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4 Steps to Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer

Kelly Smith was like most young moms -- she struggled with her weight after having her second child, but eventually managed to shed the pounds through setting and achieving fitness goals. But the triumph of getting back into her pre-pregnancy weight didn't stop there.

Smith decided to make a career change. Now, as a Certified Personal Trainer, she sets her own schedule and helps others like herself maintain a healthier lifestyle.

"Once I got into shape, I felt empowered and wanted to help others achieve the same success," Smith said. "I've helped my clients gain confidence through weight loss, and this has helped them to excel in their jobs, be better spouses and parents, and truly be happy. I feel like I'm making a difference in people's lives."

The trend of turning a fitness passion into income is one of the reasons the career choice is booming. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, personal trainers and instructors are among the top growing professions, anticipated to increase by 24 percent by 2020.

Individuals like Smith appreciate the career's flexibility, while others are drawn to how easily it fits into their lifestyles.

The time it takes to complete a Certified Personal Training program can vary and is typically customizable based on each individual. That's one of the many reasons Andrea Austin of Minneapolis, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, embarked on this career path.

"Pushing myself to get my certification was beneficial beyond words," Austin said. "Not only was I able to complete the courses quickly with my busy schedule, but the knowledge I gained in preparing for the exam still serves me today."

Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer is the best decision she ever made, Austin added. This mirrors the sentiment of thousands who are moving toward this career.

Online access to the program was another appealing aspect of the certification process, said Austin. NASM, one of the leading organizations for fitness certifications and credentials in the nation, offers the following advice for long-term success in this career:

1. Check your eligibility. Certified personal training is a booming field, and there are standard eligibility requirements to consider before getting started. Most credential programs require candidates to be at least 18 years of age prior to taking the CPT exam.

2. Pass the exam. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it is important to learn as much as possible prior to the exam. Knowledge gained from studying can be used immediately in the gym with clients. Major certification organizations offer practice exams and study workshops, arming future CPTs with a variety of tools and resources to pass the exam.

3. Start working with clients immediately. After passing the exam, begin working with clients right away to reap the benefits of your initial investment. This can mean applying for a job within a fitness club, community center or athletic facility. NASM is the only organization that guarantees job placement within 90 days for any individual completing its CPT e-Instructor Led program.

4. Continue learning. Recertification every two years is necessary for CPTs to remain current on the latest exercise trends, studies and findings. Beyond requirements, continuous education allows CPTs to perform their jobs to the fullest and help clients achieve better results.

To learn more about how to become a Certified Personal Trainer, visit www.BeACPT.com.

"Never before have we experienced such an accelerated demand in this career choice," said Andrew Wyant, president of NASM. "It's ordinary people who have an interest in fitness going after careers as Certified Personal Trainers. They are from all walks of life and drawn to a career that will be relevant for decades to come."