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.
I highly suggest that you take the quiz to find out which CPT is best for you. This helps a lot as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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
First-time ACE CPT test takers have a 65% chance of passing.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Do I need a degree to get the ACE Personal Trainer Certification?
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!
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
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.
- I suggest you check out the ACE website for more information and current prices to see if it is right for you.
- Check out my free ACE study guide here and then check out Trainer Academies materials here.
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.
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.
Please leave a comment down below letting me know if you enjoyed reading this ACE-certified personal trainer article!
ACE Certification FAQ
What is ACE?
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.
What certifications do ACE offer?
ACE offers four fitness certification, namely;
- Personal Trainer
- Health Coach
- Group Fitness Instructor and
- Medical Exercise Specialist
How much does ACE certification cost?
- ACE has two packages:
- The plus study certification program cost $299
- The basic study certification program costs $199
Do I need Insurance as a Certified ACE Personal Trainer?
Yes, you need to be covered under an insurance plan which typically costs $172 per year.
What is the pass rate for ACE exam?
Most ACE first time test takers have a 65% chance of passing.
Does ACE provide study materials and other resources?
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).
What is ACE contact information?
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
Is ACE one of the top health and fitness certification agency?
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.
What is ACE Personal Trainer Salary?
The average salary of an ACE health and fitness professional in the United States is $52,537 per annum
How do I get ACE certified?
- 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.
How long does ACE certification last?
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.
How hard is the ACE CPT exam?
The ACE exam is easier to pass compared to other top certifications out there.
How can I get the electronic version of ACSM CPT practice test and ACSM Study Guide?
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.