NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Review [Updated]

Get the Basics...

  • The National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) is a well-respected, NCCA-accredited CPT certifying body.
  • NCSF offers CPT, CSC, and SNS certifications, as well as combo certifications.
  • Home Study and Workshop packages are offered to prepare candidates for the exam.
  • The exam is three hours long and covers 150 multiple-choice questions.
  • Every two years, NCSF credential holders must recertify with NCSF and prove 10 CEU hours in order to maintain their certification.

Congratulations on your decision to be a personal trainer! You’ve picked a career that will change lives and is personally fulfilling.

Although the choice to pursue personal training may have been easy, you’ll soon find that a lot of decisions are involved in becoming a personal trainer.

What organization should you be certified with? How should you prepare to take the certifying exam? Should you get a combo certification?

The National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) is one of the more popular certifying organizations and is worth considering when narrowing down your choices. Below, we will dive into this organization and highlight its pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision regarding where you would like to obtain your personal training certification.

Regardless of where you get your certification, utilize Exercise.com’s All-in-One Business Management Software to grow and manage your business! Keep track of your schedule, clients, workouts, and easily bill and manage finances. Book a demo today!

The Personal Training Profession

A personal trainer is a nationally certified individual with advanced knowledge of human anatomy, kinesiology, exercise science, and nutrition. They provide fitness instruction and education to clients in a variety of settings. They also prescribe custom-tailored programs for each client.

Personal trainers motivate clients by setting goals, providing accountability and encouragement, and giving feedback on exercise form and modifications. They can work one-on-one, lead group exercises, and teach classes or boot camps.

Between aging baby boomers and businesses recognizing the benefits of employee fitness programs, there is a growing demand for personal trainers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the personal training market will grow 13% between 2018-2028. This means there’s a job waiting for you!

The average annual wage for personal trainers is $39,820. Wage can fluctuate depending on the work setting, experience, hours and holidays, and other certifications or specializations.

About NCSF

– What Is the NCSF?

NCSF seeks to promote safe and effective physical activity for all by establishing and assessing quality standards, competency skills, and ethical practice for exercise professionals.

Three primary goals support this mission: to identify exercise professionals as health providers, encourage all exercise professionals to be certified through NCCA, and increase awareness and access to safe physical activity.

The NCSF operates under the NCSF Board for Certification, which meets throughout the year to oversee all aspects of the certification process, from exam development and administration to recertification requirements and disciplinary action.

– Accreditation

Personal trainers didn’t always need to be formally educated. Prior to 2005, trainers could simply be exercise enthusiasts who worked at a gym and charged for instructional services. But trainer education was varied and unregulated and the safety of the public was at risk.

In 2005, the International Health, Racquet, and Sports Club Association began recommending gyms and health clubs require trainer certification so clients would receive safe, standard instruction.

The recommendation gained momentum and over fifteen accrediting bodies were formed, each moderating the multiple agencies that currently certify fitness instructors.

But what exactly is accreditation, and why is it important?

Accreditation means the education provided by institutes and programs meets a satisfactory quality and standard. For fitness certifications, this means the quality educational requirements protect the health, welfare, and safety of the public. Learn more about why accreditation is important by watching the video below:

There are a number of accrediting bodies, but one of the most prestigious is the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

NCSF has been reviewed and accredited by the NCCA and is highly-respected among exercise professionals, which is a huge plus to receiving certification with NCSF! Your resume automatically stands out.

Most gyms and health centers prefer personal trainers certified under the rigorous standards of the NCSF because the exam is difficult to pass. Earning an NCSF certification means you thoroughly understand how to be an excellent trainer and will be a great addition to their team!

If you choose to go with a different program than NCSF, beware of scams and make sure that whatever program you choose is certified by an accrediting body. Gyms and fitness clubs won’t hire you if your certification is not from an accredited program.

NCSF: Certified Personal Trainer and Beyond

The NCSF offers several programs that meet the needs of almost any aspiring personal trainer. Even better, they make it easy and affordable to grab a few other certifications that increase your knowledge, value, skills, and paycheck as a personal trainer!

– Requirements

Like many other certification programs, NCSF has very basic eligibility requirements to sit for the personal trainer exam. They are:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Possess a high school diploma or equivalent.

That’s it!

However, NCSF does provide educational recommendations in order to pass their exam and be a successful personal trainer, such as:

  • Practical experience working in the health and fitness field.
  • Utilize their courses or preparational materials for the exam, or choose education programs by other colleges or universities.

The NCSF exam covers universally-accepted exercise theory, principles and guidelines. This allows candidates to choose study materials not offered by the NCSF.

NCSF offers three certifications: Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Strength Coach (CSC), and Sports Nutrition Specialist (SNS) certifications.

Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.

– Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)

CPT is the baseline personal training certification. CPTs work in a variety of settings, including fitness clubs, businesses, apartments or retirement communities, and more. They can be employed by a corporation or work independently as self-employed trainers. CPTs can even travel around the world, working at resorts or on cruise ships.

According to the NCSF website, CPTs work with:

  • Individuals on client-specific goals
  • Individuals preparing for specific events
  • Older adults on a variety of health and function-based needs
  • Children to enhance physical activity, motor development, and healthy habits
  • Small group classes
  • Health-compromised individuals to reduce the effects of their disease
  • Corporations to improve the health-related performance of workers and reduce stress and absenteeism

The opportunities and options are endless for CPTs! It’s an exciting and rewarding career that helps people lead more fulfilling lives.

– Certified Strength Coach (CSC)

CSCs are primarily seen in athletic facilities, schools, and universities. However, many coaches enhance sports performance in non-traditional settings, like physical therapy and wellness clinics.

Roles and responsibilities are similar regardless of the setting, but there are some variations, such as the number of athletes being trained at a time and the resources available to the CSC.

CSCs work with individuals, groups or teams and often focus on injury prevention, physical development, and skill acquisition, as well as training and conditioning to improve sports performance. Other work options include:

  • Youth programs to improve the performance-related fitness
  • Small groups to provide specific training regimens aimed at the performance components of fitness
  • Military and municipalities to ensure physical readiness

NCSF’s sports coach certification does not include certification for personal training. NCSF requires a CPT certification from NCSF or another NCCA-accredited body or a minimum of an associate’s degree in an exercise-related field in order to sit for the CSC exam.

Sometimes a secondary degree from a college or university is required for a specific work setting. This is to guarantee adequate competency to safely work with athletes and special populations.

In other settings, professional development through continuing education is enough to be a CSC. Continuing education allows for ongoing competency, career growth, and expanded services.

– Sports Nutrition Specialist (SNS)

Although the title seems exclusive to sports, an SNS actually works with a variety of populations and needs. An SNS can help clients lose weight, improve athletic performance, or enhance health through nutritional strategies.

Clients and athletes know nutrition is essential to accomplishing their goals. An SNS helps clients and athletes tailor their diets and supplements for individual needs and goals.

In addition, the demand for Sports Nutrition Specialists is growing and is becoming an increasingly trending topic in universities and professional settings.

NCSF’s SNS certification does not include a personal trainer certification. The candidate must possess a CPT certification from NCSF or an NCCA-accredited body in order to sit for the SNS exam.

– Combo Certifications

NCSF offers both separate certifications (as seen above) and two combo certifications: personal training and strength coach, and personal training and sports nutrition specialist. These complementary certifications significantly increase your marketability as an exercise professional!

Employers prefer to employ exercise professionals who have expertise in multiple fields so they can increase their profit by only employing a few highly-skilled trainers. This means in order to be competitive in the job market, it’s wise to have at least one other credential to your name.

NCSF’s combo programs increase your knowledge and skillset, setting you up for future success as a personal trainer. And at only $599 for each combo package, their programs are a great deal!

Preparation for Certification Exams

There are many options that allow study flexibility and personalization for everyone. If you are currently a CPT and choose to utilize non-NCSF study materials, there’s also an Exam Only option for all three certifications!

Each certification has different educational package options and expected lengths of study time. Let’s get into the specifics of each one.

– Certified Personal Trainer

NCSF offers a Home Study Course & Exam and a Workshop Course & Exam. A “Plus” package is available for both the home study and workshop options which includes a hard copy of the digital textbook.

The Workshop Course & Exam is a weekend of learning from NCSF experts using interactive PowerPoint lectures and hands-on training. Instructors review technical aspects of exercise science theory and then combine the theory with training activities.

Participants perform assessments, learn various testing procedures and effective instruction training, biomechanics, practice resistance training activities for multiple outcomes, and apply all of their knowledge in several case studies.

If you’re a verbal or kinesthetic learner and you live close to a major city, the workshop course may be for you! Make sure to register four to six weeks in advance to reserve your spot.

You should anticipate and plan additional study time reviewing and comprehending the concepts presented during the workshop before taking the exam. Most candidates find they need several months of study before feeling fully prepared.

The Home Study Course & Exam allows the convenience of self-paced learning. Each student is sent the Course Textbook, access to an e-Learning platform, and complete instructor support. The video below is an example of an e-Learning video:

If you’re a self-motivated and solitary learner, the home study course may be for you! The flexibility provided in this program allows you to take your time studying whenever and wherever you want.

If you initially sign up for the home study course and decide you need a workshop to further your understanding, no problem! A $99 fee covers the cost of the workshop.

Most candidates take several months to complete the home study to feel confident in their knowledge and skills before taking the exam.

The following table shows the package options and prices available for Certified Personal Training certification through NCSF:

CertifiedPersonalTrainer:ChooseYourPackage
Course Breakdowns:Exam OnlyHome Study Course & ExamHome Study Plus PackageWorkshop Course & ExamWorkshop Plus Package
Personal Training Textbook 2nd Edition(Digital)xxxx
Personal Training Textbook 2nd Editionxx
Workshop Reference Guidexx
Instructional Videosxxxx
Lesson Notesxxxx
Questions and Answersxxxx
Review Quizzesxxxx
Instructor Supportxxxx
Membership (One Year)xxxx
2-days of workshop instruction (16 hours)xx
NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Examxxxxx
Practice Exam Questionsxxxx
Price$299$499$549$549$599

Table from NCSF.

– Certified Strength Coach

The educational packages to obtain a strength coach certification are very similar to a CPT. Home Study and Workshop packages (along with the “Plus” programs) help prepare candidates for the CSC exam.

The Workshop Course & Exam is a weekend of hands-on training from exercise professionals covering many of the lifts and drills found in the course textbook. Students will learn the material by performing in the drills and lifts and receiving instruction.

Topics include flexibility, warm-up drills, the foundations of Olympic lifts, and assistive movements. Multiple hours are dedicated to perfecting the Snatch and the Clean, the back squat, front squat, overhead squat, the presses and jerks, and assistive exercises. Watch this video to see the workshops in action:

Candidates should plan to spend two to four months, in addition to the workshop, studying the material provided in the course package.

The Home Study Course & Exam includes a course textbook, the NCSF e-Learning platform with 300+ instructional and how-to videos, and practice exams. You can progress through the subject areas at your own pace and use the quizzes and activities to assess your knowledge.

While the CSC program sounds almost identical to CPT, there are some differences are worth noting:

  • In order to enroll in the NCSF-CSC program, you must first have a CPT from the NCSF or another NCCA-accredited organization.
  • If you purchase the home study course and want to enroll in a workshop, you must contact NCSF about enrolling in a workshop.

The following table shows the package options and prices available for Certified Strength Coach certification through NCSF:

CertifiedStrengthCoach:ChooseYourPackage
Course Breakdowns:Exam OnlyHome Study Course & ExamHome Study Plus PackageWorkshop Course & ExamWorkshop Plus Package
Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning Textbookxx
Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning (Digital Edition)xxxx
Instructional Videosxxxx
Lesson Notesxxxx
Questions and Answersxxxx
Review Quizzesxxxx
Online Certified Strength Coach Practice Examxxxx
Certified Strength Coach Reference Guidexx
8 NCSF CEUs(Meets Ethics Requirement)xxxx
2-days of workshop instruction (16 hours)xx
Membership (One Year)xx
NCSF Certified Strength Coach Examx
Price$299$499$549$549$599

Table from NCSF.

– Sports Nutrition Specialist

The SNS study materials are only available online, but the e-Learning platform has plenty of study materials to thoroughly prepare the candidate for the exam: 200+ practice exam questions, digital flashcards, instructional videos, notes, question and answers activities, and review quizzes!

The “Plus” package includes an SNS textbook that is not provided in the standard package.

The preparation material covers five units:

  1. Recommended Nutrients and Intakes
  2. Physiological Concepts for Nutrition
  3. Macronutrients
  4. Micronutrients and Supplementation
  5. Nutrition and Physiological Adaptations to Exercise

Candidates review the material and then apply their knowledge in practical lab activities provided in the course package. Most candidates find they need two to four months to feel prepared for the exam.

The SNS program has also been approved for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for personal trainers and strength coaches. This is a great way to add more credentials to your name while keeping up with your certification renewal requirements! (We’ll discuss CEUs thoroughly in a later section)

The following table shows the package options and prices available for Sports Nutrition Specialist certification through NCSF:

Sports Nutrition Specialist:ChooseYourPackage
Course Breakdowns:Exam OnlyCourse & ExamPlus Package
E-Learning Accessxx
Instructional Videosxx
Lesson Notesxx
Practical Activitiesxx
Review Quizzesxx
Online Sport Nutrition Specialist Practice Examxx
Online Sport Nutrition Specialist Flashcardsxx
Instructor Supportxx
8 NCSF CEUs(Meets Ethics Requirement)xx
Sport Nutrition Specialist Textbookx
Sport Nutrition Specialist Examxxx
Price$299$499$549

Table from NCSF.

– Combo Certifications

NCSF strongly encourages their combo certifications, and with a compelling reason. Even though the demand for personal trainers is on the rise, it’s best to have extra certifications from the very beginning of your career to be a better trainer and more competitive in the job market.

If you’re intrigued by or want a career in conditioning or nutrition, the combo certifications are for you! Not to mention, the combos are offered at a great price!

Preparation for the exams is accomplished through home study materials. There’s plenty of variety, including the textbook, lesson notes, interactive videos, self-tests, hundreds of practice exam questions, and more.

Instructor support is also available via chat or phone to answer specific questions.

Simply order the package deal for CPT & CSC or CPT & SNS to get started! When you feel ready, take your exam using the on-demand testing voucher.

The Certification Exam: An Overview

It’s time to put all of your dedicated studying to the test… literally! Once you’ve completed the course and feel competent in the material, it’s time to take your certification exam! Watch the following study tips for right before your exam:

– Exam Registration

Regardless of your course choice, you can take the exam once you feel ready. But remember to take the exam within six months after purchasing your course package! If six months pass without testing, you must re-register with NCSF in order to take the exam.

You can also take any exam without purchasing a study package. This is for candidates who choose to use study materials other than what’s provided through NCSF.

Register for your exam at a Prometric testing center in your area. If you bought study material through NCSF, the exam fee is conveniently covered under your package purchase.

If you can’t make your scheduled appointment time, call the Prometric testing center 72 business hours beforehand. Failure to do so will require re-registration in order to take the exam.

If after registering you decide to not take the exam, you may request a refund in lieu of rescheduling. Contact the NCSF in writing within 30 days of your original exam registration and a 50% refund can be awarded. Refunds are not granted after the 30 days has expired.

– Exam Day: What To Expect

Arrive at Prometric at least fifteen minutes early to sign in and validate your identity with a government-issued, signature-bearing I.D. such as a driver’s license or passport. At your exam time, the Test Center Administrator will lead you to a computerized test workstation.

All certifications allow three hours to complete a 150-question, multiple-choice exam. A minimum score of 70 is required in order to pass the exam.

At the completion of the exam, a Pass/Fail score will appear on the screen. Your score report will be emailed to you and results will be submitted to NCSF.

After finishing, the proctor will escort you from the testing room for check out.

If you didn’t meet the minimum passing score, you must contact NCSF to schedule a re-take exam. If you passed, a certification package containing a frameable certificate and a wallet-size membership card will be sent within two weeks of passing the exam.

CPT, CSC, and SNS Exam Expectations

Now that we’ve discussed an overview of the exam, let’s take a look at some specifics for each certification.

– Certified Personal Trainer

The exam for CPT covers basic anatomy, exercise physiology, health screening and evaluation, nutrition and weight management, exercise prescription, and special populations. The following chart is a breakdown of questions:

CPT Exam SectionPercentage of Exam
Exercise Prescription and Programming Considerations19%
Training Instruction15%
Screening and Evaluation13%
Functional Anatomy12%
Physical Activity and Health Promotion11%
Weight Management9%
Exercise Physiology8%
Nutrition7%
Considerations for Special Populations3%
Professionalism and Risk Management3%

Table from NCSF.

In 2018, the pass rate for the NCSF-CPT exam was 77%. While this is a relatively high pass rate, many reviews on the NCSF-CPT exam warn candidates to be thoroughly prepared for the exam because of it’s difficulty.

You can take a free sample test here. For more information and clarification regarding the CPT certification process, you can access the CPT Candidate Handbook here.

– Certified Strength Coach

NCSF requires one of the following certifications as a prerequisite to sitting for the CSC exam:

  • A current NCSF-CPT certification
  • A current NCCA-accredited fitness professional certification
  • A minimum of an associate’s degree from an accredited college or university in an exercise-related profession

Although preparation for the exam is offered through NCSF, the candidate may prepare through other educational means such as college and university programs. The exam is comprised of 150 multiple-choice questions divided into the following eight sections:

CSC Exam SectionPercentage of Exam
Training Techniques for Athletic Performance20%
Advanced Programming for Sport20%
Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics15%
Performance Assessment and Evaluation13%
Sport Metabolism10%
Injury Prevention and Return to Competition9%
Nutrition and Ergogenic Aids8%
Professionalism and Risk Management5%

Table from NCSF.

The pass rate for the NCSF-CSC exam in 2018 was 54.8%. This low pass rate speaks to the difficulty of this exam and candidates should be well-prepared in order to pass.

You can take a free sample test here. The CSC Candidate Handbook is readily available for more information and clarification regarding the CSC certification process.

– Sports Nutrition Specialist

NCSF requires one of the following certifications as a prerequisite to sitting for the SNS exam:

  • Hold a current NCSF certification
  • A current NCCA-accredited fitness certification
  • Hold a license and/or certification in an Allied Health Profession
  • Hold a Teacher specific State-issued Certification or License

Preparation for the exam is offered through NCSF, but candidates may choose other forms of preparation, such as college and university programs. The exam is comprised of 150 multiple choice questions divided into the following five sections:

SNS Exam SectionPercentage of Exam
Macronutrients34%
Nutrition and Physiological Adaptations to Exercise20%
Physiological Aspects of Nutrition18%
Micronutrients and Supplementation17%
Nutrients and Intakes11%

Table from NCSF.

There is no data on the pass/fail rate for the SNS exam. A free sample test is available here. The SNS Policy and Procedures page is easily accessible for more information and clarification regarding the SNS certification process.

Maintaining Your Certification

Congratulations on the huge success of passing the exam and earning the distinguished NCSF certification! Once you’ve passed the exam and received your certification in the mail, you can begin your career as a CPT, CSC, or SNS.

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Like many health professions, you must recertify and successfully complete a certain amount of continuing education hours to continue practicing as an exercise professional.

– The Basics

All NCSF professionals are required to recertify every two years. This ensures that practicing professionals are in compliance with current NCSF practice standards, ethics and code of conduct, are growing in their field, and are keeping up with trends and new data.

NCSF offers two options for recertification:

  • Retake the certification exam: Simply retake and pass the NCSF certification exam. Eligibility requirements, registration, and fees still apply.
  • Recertification by CEUS: Earn new knowledge and skills by enrolling and successfully completing NCSF-approved continuing education units (CEUs). 10 CEUs are required every two years.

The recertification fee for one credential (CPT, CSC, or SNS) is $75 and $100 for multiple credentials. Fees are subject to change at any time.

A Recertification Application, documents proving CEU completion, and appropriate fees must be mailed to the NCSF Board for Certification (postmarked prior to your current certification expiration date). Recertification requests are usually processed within three to five days.

The NCSF will deny recertification to applicants who weren’t compliant with the stated requirements. Approval is given to applicants who meet the requirements.

Your credential status is updated on the day of approval and lasts for another two year period. You receive a recertification package containing a new ID card, updated certificate, and information about future CEUs within 14 days of approval.

– The Specifics

While retaking the certification exam is an excellent review, many professionals choose to add to their skill set by enrolling in continuing education courses. These new skills increase professional value, give refreshing ideas, and help clients achieve better results.

What’s involved with earning your recertification through CEUs?

10 CEUs are the minimum requirement every two years. All CEUs must be earned in the two-year certification period in order to qualify for that recertification. Professionals can earn more than the 10 CEU minimum, but the credits won’t apply to the next recertification period.

While 10 CEUs may seem like a lot, it’s actually the lowest CEU requirement for recertification in the field! To compare, NSCA requires 60 CEUs every three years!

Three of the credit hours are designated for CPR training and Ethics & Professional Practice (two CEUs for CPR and one CEU for EPP). The other seven credit hours can be earned in one or several of the following categories:

  • NCSF CEU Library: Enroll in home study programs, workshops, or quizzes that have a pre-defined CEU value.
  • College and University Courses: CEU credit can be earned if the subject matter qualifies and the college or university is accredited. A transcript showing a passing grade must be submitted. One CEU is awarded per college credit.
  • Professional Development: Professional presentations, research participation, authoring or contributing to published written work, and industry committee work all count towards your CEU total. One CEU is given for every four hours of documented work. A maximum of 5 CEUs can be earned from this category.
  • Non Pre-Approved Coursework: These are seminars and home study courses that are not in the NCSF CEU Library but are developed and taught by an approved credentialed instructor. These earn 0.5 CEU per contact hour. (For example, a seven-hour seminar earns 3.5 CEUs.)

The NCSF Board for Certifications performs random audits to check for compliance and to verify that documentation is accurate. If you are audited, promptly respond to any concerns or questions and return requested information quickly to avoid a change in credential status.

Have more questions? Learn everything you need to know about recertification in the NCSF Recertification Handbook.

What’s the Verdict?

We’ve explored just about every aspect of the NCSF, covering the process from beginning to end, from credential options to recertification. Let’s recap the pros and cons before coming to our final conclusion.

– Pros

#1 – Excellent Educational Foundation

All of the NCSF exams are tough, and that’s a good thing! Clients must fully trust their trainers in order to meet their fitness goals. That means you better know what you’re doing and not mislead your client!

NCSF gives lots of thorough information that must be absorbed slowly and completely in order to pass the difficult exams. But this will only pay off in the end and benefit your clients.

#2 – Respected Certification

Because the NCSF exam is so difficult, passing it catches the eye of any fitness employer. NCSF is a highly-respected organization in the fitness field, which gives you great job security and opportunities.

#3 – Quick Certification

Compared to some certifying bodies (like ACSM) that take 24 months to finish, all of NCSF’s certifications must be completed in a six month time period. While this requires dedication to studying, it also keeps you focused and on track to become a personal trainer.

#4 – A Cheaper Option

Some CPT programs can be very costly (like NASM at $799). NCSF sits in the middle range of certification program costs at $499. Especially if you are interested in doing a combo certification, NCSF has an excellent price at only $599.

Additionally, qualifying military and ex-military personnel can complete the program by using funds from the G.I. bill.

#5 – A Variety of Certification Options

NCSF offers CPT, CSC, and SNS certifications, as well as CPT & CSC and CPT & SNS combo certifications. The variety available can fit the needs and aspirations of anyone interested in personal training.

#6 – A Variety of Package Options

NCSF takes into account that everyone has different budgetary needs. Their packages are fairly priced and can fit into almost any budget. There’s also a payment plan for greater flexibility. No matter what package you pick, you will be well-prepared to take the exam.

#7 – Excellent Positive Reviews

NCSF has dozens of positive reviews (an average of 4.9/5 stars!) and is highly recommended among the personal training community. Reviews boast of thorough and clear textbooks, videos, and workshops that help pass the exam, as well as excellent career preparation.

#8 – Least Amount of CEU Requirements

NCSF allows you to keep more of your paycheck by not requiring as many CEUs. In fact, NCSF requires the least amount of CEUs in the personal training field!

– Cons

#1 – NCSF Trainers Earn the Least Income

Despite the distinction and solid foundational education, NCSF trainers average the lowest income in the field at $35,061 annually. Income can be dependent upon skills, other certifications, and personal marketing, but this is still a noteworthy statistic that should be considered.

#2 – Recertification Is Every Two Years

Compared to other certifying bodies (like NESTA or ACSM) who require recertification every three or four years, NCSF requires recertification every two years. CEUs, fees, and deadlines must be met more frequently.

#3 – Less Popular

While prospective employers acknowledge and appreciate your hard-earned NCSF certification, your clients might not. The NCSF-CPT exam is attempted only 2,455 times a year, compared to NASM at over 22,000 attempts per year.

This means that when a client is selecting their personal trainer, they may pass over you simply because they didn’t recognize the acronym. It’s like buying the most popular phone because everyone has it, not necessarily because it’s the best.

#4 – The Exam Is Tough

While this is a good thing because it forces comprehension, you must also reflect on your test-taking skills. If you have exam anxiety or difficulty taking tests, NCSF’s challenging exam may not be right for you.

The Bottom Line

Choosing a personal training certification must include many factors. You must evaluate what you can afford, your test-taking skills, learning style, CEU requirements, recertification fees and frequency, and more.

While NCSF has twice as many pros to cons, you must weigh for yourself what’s important. The facts stand that NCSF-CPT is a less popular certification that tends to make the least income. It’s also a difficult exam that may not suit certain testing styles.

However, NCSF offers a solid education in a positive and enthusiastic environment. The certification is well-respected and almost guarantees employment. It’s highly recommended among the personal training community, which says a lot considering the options for obtaining CPT certification!

Our final word: NCSF is a superb credential that should be placed high on the list of certifying agencies! There’s a program for anyone seeking a CPT certification. We highly recommend it!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– How long does the NCSF certification last?

Recertification is required every two years.

– Do you have to renew your personal training certification?

Yes. There is a minimum of 10 CEUs and a fee of $75 for one certification renewal and $100 for two or more certification renewals.

– What personal trainer certificate is most respected?

NASM, ACSM, and NSCA are three of the most popular and respected certifications. NCSF is also a prestigious certification because the exam is so difficult.

– How much does a personal trainer make?

There are many factors to a personal trainer’s salary, such as additional certifications, work setting, experience, and more. On average, a personal trainer makes $39,820.

– Do you need a degree to be a personal trainer?

A degree is not required, but exercise-related education or work experience in a fitness environment is highly recommended.

We hope this review has been helpful in deciding where to receive your CPT certification!

Wherever you get your CPT certification, remember that Exercise.com’s All-in-One Business Platform sets you up for success and frees you up to fully engage with your clients. Book a demo today to learn more!

References:

  1. https://www.ncsf.org/
  2. https://www.ncsf.org/careers/job-outlook
  3. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm
  4. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm#tab-5
  5. https://www.ncsf.org/about/advocacy
  6. https://www.ncsf.org/about/governance
  7. https://www.ptpioneer.com/ncca-accredited-certifications/
  8. https://www.ihrsa.org/
  9. https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home
  10. https://www.credentialingexcellence.org/ncca
  11. https://www.ptpioneer.com/ncsf-cpt-review/
  12. https://www.ihrsa.org/industry-issues/personal-trainer-accreditation/
  13. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/policies-procedures/personal-trainer.aspx#A1
  14. https://www.ncsf.org/careers/about-the-profession
  15. https://www.ncsf.org/sport-nutrition/
  16. https://www.ncsf.org/promotions/cptcsc/
  17. https://www.ncsf.org/personal-trainer/faq
  18. https://www.ncsf.org/calendar/
  19. https://www.ncsf.org/personal-trainer/
  20. https://www.ncsf.org/strength-coach/faq
  21. https://www.ncsf.org/strength-coach/
  22. https://www.ncsf.org/sport-nutrition/faq
  23. https://www.ncsf.org/shop/strength-coach/certified-personal-trainer-certified-strength-coach-package
  24. https://www.ncsf.org/shop/personal-training/certified-personal-trainer-sport-nutrition-specialist-package
  25. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/registration/
  26. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/policies-procedures/personal-trainer.aspx#A11
  27. https://www.ncsf.org/pdf/NCSF_2018_Annual_Exam_Report.pdf
  28. https://www.starting-a-personal-training-business.com/ncsf-exam-difficulty-reviews.html
  29. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/sample-test/personal-trainer
  30. https://ncsf-websitepdfs.s3.amazonaws.com/NCSF_Certified_Personal_Trainer_Candidate_Handbook.pdf
  31. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/policies-procedures/strength-coach.aspx
  32. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/sample-test/strength-coach
  33. https://s3.amazonaws.com/ncsf-websitepdfs/NCSF_CSC_Candidate_Handbook.pdf
  34. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/policies-procedures/sport-nutrition-specialist.aspx
  35. https://www.ncsf.org/certification-exam/sample-test/sport-nutrition
  36. https://www.ncsf.org/recertify/recertify-now
  37. https://www.fitnessmentors.com/best-personal-trainer-certification/
  38. https://www.ncsf.org/recertify/ceu-courses
  39. https://www.ncsf.org/pdf/NCSF_Recertification_Handbook.pdf