How to Become a Personal Trainer in the UK (and You Can Do It Online)

I intend to become a qualified personal trainer at some point in the next 5 years.  In this article I share all my research to date on how to become a personal trainer in the UK.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in the UK

We’re going to take a deep-dive into how to get your personal trainer certification and look at the most respected gym instructor and personal trainer qualifications available in the UK.

What goals are in your 5-year life plan? Do you even have one? Let me assure that without a life plan, years will pass by and as they do, if you’re not fulfilled in your day job, you’ll begin to feel like a hamster on a treadmill going precisely nowhere.

Oxbridge Home Learning - Fitness Instructor & Personal Trainer


Why You Should Become a Personal Trainer!

The most rewarding jobs are those that help others. Imagine being paid to help turn somebody’s health around: steering them away from self-destruction, towards a future of health and vitality.

Gym Instructor

As a personal trainer, this is precisely what you will be doing. You won’t be simply working with clients, but making new friends who will value the positive change that you brought into their lives.

As a freelance personal trainer you will be your own boss. You will choose the hours that you work as well as the people you work with.

If you’ve been into fitness training for many years, becoming a personal trainer is a great way to put all your acquired knowledge to good use in helping others and leveraging it to earn an income.

In an increasingly unstable and uncertain world it makes sense to invest in yourself and secure a way of earning a living. Not only that, if you practice what you preach, then there’s no reason why you can’t be still be offering your services as a personal trainer well into your 70s and beyond!

Are you convinced yet? Great! Now let me show you EVERYTHING you need to know about becoming a personal trainer.

What Are the Best Personal Trainer Qualifications?

In the UK personal training qualifications are awarded by one of two main bodies, each of which I consider to hold authority:

  • YMCA are considered to be the UK’s most established awarding body in the fitness industry.
  • NCFE have been around in the UK for nearly two centuries and are a not-for-profit organisation who design and certify nationally recognised qualifications and awards.

Providing that your personal trainer qualification is awarded by one of the above bodies, then you’re on the right track.

Make your mind up now – don’t make the mistake of enrolling on a cheaper unaccredited course which may leave you with a worthless qualification and unable to obtain public liability and professional indemnity insurance for your PT business. That’s probably not something that you’ve even thought about it this stage, but you should!

What Prior Education Is Needed to Become a Personal Trainer?

If you’re concerned that you don’t have an amazing academic record behind you, you needn’t be.

become a personal trainer online

Many of the courses run under YMCA have no entry requirements for the level 2 certificate in fitness instructing, whereas the equivalent level 2 NCFE course requires just 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A to D).

However, to become a fully qualified personal trainer both YMCA and NCFE require that a level 2 course in fitness instructing has been obtained.

All of which means that there’s no need for your enthusiasm to be dampened. There will be no need for you to spend time on unrelated foundational studies before getting stuck in to your personal training qualification.

Plus, once you have qualified as a personal trainer, you also be qualified to work in a gym as a fitness instructor – expanding your earning potential.

How Much Will It Cost to Become a Qualified Personal Trainer?

Are you sitting down?

Prices of courses run under YMCA range from approximately £3,000 to £4,445. That’s a lot of money, but when you consider that the qualification will open the door to decades of earning potential as a self-employed personal trainer, it starts to look like good value.

But what if you don’t have access to that kind of money, or are unwilling or unable to take on debt to finance the course?

From my research, NCFE courses seem to be cheaper in price than the YMCA courses ranging from around £1,000 to £3,000.

However, if that is still beyond your price range I have found another option which may appeal, so make sure you read to the end of the article and I’ll share this with you.

Can I Become a Certified Personal Trainer Online?


There are a number of training providers who now deliver their courses online. In fact, given the ongoing disruption with regard to the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns and the concern that these could become a regular feature of life in the UK, I would recommend an online course as this has the least risk of suffering disruption.

In general terms, online personal trainer courses are structured so that the theory aspect of the course is delivered online and student assignments are submitted by email or via a dedicated portal.

Once the theory aspect of the course has been completed, the student will go on to complete practical assessments, which usually take place at a designated test center.

How Long Will It Take to Become a Personal Trainer?

Typically, the Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer qualifications are studied consecutively over a two-year period when delivered face to face. Online personal trainer courses can be completed quicker and can also be paced to suit your own lifestyle demands.

Read on to the end of this article to discover an exciting opportunity I’ve unearthed among the affiliate programs I have access to. If, like me, you’re interested in getting the best personal training qualification, at the cheapest price and in the shortest possible time – then you won’t want to miss this.

How Much Can I Earn as a Qualified Personal Trainer?

It depends upon who you listen to answer this question. The UK government National Careers Service website lists the average salary at £14,000 to £22,000. Whereas I found plenty of other sources suggesting up to £30,000 to be a realistic earning potential. get certified as a personal trainer

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that there are some personal trainers who have carved a niche for themselves in specific areas of training, whether it be in support of a specific sport or having become a celebrity personal trainer, and they can earn multiples of these figures.

By my own calculations, based upon working 40 weeks of the year, it would be entirely reasonable to achieve earnings of £30,000 per year.

The other thing to consider is that given the flexibility of being your own boss and the fact that you’ll be doing lots of early morning and evening personal training sessions to accommodate your clients’ work commitments, you’ll have sufficient time during the day for a side-hustle or a regular part-time job.

Will I Be Able to Work Abroad as a Qualified Personal Trainer?

personal trainer cost

If you qualify under YMCA or NCFE you will be able to register as a member of The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) an internationally recognised body.

When doing your own research you may see course providers stating that REPs membership will be an outcome of successfully qualifying as a personal trainer. The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) was an independent public register which provided regulation for instructors and trainers, ensuring that they met the National Occupational Standards set by the health and fitness industry.

However, in 2020 it was announced that REPs would be combined with the CIMSPA Exercise and Fitness Directory, so CIMSPA membership has now replaced REPs.

Like REPs, CIMSPA membership will enable you to work in countries where it is recognised. This includes USA, New Zealand, Australia and most of Europe (see the full list here).

So once you’ve passed your Level 3 personal trainer course, obtained your personal trainer license and registered with CIMSPA, you can work pretty much anywhere you want!

That’s a Lot of Information – Give Me a Summary!

OK – I’ve bombarded you with quite a lot of information, so here’s a table summarising your options:

Step 1Level 2 Certificate in Fitness InstructingLevel 2 Certificate in Fitness Instruction
Step 2Level 3 Certificate in Personal TrainingLevel 3 Certificate In Personal Training
Countries AvailableUSA, New Zealand, Australia and EuropeUSA, New Zealand, Australia and Europe
Prior Qualifications RequiredNone2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A to D) - for Level 2 training
Total Cost of Level 2 & Level 3 Training£3,000 - £4,445From £895 plus £250 for each assesment day
Course Duration610 Hours345 Hours
Earning Potential£14k - £30k£14k - £30k

Which Personal Trainer Course Will I Enroll On?

I’ve already mentioned that in my affiliate network I discovered what I believe to be the best value personal training qualification available in the UK today.

This is an online personal trainer qualification.

What I love about this course is that it bundles the Level 2 and Level 3 NCFE together so that both qualifications can be achieved in approximately a year if you have sufficient time and energy to dedicate to the course.

I also love the low price of the course – currently £895 for both Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications! – and the fact that it’s possible to pay by installments. This means that when the time comes for me to enroll (probably 2023), I will be able to fit it around my existing work commitments and the monthly installments will not dent my cash flow.

Most importantly, as of February 2021, Trust Pilot reports that out of around 580 reviews, this training provider scores an impressive 4.6 out of 5.

The is exciting news for those of you who have been considering a career as a personal trainer. But the best news is that if you click the link below and use the code on the advert, you will be able to claim a contribution to the cost of the course!

Oxbridge Home Learning - Gym Instructor & Personal Trainer

So what are you waiting for?

Take the leap of faith and start working towards your future as a brilliant personal trainer who is making a positive difference in the lives of others.

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