Personal trainers are highly coveted in the United States.
A survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that more than half of respondents who said they work in the industry said they have “at least one personal trainer or trainer assistant.”
That is the same percentage who work in retail, food services and restaurants.
But it’s a job with a lot of challenges: Most are paid about $20,000 to $30,000 annually, according to the AP-NORP survey.
There’s a lot to learn about the industry and the pay structure, but here are some tips to help you get started.
Understand the career path and the salary range: As with any profession, there are different types of trainers.
Some specialize in working with children and teens, while others work with older adults.
Some work with a wide range of sports, while other focus on a specific sport.
Start with a personal assistant: As in any job, you’ll need a personal-services company to get started, according the National Association of Personal-Services Companies.
There are about 30,000 companies, including some that are family-friendly, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the United Way, which offers training to help people pay bills.
Choose a location: Personal-services companies typically charge a flat rate for a range of services, such the $20-per-hour rate at the gym, the $25-per and $30-per hour rate at a spa or massage parlor, and the $45-per day rate at an exotic-animal sanctuary.
Some locations also offer a variety of specialties and services, including massage, acupuncture, yoga, pilates and more.
Choose the right training environment: You should choose a location that’s comfortable and welcoming, according TOEFL, the national test that measures how well you understand a profession.
If you’re not confident, ask a colleague to walk you through your training.
You should also take the time to choose a team of trainers who are trained to meet your needs.
Find a location to work: When you’re starting out, the best way to find a job is to work with your own colleagues, said Robert Niebuhr, an associate professor of human resources at the University of Texas at Austin.
That’s not always possible, though, as a lot depends on the size of the business.
“If you have one person that’s already been through a training program, they’re going to know what they’re doing,” Niegles said.
“And if they’re not, they might have to get trained by someone else.”
You may also need a mentor, which can be an individual or a company, according ToEFL.
Some trainers hire a team member who can work out the kinks.
Make the most of your time: In addition to your own trainers, it’s important to have a team who can mentor you.
The NIA offers training programs to help new trainers find their niche.
There is also a CareerBuilder service that can help you find a career path.
You can find job openings on the NIA website.
Get to know your colleagues: If you want to keep your job, be sure to work closely with others.
“You want to work alongside people that you’re excited about working with,” Nies said.
If someone is an employee, they will be more comfortable in working for you, he said.
But if you’re a full-time trainer, the more you can get to know other people, the better, he added.
Start early: The NIE estimates that the median salary for a personal service worker is about $40,000.
Some jobs pay much less, according a survey of more than 700 employees by the International Franchise Association.
“It’s all about how you build that connection and make that connection with the people,” Nied said.
Consider relocation: Many of the companies that offer training have relocation programs in place.
If that’s the case, you can be a temporary employee or even an employee with a limited-time contract, according Niebs.
If it’s your first job, there may be a limited number of opportunities for you to work for other companies, so don’t be afraid to try out some of the jobs that are available, he explained.
Apply for positions: In order to get a good paying job, it pays to be open to new ideas and experiences.
“The goal is to find opportunities that have the opportunity to give you more money,” Nierhs said.
Niells said it’s often the case that people find a better job with fewer challenges.
For some, it can be easier to quit a job that they can’t live up to.