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As Americans become increasingly health conscious, an increasing number of individuals are looking to fitness workers to help them get into shape. The majority of fitness workers--61 percent--were employed in health clubs and recreational sports centers in 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

Fitness workers may lead group exercise classes or specialize in working one-on-one with individuals to develop a personalized fitness plan. No matter the specialty, fitness workers need a thorough understanding of physiology, exercise science and human anatomy to help them develop appropriately challenging but safe exercise routines.

Kick off a career with a fitness program

The BLS reports that more and more employers are requiring a bachelor's degree and certification for fitness workers. Specialized fitness workers, such as yoga and Pilates instructors, may need to pursue up to two years of training in a targeted fitness program. Fitness courses cover everything from human physiology to first aid and CPR to health club administration. Some fitness degree programs may be closely related to fields such as physical therapy, physical education or health.

The job outlook is excellent for fitness workers. The BLS projects employment growth of 29 percent from 2008 to 2018. Much of that increase is thanks to the baby boomer generation and a reduction of physical fitness courses in schools, leading parents to look elsewhere to keep their kids active. Part-time employment is common in fitness, and the BLS notes that about 40 percent of fitness workers were part time in 2008 and another 9 percent were self-employed.

In 2010, the mean annual wage for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors was $35,920, according to the BLS. Religious organizations were the top-paying employer, followed closely by personal services.