Being a personal trainer can be so amazingly rewarding. You get paid very well, generally between $50 and $250 an hour, while helping people craft the body they’ve always dreamed of having. The job is fulfilling, meaningful and well respected.

If you love being fit and want to get paid for your passion, then being a personal trainer may be the perfect career for you. How do you get started in this career? Here’s how.

=> Step 1: Get Certified by a Well-Recognized Organization

There are many ways you can get certified. Generally you’ll want to get at least one or two certifications before applying for work.

The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) exam is perhaps the most widely recognized exam you could take. You can study the course at home and take the test at home as well.

Other organizations include ACE, AFAA, IFPA, ISSA and the AFPA. These are all nationally recognized certification programs.

One popular way of getting certified is to get one general fitness certification and one more specialized certification.

=> Step 2: Build Credibility and Get Experience

In general, the first step in a physical training career is to get a job in the field. Yes, you can try and make it on your own without experience or clients, but it’s much, much easier to get experience by getting a job first.

Where should you apply?

Places that hire personal trainers include gyms, fitness centers, spas, high-end resorts and sometimes high-end medical facilities.

Apply to one or two of the “big name” brands. In the United States that might include 24 Hour Fitness or Crunch; in the UK it would include Bannatyne’s.

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You should also apply for several smaller or more local locations. The larger gyms often have stricter hiring requirements and may be less inclined to hire someone just getting into the industry.

It should go without saying that you need to be in tiptop personal condition before becoming a personal trainer.

=> Step 3: Next Steps

Once you have a year or two of experience in the industry, along with a handful of loyal clients who will follow you wherever you go, then it might be time to think about breaking out on your own.

Personal trainers who go off on their own can make a lot more than personal trainers working at a gym. You can charge higher rates as the perceived value is higher and you get to keep all the money for yourself rather than splitting it with the gym.

Of course, it comes with its own challenges as well. You need to market yourself and get your own clients. You need to handle all the business aspects yourself, including insurance, accounting and incorporation.

If you love fitness, getting started as a personal trainer can take as little as a couple months and $300 dollars for certification. The job will be rewarding and challenging, with tremendous potential upside as you get more clients and even explore starting your own business.