Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College


Student working out with an instructor in the gym

With increasing obesity, disease, and medical costs associated with inactivity, the importance of highly qualified fitness professionals has never been greater. Better health and fitness translates to fewer sick days, lower insurance rates, and an overall improvement in personal and professional lives.

All of this means that the need for qualified fitness professionals will continue to rise. The Oregon Employment Department forecasts Portland area employment of fitness trainers will grow 14.6% through 2027.

Why choose Exercise Science at PCC?


The Oregon Employment Department reports Portland area fitness trainers earn from $15.65 to $38.82 per hour. The average annual salary is $51,875.

The Portland Community College Exercise Science program, located primarily at the Sylvania Campus, provides high-quality education and practical experiences to prepare you to successfully join the workforce as a fitness professional.

You will gain hands-on experience in practical lab facilities with equipment that mimics what professionals may use in the field, including:

  • Adaptive exercise equipment
  • Various cardio and weight machines
  • Fitness testing equipment for cardio, muscle, flexibility, and body composition
  • Free weights and functional training equipment
  • Submaximal and maximal metabolic cart VO2 testing
  • Graded exercise testing with ECG monitoring
  • Anatomy models and skeletons
  • Balance, gait, and posture assessments
  • CPR, first aid, and AED equipment

See the program overview page for more information on program specifics, certifications recommended, and program costs.

Degrees and certificates

Degrees and certificates by number of terms to complete
Award Length Financial aid eligible Currently accepting students?
Associate Degree: Exercise Science2 yearsLimited entry, see how
to get into this program
Career Pathway Certificate: Group Fitness LeaderLess than 1 year
Career Pathway Certificate: Healthy Older Adult FitnessLess than 1 year
Career Pathway Certificate: Personal TrainerLess than 1 year
Career Pathway Certificate: Yoga TeacherLess than 1 year


What will you learn?

Our Exercise Science program provides coursework, education, and experience so you can successfully join the workforce as a fitness professional. You will learn:

  • Anatomy and physiology basics
  • Applied kinesiology
  • Exercise physiology
  • Fitness assessment and programming
  • Fitness promotion
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Sports nutrition
  • and many other fitness and wellness-related topics

You can earn all three certifications within two years if attending PCC as a full-time student. The Exercise Science program partners with the Gerontology program. In addition to the Healthy Older Adult Fitness certificate, co-certificates and co-degrees between Exercise Science and Gerontology can be earned.

What will you do?

The fitness professional performs a variety of instructional and administrative responsibilities,?including:

  • Business operations
  • Exercise programs
  • Fitness testing
  • Instruction
  • Member retention
  • Sales

Educated and certified fitness professionals are hired in:

  • Community centers
  • Corporate fitness centers
  • Diet centers
  • Health clubs
  • Hospital or allied-health clinics
  • Recreation facilities
  • Vacation resorts

Professionals working in this field are known by a variety of titles within the industry, including but not limited to:

  • Activity director
  • Exercise specialist
  • Fitness instructor
  • Group exercise leader
  • Member services specialist
  • Personal trainer
  • Strength and conditioning coach
  • Wellness specialist

Transfer option

Students who complete the PCC AAS Exercise Science degree can transfer to Portland State University as a junior.

Next steps

See how to get into this program.Get started now

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Related programs

PCC offers more than 90 programs.