Personal Trainer Salary Guide

Strength specialist instructing proper kettlebell swing technique.

Quite a few variables are associated with determining a personal trainer’s salary. At the top of this list is your track record and credibility. Personal trainers with a steady and well-established work history tend to demand a higher pay rate compared to those who are just getting started.

Personal referrals can play a huge role in expanding your client base, and as the interest for your services gains momentum, your income potential will grow. Applying the basic business principle of supply and demand, when more people want to hire you, it puts you in the position to increase the price of your services.

What You Can Expect To Make

Typically, personal trainers bill per hour or by the session. Training sessions usually last an hour for most clients. In some cases a high-profile client or professional athlete will want you to dedicate a few hours or even days at a time just to them, and you can charge accordingly. Furthermore, some trainers charge more during peak hours, such as early mornings and evenings, and weekends.

According to a 2013 report published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the average rate is approximately $25 an hour or just over $52,000 annually for full-time trainers holding their ACE CPT certification.

Basically, how much you make boils down to the amount of time you’re able to devote to training and the number of clients you’re able to take on. Experienced trainers that are self-employed with a full book of clients can earn over $140,000 annually – in some cases even without having a college degree. However, the number of trainers that break into the six-figure mark is not the majority.

How Much Do Personal Trainers Make at Chain Gyms and Fitness Centers?

Paying Your Dues

It’s a common rite of passage for personal trainers to start out working at commercial fitness centers or gym chains. You’ll start out “working the floor”, in most cases getting paid close to minimum wage, while you try to get gym members to hire you for your services or have them assigned to you. You’re commission will be a percentage of the total fee your client pays the facility per session.

Commission usually ranges from 30% – 60% depending on your experience, education and credentials. If you’re allowed to train clients that aren’t members of the fitness facility, the percentage may drop to as low as 15% – 20%.

The following table is a general guideline to how much personal trainers make at several popular gym and fitness chains. Full credit is given to Justin Pierce of the Bodybuilding.com forum for making this research available.

Pay Rates at 5 Popular Gym Chains

Please note rates may vary according to location and other circumstances. These figures are meant to give a general idea of what you can expect to earn at these places.

GymHourly Session WageHourly Floor Wage

Equinox
$23.00 - $28.00 at Tier I

$31.50 - $36.50 at Tier II

$39.00 - $44.00 at Tier III

Around $60.00 at Tier IV

$8.00


Bally Total Fitness
$12.94 - $17.00 at Level 1

$15.54 - $20.75 at Level 2

$24.94 - $29.10 at Level 3

$34.40 at Level 4

$39.10 at Level 5


Minimum wage
Gold's Gym$22.75 - $35.00
(No official tier system)
$8.00 - $8.50

24 Hour Fitness
$13.50 at CPT 1

$16.00 at CPT 2

$18.50 at CPT 3

$20.50 at EPT/Master

$7.25 - $9.50
LA Fitness$12.00 - $15.00
(No official tier system)
$0.00

Personal Trainer Salaries by State and Region

Salary Description and Collection Methods

Since personal trainers can work for fitness centers and gyms (company-employed), work for themselves (self-employed) or a combination of both, it is difficult to get an accurate overall estimate of how much they make.

The salary figures reported by online resources such as Salary.com and BLS.gov only represent data for company-employed PTs. This is because they only survey establishments that hire employees and don’t include independent contractors or those that work for themselves. As a result, this leaves out salary information for trainers that are either partially or fully self-employed.


Given that self-employed trainers have the potential to make significantly more money than their company-employed peers, the following figures may seem on the low end for some. So, please keep in mind all the figures in this section represent NON SELF-EMPLOYED salaries.

Salary.com

Salary information from Salary.com is provided on a percentile scale, with the column labeled ‘Lowest 10%’ being the 10th percentile and below, ‘Median’ being the 50th percentile and ‘Top 10%’ being the 90th percentile and above. According to the Salary.com website, Certified Compensation Professionals from this company collect their data from numerous human resource departments of employers that hire personal trainers in each state.

BLS.gov

Average salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) represents the mean salary of both personal trainers and group fitness instructors collectively. Since group instructors tend to earn less than personal trainers, please take this into consideration when viewing information under the ‘BLS.gov’ column as these figures are lower than they should be for PTs alone. This government agency collects their wage data using various compensation, occupational employment and population surveys.

U.S. National Salary for Personal Trainers

Salary.com (2015)BLS.gov (2014)
Lowest 10%Median SalaryTop 10%Average Salary
≤ $27,300$55,158$79,217 +$39,410

Personal Trainer Salaries for States AL – MS

StateSalary.com (2014)BLS.gov (2014)
Lowest 10%Median SalaryTop 10%Average Salary
Alabama≤ $21,896$47,653$63,551 +$34,630
Alaska≤ $29,173$58,956$84,676 +$34,890
Arizona≤ $25,437$51,407$73,833 +$38,730
Arkansas≤ $23,218$46,922$67,392 +$23,830
California≤ $29,189$58,989$84,724 +$49,280
Colorado≤ $26,339$53,844$76,450 +$42,180
Connecticut≤ $28,909$58,424$83,912 +$48,200
Delaware≤ $28,946$58,499$84,019 +$32,890
Washington DC≤ $29,017$58,641$84,223 +$42,800
Florida≤ $25,697$51,933$74,588 +$34,580
Georgia≤ $24,272$49,052$70,451 +$39,450
Hawaii≤ $29,017$58,641$84,223 +$43,060
Idaho≤ $24,559$49,626$71,286 +$32,330
Illinois≤ $27,096$54,759$78,648 +$35,380
Indiana≤ $24,834$50,188$72,082 +$30,500
Iowa≤ $23,188$46,861$67,304 +$24,970
Kansas≤ $25,637$51,811$74,414 +$33,720
Kentucky≤ $25,717$51,973$74,647 +$34,980
Louisiana≤ $24,339$49,187$70,645 +$30,960
Maine≤ $25,631$47,954$74,395 +$36,950
Maryland≤ $28,334$57,262$82,242 +$39,220
Massachusetts≤ $28,923$58,451$83,951 +$47,260
Michigan≤ $26,581$53,718$77,152 +$33,040
Minnesota≤ $26,514$53,583$76,958 +$36,380
Mississippi≤ $22,876$46,230$66,398 +$30,190

Personal Trainer Salaries for States MO – WY

StateSalary.com (2014)BLS.gov (2014)
Lowest 10%Median SalaryTop 10%Average Salary
Missouri≤ $25,604$51,744$74,317 +$29,240
Montana≤ $20,170$40,762$58,544 +$34,540
Nebraska≤ $22,126$44,715$64,223 +$33,290
Nevada≤ $26,801$54,164$77,794 +$33,420
New Hampshire≤ $28,133$56,856$81,659 +$36,530
New Jersey≤ $30,389$61,413$88,205 +$49,030
New Mexico≤ $23,456$47,402$68,082 +$32,410
New York≤ $27,183$54,935$78,901 +$54,050
North Carolina≤ $25,226$50,981$73,578 +$33,230
North Dakota≤ $23,355$47,199$67,790 +$27,780
Ohio≤ $25,958$52,460$75,346 +$26,770
Oklahoma≤ $24,161$48,828$70,130 +$34,560
Oregon≤ $24,574$49,663$71,328 +$40,740
Pennsylvania≤ $26,569$53,694$77,118 +$31,490
Rhode Island≤ $27,785$56,152$80,649 +$35,000
South Carolina≤ $24,749$50,017$71,837 +$32,620
South Dakota≤ $20,753$41,942$60,238 +$28,080
Tennessee≤ $25,042$50,605$72,685 +$33,210
Texas≤ $25,757$52,055$74,763 +$42,170
Utah≤ $25,149$50,824$72,996 +$39,140
Vermont≤ $25,644$51,825$74,433 +$38,970
Virginia≤ $26,400$53,353$76,628 +$42,490
Washington≤ $27,043$54,652$78,493 +$40,790
West Virginia≤ $23,327$47,144$67,710 +$31,520
Wisconsin≤ $25,343$51,216$73,559 +$31,250
Wyoming≤ $23,609$47,713$68,528 +$27,040

Self-Employed Personal Trainers Earn More

The ultimate goal for many personal trainers who go into this as a career is to become completely self-employed, on a full-time schedule. This involves gradually acquiring your own client base, while working less at a fitness facility so you don’t have to split the commission.




While working at the gym provides great experience and arguably a necessary place to launch your career, again your objective (if you truly want to maximize your earning potential) should be to run your own facility (i.e. gym, studio, warehouse, etc.) and/or to train clients at their house or apartment. The pay off can mean the difference between making a part-time versus full-time income or below-average vs. high income.

For example, if you get a client that you initially started training through a gym chain to independently sign on with you, it can be a win-win situation for both parties. Just scale up your client base and you’re in business!

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