How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer in 2022?

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    In this article, I’m going to answer this often-asked question: “how long does it take to become a personal trainer?”

    It is one of the most common questions I have encountered in my 10+ years as a personal trainer.

    You’ll learn:

    How students progress through a personal training course
    Hidden time costs and continuing education
    Various courses and their duration, etc.

    In the end, you’ll know how much time you need to dedicate to getting qualified.

    Let’s get going!

    How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer (In [year])? - An Exclusive Insight 4

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      Becoming a certified personal trainer (PT) or an exercise specialist, as some call it is your ticket to a rewarding career where you help people achieve their personal training goals and change their lives.

      But how long does it take to become a certified personal trainer starting from zero? Whether the average study times for certifications such as NASM and ACE?

      In this article, I will break down step by step exactly how long it takes depending on your level of knowledge and which personal trainer certification you choose to study.

      Keep reading to find out! I also suggest reading my article on personal trainer salary as well as the top 5 certifications to choose from!

      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.

      I also recommend that you Take the quiz to find out which PT certification is right for you.

      Make sure to check out Trainer Academy CPT study materials that cut your study time in half as well as offer an exam pass guarantee.

      Learn more about The trainer Academy in my review on them.

      I also have a free study guides and practice exams for the majority of the personal training certifications on this list.

      It can also be a financially rewarding job if you know how to gain clients and keep them happy. 

      This article will break down the most common question that I get as a personal trainer.

      How long does it take to become a personal trainer?

      Unfortunately, this question is not all that straightforward, and there are many factors to consider such as your work schedule, the amount of free time you have to dedicate to study, and your motivation levels.

      You also need to factor in the additional time costs of maintaining your qualification in the years ahead.

      Since you’ve reached this article, you are probably reasonably interested in becoming a personal trainer.

      The most helpful articles for you to read after this one are the ultimate guide to starting as a personal trainer.

      We will look at the five best and most popular PT qualifications and the maximum completion times each course allows.

      I will also give realistic estimates that take into account day to day obligations such as full-time work and extracurricular activities.

      Well, the general answer is about 3 to 6 months, but there are a lot of variables at play that could lengthen or shorten this time.

      This timeframe fits perfectly with some of the popular NCCA accredited certifications on the market such as NASM or ACE.

      A Word to the Wise

      How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer (In [year])? - An Exclusive Insight 5

      This section is one to pay more attention to as it holds very vital information.

      Before discussing “maximum course times,” “prerequisites” and “continuing education requirements”.

      I want to quickly mention how important it is to select a “respectable” course that will be widely recognized by some industry bodies and potential employers.

      While I will deal with the five most credible PT certifications, in my opinion, you should still see what’s out there.

      Here are a few factors you should always take into account when assessing whether or not a personal trainer certification exam is worth investing in.

      The Quality of the Accreditation

      Every PT qualification should be sanctioned by an accreditation body to be legitimate.

      These organizations act as quality control overseers to ensure a course is delivering minimum training standards.

      In my opinion, the only two credible personal training accreditation bodies out there for the United States fitness industry are the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

      CPR/AED Component

      When selecting a course make sure it has a first aid teaching component, such as CPR/AED.

      That teaches students how to deal with a person who is having heart problems, or there is a first-aid incident.

      You need to have a CPR/AED certification before you can take the test for any legitimate personal training certification.

      This is another time factor you need to consider before getting certified. Usually, CPR/AED courses are a one-day event and last just a few short hours.

      It is essential to choose a course that teaches this component because of the working environment of a PT.

      This includes people pushing themselves and their bodies to the limit and since most states require a defibrillator to be present in the gym environment, most employees are required to have training.

      I guarantee you that over the course of your PT career you will have at least one fatigue-related or first-aid incident.

      Most employers of PTs such as sports clubs, community organizations and gyms will also require you to have studied a CPR/AED.

      Industry Recognition

      After over ten years in the personal training industry and familiarity with dozens of different accreditations, I can confidently say that the certifications with the highest industry recognition are  NFPT, ACE, ACSM, NASM, ISSA, and NSCA.

      These agencies are either accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

      Make sure to read my article on the top five certifications!

      That is not to say that other certifications are not good or not worth looking into.

      It’s just that these five are generally considered to be of the highest quality by many players in the health fitness space.

      How do Students Progress Through a Personal Training Course?

      How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer (In [year])? - An Exclusive Insight 6

      This section focuses on general information on how you can progress through your personal trainer journey with ease.

      Unlike college qualifications that will usually commence at a set time and then proceed according to a specific schedule (such as semesters or trimesters), PT certification courses will usually allow you to study at your own pace and take the final qualification exam at a time of your choosing at an approved exam location.

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      This being said, many certification programs will have an expiry time on when you must sit the exam by.

      For example, the ACE certification requires students to sit the exam within six months of purchasing the program materials, and the NASM certification needs students to sit the exam within one year of course purchase.

      Other study programs like the ACSM qualification don’t have an expiry date, and students can take as long as they like with the materials before registering for the exam.

      This means that someone with extensive knowledge of the subject matter of a course (such as a person with lots of experience in the industry or a person with a bachelor’s degree in a health or fitness field) could prep for and take the exam within a concise space of time.

      Various courses and their duration

      How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer (In [year])? - An Exclusive Insight 7

      In this section, we will be discussing the various courses and the estimated time-frame to complete each.

      Maximum Course Duration and Realistic Course Completion Time

      Here is a breakdown of the maximum time you will have to complete the following five high-quality PT certification courses. I’m also going to estimate regarding a realistic completion time.

      While your completion time for these courses will vary according to personal factors such as your workload, amount of free time and motivation levels.

      I’ve based my estimates on the “average” hypothetical person working a 9-to-5 job with weekends off.

      Detailed reviews of all the below courses can be found here.

      ACE CPT

      ACE CPT

      This PT certification from the American Council on Exercise is excellent for people who are just getting into personal training, as the organization’s course material has a gentle learning curve making it accessible for people from a variety of backgrounds and education levels.

      This qualification is a great certification to build more advanced qualifications upon and is one of the most highly sought after industry certifications and is viewed favorably by many gyms in the United States.

      To find out more about the ACE certification, and exam information check out my full review here.

      I highly suggest you check out their website as well.

      How long will it take? — Students have 180 days (or six months) from the time of purchase until their exam registration expires.

      Because most people come to this course with little or no prior experience and the information you learn is quite general and covers many different topics, a realistic completion time for this qualification is about 4 to 5 months. 

      This time can be cut in half if you use the ACE study materials over at Trainer Academy.

      They also offer an exam pass guarantee.

      I also have a pretty cool free ACE study guide here on my website.

      I also recommend my ACE test prep article and ACE exam FAQ article.

      NASM CPT

      NASM CPT

      The PT certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine is one of the best training courses out there.

      It has grown in recognition and credibility over the years.

      This course is very well run, NCCA accredited and has a strong focus on corrective exercise training for targeted demographics such as the elderly, pregnant women, people with eating disorders and people recovering from illnesses.

      The NASM PT certification is one of the most highly sought-after qualifications in the industry and has wide recognition amongst gyms in the United States.

      If you want more info about this certification, check out my full review.

      I also suggest that you check out their official website for the latest news and up-to-date information.

      How long will it take?  Upon purchasing the program materials, students have 12 months to complete the program materials and then sit the two-hour exam.

      For someone coming to the course with no prior experience, there is quite a lot of information to digest.

      Although not as much as some courses, a realistic timeframe for somebody with average commitments is about 3 to 4 months.

      This Study time can be cut in half by using the NASM study materials over at Trainer Academy.

      They also offer an exam pass guarantee.

      I also have a pretty cool free NASM study guide on my website right here.

      I also recommend my NASM test prep article and NASM exam FAQ article.

      ISSA CPT

      ISSA CPT

      The International Sports Science Association certification (or ISSA) is a great choice for people that are looking for a shorter overall study and all-inclusive time.

      The biggest reason that you can get away with a shorter study time with ISSA is due to the fact that it is a completely online personal training certification.

      You can access all of your study materials and even take the test online.

      This not only makes it one of the easiest personal training certifications, but it also lets people get certified much quicker than they would have by signing up for other training certifications.

      The average study time you can get away with while studying for ISSA is approximately 2 to 3 months.

      I’m not saying you are going to have the full textbook memorized in this amount of time, but you will have enough information in order to pass the test because it is open book.

      So if you are in a time crunch, ISSA is the certification to go with.

      I have a fantastic free study guide, practice test in flashcards for the ISSA certification that can be found here.

      Also, if you want to cut your study time by, even more, check out the premium ISSA study materials from Trainer Academy.

      Check out the ISSA certification here.

      I also recommend my ISSA test prep article and ISSA exam FAQ article.

      ACSM CPT

      ACSM CPT

      The certification from the American College of Sports Medicine is widely regarded as one of the best courses.

      This is especially true when it comes to post-rehabilitation and corrective exercise training.

      The ACSM course is quite rigorous, and it has one of the most extensive textbooks of all the courses I’ve seen.

      You can check out my review of the course here. You can take a look at their website here.

      How long will it take?  Students have an unlimited amount of time to work through the training materials in this course.

      Which is a good thing because the textbook is enormous! They can register for the exam whenever it suits them.

      Due to the large textbook and the fact that the course material is quite dense.

      This qualification would realistically take the average person 5 to 6 months to complete.

      Check out my free ACSM study guide and practice test here.

      Also, if you want to shorten your overall study time, make sure to check out Trainer Academy for premium ACSM study materials.

      I also recommend my ACSM test prep article and ACSM exam FAQ article.

      NSCA CPT

      NSCA CPT

      This certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association has one of the most challenging exams.

      It has an excellent and long-established reputation and was the first fitness education provider ever to be accredited by the NCCA.

      This course has an excellent focus on strength and conditioning training.

      You can check out my full review of it here, and I strongly recommend that you check out their website as well.

      How long will it take?  This course has a 9-week online prep component that does a great job of preparing new candidates for the final exam.

      You can still take the course at your own pace and once you purchase the program materials.

      You will have 180 days (or six months) until the course expires.

      A person with average commitments and spare weekends could probably complete the online prep course in 3.5 months.

      I have a free NSCA study guide/practice test here, or you can check out the premium NSCA study guide from Trainer Academy here.

      I also recommend my NSCA test prep article and NSCA exam FAQ article.

      NPTI CPT

      NPTI CPT

      This certification from the National Personal Training Institute is a very comprehensive and credible certification.

      You will receive a diploma since the course is very dense and will take you 500 hours of study over six months.

      This includes 50 hours of practical training sessions with a qualified instructor.

      This course is one of the most intense courses out there, and it goes into detail on biomechanics, physiology, and fitness nutrition.

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      If you want to know more about the course, check out my review here or check out the NPTI website here.

      How long will it take? Realistically this course is likely to take you a full six months due to the very involved curriculum.

      They also require an off-site training requirement.

      Students are also responsible for attending the final qualification exam with an off-site agency.

      NFPT CPT

      The NFPT or the National Federation of Personal Trainer is a fantastic choice for people just getting started out in the industry.

      For the NFPT certification, you have a whole year from the time that you purchase the certification package.

      How long will it take? – The average prep time ranges from 60 to 90 days.

      Depending on your schedule or your previous education related to exercise and fitness, it might take a little longer.

      There are five main areas to study with NFPT which are human anatomy, human physiology, fitness components, program development and professionalism/communication skills.

      Check out the NFPT website here.

      Timeframes for Other Courses

      How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer (In [year])? - An Exclusive Insight 8

      Apart from those courses mentioned above, there are other courses that we must also talk about in this article.

      Check them out in this next section.

      While the above courses are more than enough to get your PT career on its way.

      Some people may want more involved study.

      While most employers in the general fitness industry would still want a personal trainer to have an essential PT qualification, an associate or bachelor’s degree certainly doesn’t hurt your employment chances.

      There are also plenty of other advanced certifications that can be obtained after obtaining a standard certification.

      These will open your doors to more possibilities in the personal training world.

      Advanced certifications

      Some of the advanced certifications that I talk about on my website are the NASM PES and the NASM CES.

      These two certifications focus on athletic performance and corrective exercise training relatively.

      These two certifications are very well recognized within the industry and can greatly expand the skills of a personal trainer and maybe update your job title to “Senior fitness specialist” (or maybe not).

      The timeframe for being able to get certified with either one of these two is approximately the same as the necessary certifications which are about 3 to 6 months.

      You can check out more information on the NASM PES from their website as well as the NASM CES.

      Associate Degree

      If you want to gain much more in-depth knowledge of health and fitness and acquire a more varied skill set, take a look at an associate degree in health and fitness with a vocational school.

      An associate degree will usually take a few years to complete, and most will be run according to a semester schedule.

      After you graduate, the knowledge you have should be enough to help you pass any general PT course relatively quickly.

      Bachelor’s Degree

      This qualification is an excellent way to set yourself up for a serious and more flexible career in the fitness industry.

      While a bachelor’s degree may be overkill for someone who wants to be a PT.

      You may find it useful if you are thinking of having a broader career.

      In the fitness industry with subject studies including general education, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, injury prevention, program creation, and fitness assessment.

      As well as many other fitness-related subjects.

      This may also be a good option for somebody who would like to start their own business in the fitness industry or take on more advanced courses such as the NSCA’s superior strength and conditioning course CSCS which requires a bachelors degree as a minimum qualification.

      If you take this into consideration, tack on another 4 to 6 years as these are the average times it takes to complete a bachelors degree.


      How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer (In [year])? - An Exclusive Insight 9

      I am certain by now all of your questions at the beginning have been adequately answered.

      Well, if not, don’t hesitate to ask me directly in the comment section below.

      Now you have the answers, go get certified!

      Overall, About 3 to 6 months is the general answer, but as you can see, it depends on how much time you have.

      I would suggest treating all PT qualifications in a six-month course by default.

      You can drastically cut this time in half by using the study materials over at Trainer Academy.

      They have an awesome team of personal trainers over there.

      The next thing I recommend that you do is Take the quiz to find out which PT certification is the best fit for you!

      Read my article on the top five personal training certifications here to find out which ones the best for you.

      Overall my top three are NASM, ISSA and ACE.

      If you’re interested in starting your journey as a trainer right away, a guided study is the best way to achieve that.

      I have free study materials for certain certifications:

      There’s no point rushing through a course only to fail the exam and then have to pay the hefty recertification fees.

      Six months will give you more than enough time to go through all of the material slowly and methodically.

      Overall there are a few excellent programs with the top two, in my opinion, being the NASM program in the ACE program.

      Click on the links to check out their websites for more information or click on the links below to read my reviews.

      The above courses are just a few suggestions and my personal favorites, there are many other good PT certifications out there being offered by other bodies that I’ve also reviewed, such as the courses offered by the NCSF, NFPT, NESTA, ISSA, and AFAA.


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      16 thoughts on “How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer (In 2022)? – An Exclusive Insight”

      1. hey Tyler! Great info and thanks! Torn on what cert to go after as this will be a new career move. I think NASM might be my best option but can’t commit since there are other great certs out there:) Do you know which certification is good to mix with martial arts (internal style- qi qong, Hsing-i etc..) My goal is to help the older generation build core strength and develop better chi-breathing.. I have been practicing these styles for the last 10 years so was wondering which cert will go hand in hand.. any input is greatly appreciated..thanks!

        1. Hey Rony,

          I am glad that you have been enjoying my content. Have you checked out my article on the top five personal training certifications? That might direct you in the right direction. It looks like You are looking to do some specialization training. I am pretty sure that NASM has an MMA training specialty certification. And might be best to go with NASM since they would be using the same OPT training model for both programs.

        1. The study time depends on how much knowledge of exercise and fitness you already have under your belt. The ACE test should take approximately 4 to 5 months on average. From the time that you purchased the exam you have exactly 6 months to take the test. On average ACE will cost between five and $600. It might be a little bit more or a little bit less depending on if there is a promotion running at the time that you purchase.

      2. Denise Kirejczyk

        Hi Tyler, I have been training under a master trainer for about six months now. I enjoy doing it and have been sort of a gym rat most of my life. I’ve also been a schoolteacher for over 20 years. I’ve decided to make this my retirement job, but I’m somewhat perplexed as to which certification to get. I do enjoy working with older women such as myself, and those that may have injuries that would require a special program. Since I work full-time still but would be one of the best avenues for me as far as taking an online class and/or acquiring certain prep materials? Thanks, Denise

        1. Hello Denise,
          It all depends on which certification you would like to go for. With working with older individuals that may not have been exercising, I think that NASM does the best job of re-incorporating exercise back into it and in active lifestyle. They like to focus a lot on muscular imbalances and do a lot of fitness assessments before programming for an individual client. In terms of study materials, you can find free study materials as well as premium study materials here on my website.

      3. Stephanie Newkirk

        Thanks for all the info! I’ve stopped by your website numerous times, it’s always realistic and in good taste! I just bought my NASM training from NASM themself, and plan on doing my first 2 chapters this weekend.

        I’ve been a yoga teacher for over 6 years(my specialty is rock/metal yoga), and want to eventually incorporate it in (or at least make one where music can be an influence). when I’m established as a PT with experience. Music to me is very important, and I always encourage everyone’s inner badass. I’m a bit eccentric, stubborn, and passionate in real authenticity with bright sunset hair and a rocker attitude, haha. How long teaching for a box gym should I wait before ever branching out? Tips and suggestions you may have for me? What are your thoughts on online pts, too?

        I know I have a few months out before I’m in a gym, but I’m thinking ahead for goals I plan to aim for! Yoga has not been very lucrative, but rewarding, yes. I got paid around $25 for a class, and maybe tops $100 for my own style of session.

        Thanks and I appreciate you!

        1. Hey Stephanie,
          Thanks for reaching out to me and I’m super interested in the rock and metal yoga that you speak of. I would love to give that a try! You can totally work at a box gymnasium for a little bit of time just to get some experience and then if you are confident in your personal training sales skills, you should consider breaking away and starting your own thing. You can definitely make a lot more money if you are not in a commercial gym setting. In terms of online personal training, you can definitely make a lot of money in that medium as well. You just need to know how to market yourself online through social media or your own personal website. I know a lot of the successful online personal trainers that are killing it. It’s not as hands-on and I think that the client doesn’t get as much value by not being in person, but you can have a lot more clients and do everything digitally. The client also pays a lot less so they can be a win-win situation for both parties.

      4. Tyler, thank you very much for your quality content. I’m actually reading this from Taiwan. Would you recommend having multiple certificates or perhaps just 1 cert to start with?

        1. Hey Eric,
          at first I would start out with the general personal training certification. Obviously, if you want to specialize you can move on to something afterwards. A general personal training certification will give you strong base to work from but in general people that specialize in target a specific market and possibly make more money.

      5. Tyler,

        If I wanted to become a personal trainer with CPR and AED certification how long would that take? I would like to specialize, if at all possible, in cardiovascular health.

        -Joe Ferris

        1. Hello Joe,
          Getting a CPR and AED credential just takes one afternoon. Probably four or five hours at the most. You will have a lecture and then have to pass the exam at the end of the class. It’s very easy to be honest so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting that at all. I recommend going through the Red Cross to get your certification as they have always done a great job with their classes.

        1. Hey Emily, new language personal training certification are you talking about. Most of the certifications require recertification every two or three years. The average length is 2 years.

      6. Hi Tyler,

        I was trying to find where your study programs were. I registered with NASM and had to cancel my test because I didn’t have the material down yet. I am having trouble studying the material. I have my test scheduled for about 8 weeks from now. Just trying to figure out the best way to get the content in my head, right now it’s not sticking and not sure where to begin.

        Thank you!


        1. Hey Amy, I definitely understand where you are coming from. The exam from the National Academy of sports medicine is hard. But, 8 weeks should be enough time for you to study and pass it. Have you checked out trainer Academy? They have fantastic study materials and a 8-week study blueprint to follow along with that would be perfect for you.

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