Can you be a personal trainer without ACE certification? There are many different personal training certifications you can get, but you don’t necessarily have to get an ACE certification. It is important, however, for you to get a nationally-accredited personal training certification of some kind. You may be able to work as an independent contractor, without being affiliated with a gym, without a certification, but having one presents you as an authority in your field to both employers and prospective customers.
Fitness Careers That Don’t Require a Certification
If what you’re really asking here is if you have to get a personal training certification in general to work in the fitness industry, the answer is: technically no, as long as you’re OK with not being a fitness trainer or group fitness instructor. If your interest is mainly in marketing your own fitness or just being around people who care about fitness, then there are several different careers you can choose from.
- Gym Attendant
- Social Media Influencer
- Fitness Blogger
- Customer Service Rep at a Yoga Studio
- Front Desk Worker at Recreation Center
- Fitness Model
- Body Builder
And this list doesn’t even include jobs that require other types of careers. If you were interested in getting a degree, then you could be a kinesiologist, physical therapist, fitness magazine editor, nutritionist, registered dietitian, and so much more.
Other Nationally-Accredited Personal Training Options
If your search query really was specifically asking, “Can you be a personal trainer without ACE certification,” then the answer is yes, absolutely, because there are tons of other certifications to choose from. Here’s a list of other nationally-accredited personal training certification options.
- Academy of Applied Personal Training Education
- American College of Sports Medicine
- ACTION Personal Trainer Certification
- Athletics and Fitness Association of America
- American Fitness Professionals and Associates
- International Fitness Professionals Association
- International Sports Sciences Association
- National Academy of Sports Medicine
- National Council for Certified Personal Trainers
- National Council on Strength and Fitness
- National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association
- National Exercise Trainers Association
- National Federation of Professional Trainers
- National Personal Training Institute
- National Strength and Conditioning Association
Note: The list above is taken (nearly) word-for-word from another blog we wrote called “Which Certification Should I Get as a Trainer?”
Again, this isn’t even a comprehensive list. If you’re diligent, we’re sure you could find other options. In fact, you may be interested in getting a specialty personal training certification. We provide a detailed list below.
Specializations You Can Get as a Personal Trainer
You can’t be a personal trainer without getting some kind of certification. What’s more is that getting a personal training certification is really just the bare minimum required of you if you want to be an authority in the fitness industry. What you want is something that will set you apart. The best way to do that is by getting a specialized certification. Here are a few to choose from, but again, this is not a comprehensive list. There are tons for you to choose from!
If you want to advise people on what they should eat to be the healthiest version of themselves, then you should consider getting a nutrition specialization. Although we’re sure you’ve done a lot of research about nutrition, a certification course will teach you even more and give you the credentials you need to work in this field.
Health Coach Specialization
It’s one thing to have a blog or Instagram account dedicated to fitness, but it’s another to be a certified health coach. Take your online influence to the next level with a health coach specialization.
Youth Fitness Specialization
Are you particularly passionate about working with adolescents? You can make yourself a more obvious choice as a personal trainer or fitness instructor by getting a youth fitness specialization.
Senior Fitness Specialization
As we age, our bodies develop more specific needs. While cardio is still important, you have to know the right cardiovascular exercise to recommend to older clients. You can be a resource to older clients by getting a senior fitness specialization.
Behavior Change Specialization
The phrase “It’s all in your head” is misleading: It makes you think that what happens in your head is separate from your body, from what’s real. But your brain is an organ, part of your body. Exercise can change your neurological makeup and change your behavior. Get a behavior change specialization to help people tap into neuroplasticity.
Corrective Exercise Specialization
You don’t have to be an extreme athlete to suffer an injury during a workout. You have to know the proper postures and be able to correct postures that could lead to injury. When you get a corrective exercise specialization, you can help your clients avoid getting hurt during a workout.
Performance Enhancement Specialization
Your average client will likely hire you for one of two reasons: to improve their health, generally, or to look good. However, if you want to work with clients who want to improve their endurance, strength, flexibility, etc., then consider getting a performance enhancement specialization.
Group Fitness Instructor Specialization
If you want to be certified to work with groups, rather than just working with clients one-on-one, then what you’ll need is a group fitness instructor specialization. If you’re interested in working in a specific industry (like yoga or orange theory), then the franchise may require that you have a specific certification in that brand of group exercise. Check first!
Women’s Fitness Specialization
Getting a women’s fitness specialization can open up a lot of doors for you. First, you’ll be able to work with women who want to make sure their instructor understands their anatomy, how it differs from men. Second, you’ll learn a series of modifications to traditional exercises for women’s bodies.
Military Preparation Specialization
To get accepted into certain branches of the military, you have to be a certain BMI. By getting a military preparation specialization, you can help your clients get in shape for basic training.
MMA Conditioning Specialization
Mixed martial arts (MMA) requires a certain kind of strength in order to be successful. Of course, if someone wants to improve their skills in MMA, they’ll want to take an MMA class. But to grow stronger, they’ll want to work with someone, one-on-one, who can help them get in the right shape. You could be the person who helps them if you get an MMA conditioning specialization.
Golf Fitness Specialization
In the same way people need specific strengths and skills to be successful in MMA (in the point above), people need the same thing to be successful in golf. People who are particularly committed to golf will be interested in hiring someone who specializes in this field.
Special Needs Specialization
Getting a special needs specialization can make you uniquely qualified to work as a fitness instructor with people with special needs. A general special needs specialization teaches you about both physical and developmental disabilities, so you can help a wide range of clients.
PROs & CONs of Getting an ACE Personal Training Certification
If your question is really whether you should choose the ACE certification over the others, then what you need is to review the PROs and CONs of the program. We’ve done the research for you. Check out our list below.
PROs of Getting an ACE Fitness Certification
- This is a nationally recognized certification. All of your prospective employers have heard of the ACE fitness certification and will recognize your credentials.
- This is also an internationally recognized certification, meaning that you could get it and be certified to work abroad, if you wanted to.
- You can study at your own pace. It’s totally possible to get this certification while also working full-time and raising a family.
- When studying for the ACE certification exam, you’ll have access to study coaches. Anytime you have a question, you’ll get the opportunity to ask someone knowledgeable in the subject matter and get the answer.
- When you study for the ACE certification exam, you’re not alone. There’s a Facebook group you can join to connect with people who share the same goals.
- If you pass the ACE certification exam, you are guaranteed to get an interview with a gym chain.
CONs of Getting an ACE Fitness Certification
- If you have a hard time learning without hands-on experience, this could be a difficult learning environment for you. Studying for the ACE fitness certification exam is all via book or online.
- If you hoped business skills and nutrition training would be included in the basic certification, you’ll be disappointed. The basic certification only includes information about personal training and only offers credentials for personal training.
- If you fail the test the first time, you’ll have to pay to take the exam again (although this is true for most other certification exams).
- While this is an internationally recognized certification, it won’t qualify you to work in the United Kingdom.
Want to Get Certified to Work With Special Needs?
If you’re passionate about working with clients with special needs, get one of our four special needs certifications! They’re affordable and can be completed online.
Strong Education teaches personal trainers, parents, and professionals how to adapt fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities through our online special needs certification course.