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As part of the series “Tricks of the Trade School,” TODAY goes inside the world of personal training.  

We know too many Americans are overweight and out of shape. But what about the people on the front lines of the fight to get fit — personal trainers? With a growing amount of nationally accredited personal training schools popping up across the country, many people are choosing this path.

“It is a growing industry, changing year by year,” says Gabriel Valencia, co-founder and director of Focus Personal Training Institute. “This is a career now; you’re finding trainers who are working much more closely with the medical field, doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists.”

Watch video: Get an inside look at the world of personal training

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal training jobs are expected to grow more than 13 percent by 2020. While the fitness training industry is unregulated, there are many who do give the proper training.

Still, “anyone can hang a shingle and say they're a personal trainer,” says Valencia. “Whether they went to school and got a degree, whether they were an Olympic athlete, or if they did none of the above but got certified.”

If you’re looking to pursue this competitive field, here’s what to look for in a personal training school:

  • Curriculum that provides an in-depth understanding of anatomy and the benefits of exercise
  • Onsite instructors and program managers with experience in the personal training field
  • Hands-on training with real fitness equipment that allows students to practice their knowledge
  • Included internship that provides experience employers are looking for
  • Extensive preparation to pass national certification exams. Either ACE or NASM or both
  • Includes books, fees and flexible class schedules.
  • Graduate placement department
  • Financial aid available for those who qualify 

Source: Heritage College