While a fitness degree obviously has its rewards; knowledge of biomechanics and anatomy, it often does not provide the practicum, or the personal training one-to-one learning experience.
A degree does not guarantee business either.
A good mentor is valuable, and some detective work on your part about what you want; how you intend to get it, is it realistic , can you do it alone. Think of S.M.A.R.T. goals when you analyze the possibilities.
I think a great answer to this is that it depends on what client base you’re interested in. If you want to further your expertise, you’ll definitely find it beneficial to have a degree in some type of fitness-related industry. Many respected organizations require you to have a 4-year degree in order to seek their advanced certifications. ACE, NASM, NSCA, and ACSM are all good examples of respected organizations that offer higher-level fitness certifications that may or may not require a college degree. Many older clients will be looking at your education and experience. All things being equal, I, personally, am going to choose a trainer with a degree as opposed to a trainer with the same level of experience and no degree. It says a lot about you if you’re able to finish a college degree. It’s not so much the area of the degree, it’s the fact that you completed that tough educational program. It takes a lot to stick with college and finish! It shows determination and respect for oneself, in my opinion.
No, it’s not needed, but consider the perceptions of your client base. It’s not what you think that is going to be paying the bills.
The short answer is no, you don’t. I don’t have one but I happen to have a degree in business.
That being said, make sure you are aware of requirements for your state and municipality for starting a business. It’s usually pretty easy to find from your local court clerk’s office. You can also get help from the Small Business Administration.