you can improve patients’ everyday lives. Many dietitians start with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food and nutrition, or a related field, then get board certified through training and internships, followed by a master’s degree.

A dietician gives her client advice on a custom meal plan.

Tips For Advancing In Your Career

When looking to advance your career, you need to know how to prepare, where to look for job openings, and what requirements you need to meet.

Tip 1: How to get the best fitness instructor certification

While a lot of these careers start with certifications or bachelor’s degrees, they require continued education to help you stay up-to-date with your skills, apply new medical findings, and learn evolving techniques. Here are some different types of fitness certifications you can receive to help you advance your career:

  • ACE — 2 year Personal Trainer certificate
  • ACSM — 3 year Advanced Team Physician certificate
  • ISSA — 2 year Master Trainer certificate, associate’s and bachelor’s degrees
  • NASM — 2 year Personal Trainer certificate and Master Trainer Certificate; Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) and Certified Sports Nutrition Coach (CSNC) courses
  • NESTA — 4 year Personal Fitness Trainer certificate
  • NCSA — 3 year certifications in Personal Training, Strength and Conditioning, Performance and Sports, Tactical Strength and Conditioning, and Special Population

Tip 2: How to find job opportunities

Start by looking at any facilities or clinics in your area which offer the services you want to specialize in and see if they have job openings listed on their website. You can even see if anyone there will give you an informational interview so you have a better idea of the jobs and work environment.

If you recently received a certificate or degree, check with the organization you went through for internship or job opportunities. Networking with your peers and instructors can give you invaluable contacts which may later help you land a spot in your chosen field.

Tip 3: How to get fitness instructor insurance

Many fitness instructor jobs require you to have insurance. If a client is injured during a workout, has an allergic reaction to a supplement you suggested, or accidentally damages property at the facility you work at, you may be the one held responsible. This means it is up to you to pay for hospital bills, legal fees, damage repairs, and more.

Having fitness instructor insurance can help lower or eliminate the costs of a liability claim. It also helps to cover the facility or organization you work with. In order to qualify for fitness instructor insurance, you do need to have up-to-date certifications. Policies start at just $12.50 per month.

An athletic trainer helps a client stretch an injury in their elbow.

Let’s Keep Training

No matter where your fitness career takes you, Insurance Canopy is here to help protect you in every stage. Keep searching for new opportunities to grow your career!

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