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Median pay: $56,000 Top pay: $128,000 10-year job growth: 24.0% Total jobs*: 251,400
What they do all day?
Sometimes it takes a paid professional to slog you through endless squats, push-ups and burpees -- or just to get you to the gym at 6 a.m. You can thank your personal trainer for that.
How to get the job?
Certification from a recognized school or organization (such as the American Council on Exercise) is the biggest asset, although strictly speaking, it's not required. Self-starters are also welcomed, since trainers more or less supervise themselves.
What makes it great?
With obesity rates on the rise, trainers are in a position to change someone's health for the better -- and for the long haul. They can also work in a variety of settings beyond the gym, from hospitals to corporate wellness departments to clients' homes to outdoor boot camps.
What's the catch?
Most people exercise before work, at lunchtime and after work -- so trainers might be on the job at 5 a.m. or 8 p.m. -- or both. They also may not get benefits, depending on the employer.
Quality of life ratings:
Benefit to society
Published: October 29, 2012
Note: Pay data is median for personal trainers working full-time hours. Many trainers work part-time hours, and earn less.
Notes: All pay data from PayScale.com. Median pay is for an experienced worker (at least five or seven years in the field). Top pay represents the 90th percentile. Job growth is estimated for 2010-20, and based on people working in broader 'job family' from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
*Total jobs is estimated number of people working in broader BLS 'job family.'
Sources:PayScale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNNMoney research
It's still a tough job market out there, so when CNNMoney and PayScale.com set out to find America's Best Jobs this year, first and foremost we looked for professions that offer great growth opportunities.