SAN DIEGO -- Fitness industry wages are generally well above the U.S. hourly standard, according to IDEA Health and Fitness’ 2006 Fitness Compensation Survey, released this month.

The bi-annual survey provides a look at the wages and benefits earned by various fitness industry professionals. It also gives a look at future industry trends.

The survey found that fitness instructors earn an average of $20.25 per hour, making a little more than $3 an hour more than private-sector production or non-supervisory workers, the survey found. Hourly rates for specialty instructors, including yoga/Pilates instructors, personal trainers and group fitness instructors, range from $23.75 per hour to $30.50 per hour.

Rapid growth in the fitness industry is fueling more employment opportunities than the average for all occupations through 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The growth has occurred partially because aging Baby Boomers are concerned with health and fitness. However, growth is also occurring because the value of employee fitness and wellness programs is better known; memberships for adolescents and children are growing as physical education programs decrease; and young adult club memberships are growing.

The IDEA survey shows that employment stability within the fitness industry has increased during the last 10 years. A decade ago, most fitness employees were part-timers or independent contractors. Today, almost 75 percent of all fitness/program directors enjoy employee status, and almost two-thirds of them are salaried. The Northeast has the highest pay for fitness directors ($48,091 per year) and program directors ($40,018 per year). --Kelsey Garrison