For most, the main reason for getting their personal training certification is to get a job and start a career. However, most newly-certified trainers have a “what now?” moment after passing the test and aren’t sure how to land their first job.

The first job can determine your trajectory and momentum early on in your career. It may be the perfect facility full of mentors who are excited to help drive your growth, or it can be a bad experience with poor management that shakes your confidence. Therefore, it’s important to approach the process with a proven method of success.

Read on to learn the key elements to landing your first job as a trainer so you can hit the ground running and begin your career the right way.

Start Early

One of the biggest mistakes new personal trainers make when trying to get their first job is waiting until they need it. Now, that might sound silly, but waiting until you’re certified or when you need a job right away can put you at a disadvantage. You may be able to find a job quickly, but it’s unlikely that it will be the one you want.

Your best bet is to start looking for a job early, even before you’re certified. Start by checking out the gyms or small studios in the area and get a feel for the different types of environments they have. Are the trainers fun to be around? Do the gym members reflect the type of people you want to work with? Is it a place that will force you to grow? Does it seem like a laid-back workplace or is it very energetic or high stress?

By starting your search early, you’ll be able to identify the type of place that fits your personality and start integrating yourself in the culture and building relationships with the staff and members.

Do Your Homework

Different facilities prefer or require their personal trainers to have specific certifications or education in order to get hired. So, part of your research should include finding out which requirements your ideal workplace has. Most gyms require at least a nationally recognized personal training certification, but some may even go as far to only accept those from specific organizations. You’ll want to ensure that you are working towards one of the 3-4 most widely accepted certifications such as NASM, which we prepare students for at the Axiom Academy.

While a certification is just the baseline for getting a job, you may want to connect with the staff at the facility you’re interested in to see if there are other educational preferences. For example, a gym that trains a lot of athletes or sports teams may prefer their trainers to have the Performance Enhancement Specialist certification or a certain amount of experience in that type of setting.

By knowing that, you could start studying for that credential, shadowing at a performance facility, and separate yourself from other possible applicants when it’s interview time.

Build Relationships

When it comes to getting a job in the fitness industry, one of the biggest assets a trainer has is their network and the relationships that they’ve built. And, if you’re just getting started, it may be even more important. Take initiative by spending time at the gym you want to work at and making some friends.

If the idea of talking to new people or building relationships makes you nervous, don’t fret. There are some easy ways to get the ball rolling. The simplest might be just getting a membership at the gym you want to work at. By getting to work out in classes with other members or being coached by the facility’s trainers, you’ll be able to have organic conversations and build authentic bonds.

If that doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, you could always try to land a job at the front desk while obtaining your certification and get to know people that way. You’ll quickly become a fixture in the gym and be able to make a smooth transition to becoming a trainer as soon as your certification is complete.

Nail The Interview

One of the biggest complaints that gym owners and managers have is what they perceive to be a lack of quality personal training applicants. While this may or may not be true, the reason they feel this way is because a trainer can have a great education but fall short on their ability to have the personality that the hiring manager may be looking for. Here’s a little secret though, most hiring managers don’t really know what they want, or they can’t articulate it. Instead, they just listen to their gut when hiring a trainer.

Fortunately, there are some strategies that can be employed that will make you seem like a good choice. First, if you’ve done a good job building relationships with the members and staff, you can discuss that a bit which will already put you in good standing. Second, make it clear that you’re coachable and excited to learn and improve your skills in areas that other trainers typically shy away from like sales or marketing.

Gym owners and managers are ultimately looking for people that are going to make their lives easier. If you can demonstrate that you will be a great addition to the team and are proactive, you’ll be the easy choice for the position.


Landing your first job as a trainer can be a little intimidating and challenging but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about taking action faster and more consistently than your peers if you want to accelerate your experience curve and build momentum as a new fitness pro. By starting early, doing your homework, and building relationships you’ll be able to put yourself far ahead of the competition.

Want to learn first-hand how to become a successful trainer from industry veterans? Click here to learn more about our hands-on personal training certification prep course.