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Job: Personal trainer

The Role: Personal trainers help individuals or small groups of people improve their health and fitness levels through targeted exercise routines. They're hired to come up with a fitness plan that meets their client's goals, as well as to help motivate them to work out on a regular basis. Personal trainers can also offer advice on nutrition and can sometimes serve as amateur psychologists for clients who like to discuss their personal and professional problems while working out. "It's a social setting … there's a lot of conversation," says Greg Hetherington, a personal trainer, former Canadian Football League player and founder of Fuel Training Club in downtown Toronto.

Salary: The money starts at about $20 per hour for trainers hired on staff by fitness clubs and can increase to more than $100 per hour for those with their own personal training business. Some trainers who work with celebrities or professional athletes can earn hourly rates closer to what lawyers charge, up to about $400 an hour.

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Education: There is no educational requirement to become a personal trainer. That said, some of the more successful trainers have a post secondary degree in a health-related field or a personal training certificate. There are various types of certificates people can obtain and they're not regulated by the government. Mr. Hetherington, who has been a personal trainer for eight years, has a degree in Kinesiology from McGill University and last year obtained a Darby Training Systems certification.

Job prospects: It's an easy career to get into because of the low education requirements, but that also means there's a lot of competition. There is greater demand in more affluent neighbourhoods in larger urban centres, where people can better afford to hire a trainer.

Challenges: Personal trainers are always on their feet and on the go. "As stimulating as it can be, sometimes it's nice to sit down behind a computer and relax and do something less physically intense," says Mr. Hetherington. Personal trainers also need to be alert at all times because they are looking after the health and well-being of their clients.

Why they do it: Personal trainers clearly love being fit and helping others stay in shape as well. Mr. Hetherington says it's also a very social and people-oriented profession. There are also opportunities beyond just training clients. Personal trainers may also get involved in other areas of fitness, such as working with health and wellness products or marketing.

Misconceptions: They may nag you to work out more and eat better, but personal trainers also like to eat French fries and drink beer too, on occasion. As a personal trainer, "you're a regular person too," Mr. Hetherington says.

Give us the scoop: Are you a personal trainer? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Find more here.

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