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8 Cheapest Personal Trainer Certifications (2024)

8 Cheapest Personal Trainer Certifications (2024)

Posted by Tyler Spraul, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) on March 20, 2024 — Updated on May 7, 2024

Compare the cheapest personal trainer certifications from ACTION, ISSA, NASM, ACE, and more.

Cheapest Personal Trainer Certifications

If you want to find the cheapest personal training certification, be sure to choose a reputable provider. Are there ultra cheap personal trainer certifications that you can print out in an instant? Sure. But these overnight PT certifications aren’t worth your printer paper. Read on for the most affordable personal trainer certifications that come from reputable and trustworthy PT certification companies. Choose a low cost personal trainer certification that saves you money, yes, but that is also something you can be proud of, and that will further your personal training career.

It’s crucial to be cautious of unaccredited personal trainer certifications that might seem appealing due to their price but lack the recognition and respect within the fitness industry. Accreditation ensures that the certification meets certain standards of quality and professionalism, making it crucial for those serious about their career in fitness.

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Once you’ve chosen the cheapest personal trainer certification online from the list of reputable providers below 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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Comparison of Affordable Personal Trainer Certifications

Find the cheapest CPT certifications with this comparison of the ACTION CPT, ISSA CPT, NCCPT CPT, AFAA CPT, NASM CPT, NCSF CPT, ACE CPT, and ACSM CPT certifications.

CertificationPrice RangeProsCons
ACTION CPT$99– NCCA Accredited certification with comprehensive study materials.– Less prestigious certification. Additional proctor fees for retakes may increase the overall cost.
ISSA CPTVaries (PROMO)– Frequent specials. Offers a buy-one-get-one-free deal for CPT and Nutrition Coach certifications.– Exam difficulty varies between DEAC and NCCA-accredited exams.
NCCPT CPTVaries– Affordable option with a focus on practical training and education.– Lack of detailed pricing information available.
AFAA CPTVaries– Well-recognized certification with a strong emphasis on practical skills.– Specific pricing information varies.
NASM CPTVaries– Frequently runs discounts on CPT and CNC certifications, providing good value.– Higher price range compared to some other certifications.
NCSF CPTVaries– Provides a well-rounded approach at a lower cost, suitable for those on a budget.– Lack of detailed pricing information available in the source.
ACE CPTVaries– Offers motivational tools and mid-priced certification options for aspiring trainers.– Pricing details vary.
ACSM CPTVaries– Considered a low-cost alternative for personal trainer certification.– Specific pricing information varies.

These cheap PT certifications offer affordable options for individuals looking to become certified personal trainers, each with its unique features and benefits. It’s essential to consider factors beyond cost, such as accreditation, study materials, exam difficulty, and industry recognition when selecting the most suitable personal trainer certification program.

#1 ACTION CPT

ACTION CPT

The ACTION Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) program is an attractive option for those seeking an affordable entry into the fitness industry. With its NCCA accreditation, ACTION CPT ensures a high standard of education and credibility, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious aspiring trainers.

Pros

  • Highly affordable with options starting at $99, making it accessible to a wide audience.
  • Comprehensive study materials that cover essential fitness and training principles.
  • NCCA accreditation enhances the credibility and recognition of the certification.

Cons

  • Considered less prestigious compared to other more established certifications.
  • Additional proctor fees for exam retakes may increase the overall cost for some candidates.

The ACTION CPT program stands out for its cost-effectiveness and comprehensive curriculum, making it an ideal starting point for those new to personal training. While it may lack the prestige of more expensive certifications, its solid educational foundation and practical focus prepare trainers to enter the field confidently.

For ACTION-certified trainers looking to maximize their potential, incorporating Exercise.com’s best personal training software can significantly enhance their practice. The platform offers extensive tools for workout planning, client management, and business operations, complementing the foundational knowledge provided by the ACTION CPT certification.

Read More: ACTION CPT Certification Review

#2 ISSA CPT

ISSA CPT - International Sports Sciences Association Personal Training Certification

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Certified Personal Trainer program is known for its flexibility and comprehensive approach to fitness education. ISSA frequently offers specials, such as their buy-one-get-one-free deal, which includes both CPT and Nutrition Coach certifications, making it a great value for aspiring trainers.

Pros

  • Frequent promotional offers provide excellent value for money, often including additional certifications.
  • Comprehensive curriculum that covers a wide range of fitness and nutrition topics.
  • Online format offers flexibility for students to study at their own pace.

Cons

  • The level of exam difficulty may vary between the DEAC and NCCA-accredited versions.
  • Some in the industry perceive ISSA as less rigorous compared to other NCCA-accredited certifications.

ISSA’s CPT program is ideal for those seeking a broad education in fitness and nutrition within a flexible learning environment. Its frequent promotions make it a cost-effective choice for individuals looking to gain a well-rounded understanding of personal training and nutrition coaching.

Integrating ISSA’s broad educational scope with Exercise.com’s comprehensive personal training platform can provide ISSA-certified trainers with the tools needed to apply their knowledge effectively. The software supports customized workout creation, nutrition planning, and client communication, further enhancing the value of an ISSA certification.

Read More: ISSA CPT Certification Review

#3 NCCPT CPT

NCCPT-CPT

The National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) offers an affordable certification program with a strong emphasis on practical training and education. This certification is designed for those who prefer hands-on learning and real-world application of personal training principles.

Pros

  • Focuses on practical skills and real-world training scenarios, preparing trainers for hands-on work with clients.
  • Competitive pricing makes it an accessible option for individuals entering the fitness industry.

Cons

  • Lack of transparent pricing information may make it difficult for prospective students to evaluate the overall cost.
  • May not have the same level of industry recognition as some other certifications.

NCCPT’s CPT certification is well-suited for aspiring personal trainers who value practical experience and hands-on learning. Its emphasis on applying training principles in real-life situations ensures that graduates are ready to work effectively with clients from day one.

For NCCPT-certified trainers, leveraging Exercise.com’s best personal training software can further enhance their ability to design personalized training programs, track client progress, and manage their business efficiently. The platform’s robust features complement NCCPT’s practical approach, providing an integrated solution for career success in personal training.

Read More: NCCPT CPT Certification Review

#4 AFAA CPT

AFAA

The Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Certified Personal Trainer certification is known for its strong focus on practical skills and safety, offering a well-rounded curriculum that emphasizes functional fitness, group training, and injury prevention. AFAA’s program is designed for those looking to make a significant impact in both individual and group fitness settings.

Pros

  • Emphasizes practical skills and safety, preparing trainers to work effectively in various settings.
  • Recognized and respected within the fitness industry for its comprehensive approach to functional fitness.
  • Offers additional resources and continuing education opportunities to support trainers’ career growth.

Cons

  • Specific pricing details can be variable, requiring potential candidates to seek the most current information.
  • Some may find the curriculum more group fitness-oriented, which might not align with personal training-focused career goals.

AFAA’s CPT certification is particularly beneficial for trainers interested in both personal and group training environments. Its focus on functional fitness and safety equips trainers with the skills needed to design effective, inclusive, and safe fitness programs for a diverse clientele.

Pairing AFAA’s practical training focus with Exercise.com’s best personal training software can provide trainers with an edge in delivering personalized and group fitness programs. The software’s versatile features, including class scheduling, client management, and workout customization, align well with AFAA’s emphasis on practical fitness instruction and safety.

Read More: AFAA CPT Certification Review

#5 NASM CPT

NASM CPT - National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer program is among the most sought-after certifications in the fitness industry, known for its evidence-based approach and focus on corrective exercise and performance enhancement. NASM’s program is ideal for trainers who are serious about delving deep into exercise science and specialized fitness programming.

Pros

  • Renowned for its scientific approach and specialization in corrective exercise and performance enhancement.
  • NASM frequently offers discounts, providing good value for a certification that is highly respected in the industry.
  • Extensive educational resources and post-certification support for career development.

Cons

  • The cost can be higher compared to some other certifications, even with discounts.
  • The scientific and detailed curriculum may be challenging for those without a background in exercise science.

NASM’s CPT certification is designed for individuals who are passionate about a scientific approach to personal training and who are committed to providing high-quality, individualized client care. It equips trainers with the knowledge to address a wide range of client needs, from injury prevention and rehabilitation to performance enhancement.

Integrating NASM’s detailed exercise science approach with Exercise.com’s comprehensive personal training platform allows NASM-certified trainers to apply their knowledge practically. The software’s advanced features support the development of customized, science-based training programs, enhancing client results and satisfaction.

Read More: NASM CPT Certification Review

#6 NCSF CPT

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

The National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) offers a Certified Personal Trainer program that balances a strong academic foundation with practical application. The NCSF CPT certification is geared toward those who value a blend of scientific knowledge and hands-on training experience.

Pros

  • A balanced approach that combines scientific knowledge with practical application.
  • Competitive pricing, making it a cost-effective choice for a well-respected certification.
  • Comprehensive study materials and support resources to aid in exam preparation and career advancement.

Cons

  • The level of detail in the scientific curriculum may be intense for those new to the fitness field.
  • Not as widely recognized as some other top certifications, which may affect marketability in some regions.

The NCSF CPT program is ideal for aspiring personal trainers who seek a thorough understanding of fitness principles and how to apply them in real-world settings. The certification’s focus on blending science with practice ensures that graduates are well-prepared to meet diverse client needs effectively.

For NCSF-certified trainers, utilizing Exercise.com’s best personal training software can significantly enhance their professional practice. The software’s robust features, including detailed workout creation, progress tracking, and client communication tools, complement NCSF’s balanced educational approach, enabling trainers to deliver personalized, science-backed fitness programs.

Read More: NCSF CPT Certification Review

#7 ACE CPT

ACE CPT - American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer certification is well-regarded for its emphasis on motivational strategies and client-centered coaching techniques. ACE’s curriculum is designed to empower trainers to facilitate long-term behavioral changes in their clients, making it an excellent choice for those who are passionate about making a positive impact on health and wellness.

Pros

  • Strong focus on motivational strategies and client-centered coaching techniques.
  • Mid-priced certification options provide a good balance between cost and value.
  • Offers a comprehensive approach to health and fitness, preparing trainers for a variety of client needs.

Cons

  • Pricing details may vary, requiring potential candidates to research the most current information.
  • Some may find the emphasis on behavior change less technical than other certifications focusing more on exercise science.

ACE’s CPT certification is perfect for individuals who are passionate about guiding clients through the process of making sustainable lifestyle changes. The program equips trainers with the skills to not only design effective exercise programs but also to address the psychological aspects of health and fitness, promoting long-term wellness.

Integrating ACE’s client-centered approach with Exercise.com’s best personal training software creates a powerful combination. The software’s client management features, including progress tracking and communication tools, align seamlessly with ACE’s emphasis on motivational coaching, enhancing the ability to support clients effectively.

Read More: ACE CPT Certification Review

#8 ACSM CPT

ACSM CPT - American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Personal Trainer certification is recognized for its rigorous academic standards and commitment to advancing health through science. ACSM’s program is suited for those with a strong interest in clinical aspects of fitness and exercise prescription for special populations.

Pros

  • High academic standards and a strong focus on evidence-based practice.
  • Particularly well-suited for working with special populations and clinical settings.
  • Low-cost alternative for a highly respected and internationally recognized certification.

Cons

  • The clinical focus may not align with the goals of trainers looking for more general fitness certification.
  • The rigorous academic and scientific approach may be challenging for those without a background in exercise science or related fields.

ACSM’s CPT certification appeals to individuals looking to bridge the gap between clinical exercise and fitness. The program prepares trainers to work effectively within a variety of settings, including fitness centers, wellness programs, and healthcare facilities, offering scientifically grounded exercise prescriptions.

Pairing ACSM’s clinical expertise with Exercise.com’s comprehensive fitness business software offers a robust solution for managing clients and delivering high-quality, personalized fitness programs. The platform’s adaptable features support the implementation of ACSM’s evidence-based practices, enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of fitness services offered.

Read More: ACSM CPT Certification Review

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What is the cheapest accredited personal training certification?

While the ACTION CPT certification is the cheapest personal training certification that is NCCA accredited, it is worth evaluating other affordable accredited personal training certifications like ISSA, NASM, and others. Here is some information worth considering:

  • NFPT and NCSF offer the lowest rates on personal trainer certification exams.
  • Additional costs cover study material to help pass the exam.
  • Accredited personal trainer certifications are worth the extra money.

Becoming a personal trainer has its rewards. You can take the knowledge you amassed from years of dedication to health and fitness and turn it into a career. Some trainers choose to supplement their income while others earn great sums of money working full-time.

Both have the option of increasing or decreasing their weekly hours and income scale. Flexibility in one’s career is always a plus. With so many available benefits, why don’t you take the steps necessary toward life as a professional personal trainer?

Maybe the costs of acquiring a personal training certificate serve as the stumbling block. The stumbling block might be the size of a mountain. A lack of a certificate, though, could make career success elusive. Holding a certificate from an accredited organization certainly makes landing clients or jobs at a gym less difficult than would be the case without one.

What is the absolute cheapest accredited personal training certification?

The absolute cheapest accredited personal training certification is the ACTION CPT. The student resources and exam fees for this program amount to only $99! Another bonus cheap personal trainer certification is the one awarded to the National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) with an exam fee of only $199.

Just keep in mind that there can often be additional costs.

ACTION includes both study materials and the exam, but you must also pay a $99 testing center fee. The total cost to be a Certified Personal Trainer through ACTION is $198.

NFPT offers an exam-only fee, but this should only be taken by a person with significant knowledge of personal training. Most people benefit from purchasing supplementary study material for the exam. Reviewing the study material increases the odds of passing the test on the first try.

With the NFPT, expanded options include the:

  • Standard Certification Package – $239
  • Premier Certification Package – $349

The standard certification package comes with a study guide, trainer manual, and online learning tools. The premier package offers the same components as the standard package along with assessment video reviews, practice tests, and expert support.

If you fail the exam, you may retest with either program. NFPT’s retest fee is $119. ACTION has no fee for a retest, but you must pay a fee of $99 for the testing center.

The popular American Council on Exercise (ACE) personal trainer examination costs $498. The American College of Sports Medicine charges (ACSM) charges $349 to non-members taking the exam.

When study materials are included, the prices go up significantly. Certain certification programs may cost incredible sums of money and come with the added benefit of being more prestigious.

There are organizations that offer certifications for less than $100. Completing an in-person workshop and taking an exam may be required. Other organizations simply offer online tests.

While these certifications are inexpensive, they are not accredited ones. The lack of accreditation could undermine a certification’s ability to be taken seriously by employers or clients. The extra cost for an accredited certificate isn’t wasted money.

Always check directly with the certification provider for up to date pricing information.

What exactly does “accredited” mean?

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), an entity created by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, oversees the accreditation of a number of different professions. Accreditation means the NCCA has examined the standards of the certification program. Personal training organizations are not the only ones the NCAA accredits.

Crane operators, nurses, and automotive professional certifications fall under the guidance of the NCCA’s standards. To be approved by the NCCA means that high standards have been met.

Thus, accreditation reflects that standards of quality have been met. Procuring a certification from an unaccredited organization could indicate the learned material is lacking. Even when you possess solid knowledge about personal training, presenting a non-accredited certificate might not impress anyone or help your career in any way.

Are there differences between lower-priced and higher-priced accredited certifications?

The less-costly personal trainer certificates might be fine for entry-level personal training work. Those interested in personal training in, say, a rehabilitation facility or working with a professional sports team may require a costlier certification that covers far more material in its testing.

Many personal trainers do fine throughout their career with a single accredited certification. Others may opt to acquire an entry-level certification while working on the more expensive and expansive programs. Some may choose to acquire two lower-priced personal training certifications since doing so can add to marketability.

Are there any payment and financing plans offered?

Personal training certifying organizations realize that not everyone can pay the full cost of a program all at once. While the company might not reduce the overall cost of the learning programs, a payment plan can be set up in which someone could pay for the full cost in four installment payments.

Those concerned over costs and budget may find more options available to them through the payment plan option.

Many of the learning programs take place online. Those who cease to continue making payments would find their access shut off. The specifics of each payment plan vary from organization to organization. Review each individual one for the specifics.

Is NASM or ACE cheaper?

Comparing NASM and ACE, the cost varies based on the level of package and materials you choose. Each offers different tiers that cater to various needs and budgets, making it essential to assess which provides the best value for your specific requirements.

What is the easiest fitness certification to get?

The term “easiest” is subjective and depends on your background and study habits. However, certifications that offer comprehensive study materials and support may be more accessible for beginners.

Read More: Easiest Personal Trainer Certifications

How much does the ISSA CPT cost?

The ISSA Certified Personal Trainer program’s cost can vary based on promotions and the specific package you select, including study materials and additional resources.

What is the most widely accepted personal trainer certification?

Certifications from NASM, ACE, and NSCA are among the most recognized in the industry, valued for their comprehensive curriculum and adherence to national standards.

Is it easy to make money as a personal trainer?

Earning potential as a personal trainer can vary widely based on factors like location, clientele, specialization, and whether you’re working independently or through a gym. Building a solid client base and offering specialized services can enhance earnings.

Read More: Personal Trainer Income Ideas

How much does NASM CPT cost?

The cost of NASM’s Certified Personal Trainer program depends on the package and materials chosen, with several options available to fit different educational needs and budgets.

How much is the NASM self study?

NASM’s self-study package price varies, often depending on current promotions or discounts. It’s designed for those who prefer an independent learning pace and structure.

What is the best personal training certification?

Likely, the best certification program would be the one that’s the perfect fit for you. The structure of the program, the material on the test, and the cost all contribute to what would be right for you. Neither the least expensive nor the most expensive certification may be the best. Look at all the programs and see what they offer. Don’t immediately sign up with any certification organization. Really think about what certification program to go with.

Read More: Best Personal Training Certifications

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Founder, Core Online

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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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