Have you decided to earn a living working as a personal trainer? Are you seeking a career in the rewarding fitness sector?
If so, you will have to gain a personal trainer certification which will allow you to work as a PT in the United Kingdom (and abroad). But how long does it take to become one?
In this article, I will try to answer that not-so-straightforward question as clearly as possible.
There are several factors that determine the duration of your training process. They may increase the length of the process. These factors are the format of the course, the provider you choose, your personal approach, and then, certification process which is the only factor beyond your control.
This is the first and most important factor that determines the length of your training to become a personal trainer. By course format I mean the way you plan to study for your certification.
Just to remind you at this point that to complete your personal trainer diploma course you will need to complete Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer courses. Usually they are sold as a package and available in three different formats: full-time, part-time or online (also known as a blended one).
Choosing a full-time format for your course will be the fastest route to becoming a certified personal trainer. This is because the whole curriculum is taught in a matter of weeks. For example, in the United Kingdom, a regular full-time course to will take no more than 5-6 weeks.
Course providers usually call their full-time courses a fast-track qualification, which means that all the modules of the course are taught in the shortest time frame possible. Exams are done on the last day of Level 2 and 3 courses. If you are successful with your final assessments, you typically receive your personal trainer certificate after two weeks of your course completion date. All this, however, may be influenced by other factors listed in my article.
A part-time course at any training centre will require a longer period to complete, because this is usually a weekend-based study (some training centers offer also weekday part-time courses). The curriculum is spread out on several weekends, cumulating to several months of study in total. The number of months involved varies from one course provider to the other and depends on how the course is structured.
Typically, you will need one weekend for your Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification and come back for your practical and theory assessments the weekend after. Then you will dedicate 3 weekends (usually one weekend each month) towards your Level 3 qualification. Then, just like with your Level 2 course, you will have to complete assessments for Level 3 qualifications. The whole process takes about 5 months on average.
Online study might last between 12 to 24 months depending largely on the course provider or the pattern of study you pick. If you choose to go on a faster pace with your online study, then you might even end up completing your study before those enrolled in part-time study. From my experience, however, the online/blended students are the ones taking the longest time to complete qualifications.
The curriculum of course providers doesn’t differ much from one training centre to the other. It is due to a fact that most of the UK providers follow curriculum of one of the major awarding bodies like YMCA Awards or Active IQ. Key differences will be in the way provider laid out the course, student support it provides and admin side of the business.
The admin department of the course provider can easily add to the duration of your education and certification. This might involve issues relating to the time it takes your provider to process your certificate from the awarding body it is affiliated to. Usually, it could take a whole month to finally process your certificate after you have completed the course, although most of the providers claim it takes no more than two weeks. Recent introduction of electronic certificates should significantly speed up whole process.
Still on administrative issues, you should realize that the school will need time to go through your course work. Effective communication between you and the course provider is the key here.
All these admin tasks and the way it is handled will determine how long it will take to start your course and finally get your personal training certification. Put it shortly – any admin issues will slow you down.
The time it will take to complete your course and launch your career as a personal trainer, depends also on your personal approach to the course. If you are serious about getting trained and certified then you should finish your course within the time frame stipulated.
Lack of self-discipline can lead to delayed submission of course work. There is also a probability of failing your exams, if you haven’t prepared yourself accordingly. Other wrong things can happen that would add to the number of weeks spent on the course. A positive personal approach is needed to ensure that you become a qualified fitness instructor within the duration the provider has assigned for the program.
There are other factors that could add to the duration of course, that is from the time you started the training to the time you get your certificate. I mentioned earlier that most of course providers need to get certificate from awarding bodies. The providers will have to initiate a process with the awarding bodies to produce your certificate.
The time-frame required for your qualification award to be ready depends solely on the awarding body. It does not depend on the course provider.
Awarding body receives a paperwork from your course provider and then have to verify it (check if the students met all requirements etc.). The process will take about two weeks from the day you passed your personal trainer exam. Luckily, most of the course providers may issue you a temporary certificate which allows you to seek an employment within fitness industry even before you receive the original diploma.
Focus on choosing the right course provider because if you happen to choose the wrong training centre, your training might take months, most of it due to admin issues. Go for a fast-track course if you want to finish within the shortest time possible.