ACE Certification Review 2019 – ACE Cost vs Value, Is ACE worth it?

ACE Certification Review - ACE Cost vs Value, Is ACE worth it?

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

The menu at the top of this page will answer any questions related to personal training that you have. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here (I’ll respond within 24 hours). Also, visit the home page for the most recent and popular articles.

If you realize that the ACE certification is not the best option for you, you must read my article on the top five certifications in order to find out which one is. 

I highly suggest that you take the quiz to find out which CPT is best for you. This helps a lot as well.

Another popular article is my ACE vs NASM article. Make sure to leave me a comment if you have any questions.

In the end, if you think ACE is for you, check out my free ACE study guide or premium ACE study materials from Trainer Academy. They have a great team over there and have a 99% personal trainer certification exam pass rate. So, is ACE legit? Let’s find out.

Get 3 certs for 1 with the ISSA Elite Trainer Program ($1,400 of savings).

Save 25% on NASM with code PTP25 or Save $200 on the ACE CPT.

Get 50% off MVP study materials for NASM, ACE or CSCS at Trainer Academy
50% off NASM study materials or 50% off ACE study materials or 50% off CSCS study materials
is ACE legit?

ACE CPT Pros and Cons


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


  • Relatively expensive

If you would prefer to do this review in video format, here is the YouTube video I made reviewing the ACE certification.

In general, the article has more information that is up-to-date but the information in the video is more or less the same.

ACE Review: General Information

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.

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;

  • ACE Group Fitness Instructor
  • Health Coach Certification
  • Medical Exercise Specialist

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 you need to have before getting certified.

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?

What is required to become ACE-certified?

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 a personal trainer’s income potential.

I have also written a 5000-word guide on getting started as a 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

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

ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model

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.

Why is the CPR/AED certification so important?

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 risk – in terms of liability insurance.

In the end, these certifications are as crucial as the ACE Personal Trainer certificate itself, if you are interested to get your fitness instructor certification.

ACE Personal Trainer Certification exam

ACE Certification exams

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.

Get 3 certs for 1 with the ISSA Elite Trainer Program ($1,400 of savings).

Save 25% on NASM with code PTP25 or Save $200 on the ACE CPT.

Get 50% off MVP study materials for NASM, ACE or CSCS at Trainer Academy
50% off NASM study materials or 50% off ACE study materials or 50% off CSCS study materials

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.

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.

ACE recertification

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.

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

As they say, knowledge is profit!

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

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

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

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.

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!

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!

ACE, Exercise science, and the future

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 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

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

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.

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!

8 thoughts on “ACE Certification Review 2019 – 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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover Your Cert:

Get the top 5 Tips for Passing the NASM CPT


Get the top 5 Tips for Passing the ACE CPT

Scroll to Top