How Old Do You Have To Be To Become A Personal Trainer?

So you love fitness and you’re heavily considering taking it up as a career. First off, great choice, I loved every second of being a personal trainer and I think you will too.

If you’re going to work as a personal trainer in a gym, you’ll need to be certified, but how old do you have to be to get your personal training certification?

In this article, we’ll be answering exactly that question and a whole lot more.

Sound good?

let’s go…

Here’s a sneak peek of what we’ll be covering in this article

  • What the minimum legal age to become a personal trainer is
  • Is it possible to work as a PT before this age?
  • What the best age to become a PT is
  • Whether there is an age limit to being a personal trainer

These are just a few of the points we’ll be covering today, by the end of the article you will have a full understanding of exactly what age you can apply to become a personal trainer and why starting at a young age could put you at a huge advantage, so keep reading!

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In a nutshell

In order to gain a personal trainer certification, you will need to be at least 16 years old and have parental permission. However, for a gym chain to hire you as a personal trainer, you will need to be 18 years old. This is because most insurance policies will not cover anyone under 18 years old.

What is the minimum age requirement to get certified as a personal trainer?

Each examination board will have its own minimum requirements in terms of age to become certified, however, the most common age for a gym to consider hiring you as a personal trainer is 18 years old.

Some organizations may let you begin your training at sixteen, and you will also need to have parental consent in order to do this, but most gyms still would not want to hire anyone under the age of 18 for reasons we will get into shortly.

In the UK, you are usually not required to have a certain degree or certification before you start training for a personal training certification, in fact as many UK providers allow you to train at 16, it’s often a perfect option for school leavers who did not decide to go onto higher education.

In the US, however, most companies will want you to have some sort of degree or higher-education certification in order to begin your studies with them. As these qualifications require several years to obtain, by the time you have earned it, you are usually aligned with the gym chain’s age requirements.

How old to be a freelance trainer?

We’ve discussed above how old you need to be in order to work as a personal trainer in a commercial gym, but what if you don’t plan on ever doing that? What if you don’t even plan on getting certified, and prefer the idea of going it alone as a fully self-employed, freelance trainer?

Well, I have bad news for you, whilst you still could of course go down this route (it’s completely your choice of course), I would very strongly advise against it.

Being uncertified means you will lack the knowledge deemed necessary to keep your clients safe, such as first aid training, exercise instruction assessments, and safe and effective program design.

That’s just the start of your problems too, it gets worse when we look into the fact that missing a certification will hurt your credibility and potentially make it harder to pick up clients, you also won’t get insured, which means if someone gets hurt and it’s your fault, you could lose everything you own.

More on this later.

Can you work in a gym as a personal trainer at 16?

As a personal trainer? probably not. While most gyms would understand that many training providers allow students to begin their studies at 16 years old, they will still not allow a person who has qualified at that age to work in a gym as a personal trainer until they are eighteen.

They may, however, allow you to work as an intern whilst shadowing a trainer, or to work in another capacity in the club, such as a gym instructor. Much as this may be disappointing to some, it’s a really great way of getting to know your way around a gym and having the chance to ask personal trainers as many questions as you possibly can.

The advice you can get from these guys is priceless, and it’s something I wish I had the opportunity to do before I was thrust into the dog-eat-dog world of personal training. It’s tough out there, so any way you can find to gently ease yourself into the role, such as working in the fitness team is always a great idea!

Do all gyms have the same age requirements?

Surprisingly, no, not all gyms do have the same age requirements for you to be able to work as a trainer with them. Whilst most chain gyms will stick to the rule of 18 years old (as a minimum) for their PTs, smaller clubs or even some small training studios will allow people as young as 16 to work as personal trainers.

On top of the insurance issues we have already briefly looked into, larger gyms may have concerns about the level of maturity they expect from a 16-year-old when compared to an 18-year-old, and may not feel them “ready” to work in such a demanding and important role. After all, the safety of their gym members is in the hands of their PTs, so they will want someone they feel they can trust to be mature enough to be up to the task.

There is also the argument that a 16-year-old may be more concerned with their social lives and getting hammered at the weekends, and so aren’t exactly putting their clients at the forefront of their minds most of the time. I can’t say I particularly agree with this idea though, as I think those were my main concerns up until my early 20s, but maybe that’s just me?

What is a good age to become a personal trainer?

Whilst there is no age limit to becoming a personal trainer, and it’s a fantastic career to get into at any point in your life, starting when you’re young certainly has its advantages.

Being a full-time trainer can be very tiring, you’ll be working long hours and you’ll be physically active for nearly the entire day, doing this when you’re older is by no means easy.

A great age to start would be as soon as you are allowed to begin training people at the age of 18, you’ll have a lot of free time on your hands, and your youth will certainly help you work those long days much more easily than if you were older.

Much as it may not seem fair, older trainers tend to get looked over by some gym members in favor of a younger trainer, this may be because they have the shape and body prospective clients are looking for, so in a sense, it’s the younger trainers “marketing” that helps them out here. That’s not to say that an older trainer can’t be in great shape, but it just tends to be that younger folk are (sometimes) in slightly better shape.

There are two exceptions to this however when being an older trainer is to your advantage.

When people are looking for an expert in their field, they will tend to look towards an older trainer, as they are often thought of as having more experience than the younger trainers.

It’s also true that some people tend to prefer working with people in their own age groups, as they may feel more comfortable with them and they assume that the trainer will be able to relate to how much harder it is to train when you are older, and how people’s lifestyles change as they age too.

Why are there age requirements?

I’ve alluded to there being specific reasons throughout this article as to why most gyms won’t hire anyone under the age of 18 to work in their facilities, and the reason for this is simple. Very rarely will anyone under the age of 18 be accepted by an insurance policy that covers the rest of the gym staff.

This means if you’re training a client and something goes wrong and they get hurt, the gym would be liable for the full cost of the claim the member made. Injuries in gyms can be serious, and the sums that insurance companies could ask for can be huge.

As I said, there are gyms that don’t have these rules and will still allow you to work as a trainer under their roof without being covered by insurance, but if this is the case, I would be very careful to make sure you are fully covered by your own insurance. The last thing you want is for that huge medical bill to come directly out of your own bank balance!

Is there a limit to how old a personal trainer can be?

Absolutely not, whilst I have stated that there are benefits to being young in this career, I have also said that there are distinct advantages to being older too.

It’s very common for people to leave their careers and move into personal training at a later point in their life. They are usually looking for a more interesting or physical role, and if exercise is something they have loved for years, they may decide it’s time to give being a trainer a go.

This in itself can have its advantages, as when speaking to people on the gym floor, their story will be far more relatable to the age groups that they will be targeting.

Remember that the average age bracket of someone who takes up personal training is between 40-50 years old, and there are a lot of these guys that would much prefer to work with someone their own age who (they feel) can understand them at their point in life.

People in these age brackets may also be more likely to suffer from lower back pain and other ailments that younger people aren’t as aware of personally. The rapport that can be built upon having an understanding of what these limitations feel like can be very strong, and building rapport is a key component of picking up new clients.

What is the average age of a personal trainer?

The average age of a personal trainer in the United Kingdom is 38 years old, with 65% of those being male and 35% being female. Whilst many people would consider personal training a younger person’s career, this is clearly not the case.

An answer as to why the average age of a personal trainer is 38, might be that the drop-out (turnover) rate for newly qualified trainers is an astonishing 80-90%, meaning the majority of the younger trainers will have quit the profession within the first year of qualifying.

The people left behind after all the younger people have dropped out are the trainers who have made it long enough in the profession to have established a strong and reliable client base, which takes considerable time. This would easily explain why the average age of a personal trainer may be higher than you may have expected.


I really hope that today’s article has given you some insight into how old you have to be to become a personal trainer, and how there are advantages to starting at any point in life. Remember, even though the number of newly qualified trainers is pretty high, that’s not to say that you cannot overcome the odds, and likewise, if you’re an older adult looking to start a new career in something you’re passionate about, there is no reason why you can excel either.

Whatever age you’re looking to get into personal training, I wish you the best of luck in your career, it’s tough, but it’s also incredibly rewarding, and I think you’ll love every second of it.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Go get ’em!

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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