If you’re interested in how to become a personal trainer or a career in sports coaching, you’ll want to get familiarised with all the relevant qualifications and certifications you may need to land a role as a sports coach.

In this guide, we’ll go over several fitness instructor jobs, ranging from PE teacher and sports coach to gym instructor and personal fitness trainer.

For each profession, we’ll go over some of the main qualifications you may need, along with some of the main obstacles to starting out.

Working in the industry of health and fitness can be very rewarding, as in many cases you’ll be a direct line of support for those looking to better themselves physically or develop their skills in a specific sport or discipline.

You’ll also often find that there are relaxed dress codes for many health and fitness jobs, so you can rock up to work in your yoga pants and a tank top if you so desire. There are many other perks, too, such as the potential for a high salary especially when you take on your own clients and market your services well using digital media.

With all that said, let’s dive into the ins and outs of some of the most popular fitness jobs in the industry, why they are worth applying for, and how you can land them.

crunches
Fitness instructor jobs come in many varieties, so think carefully before you decide what path to take. Unsplash
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5 (15 reviews)
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5 (7 reviews)
Tara
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1st lesson free!
Hannah
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5 (5 reviews)
Hannah
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1st lesson free!
Kamil
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5 (12 reviews)
Kamil
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1st lesson free!
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5 (9 reviews)
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1st lesson free!
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5 (9 reviews)
Dexter @dhboxer
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1st lesson free!
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Sports Coach Profile

A sports coach, as outlined by the UK government’s Prospects’ website, is someone who helps individuals and teams to achieve success across sporting disciplines.

As such, if you’re motivated by the thought of motivating and inspiring others to reach new personal bests or climb up the rankings of their sports division then it could be a perfect role for you.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a sports coach include anything from holding meetings with aspirational or current athletes to discuss tactics to improve performance to designing training programmes. After all, it isn’t just the physical aspect of sports that you’ll need to focus on as a sports coach, but the mental side too.

You need to be able to instil in others the kind of winning mentality that helps them to overcome obstacles and achieve greater success.

This isn’t an easy task.

But the role wouldn’t be interesting if it was easy, would it?

In terms of salary, you’d be looking at somewhere in the region of £15,000-25,000 as a newly qualified sports coach working in the UK.

However, if you stick with it long enough and manage to get employed by one of the National Governing Bodies (NGB) then you could be looking at a figure in the range of £30,000-35,000.

If you’re looking to fly solo and work privately with amateurs then the going hourly rate tends to be £10.

Curious to know how you could get in on the action and become a sports coach yourself?

Well, there are several ways into the profession but the best way is to tailor your academic career to one of the following disciplines:

  • Sports Science
  • Health Science
  • Sports Management

Of course, if you decide that health science is the subject you want to focus on then you could pivot towards nutrition and seek out related careers in that field too. Obviously the more doors you leave open, the more opportunities you’ll have available to you when it comes time to choose a career path.

In terms of the various routes into the sports coach profession, here are the most common:

  •  The UKCC (UK Coaching Certificate)
  •  A sports science degree
  •  A foundation degree
  •  A BTEC in sports coaching

From these certificates and degrees, you can then pursue the specific coaching qualifications associated with the sport you’re interested in coaching. To do so, you’ll need to go to the respective NGB for the sport in question to find out what is required.

For example, British Rowing, British Skydiving, and LTA Tennis are all recognised NGBs.

If you want to become a tennis coach, then, you’d simply need to visit the LTA tennis website and head to the ‘coach and teach’ page. There, you’ll find all the information you need to know to become a qualified LTA instructor, assistant, or another similar position. There are various levels of qualifications designed for different levels of experience.

What About Personal Trainers?

personal trainer corrections
The personal trainer path is a rewarding one, as you'll work one on one with your clients to help them reach their fitness goals. Unsplash

So what if you’re passionate about exercise and fitness, but you prefer the gym to the sports field?

If this is the case, we’d strongly recommend that you take a look into becoming a gym instructor or a personal trainer.

A gym trainer is someone whose sole responsibility is to help others reach their fitness-related goals.

Unlike in the case of the sports coach, the personal trainer doesn’t necessarily use sports as the medium for reaching peak health and fitness. Usually, personal trainers use a combination of cardio exercises, bodyweight exercises, and weightlifting in order to train their clients. However, it isn’t unheard of for a personal trainer to work with a client in the boxing ring or another sporting discipline that emphasizes cardio fitness.

Similar to the sports coach, though, the personal trainer’s job is to create a training program that the client can use to get the best results. More often than not, this program will include nutritional advice in the form of a meal plan, or at least recommendations of what foods to steer clear of.

As such, a degree in health science or nutrition can be just as helpful as one in a fitness industry-related field.

Many personal trainers opt to go solo and work for themselves as self-employed workers, though you can be hired by a gym to do the job too.

In terms of personal trainer jobs in the UK, you’re looking at somewhere in the range of £20-50, but of course, this scales with experience gained. For those working in a gym, the personal trainer salary is usually between £14,000 and £20,000.

How much does it cost to become a personal trainer in the UK?

You’ll typically have to spend north of £500 in your quest to become a personal trainer as you’ll have to take various pt courses.

The personal trainer courses you’ll need to become a personal trainer are the Level 2 and Level 3 fitness instructor and personal trainer certificates. These personal trainer qualifications can be worked towards with several large fitness bodies in the UK, and some will even let you take them online.

There is of course an expense for each of these pt qualifications, and you could end up paying a minimum of £500 for each.

If you want to fast track your progress to becoming a pt, it’s a good idea to find a personal trainer to help you out. By entering ‘personal trainers near me UK’ into your search engine next to ‘Superprof’, you can quickly track down fitness instructors and gym trainers in your area.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer?

Whether you want to be a personal trainer or a sports coach, you’re going to have invested some time in yourself.

It’s not that you have to look the part to do a good job, but you need to be able to prove to employers that you have some experience of playing sports or working out.

If you don’t, then many people will find it very hard to believe that you have what it takes to teach others in those areas.

Aside from working on yourself, you’ll need to develop a deep understanding of how the body works, how to best fuel it with the right foods, and how to optimize physical performance.

This is the work of many years studying towards degrees in fitness-related fields, so if you’re currently wondering what you need to be doing, the answer is probably to study more.

You can never know enough about the body and how it reacts to physical exercise and various foods.

Other Fitness Industry Jobs

leisure centre
Working in a sports or leisure centre can be fun and varied. Unsplash

There are of course many more sports education jobs in the fitness industry aside from those we’ve already mentioned.

For example, you could become a PE teacher who works in primary or secondary schools, coordinating sports programmes and helping sports teams out.

You can also look further afield and seek employment at health-centric workplaces such as health clubs, leisure centres, or even the armed forces.

One of the most popular, yet most risky, options is to go out on your own and work for yourself.

While the insecurity of infrequent clients and/or payments can be a lot to deal with at times, being self-employed in the fitness industry is often the best way to go.

Why?

Because you control your schedule, you can set your hourly rate, and you can work with a range of clients in a personal one-to-one setting. If you’ve taken the time to study the body and optimal human performance, then why not put your knowledge to the test and implement your own systems for a variety of individual clients?

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Samuel

Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.