Congratulations! You’ve decided to transform your passion for health and fitness into a career.
With childhood and adult obesity levels at an all-time high, the need for qualified personal trainers is more important than ever. Over the past 20 years, the number of personal trainers has continued to increase to meet the demands of the fitness industry. And although having a degree in exercise science or physiology isn’t mandatory, being certified as a personal trainer is beneficial.
Earning your certification as a personal trainer allows you to work in fitness centers and in healthcare facilities. To manage your clients better, request a demo of our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software.
A personal trainer is a health and fitness professional who assists clients in many ways, which include setting realistic fitness goals, living a healthier lifestyle, and nutrition. And to do this, you need to have the right education and develop the skills needed to become a certified personal trainer. The time you spend earning your certification depends on your prior experience level and knowledge.
Types of Certification
Certification and continuing education are available through specific organizations, local colleges, and universities. To enroll in a certification program, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or general education equivalent.
These programs include study materials, workshops and seminars, and the final exam. Study materials and workshops prepare you to take your certification exam, which will cover a variety of topics.
These topics may include the following:
- Performing a fitness evaluation
- Weight management
- Different training techniques
You must also have CPR and automated external defibrillator certifications before you take your final exam. Typically, CPR certification needs to be renewed every two years.
Many universities and community colleges offer degree programs in exercise science. Although is it not mandatory, having a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in personal training can help you advance in your career. Some of the gold-standard personal training certifications require an exercise science (or related) college degree.
Once you graduate, your degree does not expire. It is totally separate from a personal training certification.
If you aren’t quite ready to get your degree, many learning institutions offer certificate programs, which you can combine with your personal training certification course.
Many certification programs taken at a local college give you the option of taking your final exam at an accredited personal training certification center.
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Different Types of Accreditation
Once you’ve fulfilled your prerequisites, it’s time to choose where you will take your certification courses.
Below are the top five personal training certification programs, their unique features, concentrations, and benefits:
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
- American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
While each organization has its own set of rules, many have similar recertification requirements. Regardless of which program you choose, you must keep your CPR and AED certifications current. In addition, you are also required to earn continuing education credits.
National Strength and Conditioning Association
NSCA requires recertification every two years, and like most other organizations, you must complete an additional 20 hours of continuing education per recertification period.
American Council on Exercise
ACE requires recertification every two years. They require 20 continuing educational credits, each of which is equal to one hour of training. ACE also offers in-person workshops, online courses, and different types of specializations.
International Sports Sciences Association
If you earn your personal trainer certification with ISSA, recertification is every two years. You will also need to accumulate an additional 20 hours of continuing education credits.
American College of Sports Medicine
Although ACSM offers recertification at $30 every three years, they do require 45 hours of continuing education credits. They will accept continuing education credits from other fitness organizations.
National Academy of Sports Medicine
NASM only requires 20 hours of continuing education credits every two years. However, when you receive your certification, you do have the option to pay $299, which also covers your recertification fees.
Becoming a personal trainer allows you to make a career out of something you love to do: fitness. Not only are you presented with many different roles and responsibilities, but you also have the chance to make a difference in your clients’ lives. Being able to adapt to each person you work with takes a keen eye and the right certification.
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. Check out this helpful article on personal training salaries by location.
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. For more locations and other considerations, check out this article.
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