The great thing about being a Personal Training Professional is that your potential for growth within your fitness career path is almost unlimited.
In broad terms, a “Fitness Career Path” could encompass, overlap, or evolve into any of the following:
While there are many differences between the professionals noted above, there are also very many similarities. First, any person that finds themselves in any one of these professions certainly enjoys working with people. In addition, they also all have a passion for serving, coaching, motivating, or healing others.
What is striking to us is how interconnected all of these professionals are. This really lends itself to allowing for fluidity in career growth, no matter where you start out. Because the core foundation for each of these “Movement, Health, & Healing Pros” is to really understand modern human health, it isn’t surprising that there are stories of Group Fitness Instructors becoming Doctors! (true story)
With firsthand experience in the world of fitness, nutrition, and sports-specific training, we’d like to share three key takeaways as it relates to the fluidity and potential in the professional world of “Movement, Health, & Healing Pros”:
The career path of a Physical Therapist is more challenging, more expensive, and has the potential for higher earnings power when compared to the career path of a Personal Trainer. For each individual, it is a personal preference on which route you would take (if any). From a purely financial outlook, according to Salary.com, the average salary range for a Physical Therapist in the United States is $89K – $104K per year. For a Personal Trainer, it ranges from $47K – $80K per year. Clearly, it appears that the Physical Therapist has more earnings potential. However, do not forget that for each of these professionals, your earnings are only limited to the number of clients you see and the value that you charge to your clients.
The above is important. However, the main point that we would like to make is that if you are planning to become a Physical Therapist, you should gain some real-life experience working as a Personal Trainer or Strength & Conditioning Coach. The main reason for this is to gain hands-on training on how to coach, cue, and manage clients. A few of our friends worked for over 5+ years as personal trainers and then eventually went to DPT school to become Physical Therapists. While they were at DPT school, there would be fellow students that had never cued a client or even knew how to demonstrate basic movement patterns. You will also get a test run at how to manage client’s schedules, their changing moods, etc.
We are strong believers that Personal Training can be a solid starting path for GREAT Physical Therapists. If you want to eventually own your own Physical Therapy practice or simply be the best Physical Therapist in your town, you may want to start your career path as a Personal Trainer or Strength & Conditioning Coach.
What is truly great about most of the “Movement, Health, & Healing Pros” noted above is that they all essentially run their own businesses, whether they work for a large corporation or actually do own their business. These professionals have their own clients that they are solely responsible for serving and providing value. It really ends up being “sink or swim”, which is exactly how entrepreneurship is.
These professionals also lend themselves well for creating their own brands, especially in today’s day and age with social media, influencers, digital marketing, etc. This is great for “Movement, Health, & Healing Pros”, as it allows for you to differentiate yourself, find a niche, and grow your business how you want to grow it.
What is also really cool and very entrepreneurial, is that because there is so much overlap in many of these professions, there are always opportunities for side hustles, teaching, consulting, etc. When you become really good at what you do and ultimately master your craft, you are now able to generate additional income streams that still align with your ultimate passion. For example, a Strength & Conditioning Coach could maintain his clients, start nutrition consulting (once obtaining sufficient certifications/training), and also get paid to speak at industry conferences.
Whether you work for an upscale gym/spa, sports facility, yoga studio, or medical center, you are going to cross paths with some pretty amazing clients. That is not to say that you will not also have several bad eggs, but the good most certainly will outweigh the bad.
Because all “Movement, Health, & Healing Pros” work so intimately and frequently with their clients, it isn’t hard to develop great relationships with them. In some cases, a client of yours may teach you something, mentor you, or open your mind to a worldview that you had never been exposed to. In other (more extreme) cases, your client may believe in you so much (more than anyone) that they invest in you so that you can launch the gym, studio, physical therapy practice, or wellness center that you have always dreamed of. This latter example may sound extreme, but we have seen it happen multiple times. Whether big or small, your clients can truly be Life-Changing.
We hope that this article is helpful for any “Movement, Health, & Healing Pro” that is either considering this rewarding career path, just starting out, or a master in their craft already.
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How to Become a Physical Therapist: Your PT Career Path Guide
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