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    This review presents all you need to know about the ACE certification in 2021.

    It’s the most up-to-date exposition analyzing:

    What is required to be ACE-certified
    The pros and cons of the ACE CPT
    The certification exam process

    Make sure to take the quiz to get a good idea of which certification is right for you.

    Let’s get moving!


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      Before we get started, I have three important things to tell you:

      1. I have free study guides and practice tests for the ACE CPT here.
      2. Trainer Academy has fantastic study materials and they offer an ACE exam pass guarantee.
      3. My Running Start course is 100% free and will guide you A to Z to starting your PT career.

      Welcome to my ACE review, everybody. Coach Tyler here at your service.

      It’s my ultimate goal that by the end of this article you’ll know everything you need to know about the certification. Let’s find out if this is the one for you and your training style!

      After the review, I suggest checking out their site for more info

      If you realize that the ACE certification is not the best option for you, you must read my article on the top five certifications or my ACE vs NASM article.

      So, is ACE legit? Let’s find out.

      ACE CPT Review Video

      ACE CPT Pros and Cons


      • Great credibility in the industry
      • Top-notch study materials
      • One of the best beginner certifications
      • NCCA Accredited


      • Relatively expensive
      • The test is not the easiest

      ACE Review: General Information

      Quality content

      If you are seeking for a certification based on popularity, ACE is it.

      In this section, you’ll learn how ACE came into being and its purpose.

      I’m sure you want to know more on what makes it tick.

      Stay with me.

      Let’s get right into my ACE fitness review!

      ACE is most likely the most well-known certification in the fitness industry accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, NCCA. Every single one of the dozens of personal trainer employers that I’ve talked to has not only heard of ACE (American Council on exercise), many times they prefer it for their personal trainers.

      In fact, if you look at a 12-month graph of Google trends you can see that the ACE certs (along with NASM) are clearly the most searched certifications on Google.

      This is very indicative of the certification’s popularity.

      Forget about the high fees for once; this certification can get you through many doors.

      Gym owners are aware of the rigor ACE puts its candidates through and as such readily believe that anyone with the certificate must have something to offer.

      They believe that for you to study that hard and passed the relatively tough exam, you must be serious and know your onions.

      ACE Certification Review [year] - ACE Cost vs Value, Is ACE worth it? 4

      The American Council on Exercise, ACE, was founded in 1985.

      Although they are not as old as ACSM or NSCA, they were one of the first agencies to be accredited by the NCCA.

      The NCCA, on the other hand, is widely recognized as one of the best agencies for accreditation in the personal training industry.

      ACE certification board award other certifications such as;

      From commercial gyms to local studios, ACE  is known as a top-tier certification.

      There are over 50,000 individuals certified through ACE and that number keeps increasing at a rapid pace.

      Besides being one of the largest certifying agencies, they are also a nonprofit. I would put this certification up in the ranks with NASM and NSCA

      The following will give you a good idea of what they have to offer and the value you will get from the ACE exam costs you will incur.

      I suggest that you go to the ACE website for the most current prices and information on the IFT.

      There are some prerequisites that are needed to follow before acquiring this certification, I will discuss that later.

      I would categorize ACE as a “general” certification, given that it has several certification programs.

      This means that they do a great job of covering all of the basics of exercise science and exercise prescription.

      They do a fantastic job of teaching you how to train “the average Joe” client. This average Joe client typically needs to lose weight, fix muscular imbalances and build strength and stability.

      This is the typical client you will work with especially if you are working in a commercial gymnasium atmosphere.

      What is required to become ACE-certified?


      Knowing what you need to possess to become ACE-certified is very important.

      Join me as I highlight the basic requirements which are the first steps to be taken in your personal training journey.

      Let’s move along!

      The minimum requirement for any of the ACE certifications are;

      • You must be at least 18 years old at the time of registering.
      • You should have a high school certificate or the equivalent of one in order to sign up with ACE.
      • A CPR/AED certification is a must. This is also a standard practice in the integrated fitness industry
      • A valid Identification

      If you’re just getting started in the personal integrated fitness training space, make sure to check out my post that provides information about salaries of a personal trainer.

      I have also written a 5000-word guide on how to be a certified personal trainer that will answer every question that you might have.

      Prices change now and then, so check out the current ACE certification cost.

      ACE Personal Training Certification Program Options

      ACE Personal Training Certification Program Options

      A personal trainer has the basic knowledge of prescribing safe and effective exercise programs, provide guidance to help clients achieve their personal health and fitness goals, and respond appropriately in emergency situations.

      If you choose the option of becoming a personal trainer with ACE, the first step is to go to the ACE organization website to choose a certification program.

      You then choose your study program that best suits your busy lifestyle.

      The plus-study certification program

      The plus-study certification program

      This premium package costs $299

      This is a study program for those that love to go the extra mile for exams.

      The benefits of choosing the study program are;

      • You have a 4-time interest free payment plan
      • You get an online guide called ACE Academy Elite. This online guide help learners to study, organize and manage their time effectively and efficiently. This online guide comes with quizzes and articles that will better equip you to understand challenging topics in your studies whether you are new to exercise science or you already have the requisite experience in the health and fitness professionals industry.
      • You get hardcopy and softcopy of two ACE textbooks. These textbooks are ACE Personal Trainer Manual and ACE Essentials to Exercise Science.
      • You also get a study companion that helps you break down key concepts in the textbook. This also comes in hardcopy and in the digital version.
      • You get access to join live webinars where you are allowed to ask question fitness professionals questions and you get answers.
      • You get practice questions that are similar to the ones you will meet in the exam.
      • You get to write the certification exams if you choose to do so. If you decided not to write the certification exam just yet, you will have to pay $100 to take the exam when you are ready.
      • You get a workbook, Applied Exercise Science workbook that will put you through a series of real-world challenges that will test your abilities.
      • Lastly, you get all these study materials and textbooks without paying for shipping.

      It will cost you $1,399 if you want to purchase all the study materials and exams in the package individually.

      The Basic Study Program

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      The Basic Study Program

      This ACE certification cost for this particular program is $199

      The benefits of this program are not as many as that of the plus study package.

      • You will only get the digital version of the textbooks and the study companion
      • A 3-times interest-free payment plan.
      • You will get the practice exam questions and access to webinars.
      • You will also have the opportunity to write the exam.

      These two study programs are very flexible.

      When you are sure of the certification you want, choose the study program that fits your daily lifestyle and begin.

      The study programs provide digital and hard copy materials.

      You need up to 80 to 100 hours over 3-4 months to prepare to pass the exams.

      It is not a must to purchase study materials before registering for ACE exams.

      Note, however, that the ACE exams are held in locations found in most major cities within the United States.

      ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model

      Training model

      Being ACE-certified gives you the opportunity to make use of the Integrated Fitness Training model.

      In this section, you’ll discover that the model is important in designing unique exercise programs for clients.

      Learn more on IFT model below!

      Similar to NASM’s OPT training model, ACE uses the IFT model which is in addition to the popular ACE Personal Training Certification.

      This model is used in order to create dynamic and progressive workout programs for a wide variety of individuals while at the same time keeping injury prevention and safety top priorities.

      This IFT model is a systematic approach for designing exercise programs based on the unique abilities, needs, and goals of the individual who seeks to get moving.

      This IFT model is part of the training regardless of the fitness certification you choose.

      The fitness industry is booming as people get more conscious about their body and nutrition, and this explains why this model is so important at this point in history.

      Do you see why this certification is among the top fitness trainer certifications?

      Why is the CPR/AED certification so important?

      Since you will be dealing with human beings and taking them through intensive exercises, you must be proven to be a competent health and fitness expert who can work with clients safely and effectively.

      Related to that, the council expects that you will be able to handle basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and know how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

      Knowing the techniques and showing that you can speedily respond in this respect is key to proving that people can trust you with their lives.

      This explains why ACE lays so much emphasis on this.

      Being ACE certified means you have also reduced your exposure to risks, ACE offers protection for their personal trainers in terms of liability insurance.

      Know that in this industry, good professional liability insurance is necessary to keep you from exposure.

      ACE Personal Trainer Certification exam

      ACE Exam

      Testimonials have shown that first time ACE CPT exam takers have 65% chances of passing.

      Let me show you the tips I applied in passing mine years ago which is still working for those I have shared them with over the years.

      I’m sure you don’t want to be left out of the success stories.

      Ready? Let me show you how!

      First-time ACE CPT test takers have a 65% chance of passing.

      This is slightly easier to pass compared to NSCA and ACSM and is slightly easier than the NASM certification which sits at a 64% pass rate.

      The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions including a written section. You will get 125 scored questions and 25 experimental questions.

      These 25 experimental questions don’t count whether you fail them or not. You will have three hours to complete your exam.

      I suggest that you give yourself approximately six months to study for the test.

      There are three primary sections in the ACE certification test.

      Thus: the application of knowledge, analysis, and recall.

      ACE Certification exams

      About 70% to 85% of the test questions will come from the application and analysis section.

      In order to pass, you will need to score 500 points; meaning you need to ace about 90 out of the 150 questions correct.

      If you have any experience with kinesiology or exercise science, you can probably get away with much less study time.

      Be that as it may, you do not want to fail the test the first time and have to pay a retest fee. If you happen to fail on the first time around, you will need to pay $199 to retake the ACE test.

      If you changed your mind about the exam date and you want to reschedule, you are required to pay $149.

      All ACE exams are held under strict supervision to ensure that the candidates that passed the exam are truly qualified.

      Check here for more information on the ACE exam.

      Start your studying right away with my free ACE study guide and practice test right here. To broaden your knowledge also read free ISSA study material and NCSA material.

      ACE recertification

      Now, this is a big deal!

      Once certified with the ACE certification, you will need to obtain continuing education credits in order to stay certified.

      The American Council on Exercise requires it’s personal trainers to get recertified every two years. You need 2.0 continuing education credits.

      This equals approximately 20 hours of continuing education credits or 10 hours per year. ACE offers continuing education directly through their website, but in my experience, it’s not the cheapest.

      The most beneficial type of continuing education is to get advanced certification in order to expand your skillset and increase your knowledge as a personal trainer.

      You will receive email messages reminding you to apply for certification renewal 90 days before the expiration of your certificate.

      The recertification fee is $129.

      For late submission of 30 days, you are required to pay $169 and above 30days to 90 days, your fee rises to $199.

      How to recertify for ACE

      If you fail to submit the necessary credentials and make your payment within the grace period, your certificate will be declared expired and you are no longer considered an expert personal trainer.

      You will have to start all over again by registering for the exam, pass the exam, then you get certification afresh.

      The crucial certification requirements say you need to be recertified every two years in order to stay abreast of what is going on in the field.

      Since there are more efficient ways of doing your job, you need to have knowledge of this to provide quality service to your clients and also to keep your job and remain competitive.

      So many research works are being published in journals and you need to get your hands on them to become a great ACE fitness coach.

      You should be aware that you cannot be repeating the same continuing education courses and expect to be recertified. You will be asked to diversify and check out other certifications to expand your knowledge in other fields.

      A few great advanced certifications from ACE are their fitness nutrition certification, their group exercise certification, and their health coach certification.

      You can register with $159 to attend the Personal Trainer live workshops and get 0.8 credit.

      As they say, knowledge is profit!

      Do I need a degree to get the ACE Personal Trainer Certification?

      Ace Degree

      Do you need a degree to become an ACE-certified personal trainer?

      Come with me, let me show you why you may or may not need a degree.

      Come along! Shall we?

      Not necessarily!

      You can become ACE certified without a prior degree.

      But I must quickly add too, that about 70% of people who pass the ACE PT exam hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

      Such degrees are usually acquired in majors relating to health and exercise science, human anatomy, etc.

      In effect, having a degree in Kinesiology can go a long way to help you pass the ACE exam quite easily considering the kinds of questions you must have aced back in college to qualify for your degree.

      Personal training is an applied science that requires a good knowledge of how prescription drugs affect a disability, for instance; or how different health conditions can be managed while keeping the client physically active.

      In fact, as much as 17 percent of the exam is devoted to the Professional Role and responsibility of the trainer.

      This cohort expects you to have a fundamental knowledge about diseases or other permanent health conditions and how to manage them in the process of rehabilitating the client.

      Do I need a degree to get the ACE Personal Trainer Certification?

      With a college degree, you will be able to scale through the other domains and earn your ACE certificate too. 

      This is so true when you consider that domain one is 31 percent of the whole exam and is devoted to health and fitness evaluation before and after the exercise program.

      I’m sure you are beginning to see a pattern here.

      Many of these things, and a lot more, have already been covered in Kinesiology classes back in college.

      Nonetheless, if you do not have a college degree, all you need do is put in extra effort to study the ACE materials, do more research, and go sit for the exam with confidence!

      If you ask me, I’ll say the ACE certification is worth every cent!

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      Get Free Trial

      Think about it for a moment.

      Even without a degree, you can work in the same gym with a Kinesiology graduate and earn a good income just by having an ACE Personal Trainer certificate.

      Isn’t that just great!

      ACE, Exercise science, and the future – more value for your money!

      More value

      This section will unveil to you what the future hold with respect to ACE and Exercise Science.

      ACE certification enables you apply science to your fitness routines and programs.

      Thus, helping you stay abreast with latest update in the fitness industry.

      I know you love to get and give value always.

      Let’s make it happen!

      The “science” in Exercise Science is not for fun. LOL!

      It is an indication that everything you read in the study materials and every other thing ACE recommends is grounded in research.

      As a Personal Trainer, ACE expects you to apply your routines in a scientific manner – and they lead the way in this regard.

      The ACE advisory board is saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the primary research activities and report releases for public consumption.

      Its latest adventure into behavior-change and community health exercise science puts it ahead of other certification bodies.

      As a PT expert, you are also expected to benefit from and apply this new research and the remarkable outcome as you try to help your clients fight obesity and other society-induced abnormalities.

      That is a great value considering that you will be in the loop of things in the industry and kept abreast of new developments that will help your clients better as well as prove that you are an expert in the industry.

      What more value can you ask for?

      ACE Certification Review Conclusion

      ACE Conclusion

      I hope I have given you all the helpful information you need to have about ACE certification.

      Yes, you can become ACE-certified very soon if you put your heart to it.

      You only need to follow the useful tips in this article.

      I am waiting to hear your success story!

      My overall rating: 5/5. Check out ACE here.

      ACE Certification rating

      The biggest question you must ask yourself when deciding what certification to purchase is what type of clients you would like to train. If you are mostly going to be working with high school or college athletes, I would suggest going with NSCA or NASM PES.

      If you’re having a really hard time deciding on which training certification to choose, take the quiz to help point you in the right direction.

      On the other hand, if you will be working mostly with elderly individuals that have been sedentary, I think ACE would be a great certification for you.

      You can work with many other types of clients besides sedentary individuals, including athletes, with the knowledge that you will receive from ACE.

      ACE does a great job of covering all angles, enabling you to work with a wide range of individuals. Since most personal trainers start out working for a commercial gym, a general certification like ACE’s CPT is probably the best option.

      I like the study materials that ACE provides with all of their packages. The textbook is a very intuitive read that does not get too muddled with scientific concepts.

      Before you commit to any of the certifications, you should check with your potential employer to see what certifications they accept and which ones they prefer.

      From all the people that I’ve talked to that hire personal trainers, they all gladly accept and often prefer ACE or NASM. You can find more information on NASM here or read my review of them here!

      I suggest you check out my certification comparison section as well as my training tips archives for great beginner tips.

      I know you must have questions about the good and not so good part of the personal training career. You might want to also know how to market yourself in this industry; I have done a fully covered article on that.

      In my certification comparison section, you will find articles like ACE vs ISSA, ACE vs NSCA and ACE vs ACSM. I hope my review of ACE CPT helped you learn something about the ACE Certification.

      Please leave a comment down below letting me know if you enjoyed reading this ACE-certified personal trainer article!

      ACE Certification FAQ

      ACE stands for American Council on Exercise, it is a health and fitness certification agency that is recognized by the NCCA.

      ACE was founded in the year 1985 and since then they have been producing highly qualified personal trainers in the industry.

      ACE offers four fitness certification, namely;

      • Personal Trainer
      • Health Coach
      • Group Fitness Instructor and
      • Medical Exercise Specialist
      • ACE has two packages:
      • The plus study certification program cost $299
      • The basic study certification program costs $199

      Yes, you need to be covered under an insurance plan which typically costs $172 per year.

      Most ACE first time test takers have a 65% chance of passing.

      Yes. You can purchase textbooks from their website before sitting for the exam. Some of these textbooks are Exercise Physiology ($126), ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science (about $39.95), and sports Nutrition and Weight Management ($59.95).

      ACE is located at 4851 Paramount Drive San Diego, California 92123, United States. You can reach them on the phone at +1 (888) 825-3636

      Absolutely, ACE is among the top 5 certifying health and fitness agency out there. Check my homepage for more information on the top 5 certifying agencies in the health and fitness industry.

      The average salary of an ACE health and fitness professional in the United States is $52,537 per annum

      • Choose a certification course
      • Register for your exams within six months. During this period, endeavor to get the necessary document that will allow you to sit for the exam. Those documents are your current CPR/AED card and Identification.
      • Pass your exam up to 500 points and you are on your way to becoming a professional personal trainer.

      The ACE certification lasts for two years. You are required to recertify by completing Continuing Education Credits of 2.0 with ACE or with other certifying agencies that are recognized by ACE.

      The ACE exam is easier to pass compared to other top certifications out there.

      ACE provides online versions of their study guides and practice questions and answers. You can get the full study guide, practice questions, and flashcards on our website home page.

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      16 thoughts on “ACE Certification Review 2021 – ACE Cost vs Value, Is ACE worth it?”

      1. Hi there I just had a few questions regarding the ACE study program. I don’t have much kinesiology or exercise science knowledge, I only took a few intro classes in college. Do you think the middle study package would be enough information?
        Also, I’m mostly interested in teaching weight training classes(community members), would the group fitness be a better fit?

        Thanks! ps your website is very helpful!

        1. Hey Catherine,
          If you have very little knowledge in this area I think that the middle option would be plenty for you to get started. Just make sure you take your time and study consistently every day and you should get it down and around six months. The ACE certification is a great match for you for weight training classes 🙂

      2. hey Tyler!
        you have written an amazingly helpful article out here and I want to thank you for that first.
        just had a question.. if I think that I am not prepared within 6 months of commencing the course, can I postpone the date of my exam without paying any extra cash?
        also, I reside in Kolkata(india) and hence ACE website is asking me to pay extra 100 dollars for shipping. is that the case for everyone living outside of the USA?
        will be really helpful if you could provide me with an answer.
        Thank You!

        1. Hey Aadam,
          if you feel like you are not ready by the time six months comes around I think you may have to pay for an extension. I know that there are some packages that may be longer than others but I’m not positive. In terms of the shipping for the ACE study materials, I have not experienced the price of shipping outside of the USA. Sorry I cannot be more helpful without answer. Good luck with all of your studying!

      3. Brooklyn Noriega

        Hey Tyler!
        I’ve been exploring your articles like crazy the last few days (perhaps you noticed a tiny spike your stats? Haha!) And I was wondering how long it took you to complete the ACE program and get certified? How often did you study a day and which PTC did you study for first? I see you’re certified by more than one agency.

        Thank you!

      4. If I buy Trainer Academy materials, do I still have to buy the ACE Course or is it the same study materials and I just need to pay for a test date?

        1. Hey Bill,
          For the trainer Academy study materials all you need is the textbook from the American Council on exercise. Obviously you need to purchase entrance to take their exam as well. So yes, that is correct.

      5. Hi,
        I bought the ACE MVP Package and am ready to start studying for the ACE Certification. Since I bought this study program, do I need to also buy a study package from ACE site also? Or can I just use this to study and then pay the exam fee to take the ACE cert?


        1. Hey Laisa,
          although I do not work for Trainer Academy I can help answer this question. All you need to use their study materials is the primary textbook from ACE. You can either pick that up from them or you can pick that up from Amazon.com. I hope this helps answer your question.

        1. Hey Arron,
          thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I’m glad my articles and website has been helpful to you in your personal training journey. Good luck!

      6. gregory widder

        do i need a CPR/AED certification when i start the course or can i get it while i am taking the course?

        1. You will need to get a CPR and AED certification from any provider that does in person training. The American Council on exercise has an extensive list of these providers on their website. Good luck with your personal training career.

      7. Hi Tyler,
        Your experience and exposure to the various PT certifications that are being offered are highly insightful. I have 2 questions:
        ISSA-Do they offer prescription training model e.g. NASM-OPT and ACE-IFT?
        ACE/ISSA-Since I am more of a visual learner and really enjoy viewing ISSA’s Exercise Videos, I wanted to know which program has more visual lessons that delve deeper into explaining, demonstrating the exercise science concepts etc. per text book chapters?

        At this time, I am torn between both programs due the NCCP accreditation that only one program has (ACE); however, because I work overseas, I would much rather engage in a course that has all of its content and preparation materials online, to include the exam. And yes, I realize that both programs come with a hard copy textbook, which is fine also. So, in response to my questions posted above, hopefully I will be able to make a more informed decision based on my learning mode as well as how I enjoy utilizing a systemic, progressive training model.

        1. while issa does not specifically have a named model like NASM and ACE, they do have a very easy to follow Progressive programming that they teach you how to implement with a wide variety of clients. I agree, I am a visual learner to and I do love expanded exercise libraries. Just to let you know, ISSA is also NCCA accredited along with ACE.

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