21 Jul 2020

Gym Instructor vs. Personal Trainer: What’s the Difference?

Fitness and workout advice

If you’re considering a career in the fitness industry, chances are “gym instructor” and “personal trainer” are terms you’ve encountered countless times already. But are the two jobs interchangeable? Well… no, not really.

Your day-to-day responsibilities can change quite dramatically depending on which of these roles you take on, and one requires more education than the other.

Join us as we explore the difference between gym instructors and personal trainers.

Gym Instructor vs. Personal Trainer: Day to Day

gym personal trainer

A gym instructor’s daily responsibilities typically include:

  • Customer service for gym members

  • Supervising the gym floor and cleaning equipment

  • Advising and correcting members on how to use gym equipment

  • Signing up new members and giving tours to prospective members

  • Organising and implementing fitness programs for individuals and groups

  • General admin and marketing duties (e.g. data entry and managing the gym’s social media).

While gym instructors are there to help everyone, personal trainers are uniquely qualified to provide one-on-one sessions to clients. This means they are less involved in keeping the gym running smoothly and instead focus most of their attention on helping individual gym members achieve their health and wellbeing goals.

The day-to-day life of a personal trainer often includes:

  • Conducting introductory sessions (exploring a new client’s goals, fitness level and previous injuries)

  • Creating personalised plans for clients

  • Meeting clients for one-on-one sessions (sometimes in a gym but not always – personal training can be done in outdoor venues or even at a client’s home)

  • Supporting and encouraging clients on their fitness journey (both physically and emotionally).

A key difference between gym instructors and personal trainers is that the former is accountable to the gym’s whole community, while the latter is accountable to their individual clients.

Gym Instructor vs. Personal Trainer: Requirements

personal trainer

To become a gym instructor, we recommend enrolling in the SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness. This will equip you with all the knowledge and skills to flourish in a gym environment.

Getting qualified as a personal trainer requires you to complete the course above plus one extra step: the SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness. This will prepare you for the extra responsibilities that come with training clients one-on-one and developing fitness plans tailored to their needs and goals.

A great way to advance your journey to becoming a personal trainer is to enrol in our Complete Personal Trainer Program, which combines both certificates into one package.

Gym Instructor vs. Personal Trainer: Salary

The extra education and experience required to become a personal trainer mean these professionals are typically paid slightly more than gym instructors.

These are the average annual salaries for each role in Australia:

  • Gym instructor – $37,500p.a. (data from Sportspeople)

  • Personal trainer – $49,900p.a. (data from PayScale).

Many factors can influence this, though – your own salary could differ from these numbers based on your location, experience level, qualifications, and more.

Whether you want to start off as a gym instructor or advance straight to becoming a personal trainer, AIPT is here to help you turn your career dreams into a reality. View our courses for more information or call us on 1300 616 180 to speak with an advisor about the best pathway for pursuing your ambitions.

You can read about the difference between the SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness and the SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness in this article.

Get in touch with AIPT today.

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Male trainer with arms crossed inside a gym