Two of the most respected personal trainer accrediting entities are the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Personal trainer accrediting agencies help new personal trainers gain credible education, skills and clients. Of course, defining the best is also partially opinion based. Use the article that follows to form your own conclusions.

If you are considering pursuing this career, you are not alone. According to the U.S. government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook 2010-2011 edition, personal trainer positions will grow 29% between 2008 and 2018.

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Accrediting agencies and certification help personal trainers gain a professional reputation and develop a business foundation. Certification helps to distinguish personal trainers from the competition. Many accrediting agencies exist, so here’s a short list of personal trainer accrediting agencies to look at first.

What personal trainer programs are there?

There’s a variety of personal trainer certification programs from which to choose. Not all programs carry the same value to future employers. says that the top personal trainer education organizations are The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).Many fitness professionals also like the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI). Additional choices include the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and the National Fitness Association (NESTA).

Prior to enrolling in any personal trainer education and certification course, author David Rosen recommends getting your CPR certificate first in “What’s That Job and How The Hell Do I Get It?” Obtaining certification by at least one personal trainer accrediting organization is the minimum for declaring your status as a certified personal trainer. Many personal trainers obtain more than one certification to attract clients and employment opportunities.

How do I apply to The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)?

Students apply to the ACSM personal trainer course by requesting materials and making payment for them. ACSM has certified fitness professionals since 1954What Personal Training Accrediting Agencies Are The Best?. The minimum requirement for acceptance by the ACSM is proof of high school graduation or a GED. Students are provided with home study materials and books. In 2010, ACSM study materials cost approximately $125. Required workshops cost $129 to $375, and students must attend several one to three day workshops offered throughout the U.S.

The ACSM test consists of 125 to 150 questions and costs about $300. Students earn the right to use the Certified Personal Trainer designation (CPT) after successfully passing the ACSM test. The NCCA acknowledges ACSM certification of personal trainers. If a student doesn’t pass the ACSM test on the first try, a retest fee of about $150 applies. Recertification occurs every three years, and costs about $800.


How do I apply to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

NSCA has been in the business of training fitness professionals since 1993. Study materials provided by NSCA cost about $468. Students must hold a CPR and AED certificate along with proof of high school graduation. The exam costs up to $270 for members of the NSCA and up to $405 by non-members. The computer-based test lasts about 3 hours and consists of 140 questions. Industry recognition of the NSCA-CPT designation is high. NSCA-accredited fitness professionals are recognized by the NCCA. If a student doesn’t pass the NSCA exam on the first try, retesting adds up to $220 for members and $340 for non-members. Holders of the NSCA-CPT credential must recertify every 3 years at a cost of about $500.

How do I apply to ACE?

What Personal Training Accrediting Agencies Are The Best?

ACE started certifying fitness and personal trainer professionals in 1985. Applying to the American Council on Exercise is relatively easy. Cost for the course, including home study tools and books, is about $400. Students prepare for the ACE certification examination by using these materials and optional online information.

Personal trainers practice completing client evaluations, nutrition plans, and exercise program throughout the study course. Each student must attend a two-day workshop course. ACE offers the course in many cities around the country. The ACE exam consists of 150 questions and a writing sample involving a simulated client report. The cost to take the ACE test is about $220 to $250. ACE accredited personal trainers are recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Students who pass the ACE examination may call themselves ACE-certified Personal Trainers.

What happens once I am accredited?

Once you have your accreditation, you are ready to start a personal training business based on your passion for fitness and exercise. Our online training platform can help you scale your business and reach more people in less time – email us to get started!