The spectrum of fitness careers is broad and diverse, with jobs for people of all interests, capabilities, education levels, and skills available. If you’ve recently graduated with a fitness or health-related degree, or if you’re interested in pursuing higher education in either subject, the possibility of landing a career in fitness has probably been on your mind.
In this guide, we’ll break down various fitness careers by job responsibility, prerequisites, and any extra information that will help make your job hunting or educational pursuits a less stressful, and more informed process. From personal training to fitness club management to physical therapy, the jobs involved in the fields of health and fitness can be rewarding long-term careers for anyone ready to dedicate the hard work.
As with any job, you should be prepared to ace that interview. Supplement this guide with a course on job interview skills to get a running start.
1. Gym Assistant
Sometimes, you have to start at the bottom of the ladder, right? If you’re unemployed or pursuing an undergrad degree in health and fitness, working a part-time job as a gym assistant is a great way to get your foot in the door. It’s essentially a customer service position, but you still get on-the-job experience in a fitness setting, helping gym patrons work the equipment correctly, demonstrating good fitness practices, and making sure the gym’s rules and regulations are being maintained. You might not be doing exactly what you want, but it’s still a fitness-related job, and a good use of your time if you’re still in school or waiting for the right time to apply or return to school.
Working your way up as a gym assistant is also a great way to make connections in the industry, get the first-hand experience you need to supplement your studies, and hopefully land that dream job in the future once you’re looking for a full-time career. It never hurts to have some related experience on your resume early on, and it’s especially good to have if you’re looking to own a gym yourself later on down the line.
2. Personal Training
Being a personal training is one of the most sought out jobs in the fitness industry, mostly for its flexibility and benefits. You can work as a personal trainer through a company, such as a gym or fitness club, or work as an independent contractor and set your own schedule and rates.
Being a personal trainer means that you work one-on-one with clients, helping them set personal fitness goals and guiding them through specific exercise regimens. It’s a much more personalized experience than a group fitness trainer, because you get to know your client, their physical limits, and their athletic goals. Some personal trainers work to specialize in specific types of exercise, or to work with specific types of clients, such as athletes or seniors, meaning they can cater their routines to their client’s individual benefit. Check out this course on working with seniors in personal fitness, to get a better idea of how you can cater your fitness plans to specific types of people.
As you can see, being a personal trainer gives you a lot of freedom in the fitness industry, especially if you go the independent route. The only challenge here is that it takes a lot of job experience and training to lend you personal credibility. You can consult this guide to earning your personal trainer certification online.
Already have your certification and want to learn how to sell your personal training programs online? Check out this course for some help.
3. Group Exercise
People perusing their fitness career options might be ready to jump on the personal training gig, but remember that it’s tough and requires tons of experience to successfully break into. How do you go about gaining this experience? Well, a job in group exercise is certainly a great start. While it isn’t as personal, specialized, and fancy sounding as personal trainer, working as a group exercise instructor can be just as rewarding and informative an experience, not to mention a great way to break into the industry with immediate, hands-on experience.
As a group exercise trainer, you’ll be working with dozens of people at a time, instructing them through fitness routines and giving advice on how to properly take care of themselves. The more people in your classes or groups, the more people who will learn your name! Recommendations galore.
While this is a great way to build a reputation and break into other jobs, being a group exercise instructor in the long-term can be a tough gig to keep up. With its popularity, it might require you to pursue multiple certifications in different exercise types so that you can keep up with the demands of the industry.
Learn a bit about the science of fitness in this course, and be at the top of your game when teaching others!
4. Fitness Management
If you’d rather work behind the scenes in a fitness related career, responsible for the inner workings of a fitness club or gym rather than training clients or patrons for 30 to 40 hours a week, a managerial position might be for you. While you’ll still need to apply yourself “on the field,” so to speak – training staff, carrying out basic customer service tasks, and sometimes even marketing – much of your job in fitness programming and management will be done making sure everything is in order. You’ll coordinate classes with fitness trainers, organize programs and events, and hire new staff.
This is less of an athletic fitness position and more of a business one in the fitness industry. Learn the principles of management in this course, and you could be on your way to a fulfilling, stable managerial career in an industry that you love!
5. Club or Gym Ownership
Maybe it isn’t enough for you to just manage a fitness program or club. Maybe you want to actually open your own. If you’re someone who has as much of an entrepreneurial touch as an athletic one, owning your own fitness club or gym might be just the job for you. You’ll be making the big choices in this role, since it will ultimately be your business to run. You’ll need to hire a staff to represent your brand, train them accordingly, or train someone else to train them accordingly, and decide on the personal touches and philosophy that your facility will live by.
Running your own start-up is hard, though. If you have a degree in fitness and not business, opening a fitness club or gym might be much easier if you’ve already built a name for yourself on the scene. People with strong reputations as personal trainers or working at another facility might have a better chance at running a successful club than an unknown, but really, it all comes down to your knowledge of running a business. This course on successful entrepreneurship can walk you through the whole process.
6. Physical Therapist
Physical therapy is where health and fitness merge, so if you’re interested in both, this might just be your dream job. Not only that, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a whopping 30% increase in demand for physical therapists between 2008 and 2018, making it one of the most in demand and stable careers you can ask for in the fields of fitness or health.
As a physical therapist, your job is to promote physical wellness and mobility in clients who have recently sustained an injury, or an illness that is somehow physically debilitating. You’ll guide them through therapeutic exercise regimens, advise them on how to move their body to prevent further injury, pain, or discomfort, and provide training on how to regain their previous mobility.
It’s a fulfilling and stable job where you get to help people from all walks of life. If you’re looking for an immediate job, you might want to look elsewhere, though. Becoming a physical therapist requires a doctoral degree in physical therapy, but there are some master’s programs that are acceptable as well. Still, that’s a lot of education, so be prepared to commit! This is a job that must be taken seriously. Check out this guide to sports physical therapy for more information.
7. Health & Wellness Coach
Not all fitness careers must rely on the athletic aspect of the industry. A health and wellness coach deals more with the health side of things, but they are still able to work in fitness settings such as gyms or fitness clubs, and much of their work ties in directly with fitness. A health and wellness coach is essentially a health professional who gives personal training to clients on how to maintain physical wellness through diet, in addition to exercise. They can give seminars at gyms, or have their own private office where they work with clients one on one. Some wellness coaches can even be independent contractors. Learn the five pillars of optimal health in this course. For more educational tips, you can also check out any number of Udemy’s health and fitness courses.