If you’re researching the benefits of a NASM certification, it’s likely that you’re comparing it to other top-tier personal training certifications like ACE. Both are nationally accredited certification programs, and in truth, getting certified in either will propel into the fitness career of your dreams. However, there are some different benefits that NASM holds over ACE — and vice versa. Just review the comparison below to see which is right for you. We’ve also included some NASM reviews to help you make the most educated decision.
Which Should I Choose: ACE or NASM Certification?
Again, both certifications have their ups and downs. We’ll go over a few areas you may be specially interested in to show you the benefits of an ACE certification and the benefits of a NASM certification:
Both programs wrap the cost of the exam into the cost of the study packages. ACE has three different packages to choose from, while NASM has four. Both have payment plans available, so you don’t have to fork over all your cash up front. The basic package for NASM costs $699 before coupons are applied, and it includes the cost of the exam, a digital copy of the textbook, access to video tutorials, and practice quizzes with answers. The basic package for ACE costs $599 before specials, and it includes the exam, three digital copies of their textbooks, and one practice test with answers.
If you have testing anxiety, then you’ll want to know the structure of the exam before you sign up for either certification program. The NASM exam is made up of 120 questions, and you’re given two hours to complete it. You have to score 70 points or higher to pass. The ACE exam, on the other hand, has 150 questions, but you get three hours to complete it, and all you need is a score of 62.5 to pass.
Both programs offer an impressive array of specializations on top of the general personal training certification. Both programs offer specializations in:
- Sports performance enhancement
- Weight loss
- Senior fitness
- Behavior change
- Youth fitness
- Corrective exercises
NASM offers specializations in life coaching, women’s fitness, MMA conditioning, and golf enhancement. ACE offers specializations in orthopedic exercise, functional aging, pain-free fitness, and exercise for cancer patients.
To recertify in both NASM and ACE, you need to complete 2.0 continuing education credits and renew your CPR/AED certification (if it’s expired). Both can be completed and paid for online, and both need to be done every two years. With NASM, you have the option to avoid paying future renewal fees altogether by paying $399 up front.
Why Choose NASM for Your Personal Training Certification
Again, we think both ACE and NASM are phenomenal programs. We’ve written several blogs about both, so we’re impartial. Here are a few blogs we’ve written about ACE and NASM:
- Which Certification Should I Get as a Trainer?
- Ultimate Guide to the Best Personal Training Certification
- 5 Things You Should Know About ACE Certification
- Can You Be a Personal Trainer Without ACE Certification?
- What Can You Do With an NASM Certification?
That being said, this is the moment you’ve been skimming for:
The top 5 benefits of an NASM certification
- The basic study package includes more than one practice exam and video tutorials.
- All NASM non-basic study packages include job guarantees.
- The NASM exam has fewer test questions than other nationally accredited programs.
- NASM offers unique specializations in life coaching, women’s fitness, MMA conditioning, and golf enhancement.
- The program allows you to bypass future renewal fees by paying $399 up front.
Note: These reviews have been taken from Yelp. We chose reviews with one to five stars so you could get an idea of what people were unsatisfied about, if they were unsatisfied, and what were the benefits of a NASM certification.
From Kyle L. (4 STARS):
“I love NASM as a certifying and educational agency. But for the love of god, get sales reps that actually give a damn about their customers. I’ve made 3 orders. EVERY TIME when the rep realizes I’m actually going to buy the package and not back out, they lose all interest and emotion and can’t wait to get off the phone.”
From Mauro S. (1 STAR):
“I am very disappointed with the inflexibility NASM has with individuals who have experienced difficult situations and are not willing to do what is best for their customers. I was certified by them and I wanted to try to get more certifications and I signed up for them. Due to extenuating circumstances I was unable to finish and I quickly realized shortly after starting I didn’t want to continue. They put me with a collections agency and refused to give me any assistance to opt out even though I truly didn’t receive any value. The manager returned my call but was never available to speak even after calling over several days. I am very disappointed with this company. They only care about the money and not about their clients. And are very inflexible.”
From Raphael S. (3 STARS):
“… NASM IS more applicable to everyday people versus NSCA, and I wish I had taken that cert over NSCA back in the days. BUT, the CES program that I started two weeks prior to taking the CPT test…is SUPER BASIC. It’s basically a rerun of much of the material presented in the CPT course, and I’m extremely upset that I purchased it. I thought I would be learning advanced exercises, not mom-and-pop regurgitated CPT exercises as a solution to very complex postural issues. The price for the course should be much lower, because it’s really just reminding you about upper-crossed/lower-crossed/flat feet, and provides baby exercises to address those issues. It doesn’t get into ‘advanced’ exercises, similar to what I would expect. I was looking for something more modern, and, shall I say, post-rehab/pre-rehab/preventative-don’t-find-yourself-needing-to-go-to-rehab-cause-you-don’t-know-how-to-lift exercises. The CES course DOES NOT provide that. It’s basic dribble….”
From Kasie C. (5 STARS):
“I am a NASM CPT (and almost CES) graduate. This certification helped me land jobs SO fast! It is the most accredited and thorough certification. I have a B.S. (not in kinesiology or PT.) After receiving my CPT cert, I was able to get a job in a big box gym (and didn’t have to use the rest of my program’s job guarantee.) Now I am a manager within corporate wellness! Most PTs dream of corporate wellness. Well include a BOMB Instagram for fitness, client workouts, experience with tons of clients, and daily DAILY daily (it’s a lifestyle) research and reading about the body and exercises, I landed this amazing job. I’m also able to land jobs in big-box and boutique gyms with my certification. During all my interviews (over 4) they know NASM is the best out there. I purchased the +$1200 program for CPT and self study CES. They were awesome!”
From Stephanie D. (2 STARS):
“NASM seems to be incredibly attentive IF you are signing up and purchasing more certifications. Once you re-certify for life, their attention to members is horrible. They sent me emails for the entire 2 years between certification renewals, saying that they would make it easy for me to “rectify” if I wanted to. . .RIDICULOUS. I WAS RE-CERTIFIED and I called multiple times to ask them to FIX THIS in their system so I wasn’t continually bombarded by these inaccurate emails. Because they told me to just “ignore” the emails and DID NOT fix my status in their systems, the NASM online portal REFUSED to let me upload my CEU’s when it actually came time to do so, claiming that my certification had expired. Customer Service is LACKING, from the wait time on hold when trying to remedy this (24 minutes waiting) to the unprofessional attitude that their representatives gave when I asked them to remedy the problem during the 2 years in-between my certification renewals. Like I said, once you re-certify for life and you are not obligated to pay any money for that process, you are UNIMPORTANT to NASM it would seem.”
Want to Set Yourself Apart as a Personal Trainer?
Now that you know the benefits of a NASM certification and an ACE certification, you can make an educated decision about your future. Now, you can focus on setting yourself apart as a personal trainer.
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