Obviously experience is a big one:
They need a business plan and directive toward how they plan on achieving thier goals.
Team up with local clubs and get an affiliation going with them so your students can have the opportunity to have experience as they complete school courses
Perhaps require a certain amount of “teaching hours” in order to complete their course
Background in athletics.
Knowledge of what the human body can do.
This is seriously lacking in schools. I have a degree in psychology, but have played sports 24/7 for years. I have played everything under the sun.
My simple CPT certification gives me the ability to work with people. I have worked in a physical therapy office and would be more than happy to match experience with someone with a PHD any time.
Lots of people think the degrees do it. They help, but when push comes to shove someone has to have the knowledge to back up the book.
I will have to agree with Shawn, a hand on experience is the best tool they could acquire while still attending college. Since most of them are probably new to the industry with no previous experience in training and/or interacting with clients, they need to engage into some type of a program that will give them first-hand experience in these areas. An internship is a good place to start where they will have to demonstrate their abilities as a trainer and also can be mentored by a more experienced trainer so they can learn.
Text books and passing a test are great, but not enough when it comes to interacting with different personalities of clients and individual needs. Also being a trainer is more than just coming up with an exercise plan, he/she has to be a motivator, a great listener and at the end an entrepreneur as well if he or she wants to be successful.
Even as old as this queston is, I am giving an answer because I to work with students and find they often need a little help in finding this answer.
When I am hiring a fitness professional or enrolling a new student I (and they) need to know one important thing about them (or themselves). Is fitness onw of their passions? They don’t have to be elite athletes, but do they want to truly know their stuff. How much time do they spend learning about our area of science? Do they just study for tests and CECs? Or is research and gaining knowledge something they “want” to do as part of their own interests?
When a students in my programs and courses or those seeking my advice tell me they don’t like to study, I know that they most likely have chosen the wrong field to pursue professionally. Even today, after over 30 years, I sitll cannot quench my thirst for knowledge in exercise science. Fitness isn’t my job, it is my career. There are only a few things that I would rather spend time doing than learning and gaining more knowledge about exercise.
So when I interview a potential new hire or student, I look for passion about family, friends, community, and the fitness profession. I can teach the material, but there needs to be a spark for me fan fhe flames of the passion to learn.