ISSA Review (2021) - Certification Cost, Value, and More!

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    Welcome to the most up-to-date review of the ISSA certification where I’ll breakdown the following:

    ISSA Master trainer and Elite trainer
    ISSA business and career support
    ISSA First Aid
    +Much more!

    I can confidently list all the pros and cons for you, thanks to my 10+ years of working with ISSA.

    Make sure to take the quiz to get a good idea of which certification is right for you.

    Let’s get the ball rolling!


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      Before we get started, I have three important things to tell you:

      1. I have free study guides and practice tests for the ISSA cert.
      2. Trainer Academy has fantastic study materials.
      3. My Running Start course is 100% free and will guide you A to Z to starting your PT career.

      Hello ladies and gentlemen around the world, coach Tyler here and welcome to my ISSA review. The goal of this review is to help you figure out whether this is the right PT certification for you and your training style and purposes. So, is ISSA legit? Let’s find out!

      Let’s get into some quick pros and cons before we get started in the full review.

      After the review, if you think this might be a good option for you, check out the ISSA site. I also recommend checking out my must-read article on the top 5 personal trainer certifications! If you like comparison articles I suggest checking out my ISSA vs ACE and my ISSA vs NASM articles as well.

      I also recommend checking out my review of the ISSA master and elite trainer programs.

      ISSA CPT Review in Video Form

      ISSA CPT: Pros vs. Cons


      • NCCA Accredited
      • Great customer experience “4.7/5 stars + over 9,000 reviews”
      • It goes in-depth into the business aspect of personal training
      • It tests you on a wide variety of skills
      • You can take the test anywhere in the world
      • Possibly the most international certification
      • The testing and retesting criteria are pretty relaxed
      • In-depth, robust main text and study guide


      • No live instruction
      • Black and white textbook

      ISSA Review – General Information on the Personal Trainer Certification

      Issa Information

      Are you seeking for a personal training certification that has a balance of fitness, nutrition, and special population groups?

      Come along, let me show you how to benefit maximally from this highly sought after certification within and outside the USA.

      Let’s get right into it if you are ready.

      Let’s jump straight into this ISSA CPT review. One of the first glaring distinctions with this cert is the fact that it is done strictly and completely online.

      Because of this, it is also one of the few personal trainer certs that can be studied and completed outside of the United States.

      This certification definitely earns the “International” label, with trainers as far out as Brazil, Australia and even Zimbabwe getting their hands on it.

      Its accessibility doesn’t steal away from the level of industry credibility that this cert has.

      Ranked consistently as one of the best personal trainer programs alongside ACE, NASM, ACSM and NSCA, ISSA is one of the most sought after certifications by gyms and commercial facility owners.

      The depth of well-researched knowledge is a perfect balance of all aspects of fitness, including a decent dedication towards nutrition and special population groups.

      As mentioned in one of the “Pros”, ISSA has a very lenient retest policy, allowing a free retest of the exam after having failed on your first attempt.

      ISSA Review – General Information on the Personal Trainer Certification

      I feel like this is a great direction to take retesting opportunities, although some might argue that the extra fee is a necessary industry control barrier.

      On the off chance, you fail a second time, a mere $50 is all you need to take another crack at it.

      This is in contrast to the other major certifications, which will often charge a hefty retest fee, in some cases, as much as $200. 

      From the time that you purchase the ISSA certification, you have two whole years to study for and take the final exam.

      This again stands in contrast to other certs, which will offer something along the lines of just 90 days from when you register.

      The amount of flexibility they give to their students is an amazing advantage

      As mentioned, ISSA CPT gives a decent, broad outlook on the essentials of health and fitness, from fundamental concepts of exercise science, nutrition, all the way to basic first aid and even the commercial/marketing approach one should take as a trainer.

      The last few units of the textbook do a decent job of introducing you as a trainer to the concepts of training special population groups.

      Groups such as children and the elderly, as well as those with chronic conditions and disabilities. 

      This makes you a certified ISSA physical therapy professional.

      While it is advised that you take a certification that specializes in special population groups, it’s a great intro to those methodologies and serves as a functional springboard.

      There are also a couple of good units that touch on nutrition. ISSA CPT will by no means make you a nutrition pro, but the level of depth is enough of a decent springboard to allow you to know what you’re talking about when giving clients very basic advice.

      ISSA does have a Nutritionist certification which I’ll talk about in a separate article. But for a pretty sweet deal, you can snag both the CPT cert along with the Nutrition cert.

      More details on that in the “ISSA Certification Cost” section of this article

      All in all, since its inception in 1988, ISSA has steadily grown into a dominant feature on the fitness landscape and is becoming more and more relevant.

      It is clear that as a trainer, this is one of the most important certificates worth getting.

      ISSA Master Trainer and Elite Trainer

      This article is mainly focused on the CPT cert you will get from ISSA, but I think it’s pretty important to touch on the Master and Elite certification packages on offer.

      These are the next tier in credentials when it comes to ISSA, offering diverse career opportunities and a guaranteed income boost.

      For the Elite Trainer package, you will get a 3 in 1 certification. The standard being CPT and Nutritionist, followed by anyone of the following:

      The Master Trainer Package kicks it up a notch and offers 4 extra specializations out of the ones mentioned above!

      The amount of knowledge you will have gathered through this is immense, and will definitely put you in the top tier of trainers when it comes to your career options.

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as referenced by ISSA, the median income per year for PTs was $39,210, based on 2017 figures, with the top 10 percent earning bracket sitting at over $74,520 per year.

      Check out my article here that goes much more in-depth into the master trainer and elite trainer programs.

      ISSA Certification Cost

      This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ISSA-Cost-1.png

      Did you know you can enjoy fee slashes and other regular discounts with ISSA?

      Here, I unveil the secrets of registering for your certification course at a low price.

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      I’m sure you don’t want to miss out on these opportunities.

      Find out how more below!

      The ISSA personal trainer certification program costs $699 and even includes options that are interest-free payments. You can also frequently find the ISSA CPT for $799 with the addition of a free nutrition certification. These are the two most common prices for the ISSA CFT.

      Check out the current price here.

      An option I personally recommend is the CPT/Nutrition deal. For just $799, you can nab the ISSA CPT and ISSA Nutrition Cert. 

      For this price, you will receive entrance to both the CPT and Nutrition examinations, their primary textbooks (including a business guide), and multiple online training resources.

      You can check for the best nutrition certification out there.

      The resources include career guidance and trainer tools which will be useful to you once you set off as a certified trainer.

      The Master Trainer and Elite Trainer packages will set you back $2,997 and $1,598 respectively.

      Be sure to check frequently as ISSA very often slashes fees and offers regular discounts.

      Who says the ISSA personal trainer certification costs are too high?

      Nope; they are within the industry standard, and what’s more; you can get an ISSA discount code too!

      And on that note, let’s delve deeper into the study materials and see what it takes to become an ISSA certified personal trainer.

      ISSA Study Materials

      ISSA Materials 1

      In this section, I’ll show you all the study guides available and the right one that suits your personality for effective learning.

      You will come to appreciate the diverse options of the ISSA study materials as we analyse them one by one.

      Let’s get started!

      One fantastic thing about the ISSA study materials suite is that you get a hard copy textbook along with the standard electronic ISSA book (ebook). 

      So, whether you want to read from their website, download, or read a hard copy for your ISSA training, you will get the same content needed to pass your ISSA exam.

      I recommend checking out their study materials on their website.

      The Textbook

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 4

      Most other certifying agencies will just let you have the standard ebook, meaning you will have to fork out extra for the hard copy of the official text on your journey to becoming an ISSA PT expert. 

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 5

      I personally love having a big chunky textbook to kick back with, highlight essential concepts and add relevant sticky notes too. It’s my study love language.

      So for that reason, ISSA gets two thumbs up from me.

      The actual textbook itself is pretty good. It has a conversational feel to it, while not dropping the ball on the core science behind its concepts. 

      This cohesion between a lighter read and hard facts and science-backed knowledge makes absorbing information much easier.

      The footnotes in the sidebars of each page provide amazing summaries of the most important key concepts.

      The textbook is divided into 6 sections. They are:

      1. Anatomy and Physiology (3 units)
      2. Kinesiology and biomechanics (4 units)
      3. Health and physical fitness (4 units)
      4. Program Development (5 units)
      5. Nutrition (4 Units)
      6. Fitness for All (11 units)

      With the ISSA package, you also receive a 10 week guided study. This guided study program is a sort of digital lecture program. 9 of the 10 weeks contain:

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 6
      1. A reading assignment for that week’s units
      2. A video lecture covering key topics
      3. Final test prep essay assignments
      4. A series of quizzes
      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 7

      The final week (week 10) of this guided study is the actual exam. The whole plan is to progressively prepare you for the big finale, and I think they do a pretty good job of it.

      The guided study also has audio lectures that correspond to the weekly study objectives for an on-the-go catch-up.

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 8

      During this guided study, ISSA also gives you access to study assistance with the ISSA student support team.

      Other study aids include:

      • BMI Calculator
      • Common Terms Glossary (Audio)
      • HyperStrike Exercise Videos
      • Information Links
      • Medline Research Articles
      • Muscle Glossary (Audio)
      • Question Board
      • Video Seminar
      • Downloadable exam, practice exam, quizzes, study guide and workbook
      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 9

      Out of all of the study materials, I thought the most helpful was the access to educational support and the marketing and business guide. 

      If you have any questions about complicated topics or concepts you get stuck, you can simply reach out to the support team and receive a fantastic answer from one of their professionals.

      I also have a fantastic and free ISSA, ACE, NASM flashcards and NSCA study guide that can be found here, for all-round studies or you can check out the study materials on their site.

      ISSA Business and Career Support

      Another amazing aspect of registering to ISSA is career support. Not enough attention is paid to the other side of personal training, but ISSA seems to have nailed it.

      Alongside your textbook, you will receive a book called Fiscal Fitness.  This guide is entirely dedicated to the business of personal training. 

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 10

      It is extremely useful in guiding you through the set-up, marketing, and conversion process as well as how to maximize your income. 

      The only critique I have for Fiscal Fitness is the information regarding marketing strategies. I feel it is a bit outdated. 

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 11

      No mention of social media marketing, which has taken over the way fitness or (anything else) is advertised.

      On your student portal dashboard, you will have access to loads of other career guidance materials including:

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 12
      • Business Guide Step by Step
      • Create Your Website
      • Fitness Business Tips
      • How to Interview
      • Personal Health Coverage
      • Medical Fitness Network
      • Professional Liability Insurance

      Once you get certified, you will have access to the ISSA Professional Division.

      This is a portal that gives you access to amazing business resources and support tools such as:

      • Certified Logo & Business Cards
      • Continuing Education
      • Business Center Video Lab
      • Personal Trainer Forms
      • Job Resources

      This stuff is amazing, not only guiding you through the concept of starting your own PT business, but It’s also a career opportunity platform and is a great way to actually start off your career.

      The US military also offers free ISSA registration to its veterans and service members who wish to take their military training into the realm of commercial fitness.

      You see, even the Army agrees that the ISSA personal trainer certificate useful for its veterans.

      ISSA regularly updates its standard study materials. To keep up with the new stuff, check out this list of all available study and support materials.

      ISSA First Aid

      ISSA First Aid 1

      In this section, you’ll understand why it is important of have basic knowledge of life-saving techniques such as First Aid, AED, etc.

      Read on to find out more!

      Any trainer worth their salt will regularly keep up to date with their first responder training.

      This is because the knowledge of AED, First Aid, and CPR techniques are crucial to the job of a senior fitness certification holder just as it is for a youth fitness certification holder.

      After studying and passing the fitness certification courses, everyone in this business must be able to conduct these life-saving techniques once called upon.

      This is even more crucial for ISSA Masters and ISSA Elite trainers involved in healthy living and sports nutrition exercise therapies

      ISSA Review ([year]) - ISSA Cost vs Value, Is ISSA worth it? 13

      It is imperative as a fitness professional to always have first aid in your skillset and the necessary resources to execute it in your bag of tools

      ISSA requires you either submit your current AED/CPR certificates or you complete the free online First Aid course they have on your student portal.

      ISSA Accreditation

      ISSA Accreditation 1

      Having accreditation from the right body gives credibility and legitimacy to CPT certifications.

      Come along, let’s discover what certifying bodies ISSA is accredited with.

      ISSA is accredited by the NCCA and is also accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

      This commission was called the DEAC prior to now and its duty as a certification programs body has not changed much. 

      Both NCCA and DEAC are credible and legitimate expert bodies, those in the know will have no problem with neither, but NCCA is admittedly more recognized.

      ISSA is one of the top tier certifying agencies out there today and it shows by being accredited by not only one, but two very recognized accreditation organizations.

      Registration and Exam Criteria

      ISSA Exam Criteria 1

      This section focuses on the basic requirements you need to possess before thinking of kicking off your CPT career with ISSA.

      Personal training certifications are fantastic to get started in the fitness industry.

      Let me guide you on the fitness topics you must be conversant with before taking the exams.

      What are you waiting for? Let’s get on with it.

      So, how does the ISSA personal trainer certification exam work?

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      As with most extended learning programs, you need to be 18 years or older to qualify for ISSA as well as hold a high school diploma or equivalent and CPR/AED certification.

      The ISSA expects you to understand basic fitness nutrition, healthy living, human anatomy, physiology, fitness and health, and a bit of sports science as you pursue its certificate programs

      So in order to get certified, you need to complete and submit a CPR/AED certification.

      As mentioned earlier, ISSA provides an online CPR/AED First Aid course for you to complete as part of your study package.

      The untimed exam itself is a 200-question multiple-choice exam with 6 essay exams. It is an unproctored and self-paced open book exam. Whereas the NCCA exam offered is 140-question multiple choice proctored exam.

      So, all you need do after going through the ISSA login is to click the right answer to each question as they come along.

      Your ISSA final exam is not the end; there is recertification required in months to come.

      I highly suggest checking out my articles on ISSA exam prep and ISSA exam FAQ to learn more about the final test. Also, you can start studying here with my free study guide.

      ISSA Recertification

      ISSA Recertification 1

      This section will show you how to retain your ISSA certification.

      I’ll also spend time teaching you how to stay updated with relevant information in the Fitness industry.

      Let’s jump right into it!

      It is standard practice to recertify once you’ve gained your trainer qualifications. In the case of ISSA, recertification happens every two years.

      You will need to show proof of continued education in order to recertify. You can do this by attending workshops or certifying with different certs across the board.

      ISSA also has some handy recertification resources that are crucial to your continuing education units.

      ISSA has one of the cheapest recertification fees at just $75 compared to other agencies and programs that will have you pay over $100 dollars for your credential renewal.

      Paying the fee ensures you can complete the online ISSA certification, as required to become a real fitness and health professional.

      The best part is that you have months to complete the journey of an ISSA test prep and remaining ISSA certified. Just stay in the industry, and make sure your ISSA personal trainer reviews and testimonials from clients are looking up.

      With your full name, email, and other details in place, registering for the online exam, among other things ISSA also offers, will be a piece of cake towards your recertification.

      This is no joke; if you must retain your ISSA personal trainer certification, ensure you keep up to date with your learning so that your ISSA certification review stays positive as you keep practicing your trade.

      You should find out about the ups and downs of this personal training business and what do you need to become a personal trainer.

      ISSA Review Conclusion

      ISSA Conclusion 1

      I am sure you have gained from the knowledge-filled information from this article.

      You can become an ISSA certified trainer in a few months if you put your heart to it.

      Now you’ve got all you need to get started. So, make a move today and all will fall in place.

      Until I hear from you again, cheers!

      My overall rating: 5/5

      ISSA Certification rating

      Check out ISSA here.

      I also recommend checking out their:

      If you are still not sure which personal training certification is right for you, make sure to take the quiz so that you know for sure. Also, check out my article on the top five best personal training certifications in the industry today.

      So, what is the ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) certification?

      Is the ISSA personal trainer certificate best for you?

      ISSA has grown from strength to strength over the past few years becoming one of the most recognized certifications in America.

      The way it is delivered also means it has a profound international appeal, giving it an edge over rivals such as NASM and ACE in that department.

      ISSA trainer certification program provides a good depth of knowledge, but in an easy to digest way. 

      That’s probably why ISSA trainers have a reputation for knowing their stuff because it was easy for them to assimilate the knowledge.

      The exam structure is very different from what one would normally expect, but this is a huge advantage when it comes to understanding the concepts.

      The attention to the business of personal training is also a major unique bonus and one of the reasons I would personally recommend it.

      Personally, this puts ISSA up close with ACE and NASM in terms of industry relevance, foundational knowledge, and reputability – according to most certified personal trainers.

      Plus, the ISSA personal training certification cost is so affordable.

      So, you see; the ISSA personal trainer cert is ideal for you and there is nothing stopping you from becoming an ISSA certified trainer.

      If you have more questions about ISSA or any other certifications for that matter, don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

      I also suggest you check out my certification reviews comparing ISSA to NASM and ACE right after the FAQ section below.

      ISSA Certification FAQ