The 10 Cheapest Personal Trainer Certifications Available in 2022

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    The Cheapest Personal Trainer Certification

    A personal trainer certification is definitely not going to set you back as much as a college degree, but price is still a factor. When looking at which cert to get, most people will often start with the cheapest personal trainer certification they can find.

    There is dignity in trying to save as much as you can, but when it comes to Cheap personal trainer certifications, you might end up costing yourself more in terms of time and progress. This article will look at the cost of 10 of my highest recommended general PT certs as well as a few specialist ones. They will be ranked from the cheapest, to the most expensive.

    I have some excellent study materials for the majority of these certifications. Also, check out my article on personal trainer salary and how to become a personal trainer.

    I also highly recommend that you take the quiz to see overall which certification is likely the best option for you. The menu at the top of this page will answer any question 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.

    With all that out of the way, I present to you my guide on the Cheapest personal training certification.

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      The Top 10 Cheapest Personal Training Certifications [In 2021]

      Value vs Cost. Which is More Important

      Value vs Cost. Which is More Important

      We all want to save our money, but at the same time, we want to spend it on the best quality stuff, and absolute catch 22. That’s why after reading this article I suggest checking on my article on my overall top five certifications that bring everything into consideration.

      That’s because cost and quality correlate in proportion with each other in most cases. This means the more expensive something is, the higher the quality it possibly possesses and vice versa.

      An extreme pitfall of the cost/quality relationship is the existence or numerous online scam and bogus certifications. These predatory certs offer nothing in the way of useful knowledge or industry recognition. Avoid super cheap internet certs at all costs (no pun intended).

      Because of all these weeds in the PT field, a way to defend both the consumer and the certifying agencies is through the little known process of accreditation.

      This is basically a certification for certification that gives you the assurance that what you’re getting into will be another step forward instead of back.

      For this reason, my advice to you is to always prioritize value (what something is worth) over price (monetary cost)

      How Value is More Important than Cost

      Personal Trainer Certification Cost Ranking: Top 10

      There are many factors to look at when trying to determine value of a good certification. And while cost is definitely a big one, you’ll need to look at other factors that make it possible to determine value.


      Accreditation is an essential indicator when you’re out trying to choose a new certification. As I mentioned, accreditation is how a certification gets authority and credibility.

      This is done through two main organizations, the NCCA (National Commission of Certifying Agencies) and the DEAC or Distance Education Accrediting Commission. These two bodies are headed by a unified panel of industry leaders who specialize in fitness and sports science.

      The NCCA is the more popular accreditor, with most of the top certifications having it as their backing. DEAC on the other hand, is equally credible, but has a narrower focus on distance and remote learning based institutions such as ISSA.

      Never settle for anything less than a certification with one of these two accreditations. Anything else won’t get you far I’m afraid.

      Industry Recognition

      Industry reputation if you want clients, gym owners and sports management to give you a second look. Beyond just being accredited, you also need pursue a cert that’s regarded and supported by your chosen career path.

      Industry reputation is indicated by popularity amongst your peers and colleagues. It’s also a lot to do with the history and heritage of a certification, which will also determine how stable the learning delivery and outcomes are.

      The reality is some certifications are designed for specific scenarios such as performance and nutrition. In that case, you’ll need to decide which specific path you feel like taking.

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      Re-certification Period

      The length of time between having to do a revision test is known as the re-certification period. It’s an industry standard the usually sees you re-certifying every 2 years, more in certain cases.

      The aim of re-certification is that by doing so, you continue maintaining and progressing your knowledge and ability to apply sound and correct principles as a trainer or coach.

      It’s also an indicator of quality and value in that you can basically get an idea of how frequently the knowledge update cycle is for a particular certification or certifying agency.

      If you just feel like gaining a general cert that lets you in the door with gyms and clients, get one with a longer re-certification period. If your aim is to constantly enrich yourself with leading edge applied knowledge and perhaps become an authority on fitness science, go for one that requires more regular re certification.

      Exam Difficulty

      Certification Exam Difficulty

      How hard is the exam?

      That’s a very common question and one worth taking into account when deciding the value of a certification for yourself. That is because difficulty dictates risk vs reward,

      For example, an exam like the NSCA CSCS has a high risk of failure, but at the same time is one of the most rewarding certs to carry, especially for a career in professional sports management. For any other reason, the reward might not be worth a 45% probability of failure.

      On the other hand, an exam with a low risk of failure, a.k.a an easy exam, might lack the right degree of challenge and incentive and diminish the quality control mechanism baked in the exams to only select for the best performers.

      The basic rule of thumb is, the harder and exam, the more worth it is to get, as long as it’s for the right field. Check out my full article on the easiest training certifications.


      The biggest determining factor in all this is YOU!

      What do you want? What sort of trainer do you want to be, do even want to be a trainer? Are you trying to conquer the fitness world or are you just looking for something random to do.

      Asking yourself what you’re in it for is a great way to decide which cert, if any, is the most valuable option for you.

      10 Cheapest personal training certifications

      10 Cheapest personal training certifications

      Below is the list of the top 10 cheapest personal trainer certifications. Personal trainer certification costs will vary based on various different factors. This list goes from the cheapest personal training certifications to the most expensive personal training certifications.

      1. ACTION CPT ($99)

      ACTION CPT ($99)

      the crown for cheapest accredited personal trainer cert goes to ACTION CPT. at only $99 for all student resources and exam access, this is the only certification on this list that costs a double digit figure. Find out more about ACTION in my review here.

      2. NFPT CPT ($249)

      NFPT CPT ($249)

      The National Federation of Professional Trainers or NFPT comes with 2 recommended options to choose from. The standard package and premier package, which respectively go for $249 and $349. More on NFPT in my full review.

      3. NESTA CPT ($477)

      NESTA CPT ($477)

      NESTA goes for $477 for the full study and exam plan and $299 for just the exam. If you want to know more about this cert, check my NESTA review here.

      4. NCCPT CPT ($478)

      NCCPT CPT ($478)

      This cert ranges between $399 and $478 depending on the package tier you decide to go with. Why not take a look at my NCCPT review article for more info.

      5. ACE CPT ($498)

      ACE CPT ($599)

      To get in on ACE with everything you’d typically need, you’re looking at $498. I’d rate the ACE CPT as a great certification, if not the best value when it comes to what you pat and what you get. The study materials are second to none, and the exam offers enough of a challenge to help you cement relevant concepts. If you want to know more, check out my review article for more insight on this certification. Check out my free ACE study guide and practice test here.

      6. ISSA CPT ($499)

      ISSA CPT ($499)

      ISSA costs a cool $499 for the standard suite of study material plus the exam. This cert is unique in many ways, including its global presence. Find out more in my review here.

      Although to buy one certification, the international sports and sciences Association sits right in the middle at $499. They often offer a special deal if you purchase multiple certifications. For example their elite trainer package includes their CPT, their nutritionist certification and a third certification of your choice for only $999 which brings each certification down to $333. This is a fantastic deal. Check out the current price for the elite trainer package. Check out my free ISSA study guide and practice test here.

      7. NCSF CPT ($499)

      NCSF CPT ($499)

      This cert will set you back $499 for everything you generally need to prep and take the exam. You can have a look at my review of NCSF for a full scope of what to expect.

      8. NASM CPT ($524)

      NASM CPT ($799)

      NASM will cost you $699 to get you into the exam and get you the necessary prep material. But, for visitors of my website, you can use my personal discount code to bring 25% off the overall price which makes it $524. Overall, NASM is one of my top two rated certifications. Check out my free NASM study guide and practice test here.

      Here are the current prices and my discounted price. Readers of my site can use my personal discount code PTP25 to save 25% on all NASM CPT certifications.

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      Save 25%
      Most Popular Cert
      3 Certs for 1
      A Good Option
      50% off
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      Best online PT course
      $100 Off
      The Top PT Software
      Get Free Trial
      • $699 $524 (25% off) – Self-study package
      • $1099 $824 (25% off) – Premium self-study package
      • $1499 $1024(25% off) – Guided self-study package
      • $2199 $1649 (25% off) – All-inclusive package
      • Check out my special deal for 25% off

      If you want more on this NASM certification, check out my review here.

      And that’s my top ten personal trainer certifications, ranked from the cheapest (ACTION), to the most expensive (NSAM).

      Remember, there’s more than one factor that determines which the right certification for you to take is

      Now let’s briefly go through a few specialist categories and the costs of the various different certification options.

      9. ACSM CPT ($525)

      ACSM CPT ($521)

      ACSM costs around $525 to register for the exam and make use of the available study material. As with all the other certs, I’ve written up a review to help guide you through the ins and outs of ACSM.

      10. NSCA CPT ($712.80)

      NSCA CPT ($712.80)

      the NSCA CPT costs around $712.80 for the exam and study resources. with a steep price and a steep difficulty curve when it comes to the final exam, you need to have a solid prep plan in place before tackling this behemoth. I’ve got a handy article with a detailed breakdown of NSCA CPT here. Check out my free NSCA study guide and practice test here.

      4 Strength and Conditioning Certifications Ranked by cost

      Strength and Conditioning Certifications Ranked by cost

      Now let’s look at 4 Strength and conditioning certifications and how they weigh up based on cost. These certifications allow you to choose a career in specialized training for elite athlete population groups such as pro-athletes, college amateurs and athletic development academies.

      • NSCA CSCS: $260
      • CSCCa SCCC: Member:$360 – Non Member: $470
      • ISSA SSC: $799
      • NASM PES: $699 – $999

      As you can see, it’s quite a range of costs, so check out my full comparison of strength and conditioning certs to help you make your decision

      6 Nutrition Certifications Ranked by cost

      Nutrition is the real key to significant results, both in body composition and performance. Let’s look at 6 of the best nutrition certs and what they cost. These certifications allow you to add comprehensive diet and nutrition strategy to your exercise offerings for a full rounded service.

      • ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist: $299
      • NESTA Fitness/Sports Nutrition Coach $449
      • ISSA Sports Nutrition Certification: $499
      • AFPA Nutrition and Wellness Certification $599
      • Precision Nutrition Certification level 1: $799
      • NASM CNC Certified Nutrition Coach: $899

      If you want a full detailed background of all these nutrition certifications, please check out my review article here.

      3 Corrective Exercise Certifications Ranked by cost

      Corrective Exercise Certifications Ranked by cost

      Corrective exercise is an essential aspect of health and wellness. It deals with locating and improving aspects of the biological machine that may be out of check. Here, we take a look at the best certifications to get you started in this field based on cost.

      • NASM CES: $699
      • ACE (biomechanics method) CES certification $749
      • ISSA corrective exercise certification $799

      Those are my top 3 corrective exercise certifications. If you’d like to learn more about them, go ahead and check out my full review of them here.


      If you have not done so yet, take the quiz To see which certification is the best for your training style.

      Overall, regardless of the price of the personal training certification, my overall three certifications are:

      And, if ISSA as their special deal to get the elite trainer program for only $999 ( three full certification’s) this is the best overall bang for your buck in my opinion. Check out the current price for the elite trainer program here.

      To sum things up, I just want you to understand that while cost is a major factor, the real question is the question of value. How valuable is a cert to the industry you prefer will determine how valuable it is to you.

      If you want to know more about what sort of certification your trainer profile type would go for, take my quiz. You could also drop a comment below and let me know if you have any specific queries you’d like for me to address.

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      13 thoughts on “The 10 Cheapest Personal Trainer Certifications Available in 2022”

      1. I read in the NASM handbook “The CPT Exam Only option allows the candidate to challenge the NCCA-accredited
        CPT certification examination. Purchase of NASM certification preparation materials is
        not required in order to become eligible to sit for the CPT exam, and does not
        guarantee a passing score on the exam. Candidates who pass the examination will
        be awarded the CPT credential.”
        I’ve not contacted NASM, but maybe you can answer; from reading this you can take the test without purchasing anything through NASM. Am I missing anything?

        1. Hey Joel,
          You definitely do not need to buy any study materials from anyone if you feel confident that you will pass the exam. That being said, you still do need to pay for the entrance and the ability to take the NASM test. They do on their website have a test only option that does not include any study materials. At the minimum, this is what you will need to purchase to get certified through them.

      2. I have a european cert and need to get a us cert. I have been training for 15 years and think that action CPT seems the best option as I already have my years of experience and cert.

        1. Hey Neill,
          That’s pretty cool that you have a European personal training certification. Which certification is that by the way? The action certification will definitely be fine for your situation as it is accredited by the NCCA and should be a breeze for you to pass seeing that you already have 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. Also the price is very tempting. I say go for it.

          1. Hi Tyler, Its Australian Inst Fitness Master Trainer(AIF). A very intensive 8 week 10 hours a day on-site certification. Price was way more than the list you mentioned at 4000k+ plus food. accommodation was taken care of. It is an awesome cert. Everything was live as well as to get my final exam we had to go into the local gym and ask someone if they would like to do a training session with me for an hour. Then they were interviewed after for feedback. It was awesome.

        1. Hey Tony,
          I have heard of the athletic certification training commission but honestly I have not done too much research and I also do not know any personal trainers that are holding that certification. Maybe I will do some more research and write a full review on them in the future, but for now I can’t tell you too much about them.

      3. I was wondering if you are able to provide any information regarding the National Association for Fitness Certification- Nutrition Coach Certification? Accredited by NBFE. Are you familiar with this certification? Is this reputable at all? I am aware that it is not top of the list. I am looking for a quick/inexpensive, if possible, cert to get going. Will work towards better/additional certs. I am former D1 athlete, and have coached soccer, track and field, and strength and conditioning at the youth and HS level, and am looking to work with teams, and individual athletes, as well as general population on a 1 on 1 basis. I appreciate any intel you can provide.

        1. Hello,
          I have heard of the national Association for fitness certification but I really do not know too much about it besides hearing of the name. If you are looking to work with athletes of any level, I suggest picking up a strength and conditioning certification as well as a youth certification in your circumstance. I would either go with ISSA or NASM. If you have a college degree, the CSCS certification is definitely at the top of the list in terms of recognition.

        1. Hey there, I do believe that they are accredited by the NCCA although they are not nearly as recognized as some other ones such as the National Academy of sports medicine, or the American Council on exercise. I do believe that you need to pay extra in order to get the ncca accredited version. Whereas with the other organizations that comes standard.

      4. AMAZING site with the best compilation of info out there!! Can’t THANK YOU enough for this service!! Kudo’s!

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