Becoming a personal trainer – what’s involved in the level 3 personal trainer qualification?

Becoming a personal trainer - what's involved in the level 3 personal trainer qualification?

July 21, 2023

You may think that becoming a personal trainer is a relatively straightforward affair: get some kit, get the right knowledge, get some clients and away you go. But if you want to train people professionally, there’s much more to it than that.

If you want to do the job as a long-term career option, then you need to get yourself qualified to level 3 personal trainer level. This makes sure that you are compliant with the Government-backed requirements set out by CIMSPA, which stands for the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. It’s the standard that all good employers will be looking for when hiring personal trainers, so getting the qualification is an essential first step.

This guide will tell you all you need to know about becoming a CIMSPA level 3 personal trainer: what you need to do to prepare for the course, what the course involves, and how long it will take you to complete it.

What do I need to do before taking the level 3 personal trainer course?

If you’re thinking that the level 3 personal trainer course is preceded by levels 1 and 2, then you’d be right: you should make sure you get the first two levels done before you explore opportunities here. Typical level 2 qualifications to take before attempting level 3 include (and are not necessarily limited to): the Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym); the Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness; and the Diploma in Health, Fitness and Exercise Instruction.

It’s important to assess courses from different providers carefully, because there isn’t a fixed curriculum and not every course will be exactly the same. If there are certain skills or techniques that you want to gain, or to pursue as a specialism in the long-term, then look out for them in course descriptions when you do your research.

One thing that does remain the same, however, is how the courses adhere to CIMSPA’s professional standards. Each course description should set out in detail the skills and knowledge that you will need to conduct your job at a professional level.

What does the level 3 personal trainer course involve?

The level 3 personal trainer course is detailed and brings together many key skills and attributes that you’ll need for the profession long-term. These generally include:

  • Biology: you’ll learn more about the specifics of physiology and anatomy that are relevant to personal training
  • Nutrition: you’ll develop a detailed, up-to-date knowledge of how food and drink affects health, fitness, exercise and performance
  • Healthcare: a working knowledge of the external factors that can affect the fitness and wellbeing of clients, including their general lifestyle and any medical factors
  • Communication: how to deliver effective client consultations, and educate clients on how to live healthy lives and change their behaviours to make improvements

 Planning: how to devise training sessions and plans, either for a group or tailored to the needs of an individual, across a range of different types of training and environments

 Administration: understanding the responsibilities from a personal trainer, including legal, ethical and professional, as well as the basics of starting and running a self-employed personal training business

 Self-improvement: how to evaluate your own performance and progression in an objective way, and how to identify areas and ways to make your own improvements

What are the next steps after the level 3 personal trainer course?

Aside from the ability to secure an excellent personal training job, the level 3 personal trainer qualification can allow you to take your education even further.

For example, you could explore level 3 diplomas in particular activities such as Pilates and yoga; advanced apprenticeships in Exercise and Fitness; or go up to level 4 for some highly specialised qualifications. It also makes you more able to explore related practices such as sports massage, which can help you expand your skill base and broaden your appeal (which can be especially helpful if you intend to work self-employed.

How long will it take me and can I do it remotely?

There are several different ways to complete the level 3 personal trainer course. Which is best for you depends on your financial wherewithal and how much time you have available to devote to the learning process. The courses can be operated by colleges, and also by private training providers that specialise in the health and fitness sector.

Some providers offer an intensive course where you devote all your time and energy to learning, often on a residential basis where you’ll stay at a venue with similar trainees. These normally run over three or four working weeks (you’ll normally get the weekends off) and can cost over £1000 but can help you get the qualification in the shortest amount of time.

More common is to get the qualification in tandem with work. If you’ve already completed levels 1 and 2, then you’ll be in a position to do some gym instruction work and be generating some income. You can use some of this money to pay for your level 3 personal trainer course and get qualified over a few months; this makes it more of a natural progression over time.

Because personal training is a hands-on job, it isn’t really appropriate to try and get the course done from home, as you’ll need the real-world experience to truly understand the subject matter. And in any case, personal training is generally an out-and-about job that only works remotely if you’re an experience trainer offering sessions virtually.

Can I become a personal trainer without a level 3 qualification?

The short answer is no. To get any type of decent job with a reputable health and fitness company, or to attract a viable number of clients if you’re self-employed, then the CIMSPA level 3 personal trainer qualification is the expected basic standard that you’ll need.

The good news, however, is that it can act as a gateway to a much wider range of career opportunities. Many personal trainers use the qualification as a springboard to explore specialist niches in the industry, whether working with the NHS or private healthcare provider in rehabilitation, or providing training services to celebrities and high net worth individuals.

So, while you might feel that the level 3 personal trainer course is a lengthy and expensive undertaking, it should prove to be a worthwhile investment in the long run. Personal trainers are always in demand, even in times of economic uncertainty, so getting the qualification can even help you gain some career and job security.

Get personal trainer insurance with Protectivity

Once you’re a qualified level 3 personal trainer, you’ll be a highly proficient individual who will know the profession in detail, and will understand what to do and what not to do. However, nobody is perfect, and mistakes and accidents can easily still happen.

You might suffer an injury while working, or a client might get injured as a result of your training or advice. In the case of the latter, or damage to property, you may be liable for a compensation claim being made against you. If the claim is successful, the bill could run into the thousands and cause serious damage to your personal finances.

The only way to protect yourself against this serious financial risk is to ensure that you have comprehensive personal trainer insurance coverage in place. Protectivity’s policies are specifically designed with the needs of a level 3 personal trainer in mind. We can cover you against any claim; any loss of earnings if you’re injured and unable to work; and against any loss, damage or theft of your equipment. We can also help you with employer’s liability insurance if your business grows to the point where you need to hire other people.

Take two minutes today to have a closer look at our affordable, flexible personal trainer insurance policies.