Getting Your MMA Trainer Certification: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Getting Your MMA Trainer Certification: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

If you want to start coaching clients in Mixed Martial Arts, you’re likely considering becoming certified to demonstrate your skills and license to teach others.  

Since MMA is a full-body combat sport that comes with risks of injuries and training that is intense on the physique, it is important to be an expert in what you’re teaching potential students. 

But just like getting any other kind of certification, the journey may have its peaks and troughs. 

You’ll usually need a lot more than peak physical fitness to teach MMA–read on to find out how to get started with your MMA certification journey. 

Before you get started 

As a certified trainer, your goal is to make sure your students understand the philosophy, moves, and techniques of MMA. 

The responsibility of their safety and success falls on you, so there are a few things you might want to consider before deciding to become an MMA trainer

Do I need any specific education to become an MMA instructor?

Education is important, but the specifics of it are slightly tricky when it comes to being an MMA trainer. 

There are no specific degrees or programs that you can go to for a few years as a regular student that make you an MMA trainer. Almost every trainer has a different style and methodology of teaching MMA. What matters are the core foundations that build on your knowledge not just in MMA but also as an instructor. 

The most important qualification you do need to become a successful and certified MMA instructor is a black belt in the Mixed Martial Arts you want to start coaching others in. 

This displays your expertise in the art as well as the dedicated years of training you’ve put in. A level of mastery is important to gain certification and also build confidence in your students that you know what you’re doing. 

Licenses aren’t mandatory in MMA, but they can help! 

Additionally, most states and regions have different legalities around the sport and it’s always a better bet to be certified and licensed as an instructor. This can also come in handy for insurance purposes.

But if you’re wondering whether you need to have graduated with a particular GPA–you don’t! 

While many professional instructors hold bachelor’s degrees in different fields, it is not a requirement to become an MMA trainer. 

Do I need any specific skills to become an MMA instructor?

Apart from immense expertise in MMA in the form of training and competition, there are specific skills that make an MMA fighter a good instructor. 

One of the most important of these skills is being a good communicator and motivator for students of any age. 

Typically, a coach also holds a lot of power in a student’s training schedule and needs, and it’s important then that they have good decision-making skills to adjust their training for each student’s needs. 

To be able to expand their client base, they also need to have scouting experience, meaning that they need to spot potential talent in their class and know what is needed to extract that potential. 

Some skills and traits that are needed in an MMA instructor are dedication, being a good listener, patience, and basic knowledge of children’s and human psychology. A coach without an overbearing ego is ideal too, as this allows respect to go both ways from a student to teacher and vice-versa. 

How good at MMA do I have to be to become an MMA instructor?

The simple answer? Pretty good.

The longer answer is that to be a successful MMA instructor who makes a living off the job and is passionate about their students, you need perhaps the same level of mental preparation you needed to first start your own training in MMA. 

No one wants to be trained by a self-proclaimed expert in the field with nothing to show for it. You need to be able to show that you can meet the expectations you set for your students, the kind of time and effort you put into reaching that stage, as well as know avenues on where to get them similar exposure. 

A common question asked about becoming an MMA instructor is about the kind of money you can expect to make.

For an MMA instructor with about 3 years of teaching experience, the expected per hour rate is $17.50. Of course, this figure varies depending on experience, skill, and location. Starting your own MMA gym can help you generate a much larger annual income, and to do that, it’s best to get certified. 

Training for MMA instructors

Maintain a high level of MMA skill

Apart from years of personal, professional, and competitive experience in MMA, you need to continue training yourself with dedication, particularly outside your coaching sessions. 

This enables you to stay on top of the trends, moves, and skills you need to teach your students as well as move up the ranks for your own expectations too. 

To be a good coach, dedication and worth ethic is just as important for you as it is for your clients. If you’ve never experienced and don’t continue to live in the grind of hard work, training, and practicing that MMA students are expected to, you may not be able to guide and train others to do that either. 

You need to have experienced victory and loss competitively, as well as setbacks and accomplishments in your training to ensure that you can give an accurate training and guiding experience to your students. Your clients need to see that you’ve been where they are in their journey through MMA. 

Engage in ongoing conditioning 

Similar to continuing your own MMA training with dedication, this involved strength training, and conditioning. 

As you grow older, you need to pay more attention to your physique to continue practicing and teaching MMA well. 

This also motivates your students to do better as you can train with them and show them that MMA influences lifestyle as a whole. Just because you’re a trainer or instructor now doesn’t mean you’ve learned everything there was to know about your art. With new variations and developments ongoing in the field every few years, it is useful to keep training and updated. 

Something that can help this ongoing conditioning can be joining classes for yourself with other trainers, or other professional groups and organizations that help you maintain a personal training routine. 

Certification for MMA instructors 

Do I need a license to teach MMA?

This changes depending on each region, and several states have different laws about this. 

A quick information overview with a local sports department of your state should be able to answer your concerns. Some of the best states to be an MMA instructor are Texas and New York. New Jersey, Hawaii, and Vermont also pay the highest salaries for most MMA trainers. 

Some state and federal regulations require you to take several medical tests to prove health and training competence. This is important as you will also be responsible for other students and their safety, and need to be rational and fit in stressful situations. 

Do I need insurance to teach MMA?

It’s not a necessity, but having insurance acts as a layer of protection against many issues around legalities, injuries, rent, and more things that directly impact clients. 

While you are responsible for training your students, this allows you to be safe from the law and prove that you took all needed precautions while training a potentially injured student. 

Simply, it gives you legal protection from reactive parents of children and adults who might get hurt while training on your property. 

If you’re aiming to open your own MMA gym, then taking out gym insurance is probably something you’re going to want to prioritize. 

How can I get started getting certified to teach MMA?

The first step to getting certified–after you’ve established that you have the necessary skill level in MMA–is to check the requirements in the state in which you want to teach. 

With so many training academies and membership options to choose from, it can be wise to take the time to do your research and figure out what the best option in your area is. You may want to focus on well-respected institutions that allow you to train with expert instructors, and don’t promise instant results. You may also want to choose a certification process that focuses on a specific element of MMA. 

Then, you’re ready to begin your certification journey and are one step closer to teaching your own MMA classes. 

Ready to get your MMA certification?

MMA classes, whether focused on one martial art or several, can be an incredible addition to your gym –providing value and virtue to your work in the community. 

If you need help organizing those classes, and keeping your gym in fine shape on its own, here at Wodify can help you out with our innovative gym management software


Ready to put what you’ve learned into practice?
Download a free PDF handbook with many of NCFIT’s gym management procedures and philosophies that you can implement in your gym today.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Join our community of one million fitness lovers.
Get weekly fitness news and expert advice sent straight to your inbox.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank - hope this helps you #BuildBetter!
If the download doesn't start automatically in a few seconds, please click here to access the PDF.
Welcome HybridAF users!
Mention HybridAF on your demo call for 20% off the first year of your Core subscription*!
*Discount applies to new customers only. Not valid with any other promotions.
GET THIS DEAL!
Brendan Rice
Get your free revenue calculator sent straight to your inbox