Fitness instructor

health and fitness instructor personal trainer
Sport and leisure

Career outlook for fitness instructor

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would lead people in exercise activities and advise them on healthy eating. You’d motivate and inspire them to get fitter and healthier.

You’d organise group and individual exercise programmes for your clients. You could offer a range of activities or specialise in a particular one, such as:

  • Keep fit
  • Aquacise (exercise in water)
  • Weight training
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

You might also work with specific groups of people such as older adults, children, people with disabilities or people referred by doctors.

You would:

  • Assess a person’s fitness and ask them about their goals
  • Show people the health club facilities
  • Demonstrate exercise activities
  • Show people how to use exercise machines and free weights properly
  • Make sure people exercise safely and effectively
  • Lead group exercise classes, like circuit training, aerobics or spinning
  • Create personal exercise programmes
  • Advise people about healthy eating and lifestyles

You’d be outgoing and friendly to encourage people, who may not be used to exercise, to enjoy it and keep on coming to the training sessions.

As well as being healthy and fit yourself, you’d know about nutrition and healthy diets. A responsible attitude to health and safety is important.

In small health and fitness clubs you may carry out routine duties, such as working at reception and the swimming pool, and doing health and safety checks.

Working conditions


As a full-time fitness instructor, you would usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, often on a shift or rota basis covering early mornings, evenings and weekends. Many instructors work part-time or freelance (self-employed).


You could work in gyms, health clubs or leisure centres. If you are self-employed, you may also run classes in places like school halls or community centres.


If you run classes in the community you you will need to travel locally.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Positive attitude
  • Resilience
  • Building relationships
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Empathising
  • Developing a plan
  • Time management
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5.

Many applicants have a relevant sports, fitness or coaching HNC/HND (SCQF level 7/8) or a degree (SCQF 9/10).  

You could get into this job through a Modern Apprenticeship in Active Learning, Leisure and Wellbeing (SCQF Level 5/6).

To enter an HNC or HND course usually requires National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and at least three Highers. 

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • physical education
  • science subjects in particular biology, human biology and chemistry
  • Health and food technologies

You will also need

  • To pass a fitness test for entry to some courses and jobs.
  • A First Aid Certificate, which includes a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate, for some roles
  • Lifeguard qualifications, for some roles.

It is recommended that once you are qualified you join the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMPSA)

Helpful to have

Recognised work-based qualifications in fitness instruction such as Instructing Exercise and Fitness at (SVQ level 2)

Qualifications that show skills in health, fitness and working with others such as the Sports Leaders UK Youth Award or Skills for Work Sports and Recreation (SCQF level 4/5)