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If you are looking to start a career in fitness and for those already working in the sector, understanding opportunities for career development is an essential undertaking. Career development will keep you challenged and motivated. It’ll help you provide a better service to your clients and will likely result in a better income for you! In this short article, I have highlighted the main career progression pathways now available in the sector – with an emphasis on the qualifications required to work in the specific fields.


There are of course many other Continued Professional Development courses (CPD) that will supplement  your formal education – this is by no means an exhaustive list! When looking at enrolling on a course, always ensure that the course is officially recognised by one of the many bodies that accredit/endorse qualifications (see bracketed bodies), or at the very least, that it is run by well-reputed training providers.


Personal Training (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity - CIMSPA, Register of Exercise Professionals - REPS)

Essential - Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing

Highly recommended - Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (Practitioner)

(Level 2 & 3 Can be studied together as a Personal Training Diploma)

Optional - Kettlebell, Crossfit, Olympic Lifting, Suspended Movement Training, Mobility etc etc CPD



Class/Aerobics Instructor (CIMSPA, REPS)

Essential - Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Exercise to Music)

Optional - Additional CPD from providers such as Les Mills, Clubbercise, Zumba)



Children’s Fitness (CIMSPA, REPS)

Essential - Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Children’s Fitness)

Optional - National Governing Body Qualifications for sports specific training

Essential - Level 1 Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults



Health/Medical Exercise Practitioner (CIMSPA, REPS)

Essential - Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing

Optional - Level 3 Adapting Exercise for Antenatal and Postnatal Clients

Essential - Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral

Recommended - Level 3 Level 3 Award in Adapting Exercise For Independently Active Older Adults

Recommended - Level 3 Award in Programming and Supervising Exercise for Disabled Clients

Essential in order to work with specific population groups - Level 4 certificates in specialist areas including:

  • Lower back pain

  • Obesity and diabetes

  • Cancer (Canrehab)

  • Cardiovascular disease (BACPR)

  • Mental health (Wright Foundation)


Sports Therapist (CIMSPA, REPS, The Association for Soft Tissue Therapists – SMA)

Essential - Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage Therapy

Optional - Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy

Optional - BSc Massage Therapy


Sports Strength and Conditioning (CIMSPA/United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association – UKSCA)

Essential - Level 2 Certificate in the Foundations of Strength and Conditioning (Trainer)

Optional - S & C Coach (Vocational qualification, BSc, MSc in S & C)


Essential to work in elite sport - Accredited S & C Coach – Chartered Member (UKSCA Accreditation)

Optional to work in elite sport - Accredited S & C Coach – Chartered Fellow (Must be a chartered member and show a significant contribution to S & C development)

Recommended to work in elite sport - BSc/MSc Strength and Conditioning


Nutritionist (British Association of Nutritional Therapists – BANT, Association for Nutrition – AfN, Health and Care Professions Council – HCPC, British Dietetic Association – BDA)

Essential - BSc Nutrition

Essential - BSc Dietetics

essential - BSc nutritional Therapy

(only a Dieticician or a nutritional therapist are trained in clinical practice to give one-on-one personal health advice)

Of course - it's not just about qualification... getting experience is also important!

If you have any specific questions about your career pathway, please feel free to get in touch with us!

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