How to Become a Kickboxing Instructor

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Kickboxing is a hybrid martial art that originated in Japan more than 50 years ago, consisting of punching and kicking techniques. The sport evolved from Karate, Western boxing, and Muay Thai.

Kickboxing competition in a ring

The first world championship was held in 1974. Within the next 20 years kickboxing expanded to include additional fighting techniques adapted from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This led to the development of Mixed Martial Arts, now the most popular combat sport on earth, surpassing boxing.

As a Kickboxing Instructor you help individuals sharpen their minds and strengthen their bodies, for an overall improvement in their health. Some students may come to you to improve their physical fitness. Kickboxing delivers an incredible cardio workout. Others will want your help in sharpening their skills so they can compete. They yearn to be champions.

With training and certification, as a kickboxing instructor you’ll be able to work effectively with both of these broad categories of athlete – fitness and competition – while staying active in the sport you love.

After a few years of experience as an instructor you may want to start your own kickboxing gym, where you can make even more money training athletes in this perennially popular sport.

Let’s get rolling. Read on to discover how you can become a kickboxing instructor.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How much money you can make as a kickboxing instructor
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment opportunities for kickboxing instructors
  • Finding clients
  • Plus helpful tips

How much money can you make?

Kickboxing instructors average $18 an hour, according to a recent ZipRecruiter survey. That works out to $34,560 per year based on a 40-hour work week. On the high end of the survey, some instructors reported making $28.37 an hour, which is $54,470 per year. Trainers who opt to open their own kickboxing studio can make as much as their time allows, depending on marketing skill in attracting and retaining a steady stream of trainees.

Kickboxers fighting in a ring

Training and Certification

Kickboxing instructors can start work with a high school diploma or a degree in a fitness training field. Most states require fitness instructors of any kind to have CPR training and professional certification. Even if it’s not a legal requirement, professional certification may be necessary to get a job as a kickboxing instructor, as most gyms and fitness centers will not hire trainers without certification.

There are many online and in-person training programs to choose from. Be sure to pick one that is accredited by a third party such as NCCA, Distance Education Training Council (for online learning), and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or one that has aligned itself with the National Board of Fitness Examiners. If there is any doubt about a program’s accreditation, ask and verify. Another approach to choosing a training program would be to contact kickboxing gyms where you’d like to work and ask the trainers which accreditation they prefer.

Kickboxing instructor training with a punching bag

Online training programs average about weeks and cost around $200 to $500. In-person training costs will vary by location and the experience and reputation of the lead instructors.

One leading online program is offered by the International Sports Sciences Association.

The AFPA Kickboxer Certification goes beyond cardio kickboxing training, with the promise to expand your marketable fitness training skills.

Some of what you’ll learn in training:

  • How to create specialized workouts and kickboxing classes
  • Design workouts that improve students’ cardiovascular conditioning
  • Identify participant’s skill levels and work with them to sharpen their technique
  • Explain and demonstrate kickboxing moves, from basic to advanced
  • Apply correct biomechanics such as punching-jabs, cross, upper-cut, hook, and straight punch
  • Set up athletic drills and workouts to push students to hit their goals
  • Deliver safe and effective kickboxing classes at health clubs, martial arts schools, corporate wellness centers, university phys-ed departments and private studios.
  • Understand basic business concepts involved in running a kickboxing training business.

Professional Groups to Join

Joining a professional organization is one way to show your dedication as a karate instructor. You’ll get to meet others who share your passion for martial arts and learn from more experienced instructors. Credentials that come with professional memberships can also be displayed at your studio, as well as on your website and marketing materials.

Children practicing kickboxing in a park

The World Kickboxing Association is among the oldest and kickboxing organizations in the world for both amateurs and professionals. The official name is World Kickboxing and Karate Association. The WKA USA mission “is to promote U.S. fighters and gain prestige within the WKA, and to support and promote US fighters competing for world titles, both at home in the USA and abroad.”

The World Kickboxing Network is one of the sport’s largest governing bodies in the world. The network sanctions championships in these styles:

  • Full Contact
  • Kickboxing (Low Kick)
  • Oriental
  • Muay Thai

The Martial Arts Teachers Association offers training and certification for instructors, plus deep resources for learning how to run a profitable martial arts studio, as well as access to affordable insurance plans. Membership is $37 a month or $199 for a full year paid in advance.


Look for kickboxing instructor jobs at martial arts studios, public recreation centers, the YMCA, and larger gyms with extensive fitness programs.

Fans cheering during a kickboxing competition

You’ll want to make copies of your resume, both printed and for online distribution. When sending resumes by email, the best way to attach this document and supporting materials is by creating .pdf files of the documents with Adobe Acrobat. These types of files are considered safe to send and are less likely to trigger a spam alert in the recipient’s mailbox. Follow this tip and you’ll have a much better chance that your online correspondence lands in front of a real person, not a spam folder.

Also make photocopies of your professional certifications and memberships in kickboxing organizations and clubs. These extra materials can pull your application to the top of the pile and set you apart from competitors for the same job.

Finding Clients
Business cards and a basic website should be the core of your marketing toolkit as a kickboxing instructor. The website doesn’t need to be elaborate or fancy, just attractively designed, with photos of your gym or studio, students practicing their moves and a few images of you in action, teaching students. Your business location and contact information should be clearly visible at the top of every page on your website. Search engines scan this information to match your website geographically with people searching for a kickboxing instructor.

In addition to your business website, the next thing to do is create an Instagram account to showcase your kickboxing studio. Instagram is the #1 online venue for professionals to promote their work. It’s a free marketing tool that’s always working on your behalf.

Now set up a Facebook page for your kickboxing school. This is a great way to build a following and keep people up-to-date on your offerings.

Be sure to create a Google My Business page, where you can add hours of operation, photos and an interactive map of your location.

All of the above services are free and setting up a page on each site takes less than an hour.

Kickboxers fighting in a ring

Other strategies for attracting new business:

  • Create a referral program with discounts for kickboxing students who bring new people to class.
  • Ask students to review your kickboxing training online. According to a recent survey, 90% of people say their buying decisions are influenced by positive online reviews.

Good to know

Experienced kickboxing trainers will tell you that their beginning students tend to make faster progress than students studying other martial arts styles. This might be because kickboxing is less formal or structured than the nuanced traditions of Karate and Kung Fu. Still, knowing this means you should design your classes in a flexible way so that students who are advancing rapidly won’t be held back by gym training geared toward athletes who do not develop as quickly.

You may need to split classes into groups of similarly skilled students, then move from group to group offering instruction and insights on improving technique.


It’s also important to distinguish the types of classes you offer and make sure you interview new students to be sure they are signing up for the training that best meets their goals. For instance, Cardio Kickboxing is not intended for combat or self-defense. It’s an invigorating, low-impact, high-intensity, fat-burning workout. The goal of Cardio Kickboxing is to build core strength, endurance, balance, flexibility and coordination, but not self-defense skills. The moves in Cardio Kickboxing are similar to combat kickboxing, but it’s really more of an aerobics exercise.

The good news is, you can offer classes both in cardio and combat kickboxing to attract even more students.

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