Which Certification Should I Get as a Trainer?

Which Certification Should I Get as a Trainer

You know that you’re passionate about fitness, and you want to help people improve their health. A career as a personal trainer sounds perfect for you, but you might be wondering, “Which certification should I get as a trainer?” With so many great certification options to choose from, this is a very common question. We’ll go over all of your certification options here, so that you can make an informed decision.

What Are the Different Types of Personal Training Certifications?

Here’s a list of personal training certification programs in alphabetical order:

  • Academy of Applied Personal Training Education
  • American Council on Exercise
  • 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

Keep reading to see the specifics of each certification. Some have specializations or ways that make it easier to take the course and/or exam, which means they could be the right choice for you.


American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certification

Established in 1985, the popular ACE certification is great for anyone who needs individual attention to learn a new skill. To get this certification, you have to be 18, have a valid form of ID, a high school diploma (or GED), CPR/AED certification, study/take the course ($699) and pass the exam ($399).

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certification

The oldest certification program on this list (started in 1954), ACSM is great for anyone who doesn’t do well in a traditional school setting. The course is customizable and increases in difficulty only as you improve your skills. To get certified with ACSM, you have to be at least 18, have a high school diploma (or GED), be CPR/AED certified, study/take the course ($78-$173) and pass the exam ($279-$349).

American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA) Certification

A certification program that began in 1994, the AFPA is one of the better options for military veterans. Vets receive reimbursement on certification expenses. To become AFPA certified, you have to be at least 18, a military veteran, have a high school diploma (or equivalent), study/take the course ($499) and pass the exam ($250, included in the course price).

Academy of Applied Personal Training Education (AAPTE) Certification

Established in 1996, this certification is great for anyone wanting to combine their knowledge of anatomy with their passion for fitness, without going to school for Kinesiology (or perhaps, combining it with your degree). To get this certification, you have to be at least 17 years old, have a valid ID, be CPR/AED certified, study/take the course ($995-$1,300) and pass the exam ($295).

ACTION Personal Trainer Certification

Appropriately named for a personal training certification, ACTION is one of the newest programs on this list, established in 2014. This NCCA-accredited certification is perfect for anyone trying to save on certification expenses. To receive this certification, you just have to be CPR/AED certified, study/take the course ($99-$249) and pass the exam ($174).

Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Certification

AFAA (established 1983) is perfect for someone with a busy daytime schedule. The course is all online and includes video lectures, downloadable PDFs and an online exam. To get the AFAA stamp of approval, have a valid form of ID, a high school diploma (or equivalent) and a CPR/AED certification. You must also study/take the course and pass the exam (the total cost: $578).

Which Certification Should I Get as a Trainer

International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA) Certification

A 90s baby (established in 1994), the IFPA certification is perfect for someone who is self-motivated and self-disciplined. This certification requires a lot of independent study. To get certified, you have to be 18 or older, have a high school diploma (or GED), be CPR certified, study/take the course ($499-$1,049) and pass the exam ($349, included in the course price).

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Certification

Began in 1988, the ISSA certification is great for any aspiring personal trainer who is starting at square one. Once certified, ISSA provides you with a website, assistance finding a job and a money-back guarantee. To become certified, you just have to have a high school diploma (or GED), be CPR/AED certified and take the course and exam ($799 for both).

National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) Certification

The NCCPT certification, established in 1995, is one of the better choices for the commercial personal trainer. If you’re hoping to work at a gym, this is the certification for you. To get certified with NCCPT, you just have to be 18, have a valid ID, be CPR certified, study/take the course ($480-$640) and pass the exam ($240-$319).

National Council of Strength and Fitness (NCSF) Certification

A certification with a majestic name, NCSF began its legacy in 1995. This certification program is perfect for the academic. Over 200 schools teach the course, and it suits individuals who feel comfortable in an academic setting. To get NCSF certified, you must be 18 years old or older, have a high school diploma (or equivalent), study/take the course ($499-$585) and pass the exam ($299, included in the course price).

National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Certification

NESTA started its certification program in 1992, which is nearly as new as the technology it teaches. This path is perfect for anyone with a passion for both fitness and technology. During the course, you’ll learn how to use equipment such as heart rate monitors. To get NESTA certified, you have to be 18 or older, have a valid ID, have a high school diploma (or GED), be CPR/AED certified, study/take the course ($399-$997) and pass the exam ($349, included in the course price).

National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA) Certification

One of the more established certification programs, the NETA started in 1977. This certification is great for anyone looking to specialize in class-style fitness, such as barre. To receive this niche certification, you have to be at least 18, have a high school diploma (or equivalent), be CPR/AED certified, study/take the course ($79-$499) and pass the exam ($349).

Which Certification Should I Get as a Trainer

National Personal Training Institute (NPTI) Certification

In 1997, the creators of NPTI diploma designed it for individuals who prefer learning through visual aids, hands-on experience, or practical implementation. During the course of this certification process, you’ll get hands-on experience with a personal trainer. To obtain NPTI certification, you need to meet the following requirements: You must be 18 years or older, possess a high school diploma (or GED), pay a $75 application fee, and have your physician declare you physically healthy.

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certification

Additionally, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certification stands as a prestigious gateway for those aspiring to play a pivotal role in shaping the fitness and performance levels of professional athletes. Moreover, established in 1978, this certification program has been a benchmark of excellence in the field, setting the standard for strength and conditioning professionals.

To embark on this rewarding journey, candidates must meet specific eligibility criteria. Individuals interested in pursuing the NSCA Certification should be at least 18 years old, possess a valid form of identification, and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Additionally, a prerequisite for enrollment is a CPR/AED certification, emphasizing the importance of safety and emergency response in the realm of strength and conditioning.

To begin with, the certification process involves a comprehensive course of study that can be undertaken at a cost ranging from $287 to $507. Additionally, this educational phase equips candidates with the knowledge and skills required to excel in the field. Subsequently, following successful completion of the course, candidates face a rigorous examination with a fee ranging from $300 to $435. Finally, this exam evaluates their understanding of the principles, techniques, and best practices within the domain of strength and conditioning.

By attaining the NSCA Certification, individuals not only gain recognition within the fitness industry but also position themselves as qualified professionals capable of optimizing the performance and well-being of athletes. This certification demonstrates their commitment to excellence and to promoting the highest standards in strength and conditioning training.

National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) Certification

Several established certification programs are available for those interested in pursuing a fitness career. However, if you’re looking for a program with a long history of success, consider the one that started in 1988. This particular program is suitable for anyone who self-identifies as a student, regardless of their age. Furthermore, if you have a passion for fitness and enjoy learning, this certification is definitely for you. To qualify for the program, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, you’ll need to study and pass the course (which costs between $349-$449) and successfully complete the exam (which costs $199 and is included in the course price).

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certification

Firstly, started in 1987, this accredited program is one of the more popular choices for personal training certifications. Moreover, this path is suitable for anyone hoping to help those who need rehabilitative care, those who have balance issues, and those who need corrective workouts. Additionally, to receive this certification, you must have a valid form of ID, have a high diploma (or GED), be CPR/AED certified, study/take the course ($699-$1,999), and pass the exam ($599, included in the course price).

Which Certification Should I Get as a Trainer

Special Strong Training Certification

 

Additionally, the Special Strong Training Certification is the newest program on this list. It is also the only one that allows trainers to specialize in working with children and adults with special needs. Moreover, this fulfilling certification program is accredited by the ACE and NASM certifications. Notably, it only requires applicants to study/take the course ($599), pass the exam, and have a CPR/AED certification.

If you’re ready to start an enriching career as a personal trainer working with individuals with special needs, sign up for the Special Strong Training Certification today. It teaches our unique CBSE training model, which helps with balance, sensory recognition, and muscle development. Visit our sister company’s website, SpecialStrong.com, to see how our certification program has improved the lives of our clients.

 

Strong Education teaches personal trainers and service providers on how to adapt fitness and nutrition for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities through our online adaptive special needs certification course.

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