How to Become a Fitness Trainer in Washington

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Working as a personal trainer with the physically active outdoor enthusiasts that call the Pacific Northwest home may very well be a match made in heaven. Imagine preparing your clients for the ski and snowboarding season at the passes, developing personal training programs for your affluent Microsoft clients in Redmond, or introducing your Seattle clients to high-intensity interval training ahead of the Seattle Survivor Mud Run.

From Bellingham to Spokane, from the Olympic Peninsula to the San Juan Islands, Washington’s residents appreciate living in a place that provides so many opportunities to be active outdoors. As one of the healthiest and most active states in the nation, it’s little surprise that Washington continues to see tremendous growth in the health and fitness industry, according to the Washington Employment Security Department.

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In 2012, there were 8,374 personal trainers in Washington; by 2017, this number is expected to increase to 9,218.

Steps to Becoming a Personal Trainer in Washington

If you want to take full advantage of the projected demand for personal training services in Washington, it’s time to prepare yourself by earning the right qualifications.

Degrees Related to Personal Training

A degree related to personal training has long been the gold standard for this profession, which is largely driven by reputation and credentials. Although a number of schools now offer degrees specific to personal training, most relevant degrees are offered in other closely related areas of study.

Associate’s and bachelor’s are available in relevant majors that include:

  • Fitness and Health Promotion
  • Exercise Science
  • Physical Education or Coaching
  • Kinesiology
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Biology or Human Physiology
  • Sports Medicine

Many employers seek personal trainers who possess either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, both of which are designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills to serve as a knowledgeable and skilled personal training professional.

Coursework in a personal trainer associate or bachelor degree program (such as an Associate in Advanced Personal Training or a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology) generally includes study in exercise prescription for special populations, exercise physiology, and fitness analysis. Many programs also include coursework in business, marketing, and communications, thereby preparing students to become managers and business owners.

Other typical coursework in a program related to personal training would include:

  • Nutrition
  • Medical terminology
  • Exercise science
  • Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology

Professional Certification Programs in Personal Training

Professional certification is not only commonplace in the personal training industry, but often expected by employers. You may choose to complete a professional certification program in addition to your degree program or in lieu of it.

Because there are so many certification programs available, both through on-site campus programs and online programs, you are best served by researching programs to ensure that the one you choose best complements your professional goals. It is also often beneficial to choose a program that is recognized by a national accrediting body, such as the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), and to ask local health clubs and gyms about which certifications they prefer their personal trainers to possess.

In addition to a general personal trainer certification, a number of certification organizations also offer specialty certifications in areas such as strength training, Crossfit, yoga, Pilates, and cycling, just to name a few.

Just a few of the national certification organizations that offer personal training certification include:

  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • American Fitness Professional and Associates (AFPA)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • Academy of Applied Personal Training Education (AAPTE)
  • National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT)
  • National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
  • The Cooper Institute

To achieve national certification as a personal trainer, you can expect to complete a program of study and pass a related examination.

Qualifying for Personal Training Jobs in Washington

One of the most effective methods of gauging the needs of Washington’s personal trainer employers is to examine recent job postings. Although the following job posts are for illustrative purposes only, they do detail typical employment requirements that employers look for (April 2015):

Seattle – A health club in Seattle is looking for fitness trainers who are knowledgeable, professional, and committed to health and fitness. Personal trainers here are responsible for providing personal training using sandbells, Olympic weights, kettleballs, tubes, roping, and free weights, among others. Candidates must be CPR/AED certified, they must possess a degree in a fitness related field, or they must possess certification through one of the following organizations:

  • The Cooper Institute
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Another private training studio in Seattle is seeking personal trainers who possess:

  • A college degree in a related field (a plus)
  • One to two years of personal training and program design experience
  • A nationally recognized personal training certification
  • Excellent verbal communication and listening skills

Eastside – A performance training studio in Issaquah is seeking personal trainers who have a passion for fitness, a desire to motivate others, and a fun, upbeat attitude. Candidates must possess a nationally recognized personal training certification and be CPR/AED certified.

You may pursue job opportunities throughout Washington’s top fitness clubs, private studios, and gyms, such as:

  • Northwest Personal Training, Vancouver
  • BeFit Tacoma, Fircrest
  • Flex Training Gym, Seattle
  • Fresh Start Fitness, Bellingham
  • Energy Personal Training, Everett
  • Crunch, Bellevue

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