7 Best Personal Trainer Certifications [2022 Prices & Reviews]
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Welcome to the ultimate breakdown of the best personal trainer certification programs.

By the time you finish reading, you will know the inside scoop on these popular personal training certifications.

My review looks at the following aspects of fitness certifications:

Effectiveness of content and skills coverage for personal trainers
Personal trainer certification costs, study materials, and exam difficulty
Career and earning prospects for each CPT
Breakdown of my review criteria and methods

If you want more direct guidance on choosing your fitness certification, be sure to take my quiz to determine which CPT is right for you.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of these CPT programs.

Personal Trainer Certifications

Post Content

    CPTCPTFeaturesPrice
    ISSA CPT ISSA CPT
    • Great technique, programming, and periodization
    • Good aerobic and special populations training
    • Less emphasis on corrective exercise
    Check ISSA Pricing
    NASM CPT NASM CPT
    • Amazing OPT training model
    • Excellent corrective exercise coverage
    • Good coverage of behavior change
    • Vague special populations coverage
    Check NASM Pricing
    ACE CPT ACE CPT
    • Complete skillset for healthy clients
    • Great IFT model for programming
    • Excellent Mover Model for behavior change
    • Less corrective exercise coverage
    • No sales skills
    Check ACE Pricing
    NCSF CPT NCSF CPT
    • Lower cost than comparable certifications
    • Contains essential knowledge for CPTs
    • Less brand recognition
    • Lacks behavioral coaching and business skills
    Check NCSF Pricing
    FM CPT FM CPT
    • FORM model is good for new trainers
    • Comprehensive coverage of training principles
    • Very little brand recognition
    Check FM Pricing
    ACSM CPT ACSM CPT
    • Excellent science and behavioral change coverage
    • Good special populations training
    • Poor coverage of resistance training technique
    • No comprehensive program design framework
    Check ACSM Pricing
    NSCA CPT NSCA CPT
    • Bigger focus on strength and conditioning
    • Great starter for advanced certifications
    • Comprehensive textbook
    • Limited study materials from NSCA
    Check NSCA Pricing

    I want to mention that the best fitness training certifications are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

    NCCA accredited fitness certifications are the gold standard for being a certified trainer, and virtually every one of the top nutrition certifications and best online personal trainer certifications will have NCCA accreditation.

    the best personal training certifications

    Selecting the right certification is key to building a great personal trainer resume for your career goals, and ensuring you earn a high personal trainer salary.

    If you are stuck trying to choose the right certification for your fitness career, be sure to take my quiz to determine the right CPT for your career.

    Although these certifications range in difficulty, I do not recommend picking based on which personal training certification is the easiest.

    Instead, focus on what your career goals are when making the choice.

    You should also understand the personal trainer job description and the typical personal trainer duties and responsibilities when deciding career directions.

    With that in mind, selecting from the best NCCA accredited CPTs is among the most important steps towards becoming a personal trainer.

    I also recommend getting a personal trainer certification for fitness-adjacent careers such as becoming a yoga instructor, in addition one of the best yoga certifications of course.

    1: International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

    International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

    The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is a great certification that is 100% online.

    They have a strong reputation for fantastic support.

    ISSA offers great package deals with other specialization certifications.

    Stick to the end to see if this is the one for you.

    ISSA Study Materials

    Trainer Academy Guide
    Trainer Academy Guide
    • Complete curriculum study preparation
    • Audio guide, flashcards, and mnemonics
    • 800+ practice questions
    • Highest exam pass rate
    • Exam pass refund guarantee
    • Cheaper pricing than ISSA materials
    ISSA Materials
    ISSA Materials
    • Curriculum study preparation
    • Includes textbook and study plan
    • Follow-along supplementary materials
    • 200+ practice questions
    • No exam pass refund guarantee
    • $950 for starter package
    Free ISSA Study Guide
    Free ISSA Study Guide
    • Curriculum material overview
    • Complete chapter breakdowns
    • 60 practice questions
    • 130 flashcards and cheat sheet
    • Free from PTPioneer

    The International Sports Science Association (ISSA) is my top pick for the best CPT certification. ISSA stands out among the fitness industry for brand recognition and quality.

    A key career point about ISSA specifically is that you can take an NCCA accredited version of the exam or opt for the distance education accrediting commission (DEAC) exam, which is easier but far less respected.

    I always recommend you take the harder NCCA version as it is more respected.

    I also encourage all my aspiring CPT students to look into getting a nutrition certification on top of your personal training certification.

    The Top 7 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs in [year] 4

    The CPT program gives you the skills needed for the physical training of clients.

    However, without addressing proper nutrition, clients are unlikely to see the level of results that would set you apart as a skilled trainer.

    The notable combination of a personal trainer certification and nutrition coaching certification will distinguish you ahead of individuals with the CPT alone.

    To go a step further, consider adding a training specialization certification to your CPT and nutrition coaching stack.

    Specializations are certifications that give you a more advanced skill sets for dealing with a specific type of client or training style.

    Some of the top earning specializations include corrective exercise specialist, group exercise instructor, and strength and conditioning coach.

    After all, not all clients need the same service or want the same kinds of training.

    You are far better off becoming a sought-out expert trainer in a certain specialty than trying to know something about all aspects of training.

    The Top 7 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs in [year] 5

    Becoming specialized as a personal trainer helps get you hired faster, earn more, and deliver better results to your clients.

    I should also mention that completing these certifications counts towards continuing education credits for the ISSA CPT, meaning eventually you will have to do some sort of specialization or your CPT certification will expire.

    Unfortunately, these certifications typically come in at $600 or more apiece on top of your CPT program, which adds up quick.

    The good news is if you do end up choosing the ISSA CPT, you have the option to purchase the ISSA Elite Trainer Program, which I highly recommend checking out.

    issa-elite-trainer

    The Elite Trainer program includes the ISSA CPT program, the ISSA Nutrition Coach certification, and an additional ISSA specialization of your choice.

    The ISSA periodically runs insane deals on the Elite Trainer program, which you can check directly on their website.

    If they are currently running an Elite Trainer promotion, I recommend taking advantage of this valuable package.

    ISSA Content Quality

    ISSA’s strongest component of the curriculum is its focus on resistance training programming, technique, and periodization.

    Additionally, ISSA includes excellent fundamentals of exercise science.

    issa cpt muscle anatomy

    The first section of the curriculum is primarily devoted to exercise science, with the later sections covering elements of resistance training.

    While this is very basic information if you already have an exercise science degree career, for new personal trainers it is a great introduction to the topic.

    ISSA has somewhat less emphasis on corrective exercise specialization and screening, but they do discuss it in the client screening section.

    For aerobic training, ISSA gives you the basic tools to develop training programs based on relative intensities and different aerobic goals.

    In terms of special populations training, ISSA does a great job of covering the different special population clients.

    The weakest section in ISSA is behavioral change, which could use a bit more fleshing out.

    Nevertheless, the excellent science, resistance training, and special populations training make ISSA an excellent general CPT cert.

    For a deeper look at the content in the ISSA CPT, check out my comprehensive ISSA CPT review.

    ISSA Pricing, Study Materials, and Exam Difficulty

    The ISSA pricing depends on what level of study material you choose.

    To take the NCCA accredited exam only without receiving any additional materials from ISSA, the cost is $599.00.

    The lowest tier option that includes study materials is the Start Training CPT package, which costs a total of $828.00 before tax, but can be financed interest free at $69.00 per month for 12 months.

    issa cpt textbook

    Materials in this program include:

    • Online Study Materials
    • Dedicated Student Success Coach
    • 4-Week Fast Track Program
    • Job Guarantee
    • Free CPR and AED Certification Course
    • ISSA Community Membership
    • Passing Protection With A Free Retest
    • Online Bootcamp and Study Group

    The next tier is the Kickstarter CPT Package, which costs $948.00 or $79.00 per month for 12 months.

    In addition to the materials in the Start Training package, the Kickstarter includes the ‘get 5 clients in 5 weeks’ component and a free nutritionist course.

    Finally, the Top Trainer Package is the highest tier option, costing a total of $1428.00 or $199.00 for 12 months.

    This package includes the ‘In-Gym training experience,’ which theoretically gives you hands-on experience before you even get certified!

    issa ez curl biceps

    The quick overview is as follows:

    • Exam only – $599.00 + $79.00 test fee
    • Start Training CPT Package – $828 or $69 per month for 12 months
    • Kickstarter CPT Package – $948 or $79 per month for 12 months
    • Top Trainer CPT Package – $1428 or $119 per month for 12 months

    The exam difficulty depends on whether you choose the NCCA accredited version or not.

    The non-NCCA exam is open book and is fairly easy, with around 90% passing rate.

    The NCCA accredited exam is much more rigorous and has between a 65% and 70% pass rate, making it on par with most other respected fitness certifications.

    I always recommend students pick the NCCA accredited version, as it is much more respected by gyms and fitness centers.

    issa trainer academy prep course

    If you want to start studying for ISSA now before spending any money, take a look at my free ISSA Study Guide and ISSA Practice Test.

    You can also find paid third-party ISSA study guides that offer exam pass guarantees and comparable quality study materials.

    For example, my students report being much better prepared for the ISSA exam via third-party study guides such as the Trainer Academy ISSA CPT Prep Course.

    As I mentioned, you will find the most success in the fitness industry if you bundle nutrition coaching with a specialization on top of your personal training certification.

    The ISSA Elite Trainer package is by far the best valued program in the industry in terms of delivering this triple-threat combination of fitness certifications.

    issa-elite-trainer

    With an ISSA CPT, the ISSA Nutritionist Certification, and an ISSA fitness specialization, you’ll be coming in hot out of the gate ready to start your fitness career.

    The ISSA frequently runs discounts on this incredible program, which you can view directly on the ISSA website.

    If they happen to be running a promotion, it’s a tough deal to pass on.

    ISSA CPT Continuing Education, Salary and Career Prospects

    Assuming you pass either ISSA exam, your certification requires 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years in addition to a $75 recertification fee.

    An ISSA personal trainer earns on average $35,522 per year.

    However, there is no reason to assume that is the upper limit if you are a motivated trainer willing to build your own personal training studio.

    In my experience, this is the most reliable way to make over 100k per year in the personal training business.

    2: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

    National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

    The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is one of the most well-respected certifications in North America.

    The NASM Personal Trainer Certification has a strong base in corrective exercise training.

    They are well renowned for the OPT training model.

    Let’s learn more about his juggernaut.

    NASM Study Materials

    Trainer Academy Guide
    Trainer Academy Guide
    • Complete curriculum study preparation
    • Audio guide, flashcards, and mnemonics
    • 800+ practice questions
    • Highest exam pass rate
    • Exam pass refund guarantee
    • Cheaper pricing than NASM materials
    NASM Materials
    NASM Materials
    • Curriculum study preparation
    • Video and written curriculum included
    • Textbook purchased seperately
    • 200+ practice questions
    • No exam pass refund guarantee
    • $899.00 for starter package
    Free NASM Study Guide
    Free NASM Study Guide
    • Curriculum material overview
    • Complete chapter breakdowns
    • 60 practice questions
    • 130 flashcards and cheat sheet
    • Free from PTPioneer

    NASM is among the largest NCCA accredited personal trainer certifications by market share – and for good reason!

    With its groundbreaking NASM Optimum Performance Training Model, NASM is an excellent certification for the skills you need to be an amazing fitness coach.

    NASM Content Quality

    Overall, NASM excels across most domains relevant to new personal trainers.

    NASM does an effective job of teaching the underlying exercise science that is fundamental to delivering client results.

    The NASM OPT model seamlessly allows you to progress clients from the early stabilization phase through multiple periods of training, ultimately leading to power and performance training.

    nasm cpt dumbbell overhead press

    The additional skills that round out the OPT model include behavioral change, special populations training, and basic business skills including sales.

    Unfortunately, NASM does not have great nutrition coaching coverage in its CPT certification. However, you can always get your NASM nutrition certification after you finish the CPT program.

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    The biggest downside of the NASM OPT model is not that it is not effective. However, there will be times when following a strict OPT model does not make sense for a particular client’s goals.

    Ultimately, to train more advanced clients, particularly athletes, you will need to do additional research on higher-level strength and conditioning coaching.

    If you do plan to coach athletes for strength and conditioning, consider the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist.

    Nevertheless, for general fitness clients and special populations, NASM absolutely knocks it out of the park.

    For a more comprehensive look at the skills and content in the NASM CPT, check out my full NASM review.

    NASM Pricing, Study Materials, and Exam Difficulty

    Taking the NASM exam only costs $599.00, which does not include any study materials.

    The basic study prep comes in slightly higher at $629.00.

    The most expensive option clocks in at $2,024.00 and includes a ton of materials.

    Note that NASM constantly runs promotions and dynamic price changes, so these prices are subject to change depending on the time of year and NASM’s current promos.

    The overall packages are as follows:

    • NASM Self-Study – $629.00
    • NASM Premium Self-Study – $899.00
    • NASM Guided Study – $1,199.00
    • All-Inclusive – $2,024.00

    Truthfully, the expensive packages are a bit overkill for most students.

    nasm senior fitness aerobic training treadmill

    In terms of exam difficulty, the NASM exam really is no joke. As of 2021, the NASM exam pass rate is roughly 60% for first-time test takers.

    Preparing well for the exam is your best shot at passing on your first try.

    Expect to spend roughly 3 months at minimum preparing for the exam if you have no other previous experience.

    I do recommend checking out my free NASM Study Guide and NASM Practice Test to start studying today.

    For paid study plans, the best value can be found in third-party study guides that offer the same resources as NASM, but at a steep discount.

    My students typically prefer the NASM CPT Prep Course from Trainer Academy, although many options are available for personal trainer certification study materials.

    If you plan to add nutrition coaching to your personal training business, you can get a great deal on the NASM CPT and NASM Nutrition certifications when you purchase these two certifications as a bundle.

    If you just want to get your CPT directly from NASM, you should check the latest pricing on the organization’s website.

    NASM CPT Continuing Education, Salary, and Career Prospects

    After you pass your CPT exam, your certification is valid for 2 years.

    Within those two years, you must complete 2.0 continuing education credits, which equates to 20 contact hours.

    Example CEU courses include the NASM Senior Fitness Specialist and the NASM Certified Nutrition Coach.

    The Top 7 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs in [year] 6

    In addition to the CEUs, you will need to pay a $99 recertification fee.

    In terms of salary, it varies substantially depending on where you are located and your specific employment situation.

    According to data from ZipRecruiter, the salary varies from $26,000 to $78,000 for NASM certified trainers.

    NASM claims that the average NASM CPT will make $42,000 their first year as a trainer.

    When it comes to how much personal trainers make, NASM is definitely one of the higher earning CPT certifications.

    3: American Council on Exercise (ACE)

    American Council on Exercise (ACE)

    The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is probably the most popular nonprofit organization on the list.

    It’s widely accepted in North America and parts of Europe.

    They use their popular IFT training model for progressing clients.

    Let’s dig in to see if it’s right for you.

    ACE Study Materials

    Trainer Academy Guide
    Trainer Academy Guide
    • Complete curriculum study preparation
    • Audio guide, flashcards, and mnemonics
    • 800+ practice questions
    • Highest exam pass rate
    • Exam pass refund guarantee
    • Cheaper pricing than ACE materials
    ACE Materials
    ACE Materials
    • Curriculum study preparation
    • Video and written curriculum included
    • Textbook purchased seperately
    • 200+ practice questions
    • No exam pass refund guarantee
    • $899.00 for starter package
    Free ACE Study Guide
    Free ACE Study Guide
    • Curriculum material overview
    • Complete chapter breakdowns
    • 60 practice questions
    • 130 flashcards and cheat sheet
    • Free from PTPioneer

    With the ACE Integrated Fitness Model for training, the ACE University, and ACE answers, American Council on Exercise stands among the giants.

    ACE Content Quality

    Overall, ACE does a phenomenal job of teaching the basic concepts and skills needed for personal training.

    The comprehensive ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model (ACE-IFT) gives you the framework needed to program for clients of all abilities and fitness goals.

    Stacked on top of the great IFT model is the ACE exercise library, which contains hundreds of exercises with descriptions and videos, categorized based on the IFT model.

    This is great for newer trainers who are still building a repertoire of exercises they like to coach.

    Furthermore, the ACE IFT exercise library makes finding variations on exercises very straightforward, allowing you to easily modify existing programs depending on the circumstances.

    ace cpt content quality review

    Additionally, ACE gives you the basics of behavioral change coaching.

    Between the IFT and behavioral change models, the ACE CPT gives even the greenest personal trainer all the skills needed to successfully start working as a certified personal fitness trainer.

    The biggest weakness I see in ACE is a lack of sales skills in the business section of the certification.

    Concepts such as sales funnels, leads, prospects, and other sales jargon are actually vital for making sure you close prospective clients and have people paying you to train them.

    In many ways, a poorly skilled trainer with a knack for sales may actually do better than a squared-away fitness expert who couldn’t sell booze to a college kid.

    Closing sales is what gives you as a trainer the opportunity to implement the IFT coaching programs you worked so hard to learn during your study time.

    The good news is that for the most part, a good gym for employment will teach you how to sell personal training.

    The bad news is that for self-employed trainers, getting ACE certified alone will not prepare you to build your own fitness business, especially when it comes to personal training marketing ideas.

    If you are an ambitious person and want to build your own personal training studio, no CPT certification alone will cover this topic – it is simply beyond the scope of basic personal trainer certs.

    Nevertheless, ACE will prepare you very well for the job of screening, programming, and instructing your clients in safe and effective workout techniques – just be sure to learn some sales skills to round out the cert.

    ace client intake clipboard

    For a complete look at the ACE CPT certification, check out my full ACE CPT review.

    ACE CPT Pricing, Study Materials, and Exam Difficulty

    As with other fitness training certs, ACE offers a range of packages.

    The exam only costs $199.00, making ACE among the more affordable certifications to take if you do not purchase study materials from the ACE organization itself.

    The study packages directly from ACE range in cost, with the more expensive packages including additional materials.

    The pricing for ACE packages is as follows:

    • ACE Basic Study Package – $509.00
    • ACE Plus – $599.00
    • ACE Advantage – $899.00

    I do want to highlight that the overall quality of ACE study materials is excellent, however, the price really cuts down on the value provided, especially since the information is overkill for the certification.

    ace trainer with older woman lifting dumbbell

    If you want to start studying for the ACE CPT right now, check out my free ACE CPT Study Guide and ACE Practice Test here.

    If you want to pay for premium third-party study guides with exam pass guarantees, my top students recommend the Trainer Academy ACE CPT Prep Course.

    Overall, ACE is middle of the road in terms of the cost of becoming a personal trainer.

    The ACE exam has a 65% pass rate, making it slightly easier than NASM, harder than ISSA, and about on par with the ACSM exam difficulty.

    ACE CPT Salary Continuing Education, and Career Prospects

    According to ZipRecruiter, an ACE CPT can expect a salary of anywhere from $15,905 on the lowest end to $124,493 on the highest end.

    The average ACE salary is pegged at around $46,915 per year.

    In terms of continuing education, ACE  requires 2.0 CECs every 2 years, which equals roughly 20 course hours.

    This requirement is the same as NASM and many CEU options could apply to both certifications.

    ace cpt woman trainer training older man with light dumbbells

    ACE allows a massive range of CEUs including courses directly from ACE as well as third-party CECs across a broad range of fitness niches.

    Ultimately, you can use the ACE CPT as a launch point for whatever career you choose in the fitness industry.

    Also, take a look at comparing ACE vs ISSA and ACE vs NASM, which are the top fitness industry certifications.

    4: National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)

    The Top 7 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs in [year] 7

    The National Council on Strength and Fitness is a community-driven health and fitness initiative from South Florida.

    It is not only a certifying agency but also oversees the NCCA credentialing programs.

    Let’s dig in to uncover its uniqueness.

    The National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) is a less well-known organization compared to NASM or ACE, but still does an exceptional job of preparing its CPT students for their new careers.

    NCSF Study Materials

    Trainer Academy Guide
    Trainer Academy Guide
    • Complete curriculum study preparation
    • Audio guide, flashcards, and mnemonics
    • 800+ practice questions
    • Highest exam pass rate
    • Exam pass refund guarantee
    • Cheaper pricing than NCSF materials
    NCSF Materials
    NCSF Materials
    • Curriculum study preparation
    • Video and written curriculum included
    • Textbook purchased separately
    • 200+ practice questions
    • No exam pass refund guarantee
    • $419.00 for starter package
    Free NCSF Study Guide
    Free NCSF Study Guide
    • Curriculum material overview
    • Complete chapter breakdowns
    • 60 practice questions
    • 130 flashcards and cheat sheet
    • Free from PTPioneer

    NCSF Content Quality

    The NCSF content is great for learning exercise science and the general skills needed as a CPT.

    The earlier portions of the curriculum teach you the key anatomy and biomechanics that you need as a fitness professional.

    ncsf sport and aerobic anatomy

    From there you will learn about behavioral change, client assessments, basic nutrition, and finally the bread and butter of training: resistance training programming and technique.

    Additional standout sections include flexibility and special populations training, although the latter is less covered than in other CPT certs.

    The biggest downside to the NCSF is the complete lack of a business skills section. Business skills include everything from administration, liability and insurance guidelines, and of course… sales!

    Luckily, you can pick up these skills outside of your actual CPT certification curriculum, which is a must for long-term success as a trainer.

    For a much deeper look at the NCSF CPT certification, check out my comprehensive NCSF CPT review.

    NCSF Pricing, Study Materials, and Exam Difficulty

    The NCSF offers a range of prices based on the level of study material you want from the organization.

    ncsf pricing study materials and exam difficulty

    The base exam cost is $299 if you do not care for any study material directly from the NCSF.

    For exam packages that include study materials, the NCSF ranges from $400 to well over $700, depending on what level of study materials you want.

    The home study package includes basic study materials with a digital textbook. The home study plus includes a physical textbook.

    The workshop package includes a 2-day live workshop in addition to the regular home study prep materials.

    Finally, the NCSF Workshop Plus package includes everything in all the lesser-priced packages wrapped up into one sale.

    The NCSF Study Package pricing is as follows:

    • NCSF Home Study Package – $419.00
    • NCSF Home Study Plus Package – $479.00 (sale price)
    • NCSF Workshop Package – $479.00 (sale price)
    • NCSF Workshop Plus Package ($539.00)

    Note that various promotions may impact the price of these packages on a day-to-day basis.

    ncsf difficult exam

    To get started studying for the NCSF right away, check out my free NCSF Study Guide and Practice Test.

    If you want the third-party study guide option, take a look at the Trainer Academy NCSF CPT Prep Course, which my students highly recommend and include personal trainer practice exams, flashcards, comprehensive text and audio study guides, and other great resources.

    Other organizations tend to charge an arm-and-a-leg for overkill prep packages.

    The NCSF does a good job of offering great study material at fair prices and is among the cheapest personal trainer certifications that still hold respect.

    The NCSF personal trainer certification exam has a roughly 78% pass rate based on 2019 data, making it theoretically easier than NASM or ACE but harder than ISSA.

    NCSF CPT Continuing Education, Salary and Career Prospects

    Like all certifications, the NCSF requires ongoing CEU credits to stay current with your cert.

    The requirement from the NCSF is 10 CEUs every two years, which corresponds to 20 contact hours, making the NCSF CEU requirement the same as ACE or NASM.

    Thankfully, the NCSF gives you a great deal of flexibility in choosing your CEUs, allowing you to use their own courses or third-party approved courses to keep your CPT cert current.

    According to the NCSF organization, NCSF certified trainers average from $21.31 to $24.54 per hour as employees, while self-employed may make anywhere from $40-$60 per hour or more, depending on location and setup.

    6: Fitness Mentors (FM)

    The Top 7 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs in [year] 8

    Fitness Mentors is a new player to the game in the personal trainer certification space.

    That being said, they are making a solid splash.

    Fitness Mentors utilizes the FORM model of training (Form Over
    Resistance Model).

    They are also NCCA accredited. Let’s learn more about FM.

    Fitness Mentors is a smaller certification company that offers a number of accredited certifications under their own brand.

    Overall, Fitness Mentors has quality offerings but less brand recognition than the bigger top-tier organizations like ISSA and NASM.

    Fitness Mentors Study Materials

    Fitness Mentors Materials
    Fitness Mentors Materials
    • Curriculum study preparation
    • Video and written curriculum included
    • Digital textbook included
    • Two (2) practice exams
    • $399.00 for starter package

    FM Content Quality

    The Fitness Mentors certified personal trainer program is on-par with ISSA, NASM, and ACE overall.

    A standout component is the FORM program design model, which gives similar programming abilities as the IFT and OPT models.

    The curriculum covers the following content across 13 chapters:

    1. The Fitness Assessment
    2. Anatomy and Physiology
    3. Exercise Physiology and Energy Systems
    4. Program Design and the Form Model
    5. Flexibility, Mobility, and Range of Motion
    6. Programming Considerations for Exercise Related Injuries
    7. Fitness Programs for Special Populations
    8. Professionalism, Business, and Sales
    9. The Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems
    10. Psychology: The Science of Behavior and Mind
    11. Components of Nutrition
    12. Emergency Procedures for the Fitness Professional

    Between everything, the Fitness Mentors FORM Model is by far the strongest component of the certification.

    Overall, the content in the FM CPT gives you a great range of skills for meeting the demands of the personal training industry.

    fitness mentors content quality

    FM Pricing, Study Materials, and Exam Difficulty

    The Fitness Mentors pricing includes 4 different options as of January 2022.

    The lowest option Starter Bundle clocks in at $399 and includes the following:

    • FM CPT certification exam
    • Digital textbook
    • Lecture video presentations
    • Audio book lectures
    • Study guide questions
    • Chapter quizzes
    • Two realistic practice exams
    • Facebook support group with expert and peer guidance

    The next tier is the Plus Bundle, which costs $699 and includes everything in the starter bundle in addition to the following:

    • Certified Nutrition Specialist Certification
    • Exercise Library
    • Bonus Learning Videos
    • Flashcards
    • Interactive Learning Activities
    • Study Guide Answers
    • Final Exam Preparation Guide

    The third tier is the Pro Bundle, which costs $899 includes the full Plus Bundle as well as:

    • Online Trainer Certification
    • Access to a Personal Fitness Mentor
    • Pass Guarantee

    Finally, the Ultimate Bundle Costs $1499 and includes everything in the Pro Bundle as well as:

    • Virtual Group Fitness Instructor Certification
    • Virtual Health Coach Certification
    • Pain Management Specialist

    Overall, the Starter and Plus bundles have the best value if you just want a CPT.

    Pre-paying for an additional five certifications is a bit overkill – especially because there is a good chance you do not end up needing to complete all the additional five certifications.

    The good news is that the Starter Bundle alone includes a substantial number of resources for you to pass the FM CPT.

    Exam-wise, the FM CPT exam is pretty easy. You need a 70% score to pass.

    Although Fitness Mentors does not publish their pass rate data, I found the FM CPT exam much easier than most of the other CPT exams I’ve taken.

    FM Salary, Continuing Education, and Career Prospects

    male training with male client on trx

    In terms of salary, Fitness Mentors is a fairly new certification, so it’s tough to find salary data. It’s safe to say that if you land a job as a trainer, having the FM CPT is unlikely to increase or decrease your salary relative to other CPTs.

    The FM CPT requires 20 hours (2.0 CEUs) of continuing education every 2 years in addition to a recertification fee.

    Career-wise is where the Fitness Mentors CPT falls short compared to other certs.

    Fitness Mentors has nowhere near the brand recognition of other organizations.

    Some gyms specifically want ISSA, ACE, NASM, or ACSM, simply because the curriculum and reputations are well-known.

    The bottom line on Fitness Mentors is you must be able to sell your experience and knowledge, because the Fitness Mentors brand is just not big enough to stand for something in-of itself.

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    6: American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

    American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

    The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has deep clinical and scientific roots that are easy to pick up on in their study materials.

    It has the longest history and is the oldest personal training certification.

    Let’s take a deep dive to see what it’s all about.

    ACSM Study Materials

    Trainer Academy Guide
    Trainer Academy Guide
    • Complete curriculum study preparation
    • Audio guide, flashcards, and mnemonics
    • 800+ practice questions
    • Highest exam pass rate
    • Exam pass refund guarantee
    • Cheaper deals than ACSM pricing
    ACSM Materials
    ACSM Materials
    • Curriculum study preparation
    • Includes CPT Prep course
    • 200+ practice questions
    • Facebook CPT group (free)
    • No exam pass refund guarantee
    • $600+ for study course, textbooks additional $80+
    Free ACSM Study Guide
    Free ACSM Study Guide
    • Curriculum material overview
    • Complete chapter breakdowns
    • 60 practice questions
    • 130 flashcards and cheat sheet
    • Free from PTPioneer

    The American College of Sports Medicine is one of the oldest organizations in the fitness certification world.

    As a non-profit, the ACSM is dedicated to promoting and conducting research on fitness and exercise science.

    acsm exercise testing on oxygen machine female trainers

    Although the ACSM personal trainer certification is not my number one pick for best personal training certs, many of the guidelines and studies used to develop the other certifications originate from ACSM research.

    As such, the ACSM remains among the most influential organizations when it comes to modern fitness training standards.

    ACSM Content Quality

    Content-wise, the ACSM exercise science and anatomy sections are top tier.

    Although this information can go deeper than you need as a personal trainer, knowing the underlying science behind effective fitness training is always beneficial to explain your reasoning to clients and helps you develop more effective training programs.

    Additional standout sections in the ACSM include the behavioral change coaching section and the client health screenings, which are arguably among the most in-depth lessons on the subject from any certs I’ve looked into.

    acsm health intake form and assessment

    Sadly, the ACSM falls short on the actual program design and exercise technique section.

    The aerobic training section is slightly better than the resistance training section, but still falls short compared to the very structured methods found in training models like the ACE IFT or NASM OPT.

    The ACSM does bring more to the table for special populations training and business skills sections, which go beyond other certs.

    However, its tough to make up for a weak resistance training section, regardless of the other coverage, simply because without training skills, you cannot be a good trainer.

    Overall, the ACSM is great if you want to take your career in a more clinical direction.

    Unfortunately, if you need the skills to get a job as a trainer, you should investigate other certifications before doing ACSM.

    For a complete look at the ACSM CPT certification, check out my detailed ACSM CPT review.

    ACSM Pricing, Study Materials, and Exam Difficulty

    acsm pricing study materials and exam difficulty

    If you want to take the ACSM exam without purchasing study materials, the cost is $349.00.

    Depending on what materials you want, you can purchase the following:

    • Online practice questions through PrepU – $64.99 for 3 months of access)
    • ACSM CPT Prep course – $270.00
    • ACSM CPT Facebook Group – free
    • ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer Textbook – $79.99
    • ACSM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription textbook – $87.19

    Purchasing every single study option directly from the ACSM puts you in the same price range as many other mid-tier packages from ACE, NASM, and ISSA.

    If you want to dive right into studying for the ACSM CPT, check out my free ACSM Study Guide and Practice Exam.

    The ACSM textbook layout feels dated and could use an update.

    The other resources are decent, but your best bet is to consider third-party study options with better deals and even exam pass guarantees.

    For this reason, if you do take the ACSM CPT exam I highly recommend using a third-party study guide such as the Trainer Academy ACSM CPT Prep Course.

    Note that if you fail your attempt at the ACSM exam, you’ll be forced to pay a hefty $175 retake fee.

    According to 2020 data, the ACSM has a 69% pass rate, making it of similar statistical difficulty as NASM, ACE, and ISSA.

    As such, 31% of students were forced to accept failure or shell out some additional cash.

    ACSM CPT Salary, Continuing Education, and Career Prospects

    acsm exercise testing bike mask and computer

    According to ZipRecruiter data, an ACSM CPT can earn between $33,000 and $78,000 per year, with the average being $49,020. This is not bad when compared to the stats from other certifications.

    However, given the diverse range of career choices, expect that top-earning ACSM CPTs likely have additional certs or many years of experience before earning higher salaries.

    The ACSM’s CEU requirements are a bit more rigorous than other CPT certs.

    The ACSM requires you to recertify every 3 years, which is a longer timeframe than the typical 2-year recertification period for other CPT certs.

    That said, the ACSM requires 45 contact hours compared to the 20 contact hours that are usual for a 2-year recertification.

    As such, you must do roughly 1.5 times the number of contact hours of other certifications to stay certified with the ACSM.

    In the long run, the ACSM does offer great career prospects. However, as a basic CPT cert, it is not my top choice.

    7: National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

    National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

    The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Was the very first personal training certification to get accredited by the NCCA.

    It has a very strong focus on strength and conditioning.

    Most notably recognized or it’s Advanced certification the CSCS (kind of like the sequel to The NSCA CPT).

    I’ll show you why this is a popular option.

    NSCA Study Materials

    Trainer Academy Guide
    Trainer Academy Guide
    • Complete curriculum study preparation
    • Audio guide, flashcards, and mnemonics
    • 800+ practice questions
    • Highest exam pass rate
    • Exam pass refund guarantee
    • Cheaper pricing than ACSM materials
    NSCA Materials
    NSCA Materials
    • Curriculum study preparation
    • Video and written curriculum included
    • Textbook purchased separately
    • 200+ practice questions
    • No exam pass refund guarantee
    • $300+ for textbook and prep course (exam not included)
    Free NSCA Study Guide
    Free NSCA Study Guide
    • Curriculum material overview
    • Complete chapter breakdowns
    • 60 practice questions
    • 130 flashcards and cheat sheet
    • Free from PTPioneer

    The NSCA is a non-profit certifying agency that primarily focuses on athletic performance research and certifications.

    In fact, the NSCA is a global leader in research, practical application, continuing education, and networking opportunities for strength and conditioning coaches as well as personal trainers.

    Additionally, becoming an NSCA member gives you insane discounts on all NSCA products as well as access to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, which is a top journal for peer-reviewed scientific research on all topics related to athletic performance and strength and conditioning.

    nsca resisted sprint training

    NSCA CPT Content Quality

    The NSCA textbook truly is a tome of knowledge for general personal training.

    With over 25 chapters of content covering everything from basic stabilization training, weight training, plyometrics, and performance coaching, you really get the full range of personal training knowledge.

    My biggest concern with the NSCA CPT content is not that it has anything missing per se.

    diagram kettlebell clean

    However, there is so much content covered that it can easily feel overwhelming, especially if you have no other fitness background.

    Taking your time getting through the textbook is the best bet for learning the material. If you are able to absorb the information this way, there is no doubt you will be an excellent personal trainer.

    If you want a more thorough look at the NSCA CPT, check out my comprehensive NSCA CPT review.

    NSCA Pricing, Study Materials, and Exam Difficulty

    nsca pricing study materials and exam difficulty

    Pricing-wise, the NSCA has some of the most reasonable prices in the business.

    The exam only package costs a hefty $435.

    However, if you choose to become an NSCA member and get the benefits of membership, that price drops to $300.

    In fact, becoming a member for a year and then buying the discounted exam only is cheaper than purchasing the exam only as a non-member.

    Once you add study materials to the package, it becomes an even better deal.

    The NSCA digital package which includes a basic study outline and 200 practice questions for an addition $202 for non-members or $152 for members.

    The next package is the NSCA CPT Essential Package – this includes the NSCA digital materials as well as the hard copy of the NSCA Essentials of Personal Training 2nd edition for $290.70 or $240.30 for non-members or members, respectively.

    Finally, the NSCA CPT Essential Plus Package incudes everything in the Essential package as well as the 3rd edition of the NSCA Exercise Technique Manual, which is an invaluable resource for new trainers with less experience in exercise technique.

    nsca cpt textbook

    The Essential Plus Package can be purchased for $511 or $455 for non-members or members, respectively.

    Overall pricing is as follows:

    • Exam only – $435 (non-member), $300 (member)
    • NSCA Digital Package – additional $202 (non-member), $152 (member)

    To dive right in to your NSCA CPT Prep today, check out my free NSCA CPT Study Guide and Practice Exam.

    For paid study prep materials, you can find much better deals on NSCA CPT Study Materials through third-party sites such as the Trainer Academy NSCA CPT Prep Course.

    My biggest problem with the official NSCA study materials is the lack of an overall digital course with video modules and similar resources.

    The “digital” components of the study materials are all in PDF format, so it is not a truly digital course the way NASM and ACE have full video modules and interactive study portals.

    Overall, preparing for the NSCA CPT will require far more effort on your part simply because the organization lacks this comprehensive course.

    Based on 2019 data, the NSCA CPT has a 72% pass rate, making it slightly easier on paper than the other certifications we’ve covered.

    NSCA CPT Salary, Continuing Education, and Career Prospects

    According to PayScale data, the salary for an NSCA certified personal trainer ranges from 31,000 per year to 60,000 per year, with the average coming in around $50,000.

    In terms of continuing education, the NSCA is a bit different from other organizations. The NSCA requires 6.0 CEUs every 3 years to stay certified.

    This equates to 60 contact hours every three years or an average of 10 hours per year.

    The categories for NSCA CEUs are as following:

    1. Conference attendance in-person or digital
    2. Sharing expertise/research conducted through presentations or publications
    3. Educational activities such as college courses, internships, and CPR/First Aid
    4. NSCA Quizzes and assessments typically as part of a CEU course

    The number of allowable credits within each category varies. For a full breakdown, check out the NSCA recertification guidelines.

    Career-wise, the NSCA CPT is a great starting point for becoming a strength and conditioning coach.

    For general fitness coaching, it is great as well, however, the organization’s focus on athletics makes it ideal for trainers who want to pursue a career in athletic performance coaching.

    Review Methodology

    To do this review, I used my personal knowledge of each certification and their exams.

    Based on my years of experience as a trainer and understanding of the on-the-job needs, I assessed how well each CPT’s curriculum prepares you for this demand.

    Pricing and other information is taken from the providers themselves to give you a full-spectrum comparison of these certifications.

    FAQ: Top Personal Training Certifications

    Conclusion

    Regardless of which certification you choose, you can be sure these nationally recognized personal trainer certifications will prep you for becoming a successful personal trainer.

    While ISSA is by far my top choice, you should also consider your specific career goals in fitness when picking your certification.

    Additionally, being a great trainer requires far more than just a CPT.

    Skills such as getting creative with exercises and workouts, as well as learning how to motivate your clients requires getting hands-on experience.

    If you are nervous about training clients because you lack experience, seeking out a personal training internship is a good bridge between having no experience and becoming a professional trainer.

    Finally, if you have a specific gym in mind where you want to work, always check to make sure which gyms accept which personal trainer certifications.

    If you are still unsure about which certification to choose, be sure to take my quiz to determine which coaching certification is right for you.

    The Top 7 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs in [year] 9

    References:

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24616604
    2. https://www.nasm.org/certified-personal-trainer/the-opt-model
    3. https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/personal-trainer-certification/ace-ift-model.aspx
    4. https://www.acsm.org/acsm-membership/about-us
    5. https://www.acsm.org/read-research/journals-bulletins
    6. https://www.issaonline.edu/company/
    7. https://www.nsca.com/certification/cscs/
    8. https://www.nasm.org/about-nasm
    9. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/
    10. https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US
    11. https://www.deac.org/Discover-DEAC/DEAC-History.aspx
    12. https://www.ihrsa.org/industry-issues/personal-trainer-accreditation
    13. https://www.nsca.com/certification/nsca-cpt/nsca-cpt-study-materials/
    14. https://www.nsca.com/certification/nsca-cpt/
    15. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Personal_Trainer_(CPT)_(NASM)/Salary
    16. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=American_Council_on_Exercise_(ACE)/Salary
    17. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Personal_Trainer_(CPT)_(ACSM)/Salary
    18. https://www.paysa.com/salaries/issa–certified-personal-trainer
    19. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Personal_Trainer_(CPT)_(NSCA)/Salary
    20. https://www.nfpt.com/personal-trainer-certification-comparison
    21. https://www.nasm.org/recertify/personal-trainer-recertification
    22. https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/recertification/
    23. https://www.acsm.org/get-stay-certified/stay-certified/recertification-faqs-2
    24. https://www.nsca.com/certification/recertification/
    25. https://www.nfpt.com/faq
    26. https://nationalpti.edu/about-npti/faq/
    27. https://www.ncsf.org/about/accreditation
    28. https://pft.nestacertified.com/about-nesta-mission-statement/
    29. https://www.afaa.com/faq
    30. https://www.nasm.org/continuing-education/fitness-specializations
    31. https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/specialty-certifications/default.aspx
    32. https://www.nsca.com/cscs-exam-prerequisites/
    33. https://traineracademy.org/certifications/personal-trainer-certifications/
    34. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Ace-CPT-Salary-in-New-York-City
    35. https://www.ncsf.org/pdf/NCSF_2019_Annual_Exam_Report.pdf
    36. https://www.ncsf.org/careers/job-outlook
    37. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/ACSM-Personal-Trainer-Salary

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    193 thoughts on “The Top 7 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs in 2022”

    1. Michelle Buckman

      Thank you so much for all the work you have done in creating this website!
      It is incredibly helpful and I look forward to reading more of your articles along my journey!
      I am just starting and feel much more informed and educated after reading your articles about certifications.
      You should be proud and rightfully satisfied that you have successfully steered another newbie in the right direction!
      🙂

      High five and thumbs up!

      1. Hey Michelle,
        Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope your journey as a personal trainer is a great one as I know it will be! Matter which personal training certification you choose, this profession is extremely gratifying and will change your life for the better!

    2. Hello, if my overall goal as a trainer is to work with athletes and increase performance, which cert am I better off pursuing NASM or ACE? I would really like to continue education under one brand!

      1. Hey Sadiq,
        For the specific goal that you have I would go with NASM. That is because they have a more advanced PES certification that you can try to obtain afterwards that is much more focused on performance.

    3. Thank you very much for guiding us! The world needs more men like you! I have a question though. I live now in Ecuador but next year ill be living in the States. Ecuadorian Red Cross offers also cpr/aed certification. Will that work? Once again, thank you very much for your help!

      1. Hey Allan,
        that is a pretty specific question you are asking about CPR. I am not sure if all Red Cross certifications are created equal. You should definitely contact the certification you are looking to go with to see if they would accept a Red Cross CPR certification from a different country.

    4. Thank you so much for your articles about certifications, they are so helpful, especially for people like me that are new to the fitness industry. it certainly provides valuable information necessary to guide a beginner to venture into becoming a personal trainer.

      1. Hey Saed,
        No problem I hope my website has helped you choose the certification that best fits your style of training and personality. Good luck with the studying and get out there and start training!

    5. Hi, Really useful information. I wonder if you can help me decide whether ACSM or NASM would fit better for me. I’m a doctor from the UK (with a previous degree in Public Health Nutrition) but for now don’t want to take my USMLEs and re-train here. In the meantime I am looking at starting a career in women’s health and fitness with a special interest in re-building the core after pregnancy. I therefore want a clinical course but there will obviously be other fitness goals for clients too. Do you think ACSM would be better? Or NASM?

      1. Hey Laura,
        Did you know that there are actually pre-and postnatal exercise programs. Although there more like specialty programs that you should take after one of your base certifications such as NASM or ACSM. I believe that both of these certifications have a very small section on pregnancy training. If I were you I would go with NASM due to the fact that there are lots of extra specialty certifications you can get from them once you have a good base of knowledge from there general CPT. ACSM has much less to choose from in this regard. I hope this helped answer your question.

    6. I’m From india, and having a 2.5 years of experiences.. i’m looking forward to work in any of this countries like (USA,UK,NZ,AUS…).
      SO, which one would be the most likely certification you suggest me to go for it..??

      1. Hey Pritam,
        I cannot speak for other countries like the UK or AUS. But in terms of the United States I have noticed that ACE and NASM are two of the gold standard certifications of the modern era. Some other good certifications are the NSCA and ACSM certifications that I feel like their curriculum hasn’t been updated in quite some time compared to the first two. Most employers that I have encountered actually prefer NASM for the most part. Any one of these for would be a fantastic option in my opinion. I hope this helped answer your question and good luck with your training!

    7. Hello PT Pioneer!
      I was wondering what the best Personal Training Certification would be for someone elderly (I am 67). I mostly want to train people my age that have not really exercised much in their life. These are mostly sedentary individuals that need to start exercising to preserve quality of life. I was thinking either NASM, ACSM or the ACE cert but do not know which to go for. Any help would be great! 🙂

      1. Hey Leslie,
        I am very glad to hear that you would like to start your career as a personal trainer. As I mentioned in the article, all three of those personal training certifications are good options to go for. For your specific client that you would like to train in the future, the top personal training certifications are the NASM certification or the ACSM certification because they both have a strong emphasis on corrective exercise and stabilization training which is very beneficial for elderly clients or people just getting started with exercise. For me the NASM certification is better for this because I really love the optimum training model (OPT) that they use. I hope this helps and good luck with your studying 🙂

    8. I am a elementary school teacher and want to transition careers. I have always loved fitness and am taking the leap to be a group fitness instructor/personal trainer.
      I have been struggling on which certification would be best for my situation. Ideally, I would like to work in a smaller group fitness setting or 1-1 with woman who have hit 40 & need to change up what they are doing to get the results they want. Is it better to get a personal training certificate and then a group fitness certification? Or is it better to do group fitness then a PT certificate? I have spent a lot of time researching, but still can’t decide if I should go with NASM or ACE and what order to get the certifications. Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

      1. Hey Laura,
        I would definitely go with the general personal training certification first before moving on to the groups certification. You will learn a lot more and build a stronger foundation that way. If I were you and looking at the clients that you would like to train I would get the general NASM certification and then after you have completed the actor with the ACE group fitness certification. I know lots of people that have this combination and it works out very well for them.

    9. Anne del Rosario

      Hi! Thank you for your detailed comparisons. Very helpful! I’m a breast cancer survivor (3 years free now) and have been doing strength training in the last 2 years. Cancer caused my body to be deformed but I have never felt stronger in my life. I want to inspire and train other cancer survivors like me to get back on their feet, feel good about their body again, and be stronger. I was thinking ACE or NESTA, but your insights are tipping the scale. Thanks and God bless you!

      1. Hey Anne,
        Glad I could help and congratulations on overcoming cancer! I’m glad to hear that you are feeling stronger than ever now and I hope you keep on making fantastic progress. Becoming a personal trainer is something I know that you will enjoy!

    10. Hi,

      After reading most of your articles I’m pretty sold on getting certified with NASM. My question is to be CES is it required to complete the CPT first and then do that specialty!

      1. Hey Shonda,
        I am glad that you liked my material! In terms of the corrective exercise specialist certification, yes you do need a general cpt in order to move on to the CES certification. This is not necessarily have to be the NASM certification but it needs to be a certification accredited by the NCCA, NBFE or DETC.

        1. So is it possible to get CPT certification through one organization and a specialization through another? For example, could I get NASM CPT and then the CSCS certification through NSCA?

          1. Hey Jer,

            It really depends on which specialization certification you get and the specific requirements for that particular certification. Most specialization certifications only require you to have a general CPT but not necessarily through their organization. In regards to the CSCS certification I am pretty sure that you don’t even need a general CPT, you only need a bachelors degree (or be a senior) and hold a valid CPR/AED certificate. I hope this helps.

    11. Thank you for all of the information, I found it very helpful. I’ve been thinking about becoming a trainer for awhile now and have always been interested in working with obesity and weight loss. I originally found ISSA but after reading your article i’m thinking ACE may be a better option for me. Their continuing education courses and their study material options are what sold me. Thank you for taking the time to put this together, I really appreciate the help.

      1. Hey Amanda,
        I am glad that you found what you were looking for on my website. The American Council on exercise is a fantastic organization and I have no doubt that you will be very happy with the choice that you made. They do a fantastic job of teaching all of the essentials in a very easy to understand manner. I also like how you have access to fitness professionals in case you have any questions with the ACE study materials that they offer. ISSA is another good organization as well but if you’re going to focus purely on weight loss and obesity I think you made the right choice. Let me know how it goes and good luck with your personal training adventure!

    12. My goal is to become a well-rounded personal trainer with a strong foundation that can have a big impact in helping all types of people. Because I have not decided on any specialized fields to pursue yet, I am having a difficult time deciding which certification to pursue. Any advice would be appreciated. I have a high school diploma and am located in California if that makes a difference.

      1. Hey Jack, sounds like you have a good plan ahead of you. With these general CPT certifications, there is no rush to get certified as a specialist. They will all basically teach you the basics so that you can get a good idea of the people you want to train in the future. ACE and NASM have a good amount of specialty certifications so going with one of those two might lead you into an advanced cert down the line. They also both have really good study materials.

        1. Thanks Tyler. I was looking at NASM’s “All Inclusive” Program. Any thoughts? Is it worth the money? Also, can you tell me everything you know about their “job guarantee”? I can’t seem to find much info on it online. Thanks again for all your help and knowledge.

    13. Hi Tyler. Thanks for all the info. I was looking at NASM’s All Inclusive Program and noticed they have a “Job Guarantee”. I would really like to know your thoughts on their “job Guarantee”. Thanks.

      1. Hey Jack,
        sorry, it took me so long to get back to you, Thanksgiving weekend was absolutely hectic for me. Anyways yes the all-inclusive program is highly recommended by me. All of my students that go through it all speak very highly of it as well.

        Basically, the job guarantee is exactly as it sounds. The National Academy of sports medicine will connect you with an employer in your area immediately after certified for 80 hours of on-site training/internship. Most people that come out of the 80 hours of training with their gym usually get hired by that same gymnasium. At the end of your 80-hour internship, if you still do not have work, a 90-day timeline starts. During these 90 days, NASM will still continue trying to connect you with other employers.

        If for some reason at the end of the 90 days you do not have a job as a personal trainer, you can get a refund from NASM for the additional cost (or the difference) between the all-inclusive package that you purchased and the next cheapest package, which is the guided study program. This would mean you would get approximately $500 back. You would also have the option to receive something of similar value such as the NASM CES or NASM PES certification if you choose one of those instead.

        I think it’s definitely a win-win situation and that’s why I highly recommend this package. Most people come out with a full job. The ones who don’t, get all their money back anyway. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door and NASM has a ton of connections with a ton of different gyms. I hope this helped, and sorry for the late reply. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    14. I just got my certification and I’ve been looking at some of the resources on this website… They’ve been pretty helpful for me. Especially with picking the gym I wanted to work at and how to start building my clients.

      There’s a lot of good information on the site. It’s http://www.TheSixFigureTrainer.com

      1. Hey Jayce, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am glad that you are liking the comment and I will definitely check out the website you are suggesting. Good luck with all the personal training endeavors

    15. Hello there!
      I am thinking on getting my PT Certification again. I had it through NESTA and expired last September. I am married to a motocross guy who compites in the 50 Intermidiate class. This has me interested in a very different training area I have never done. I have been an athlete for many years. Twenty plus yrs in Gymnastics and Dance, 17 yrs in powerlifting competitions and in an alternating way I have also compited in Figure and Bikini Contests. With this very wide and different areas of expertise that go from strength to shaping to endurance and also my passion for nutrition I cannot make up my mind what program and what institution to follow and get re-certified. Any thoughts and suggestions that help me making up my mind and start ASAP?

      1. Hello Claudia,
        It looks like you were trying to get specialized with your personal training. Most specializations require a general CPT such as the ones listed in this article. So what I like to do is recommend certifications first, and then typically I will recommend that same organization for their general certification. The organizations that have the most specializations are NASM, ACE and ISSA. For example, if you want to work with athletes, the NASM performance enhancement specialist certification is a great option. If that is your end goal, I would also recommend going with NASM as your general certification as well. ISSA also has a fantastic performance specializations certification that you should check out. If nutrition is your main goal as well, all of them have a decent nutrition certification as well and I highly recommend checking out my article on the top nutrition certifications here: https://www.ptpioneer.com/nutrition-certification-programs/ In fact, NASM just released their certified nutrition coach certification which is already getting really good feedback.

    16. Hi Tyler, Thanks for the information! Have you heard of World Instructor Training Schools (WITS) A community college nearby is hosting their program this summer for $750. That includes 15 hours of lecture, 15 hours of instrution/simulation and a test voucher and optional 30 hour internship. What seems different about them is that it is in-person rather than online, which is what I prefer. Do you know of any other in-person CPT organizations? There is one called National Personal Training Institute, but it costs over $6000.

      1. Yes I have heard of the world instructor training schools but I have not done an official review on them. I have also heard of the national personal training Institute but for me that $6000 is very steep and in terms of employment opportunities, you will have just as good of chance getting hired with any of the cheaper certification such as NASM, ACE, ISSA, ACSM or NSCA. I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

    17. I am looking to get certified as a personal trainer, but work with people primarily online. What program do you suggest? I am leaning towards ISSA… the only thing that concerns me is the fact that they are not NCAA accredited. How big of a factor is this?
      Thank you!

      1. Hello Kelli,
        Maybe 15 to 20 years ago that used to be a factor in regards of not being NCCA Accredited. When it comes to getting a job at a gymnasium, it is usually important to ask what personal training certifications they like to accept. For the most part ISSA is very widely accepted and currently in 2019, NCCA accredited certifications do not really have an edge. I think that ISSA is a fantastic certification and is definitely one of my top three overall. In terms of working online, you should definitely have no problem repping ISSA on your personal training profile.

    18. Hi Tyler, I must say this is a well put up content and In fact, the entire information on this website. It is simple and precise. Thanks a lot, god bless your hard work brother.
      I am looking to get Strength and Conditioning certification, which one would you suggest considering the fact that I live in Canada. I am thinking to get certified with ISSA since their course offers a lot of flexibility and its most suitable to my busy lifestyle.

      1. Thank you for the compliment. I think that the International sports Sciences Association is a fantastic Certifying agency overall. In fact there are definitely one of my top three certifications currently. They also have a great strength and conditioning certification as well. That or the performance enhancement specialist from NASM would be my top choices. In regards to living in Canada, it really does not matter as long as you check with the place you want to work to see what certifications they accept. I am sure that they will say either one of these two are great options.