Is It Hard to Become a Certified Personal Trainer? | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Is It Hard to Become a Certified Personal Trainer?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. 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. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about your brand. Let us do the heavy lifting.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident fitness software decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. Our partners do not influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: The Editorial Team at is dedicated to providing fair, unbiased information about the fitness industry. We update our site regularly and all content is reviewed by credentialed fitness experts.

Get the Basics...
  • Becoming a personal trainer isn’t hard, but serious work and study are required.
  • Look at both entry-level and advanced certification programs.
  • Personal trainers need to spend a lot of time experimenting in the gym to gain knowledge.
  • Personal trainers must put the necessary effort into marketing.

The path to becoming a certified personal trainer requires work. No credible organization awards a personal training certificate easily. Preparation and knowledge are necessary to meet the requirements to pass a certification exam. The knowledge required encompasses an understanding of exercise science, nutrition, physiology, and more. A purposeful approach helps with absorbing the material and becoming certified.

Purposeful doesn’t automatically mean difficult or hard. Keeping the right perspective makes your goal for certification attainable.

The same is true of working as an accomplished personal trainer. Measurable levels of success go hand-in-hand with a bit of hustling. Personal trainers must establish themselves and raise their profile in the industry. A diligent attitude helps the cause.

Becoming a certified personal trainer means performing several tasks. Those who really love fitness usually find things aren’t all that hard. Follow the path in an orderly manner to make things easier. Everything commonly starts with selecting the right certification program.

After you’re certified, you’ll need a business management software platform to run your business smoothly. Request a demo today for our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software.

The Right Certification Program

Not all certification programs are the same. Several different organizations certify personal trainers, including highly credible ones. Anyone interested in becoming a trainer should sign up with an organization that the industry takes seriously.

Dubious certification organizations are, generally, not worth very much. Investing a little bit of time in researching the various organizations reveals which organizations and certificates are viable and which ones aren’t.

Look into all the prerequisites for a particular certifying agency. A major organization will most likely have minimum requirements for age, education, and CPR/AED certification.

The top certifying organizations often present highly involved programs and tests. The more involved the program, the more prestigious the certificate. Passing the test is mandatory for receiving the certification, which might be a heavy lift for some. Perhaps it would be wise to start with an entry-level — but still credible — personal training program since the certification test might not be very difficult.

Acquiring more than one personal training certificate is allowable. Passing an entry-level program allows for meeting basic certification requirements while working on an advanced one capable of opening more career doors.

Studying the Main Book

All personal training certification programs detail important material in a textbook. The textbook may be massive. Training prospects must study the textbook thoroughly. Rushing to memorize the material in the textbook probably won’t help you pass the test. Invest a decent amount of time to gain familiarity slowly, and absorb the material in the various chapters.

Those struggling with trying to memorize all the material in a single textbook should seek aid from other sources.

See for yourself - Meet with the Team today

Train Anyone, Anywhere in the World.

Supplementary Learning Materials

Studying for a personal trainer certification can be a little tough when relying solely on reading and attempting to memorize a book. While some may do this effectively, others need extra help.

Supplementary material, such as test question flashcards or books on common test questions, doesn’t cost much. Some publishers even offer special test study materials unique to a particular certification program. These materials could make study time even more productive.

Online test preparation programs have value as well. Some personal training organizations provide online tutoring and training for added fees. Independent organizations also run online training classes.

Retaking the Test

Not everyone passes a personal trainer certification test the first time out. Those who fail a certification test must not feel defeated. Of course, it can be discouraging to fail this test, but saying it’s “too hard” to become a personal trainer would be self-defeating. Such an attitude won’t get anyone anywhere. Just keep trying.

Expanding Exercise Knowledge

Beyond the certification, a personal trainer must know how to devise programs for clients. Expertise and experience allow trainers to stand out. A trainer’s daily exercise regimen should include experimentation. A professional should understand strength training, bodybuilding workouts, cardiovascular performance, bodyweight exercises, and more.

Trainers must also know the basics of nutrition and supplementation.

Daily reading and research into these and other topics support the knowledge that fuels program design and the ability to answer client questions.

Is it hard to put in the work necessary to gain all of this knowledge and experience? Perhaps the answer comes down to how much someone loves health and fitness. Committed exercise enthusiasts probably won’t even consider the learning phase as work but as an enjoyable lifestyle instead.

Enjoying the lifestyle makes handling the marketing and business aspect a bit easier, too.

The Career Path

Passing a certification test doesn’t automatically lead to job offers. Searching for a job requires a number of tasks including:

  • Meeting the experience requirements of various gyms
  • Networking with fitness hobbyists and professionals
  • Creating a résumé that highlights all fitness and personal training skills
  • Landing and retaining clients
  • Taking your services online

Like anyone else on the road to being a certified personal trainer, all of these steps are only as difficult as you make them. An upbeat, goal-oriented perspective will make your career goals more attainable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which personal training certification is the best one?

All of the various personal training certifications have different requirements, costs, study materials, exam details, recertification requirements, and continuing education credits (CECs) or units (CEUs). It’s important to do your homework and review all of the details before deciding on which one is best for you. The certifications that have been NCCA-accredited are more reputable than others that are not accredited because they have met a certain level of standards for the certification.

How long should I study for a personal training certification exam?

It varies among individuals. If you recently finished a degree with courses covering most of the content in the exam, you might be able to take it more quickly than someone who does not have that background. With NESTA, once you register for the exam, you have 90 days to complete the exam. Other organizations will vary on their timelines.

How much money do personal trainers make?

This varies depending on location, experience, and how many clients you are training.

Where can I train my personal training clients?

There are a number of places where you could train your clients like a gym, a park, your home, their home, or your own studio.

Take your training to new heights with our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software. Request a demo today. 

Learn more about Fitness Business Management Software.

Schedule your demo today.