Employed vs Self-Employed Personal Training


After qualifying as a PT following completion of a level 3 pt course, a question that many PTs ask themselves is whether to pursue a career as an employed trainer working for a gym or as a self employed trainer, running their own business.This is ultimately a choice that will not just affect their day to day working life, but also their career development, income trajectory and job security, so it is a decision which shouldn’t be taken lightly.

This article will explore the benefits of being an employed personal trainer as well as some of the challenges. It’ll then delve into the positives and negatives of being a self employed personal trainer. Finally it’ll conclude the article with some considerations you should take into account before making the decision!

Employed Personal Trainers

Benefits of Being an Employee

When trainers choose to work as employees, it generally means that they’re going into employment under contract at a gym. The employed route offers a consistent salary as well as employee benefits such as paid annual leave for holidays and in some cases sick pay and workplace pension.

Employed personal trainers mostly benefit from the stability of a fixed work schedule and the simplicity of having taxes and insurance handled by their employer. As a newly qualified personal trainer, this provides a great opportunity to develop skills in the work function specifically amongst other experienced colleagues, without having to also deal with the stress of running a business! 

Potential Challenges of Employment

Despite the stability it offers, employed personal training definitely has its limitations. As an employee, your income potential is often capped depending on experience or time at that particular gym, and depending on the arrangement at the gym, you may find yourself sharing a significant portion of your earnings with your employer.

In addition to this, employed personal trainers may often be required to carry out tasks that are beyond the duties of personal training, such as cleaning, teaching classes, or supervising other facilities.

Self Employed Personal Trainers

Benefits of being Self Employed

Self employment offers a multitude of benefits for personal trainers who want a bit more control over their careers, including setting your own schedule, choose your own clients, and potentially earning more. You’ll often find self employed personal trainers working anywhere from independent chains to national gym chains, sports team facilities or private studios. As a self employed personal trainer, you’re responsible for your own financial management as well as marketing your services. The self employed PT path requires a more proactive approach for finding leads and onboarding clients, in addition to being aware of self employed business tax laws, and insurance requirements.

Potential Challenges of being Self Employed

The main challenge that personal trainers should be aware of is managing their business’s admin, such as registering with tax authorities either as a sole trader or as a limited company, maintaining financial records, and ensuring compliance with data protection laws. In terms of acquiring business, marketing and branding are crucial. Self employed personal trainers need to do more in order to get business as they must find the potential client, gain access, establish trust and close the deal. In many cases, employed personal trainers on the other hand will either be given clients by the gym, or gain access to potential clients through the gym. 

Making the Right Choice for Yourself

Choosing between employment and self employment as a personal trainer predominantly depends on personal preferences and career goals. Those who prefer a structured environment with less financial uncertainty may find employment more appealing, in addition to newer personal trainers who may want to develop their skills in the industry without having to worry about also running a business. However, those who want more flexibility and higher earning potential may prefer to go for self employment. Whilst there are positives and negatives to both options, you should always consider that everyone is highly individual, and so one may be better for you than the other!


Whether you’re choosing employment for security and growth opportunities within a structured environment or wanting to take on the challenges whilst enjoying the freedoms of self employment, every path is potentially one to having a successful career in personal training. Ultimately, the success of a personal trainer hinges on their dedication to continued improvement and education and the ability to market themselves effectively, whilst also delivering a high quality service which enables and accommodates long lasting client relationships.