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7 Best Personal Trainer Certifications in 2024

7 Best Personal Trainer Certifications in 2024

Posted by Tyler Spraul, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) on February 14, 2024 — Updated on May 8, 2024

Compare the best personal trainer certifications from ISSA, NASM, NSCA, ACE, and more to find the best personal training certification for your specific goals.

Best Personal Trainer Certifications

Choosing the best personal trainer certification is crucial for anyone looking to start or elevate their career in the fitness industry. The right personal training certification can not only bolster your credibility and expertise but also open doors to new opportunities and new personal trainer income ideas. With a plethora of personal training certification options available, it’s essential to consider factors such as accreditation, curriculum, specialization, and how they align with your career goals.

Certifications like ISSA CPT, NASM CPT, NSCA CSCS, ACE CPT, ACSM CPT, NCSF CPT, and NFPT CPT stand out for their comprehensive programs and industry recognition. But how to know which personal trainer certification is best? Well, this guide will help you evaluate the pros and cons of the best personal training certification and choose the certification that will help you accomplish your PT career goals.

Fitness Income Ideas

Once you’ve chosen the best personal trainer certification online and learn how to become a personal trainer, you can learn personal training marketing ideas to get more clients, and even learn how to start an online personal training business. There are many ways to make money from fitness—from learning how to make money as a fitness influencer to simply getting started making money selling workout programs online—there are personal trainer career options galore for personal trainers willing to put in the time and effort to get certified and invest in their career.

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Best Personal Training Certifications Ranked

CertificationCredibilityCostDifficulty
ISSA CPTHigh$$$Moderate
NASM CPTVery High$$$$High
NSCA CSCSVery High$$$$Very High
ACE CPTHigh$$$Moderate
ACSM CPTHigh$$$High
NCSF CPTModerate$$Moderate
NFPT CPTModerate$$Moderate

#1 ISSA CPT – International Sports Sciences Association Personal Training Certification

ISSA CPT - International Sports Sciences Association Personal Training Certification

The ISSA CPT certification is renowned for its comprehensive curriculum and flexibility, catering to aspiring trainers worldwide. It’s designed to equip you with in-depth knowledge of fitness principles, nutrition, and the business aspects of personal training.

Pros

  • Comprehensive curriculum covering a wide range of fitness and nutrition topics.
  • Flexible study programs with online learning options.
  • Recognized globally, enhancing job prospects.

Cons

  • Higher cost compared to some other certifications.
  • Some employers prefer NASM or NSCA certifications.

The ISSA CPT program is not just about passing an exam; it’s about building a solid foundation for a successful career in personal training. With modules on fitness assessment, program design, and client communication, ISSA prepares you for real-world scenarios. Pairing this certification with Exercise.com’s personal training software can streamline your business operations, allowing you to focus on delivering personalized training experiences and achieving client goals.

Read More: ISSA CPT Review – International Sports Sciences Association Personal Training Certification

#2 NASM CPT – National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

NASM CPT - National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

The NASM CPT is highly regarded for its evidence-based approach to fitness training, emphasizing corrective exercise and functional fitness. Known for its rigorous curriculum, it’s a top choice for trainers who are serious about delivering results.

Pros

  • Strong focus on corrective exercise and injury prevention.
  • Widely recognized and respected in the industry.
  • Offers specializations to enhance your expertise.

Cons

  • High cost of certification and recertification.
  • The curriculum can be challenging for those new to anatomy and physiology.

NASM equips trainers with the skills to assess clients accurately and design effective, personalized training programs. By integrating NASM’s methodologies with Exercise.com’s comprehensive platform, trainers can efficiently manage client progress, workouts, and communication, all in one place.

Read More: NASM CPT Review – National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

#3 NSCA CSCS – National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

NSCA CSCS - National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

The NSCA CSCS is tailored for trainers focusing on strength and conditioning, particularly for athletes. This certification demands a solid understanding of sports science and is ideal for those aiming to work in sports performance settings.

Pros

  • Highly specialized in strength and conditioning.
  • Recognized and valued in athletic and sports performance circles.
  • Opens opportunities in collegiate and professional sports.

Cons

  • Requires a bachelor’s degree.
  • The exam is notably difficult.

NSCA CSCS certification prepares trainers to work with athletes at all levels, optimizing performance and reducing injury risk. Leveraging Exercise.com, CSCS certified trainers can create sport-specific training programs, track athlete progress, and communicate effectively with teams and individual athletes.

Read More: NSCA CSCS Review – National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

#4 ACE CPT – American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer

ACE CPT - American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer

ACE CPT is renowned for its focus on holistic health and fitness, promoting lifestyle changes alongside physical training. It’s ideal for trainers who wish to impact clients’ overall wellness.

Pros

  • Emphasizes holistic health and lifestyle coaching.
  • Offers a broad spectrum of continuing education and specializations.
  • Accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Cons

  • May not be as specialized in areas like sports performance.
  • Competitive market with many ACE-certified trainers.

ACE-certified trainers are well-equipped to support clients in achieving sustainable lifestyle changes, improving not just their fitness but their overall quality of life. With Exercise.com, trainers can extend their reach, offering online coaching, lifestyle and nutrition tracking, and community building to inspire and engage clients beyond the gym.

Read More: ACE CPT Review – American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer

#5 ACSM CPT – American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

ACSM CPT - American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

ACSM is one of the oldest and most esteemed organizations in sports medicine and exercise science. Its CPT certification is research-driven, focusing on applying scientific principles to training.

Pros

  • Strong emphasis on clinical and scientific research.
  • Offers pathways to clinical exercise certifications.
  • Well-respected in the medical and scientific communities.

Cons

  • The curriculum can be complex, with a significant focus on clinical populations.
  • May require additional study materials or courses to prepare.

ACSM-certified trainers excel in applying evidence-based practices to help clients achieve their fitness goals, making it a great choice for those interested in working with special populations or in clinical settings. Integrating ACSM’s approach with Exercise.com’s platform allows trainers to manage client assessments, progress tracking, and tailored program design efficiently.

Read More: ACSM CPT Review – American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

#6 NCSF CPT – National Council on Strength and Fitness Certified Personal Trainer

NCSF CPT - National Council on Strength and Fitness Certified Personal Trainer

NCSF CPT stands out for its balance of academic rigor and practical application, making it a solid choice for new trainers and seasoned professionals looking to refresh their knowledge.

Pros

  • Accessible for newcomers to the fitness industry.
  • Balanced focus on theory and practical skills.
  • Offers additional workshops and hands-on training options.

Cons

  • Less recognized than NASM or NSCA certifications.
  • Some employers may prefer other certifications.

NCSF provides a comprehensive foundation in personal training, emphasizing client assessment, program design, and motivational strategies. By combining NCSF’s practical training approach with Exercise.com’s business management features, trainers can enhance client engagement and streamline their business operations.

Read More: NCSF CPT Review – National Council on Strength and Fitness Certified Personal Trainer

#7 NFPT CPT – National Federation of Personal Trainers Certified Personal Trainer

NFPT CPT - National Federation of Personal Trainers Certified Personal Trainer

NFPT CPT is known for its accessibility and focus on foundational personal training skills, making it an excellent option for those entering the fitness industry.

Pros

  • Straightforward certification process.
  • Affordable compared to some other certifications.
  • Focuses on fundamental personal training skills.

Cons

  • Not as widely recognized as NASM or ACSM.
  • Limited in terms of advanced specializations or continuing education.

NFPT offers a clear path to becoming a certified personal trainer, with a strong emphasis on the essentials of fitness training and client relationships. When paired with Exercise.com’s software, NFPT-certified trainers can easily manage client workouts, track progress, and communicate effectively, ensuring a seamless training experience.

Read More: NFPT CPT Review – National Federation of Personal Trainers Certified Personal Trainer

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How to Choose the Best Personal Training Certification

Choosing the right personal training certification involves considering your career goals, learning style, and the populations you wish to serve. Here are steps to guide you through the selection process:

Step #1 – Assess Your Career Goals

Think about where you see yourself in the fitness industry. Whether you’re drawn to sports performance, rehabilitation, or general fitness, your career aspirations should influence your certification choice.

  • Consider the types of clients you want to work with.
  • Research certifications that align with your interests and goals.
  • Look for certifications that offer specializations or continuing education in your areas of interest.

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Step #2 – Evaluate the Curriculum and Accreditation

A reputable certification will have a curriculum backed by the latest scientific research and be accredited by a recognized organization.

  • Check for accreditation by bodies like the NCCA or DEAC.
  • Review the curriculum to ensure it covers the necessary knowledge and skills.
  • Consider the balance between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

Step #3 – Consider the Cost and Commitment

Personal training certifications can vary significantly in cost and the time commitment required. It’s important to choose one that fits your budget and lifestyle.

  • Factor in the cost of study materials, exam fees, and potential recertification.
  • Consider the time commitment required for studying and completing the certification.

Step #4 – Look for Support and Resources

The best certifications offer extensive resources and support to help you succeed, both during your studies and as you start your career.

  • Look for certifications that offer study guides, practice exams, and access to instructor support.
  • Consider the community and network opportunities the certification provides.

Step #5 – Plan for Your Business Growth

As you embark on your personal training career, having the right tools to manage and grow your business is crucial. This is where Exercise.com’s software becomes invaluable.

  • Exercise.com’s platform offers comprehensive business management tools, from client scheduling and workout creation to communication and payment processing.
  • Integrating your certification knowledge with Exercise.com’s software can help you deliver personalized training experiences, track client progress, and grow your client base.

Choosing the best personal training certification is a critical step in building a successful career in fitness. By considering your goals, evaluating the curriculum, and planning for your business growth with tools like Exercise.com, you can set yourself up for success in this rewarding field.

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Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach

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Which personal trainer certifications are best?

What is the best personal trainer certification? Let’s get into it. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best personal trainer certification:

  • The best personal trainer certifications are those with a seal of approval from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
  • There is actually no legal requirement that states you must have a certificate or license to be a personal trainer.
  • If you wish to work in the industry, be highly eligible for the best jobs, and provide the best care possible, you need to become certified.

To learn which is the best personal trainer certification, be sure to understand the importance of credibility. The best personal trainer certifications are those with a seal of approval from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Several of these organizations are listed in the article below.

The workout industry has evolved greatly over the years. Along with the industry itself evolving, so have the certifications required to be eligible to work in the industry. It is important to note that as a personal trainer, you do not need a license to train.

You are also not required to be certified to work as a personal trainer. This may sound odd, but there is actually no legal requirement that states you must have a certificate or license to be a personal trainer. You can certainly make money in fitness without have a personal training certification. You can make money selling workout plans online because you don’t need to be certified to sell workout plans, and you don’t need to be certified to run a fitness class, for example.

However, if you wish to work in the industry, be highly eligible for the best jobs, and provide the best care possible, you need to become a certified personal trainer. You will want to know as much as possible about anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology. The more you know about personal training, the more you can offer your clients, and the more chances you have at success. Getting the best certified personal trainer certification for you and your needs will help maximize your personal trainer career options.

What is the best CPT certification for trainers on a budget?

For trainers on a budget, finding a balance between cost and quality is key when choosing a certification. The best certification for personal training that combines affordability with comprehensive educational content includes programs like the best certification for personal trainer options provided by NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) or ACE (American Council on Exercise). These certifications are recognized as some of the best certifications for personal trainers, offering thorough preparation and industry recognition at a lower cost compared to other programs. Additionally, these organizations often offer promotional discounts and payment plans which make them accessible for trainers starting out. These credentials are not only cost-effective but are also highly respected within the industry, making them the best certification personal trainer choices for those mindful of their budget.

What is the best online personal trainer certification?

When considering the best online personal training certification, several programs stand out due to their comprehensive curriculum and flexibility. The NASM and ACE still hold strong positions, but for purely online convenience and depth, the best personal trainer certification program offered by ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) is highly recommended. It’s considered one of the best certified personal trainer programs due to its integration of fitness education with practical business application. Additionally, the Fitness Mentors Online Personal Training Certification is specifically designed for digital platforms, making it one of the best fitness certification programs available online.

What is the best fitness certification in world for personal trainers who train internationally?

For personal trainers looking to operate on an international scale, the best international fitness certification would be one that is widely recognized across borders. The best international personal trainer certification could be from NASM, which is renowned for its evidence-based approach and is accepted in many countries worldwide. Additionally, ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) offers one of the best fitness certification in the world, respected for its depth of research and scientific foundations. Both of these certifications provide trainers with the credentials needed to be recognized as top professionals globally, making them the best certifications for personal trainers looking to expand their reach internationally.

What is the best fitness training certification for the UK?

For fitness professionals in the UK looking to obtain a recognized qualification, the best fitness trainer course is often provided by REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals) endorsed programs such as those offered by CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity). Additionally, Active IQ provides some of the best certification courses for fitness trainer professionals, focusing on a broad range of skills from personal training to specialized fitness instruction. Both Active IQ and CIMSPA are known for their rigorous standards and comprehensive coverage, making them some of the best fitness certifications available in the UK.

What is the best personal trainer course for learning a lot of PT information quickly?

For those looking to rapidly absorb a wealth of personal training knowledge, the best personal trainer courses offered by NASM, ISSA, and ACE stand out. These accelerated courses are designed to deliver the best fitness certificate programs in a condensed timeframe without compromising the quality of education. This makes them ideal for individuals seeking the best personal fitness trainer certification who are also short on time but eager to enter the fitness industry with a solid foundation of knowledge.

What are the best personal trainer programs for trainers early in their career?

For trainers just starting out, selecting programs that provide solid foundational knowledge and support for early career development is crucial. The best personal trainer certification programs for beginners include the ACE Certified Personal Trainer Program, which is known for its comprehensive educational resources and excellent beginner support. NASM also ranks highly as offering one of the best certifications for personal trainers early in their careers, thanks to its focus on corrective exercise and performance enhancement. Both of these programs offer best certified personal trainer credentials that are widely recognized and respected in the industry, making them great choices for those starting their professional journey.

Are the different personal trainer certifications really all that different?

Yes, the various personal trainer certifications do differ significantly in terms of focus, depth, and recognition within the industry. While some certifications, like the best certification for fitness trainer offered by ACSM, are highly scientific and detailed, suitable for those planning to work in clinical settings or with special populations, others like the best certificate for personal trainer from NASM focus more on general fitness and performance enhancement. Best certifications for personal training vary in their approach to exercise prescription, client assessment, and specialization opportunities. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a program like the best personal trainer certification programs that align with your career goals and training philosophy.

What are the top personal training certifications for gym owners who need to consistently educate their personal training staff?

For gym owners who need to ensure their staff is well-educated and up-to-date on the latest training methods, the best certifications for personal training include NASM and ACE because of their comprehensive curriculum and ongoing education options. The best fitness coach certification programs from these organizations provide continuous learning opportunities through workshops and additional specialized certifications.

Is getting an accredited personal trainer certification a big deal?

Absolutely, obtaining an accredited personal trainer certification is crucial within the fitness industry. Accreditation ensures that the certification program meets certain standards set by a third-party accrediting body, which is vital for maintaining professionalism and trust in the fitness industry. The best certification for personal trainer from an accredited body, such as NASM or ACSM, is recognized universally and often required by top employers. These best certified personal trainer programs ensure that trainers have received a comprehensive education that covers the essential aspects of fitness and wellness, which is crucial for effectively training clients and providing high-quality service.

Is it possible to get an accredited personal trainer certification online?

Yes, it is entirely possible to obtain an accredited personal trainer certification online. Many of the top certifying bodies offer online courses that provide the best personal trainer certification program experience from the convenience of your home. Programs like best online personal training certification from NASM and ACE allow you to study at your own pace with comprehensive digital resources. These certifications ensure that you receive a quality education that meets industry standards for knowledge and professionalism, making them best certifications for personal training available online.

What are the best online personal training certification programs?

The best online personal training certification programs offer flexibility, comprehensive curriculum, and are recognized internationally. Top programs include NASM’s Certified Personal Trainer certification, which is renowned for its evidence-based approach and ACE’s Personal Trainer Certification for its broad focus on functional fitness, health coaching, and preventative health. Both programs are among the best certifications for personal trainers looking to gain a competitive edge in the industry. They provide extensive resources and tools that help trainers succeed in various fitness environments, making them the best fitness certifications available online.

Is the best fitness instructor certification different than the best fitness trainer certification?

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a subtle difference between a fitness instructor certification and a fitness trainer certification. The best fitness instructor certification typically focuses on leading group classes and providing general fitness guidance within a class setting, while the best fitness trainer certification involves working with clients on a more personal, individualized basis, often including fitness assessments, personalized program design, and specific goal setting. Programs that offer best certifications for personal training tend to cover a broader range of knowledge and skills, preparing trainers for one-on-one client interactions as opposed to group fitness dynamics.

What is the best personal training and nutrition certification?

Combining personal training with nutrition expertise can significantly enhance a trainer’s ability to provide holistic health solutions. The best personal training and nutrition certification typically integrates comprehensive fitness training education with in-depth nutritional counseling. Programs like the NASM Certified Nutrition Coach or the Precision Nutrition Certification stand out. These are considered best certifications for personal trainers who want to expand their skill set to include diet and nutrition advice, making them more versatile and increasing their value to clients.

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What is the best fitness certification in the world for personal trainers who train internationally?

For personal trainers who aim to work globally, the best fitness certification in the world is one that is widely recognized across different countries. The best international personal trainer certification often comes from well-established organizations like ACSM or NASM, which are known for their rigorous standards and scientific foundations. These certifications not only provide best fitness certificate quality but also ensure that the credentials are accepted by gyms and health clubs worldwide, facilitating international career opportunities.

What questions should I ask myself about my personal trainer career goals?

The best way to decide which trainer certification is best for you is to ask yourself a few personal trainer career option questions such as:

  • What do I want to do with my certification?
  • Do I want to work in a health club or gym or open my own business?
  • Do I want a career or just a job?
  • Do I know where I want to work?
  • Do I want to specialize in any special needs training such as working with the elderly, disabled, or injured?
  • Am I interested in attending a school or workshop, or going through the certification process completely online?

Some gyms and fitness centers only accept certain certifications, so if you are intending to work in a certain location you will need to look into that.

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What is the best PT certification program for me?

These questions are important to answer in order to find the best PT certification program for you. For example, certain areas of the country prefer certain PT certifications. Also, certain employers look for certain certifications. You should educate yourself on what the employers in your area are looking for in a personal trainer.

Also, you can make yourself more marketable if your certifications include specialized training, especially in nutrition. If this is a career choice, you should ensure that the program you become certified in will get you on the right career path.

Your availability also plays a large role in where you get certified. You have to determine if you can attend classes in person or only have the time for a workshop or online classes. The certification programs range greatly in pricing, so you must make the best-educated choice for yourself.

What is the NCCA?

There are many different schools available that offer personal training certification. You should only become certified through a school that is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, also known as the NCCA. The NCCA is the governing body for certifying agencies.

What are the most well-known certifying bodies for personal trainers?

There are two certifying bodies that are considered the most well-known:

  • The first is ACE or the American Council on Exercise. Through ACE, you can become certified as a personal trainer through a workshop that costs $399 and lasts for two days. It is available in most major U.S. cities and has been around since 1985. You must be eighteen years old to attend and hold a current CPR and AED certification. There are 150 questions on the exam which lasts for three hours. The exam cost is $219 if taken with a pencil and paper or $249 if taken with a computer. It takes approximately three to six months to complete the program, and you must become recertified every two years.
  • The second most well-known certification program is the AFAA or Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. Through AFAA, you can become certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer, known as a PFT. The workshop is for two days and is only available in limited U.S. cities. The cost of this program is $389-$489. You must also be eighteen years old and hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

The PFT exam costs $199 and lasts for two hours with 100 questions on it. It takes approximately four to six weeks to complete the program, and you must become recertified every four years.

It is important to understand that the AFAA program is not recognized by the NCAA. Also, the Personal Fitness Trainer certification is not as in-depth or respected as a Certified Personal Trainer certificate.

However, the AFAA program remains one of the most well-known in the industry. Aerobics instructors are usually certified through the AFAA.

Are there other reputable personal trainer certification programs?

Yes, there are many reputable personal trainer certification programs. The certifying bodies listed below are all highly regarded in the fitness industry. They are also all accredited by the NCAA. In today’s job market, you should make sure that any program you invest your time and money in is accredited unless you know for sure that becoming certified in a non-NCAA accredited program will still provide the career you are working towards.

National Academy of Sports Medicine

The National Academy of Sports Medicine is recognized by the NCAA. Upon completion of the program, you receive your Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification. NASM was established in 1987, and education is provided through a workshop that takes two days and is available in select United States cities. The program costs between $629 and $799.

There are 120 questions on the two-hour exam, and the cost of the exam is included in the program cost. However, you must take the exam within 180 days of the workshop. Should you fail the exam, there is a $199 retest cost. Recertification is required every two years at an expense of $500.

American College of Sports Medicine

Another reputable program is the American College of Sports Medicine certification program. The ACSM has been around since 1954 and is one of the most established programs available. Through the ACSM you can obtain your CPT certification.

However, through this program, you also have the ability to receive multiple personal trainer certifications in health and fitness and clinical certifications.

The workshop lasts one to three days at a cost of $129 or $375 depending on the program. There is also an additional material cost of $125. The workshops are available in major United States cities, and the completion of the program takes between four and nine months.

In addition to the workshop and materials fees, there is also an exam fee of $279. The exam lasts two and a half hours and contains 125-150 questions. There is a $150 charge for retesting. Recertification costs $800 and is to be completed every three years.

ACSM offers the most diverse programs for personal training. You can become a:

  • Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist
  • Registered Clinical Exercise Specialist
  • Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer
  • Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist

These specialty certifications require a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, exercise science, or other exercise-based degree programs.

National Council on Strength and Fitness

The National Council on Strength and Fitness offers a two-day workshop or extended school option. The NCSF program is also reputable, and upon completion, you can also acquire your CPT certification.

The program is available in most U.S. major cities for a cost of $309. It takes anywhere from four to six months to complete the program. However, there are no prerequisites for this program, unlike the others which require the student to be at least 18 years of age and already be certified in CPR and/or AED.

Another benefit of the NCSF program is that it is available in Spanish. The program is offered to Spanish speaking individuals in North, South, Central America and the Caribbean.

For those who are eligible, the NCSF allows military and ex-military personnel to complete the program by using funds from the G.I. bill.

The program requires taking a three-hour exam which contains 150 questions at a cost of $199. Retesting fees are $135. Testing is available in 400 locations. CPT’s must become recertified every two years at a cost that ranges from $400-$800.

National Federation of Professional Trainers

An additional program for CPT certification is through the National Federation of Professional Trainers program which was established in 1988. The workshop lasts two days and is available in major U.S. cities.

The cost is $425 and is not as highly recommended as the other programs. It takes approximately two to six months to complete the program. However, NFPT does require two years of experience in the fitness industry prior to attending the workshop.

Sitting for the exam takes two hours and is offered at 300 testing locations worldwide. You have one year to take the exam which costs $44 and contains 120 questions. There is a $60 charge to retake the exam. Recertification is required every year at a charge of $85.

National Strength and Conditioning Association

The National Strength and Conditioning Association, established in 1993, provides NCAA certification as a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). The workshop lasts for two days and the workshop availability is extremely limited.

There is no program cost, but materials can run you up to $468. It takes approximately four to nine months to complete this program. One of the benefits of the NSCA is that it offers certification in personal training for those with special needs. This makes it especially valuable and respected in the industry.

The exam for the NSCA is considered one of the most difficult in the industry. It takes three hours and includes 140 questions. The cost of the exam varies depending on whether you are taking it online or on paper and whether or not you are already a member.

To sit for this exam, it can cost you anywhere from $235-$405. Retakes depend on the same and run $185-$355. Those looking to get certified through this program must take the exam within one year of the workshop. The exam is offered in major U.S. cities.

Recertification for the NSCA program is required every three years at a cost of $500.

International Fitness Professionals Association

Also accredited by the NCAA, IFPA provides the opportunity to become a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). A two-day workshop is offered in major U.S. cities for a fee of $399-459. The program takes two to six months to complete.

One benefit of the IFPA certification is that the exam cost is included in the program cost. The exam has 100 questions which take two and a half hours to complete. You must take the exam within six months of attending the workshop. To retake the exam, you will incur a fee of $79.

Another benefit of the IFPA is that it offers specialized certifications. In addition to becoming a CPT, you can also become certified in low back disorders, sports medicine, and sports nutrition.

The program requires recertification every two years at a cost of $339.

Are there college or trade school programs for personal trainers?

Another way to become a personal trainer is to attend a trade school, college, or university. These programs prepare you to take various certification tests such as ones offered by NASM and ACSM. By going this route for certification, you can also prepare yourself to take the Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist certification through ACSM.

Bachelor of Science degrees or Associate of Science degrees are also obtained if you choose a certification program through a trade school, college or university.

An additional benefit to becoming certified through a college program is the opportunity to do all of your classes online rather than in a workshop. The length of the program varies greatly from a short course that lasts one week to a program that lasts four years. Many schools even offer night and weekend options.

Is NASM or ISSA better?

Deciding between NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) hinges on your career objectives and learning preferences. NASM is renowned for its emphasis on corrective exercise and functional fitness, making it particularly valuable in clinical and rehabilitation contexts. ISSA offers a broader educational scope, encompassing nutrition and the business aspects of personal training, catering to those seeking a more comprehensive approach to fitness education. While NASM is often favored for its specialized focus, ISSA might be more appealing for those looking for an all-encompassing fitness certification.

Is ACE or NASM better?

Choosing between ACE (American Council on Exercise) and NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) largely depends on your specific career goals and the type of educational content you prefer. ACE is well-regarded for its broad approach to fitness education, emphasizing lifestyle coaching and behavioral change, making it ideal for trainers focusing on a diverse clientele. NASM is celebrated for its Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model, which is highly effective for corrective exercise and performance enhancement. Your career path should guide your decision between these two respected certifications.

Is NASM or ACSM better?

The choice between NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) depends on your intended career trajectory within the fitness industry. NASM is widely recognized for its effectiveness in functional and corrective exercise, appealing to personal trainers in fitness centers and private practice. ACSM is esteemed for its scientific foundation and is often the preferred certification for those working in clinical settings or with special populations requiring tailored exercise interventions. Consider your career goals and the client demographic you wish to serve when choosing between these certifications.

Is IFPA a good certification?

The IFPA (International Fitness Professionals Association) certification is indeed regarded as one of the best certifications for personal training. It’s recognized for its scientific approach to fitness and detailed coursework. While it may not be as widely recognized as NASM or ACE, it is still considered one of the best fitness certifications for those looking to deepen their knowledge and skills in personal training. The IFPA’s commitment to providing practical skills alongside theoretical knowledge makes it one of the best fitness trainer course options for those looking to make a significant impact in their training careers.

What personal trainer certificate is most respected in the USA?

In the United States, the NASM and ACE certifications stand out as particularly respected among personal trainer credentials. NASM is noted for its specialization in corrective exercise and performance enhancement, whereas ACE is known for its comprehensive approach to fitness and behavior change. Both certifications enjoy wide recognition and respect across various fitness facilities and among professionals in the field.

What is the hardest PT certification?

The difficulty of a PT certification can vary based on an individual’s academic background and familiarity with the subject matter. ACSM is often perceived as one of the more challenging certifications due to its focus on clinical populations and adherence to scientific principles. However, for those without a strong foundation in exercise science, any major certification, including NASM, ACE, and NSCA, could present significant challenges.

Is ISSA harder than NASM?

The relative difficulty of ISSA compared to NASM varies based on personal strengths, educational background, and familiarity with each program’s content. ISSA’s comprehensive curriculum that includes nutrition and business might pose a challenge for some, while NASM’s detailed focus on its Optimum Performance Training model requires a deep understanding of exercise science, which could be difficult for others.

How hard is the ISSA final exam?

The ISSA final exam’s difficulty will differ for each person, contingent upon their study practices, prior knowledge, and grasp of the coursework. ISSA offers extensive study materials and support to aid in exam preparation, making it manageable for those who are well-prepared.

How difficult is the NASM exam?

The NASM certification exam is known to be challenging, particularly for individuals who may lack a robust background in exercise science or are not familiar with NASM’s specific methodologies. The organization provides comprehensive resources and guidance to aid in preparation, but a thorough understanding of the material is essential for success.

What certifications do most gyms accept?

Most gyms widely accept certifications from NASM, ACE, ACSM, and NSCA. These certifications are well-regarded within the industry for their comprehensive educational content, adherence to scientific principles, and focus on practical application in a fitness setting.

How hard is the ACE personal trainer exam?

The ACE personal trainer exam is considered challenging, with a comprehensive test of knowledge on exercise science, program design, client interaction, and safety. Success on the exam requires diligent study and a strong grasp of the material covered in the ACE curriculum.

How much does an ACE certified personal trainer make in the US?

An ACE-certified personal trainer’s income in the US can vary widely based on location, work setting, client base, and years of experience. On average, personal trainers can expect to earn between $30,000 and $60,000 annually, with those working in larger cities or with specialized clientele potentially earning more.

How credible is NASM?

NASM is highly credible in the fitness industry, known for its evidence-based approach and comprehensive certification programs. Its focus on corrective exercise and performance enhancement, backed by scientific research, makes it a trusted name among fitness professionals and health organizations.

Is ACE nationally accredited?

Yes, ACE (American Council on Exercise) is nationally accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), ensuring its programs meet high standards for quality and professionalism in the fitness industry.

Is NASM nationally recognized?

Yes, NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) is nationally recognized and its programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), reflecting its commitment to high educational and professional standards.

Is NASM recognized worldwide?

NASM is recognized worldwide as a leader in fitness certification and education, with its methodologies and certifications respected by fitness professionals and organizations globally.

Is the ISSA certification respected?

Yes, the ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) certification is respected within the fitness industry, known for its comprehensive approach to fitness education and its inclusion of business and nutrition education within its certification programs.

Is NASM credible?

NASM is highly credible within the fitness industry, with a reputation for providing science-based, research-driven training methodologies and certifications that are respected by fitness professionals and health organizations worldwide.

Is NASM nationally accredited?

Yes, NASM is nationally accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), ensuring its certification programs adhere to high standards of quality and professionalism.

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References:

  1. https://www.credentialingexcellence.org/ncca
  2. https://www.acefitness.org/
  3. https://www.afaa.com/
  4. https://www.nasm.org/
  5. https://www.acsm.org/
  6. https://www.ncsf.org/
  7. https://www.nfpt.com/
  8. https://www.nsca-lift.org/
  9. https://www.ifpa-fitness.com/
Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®). He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life.
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