ACE Certification Review – Is it the best option in 2019?

Welcome everybody to my ACE review. 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 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.

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

I also have a kick ass free ACE study guide, practice test and flashcards right here.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 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.

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ACE Review: General Information

Let’s get right into my ACE review! ACE is most likely the most well-known certification in the fitness industry. Every single one of the dozens of personal trainer employers that I’ve talked to has not only heard of the 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 certification (along with NASM) are clearly the most searched certifications on Google. This is very indicated of certification popularity.

The American Council on exercise 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 is widely recognized as one of the best agencies for accreditation in the personal training industry.

From commercial gyms to local studios, ACE  is known as a top-tier certification. There are over 50,000 individuals certified through ACE.  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.

Similar to NASM’s OPT training model, ACE uses what they call IFT. 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.

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 get certified. Just like many other certifications, you need to currently be CPR and AED certified and be 18 years old. You also need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent of one in order to sign up with ACE.

I would categorize ACE as a “general” certification. 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.

ACE certification information

If you’re just getting started in the personal training space, make sure to check out my post giving information on 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!

Packages and Tests

ACE has multiple packages to choose from. However, there are three main packages. The least expensive package will cost approximately $599. This package is called the ACE CPT Pro advantage package.

This includes a test voucher, their primary textbook (e-book format), access to ACE study coaches, a training manual e-book, a fitness professionals e-book, access to the ace Academy elite and additional personal training resources.

The middle-grade option costs $699 and consists of the same materials as their cheapest option but instead of everything and e-book format, you will receive a hard copy of the primary textbook, the study companion manual and a hardcopy of the essentials of exercise science for fitness professionals. This is called the ACE CPT Pro plus package

The most expensive option is called their “premium plus” package. The cost is $799. It includes a “fitness math” online course as well as a way to pay in increments. This option also includes the e-book and a hard copy of the study materials.

Prices change now and then, check out the current prices.

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Get $200 off the ACE Pro advantage CPT Certification For New Year's!
Here is the link to the ACE CPT New Year's sale
Get a FREE Nutrition Certification or apple watch with the purchase of the ISSA certification!
Here is the link to the ISSA deal

Once you choose a package, you can set a location and exam date.

Exam locations are found in most major cities within the United States.

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 questions including a written section. You will have three hours to complete it. I suggest that you give yourself approximately six months to study for the test.

There are three primary sections to the test which are 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 which is close to getting 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. 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.

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

Once certified with the ACE certification, you will need to perform continuing education credits in order to stay certified. The American Council on exercise requires it’s personal trainers to get recertified every two years.

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.

he most beneficial type of continuing education is to get an advanced certification in order to expand your skill set and increase your knowledge as a personal trainer.

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

ACE CPT Review

Conclusion

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 with the knowledge that you will receive from ACE, including athletes.

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 one certification, 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, all of them 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 learned something about the ACE Certification.

Please leave a comment down below letting me know if you enjoyed reading this article!

  • Katherine says:

    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!

    • Tyler Read says:

      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 🙂

  • Aadam Rahman says:

    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!

    • Tyler Read says:

      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!

  • Brooklyn Noriega says:

    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!