04 Sep 2019

Is It Better to be a Self-Employed Personal Trainer or an Employed Personal Trainer?

Personal training

Over the years I have spoken to many people who have entered or thought about joining the fitness industry, and this subject has been in the top five of subjects that were really not considered when studying to become a Personal Trainer or Fitness professional.

I have found that a lot of people do not do their due diligence in regard to their career post-study. Not until they face a rental agreement from a gym and they still really do not 100% grasp of what this entails.

So what are the options for employment within the fitness industry as a Personal Trainer? The two primary options available to you are:

  • Become self-employed by setting up a small business out of an existing gym under a rental agreement, conducting sessions outdoors in parks, or setting your facility up.

  • Become employed either as a part-time or full-time Personal Trainer.

At the present stage in the industry, the pendulum swings heavily toward the majority of trainers working as self-employed.

So what are the Pros and Cons of each employment avenue I hear you ask? Let’s look at each avenue and hopefully this may help in selecting the right path for you in the initial stages of your leap into the fitness industry.

Employed Personal Trainer


  • As an employed trainer, the responsibility of obtaining potential clients, marketing, and all the expenses of setting up and operating a business is not your responsibility. You will be employed to conduct the services of the facility and maintain the client base for which you have been entrusted.

· An employed trainer is entitled to holiday pay, sick pay, and superannuation which is taken care of by the business

· A follow on from the last point is you are highly likely to have a regular income you can rely on

  • If you do not have any business acumen or capital, then employment is a great way to practice the skills you learned during your fitness course. Use this as an opportunity to build an understanding of what is involved in setting up and running a business, if in the future, you would like to work for yourself.


  • As an employed trainer, you will receive a reduced hourly rate compared to a self-employed trainer. For example, if the session rate is $60 for a 30-minute session, you may only be paid half your hourly rate. Example hourly rate = $45 so 30 minute session = $22.50. 

·  Less room for expansion of your income. As your wage is set, the most probable way your income will increase is more hours, not an increase in the hourly rate.

· You may have duties that are part of your employment that you may not like, such as cleaning and maintenance.

· This may be looked at as a pro, but I view it as a con, but your hours may be set. When self-employed, you can set your hours and have the authority to modify them. Whereas when employed, this is less likely to be the case.

  • Do not have a choice in the clients you are given.

Self-Employed Personal Trainer


  • Your hourly rate is higher than an employed trainer

· Room for increasing profits from your business as you expand

· Change your set hours and or modify them when needed

· Select the clients you desire to work with

· Employ a subcontracting trainer when you begin to expand, which increases your profits

· Gain a wealth of knowledge and skills in operating a business and learning what is involved in keeping it a success

  • You are entitled to claim a broader amount of expenses through your business


  • All the risk and reward are on you.

· The expense of setting up a business is your responsibility

· In the initial stages income can be irregular

· You are solely responsible for gaining potential clients

· Liability insurance compared to employed may be a higher cost

· In the initial stages, there are a lot of unpaid hours of work setting up processes, structures and marketing.

· Have to set aside your own superannuation and tax from your weekly income

  • No accrual of annual or sick leave

Get in touch with AIPT today.

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Male trainer with arms crossed inside a gym