Welcome to my NASM vs ACE article everyone. Are you having trouble choosing between these top two certifications?
In this article, I compare them on seven critical criteria.
By the end, you will be sure which certification is the best for you. After this comparison battle, you need to check out my must-read article on the comparison of the top five PT certifications. Keep reading to find out.
Before we get started, I would like to point out that the most significant factor in choosing any personal training certification is knowing what type of clients you would want to train when you become one.
There are three main ways you can absorb the information on this page. You can either read my full article (the most detail), you can watch my youtube video, or you can check out my quick comparison chart!
Just click on whatever option works best for you, and it will take you to that part on the page.
I hope you enjoy and make sure to leave me a comment down below if you have any other questions!
ACE vs NASM: Quick Reference Chart
- Industry Recognition
- General Focus
- Base Price
- Study Materials
- Exam Pass Rate
- Exam Questions
- Continuing Education
- Corrective exercise
- 20 hours and $99 every two years
- General Training
- 20 hours and $129 every two years
My full comparison guide on NASM and ACE
NASM an extremely well-recognized certification within the industry. It actually might be the most sought-after certification currently. I would categorize the certification as a corrective exercise certification.
While you can train average sedentary Americans, they do have a slight emphasis on muscular imbalances. Most sedentary individuals have many muscular imbalances from sitting all day.
NASM starts to address these imbalances before progressing these clients through a strength routine. The beginning stage of their OPT training model is called “stabilization.” This is the level that focuses on corrective training for muscular imbalances.
NASM is useful for training sedentary individuals as well as clients that are coming off an injury. Here at PTpioneer, we are dedicated to helping you get started in the personal training industry.
The first post I would suggest you check out if you haven’t already is my guide on how to become a certified personal trainer.
Let’s not waste time and get right into my Comparison article.
ACE is an extremely well-recognized certification within the personal training industry. Every commercial, private or local gymnasium that I have ever talked to accepts this certification.
ACE does an excellent job at helping potential trainers learn the essentials of exercise science for them to build useful workout routines for a wide variety of individuals.
I would put the ACE certification in the general category because they go over so many topics but does not necessarily specialize in any one of them.
Their exercise routines are typically geared towards the average sedentary American that is trying to lose weight. And that is a good thing considering that most of your clients starting out will have these exact goals.
General focus and industry recognition summary
- General focus: It all depends on the type of clients that you would like to train. One is not better than the other unless you can determine what kind of training you would want to become and the overall goals of the clientele that you will have. NASM and ACE tie in this category.
- Industry recognition: Both ACE and NASM are remarkably recognized within the personal training industry as top-level certifications. You should have no problem getting a job with either one, and I have seen some gyms that prefer ACE while others prefer NASM. These two certifications tie in this regard as well.
- I suggest you check out the NASM website for more info!
- Here is a link to the ACE site so you can learn more!
Information on the test, materials, and pricing
NASM has three general packages that you could purchase through them (the packages and prices vary from time to time). The cheapest option is called their “pro-version” and will run you $699.
This package includes the exam and textbook only. The middle option is called their “Premier version” and will run you $799. This middle option provides everything that the Pro version does, but it also includes a live workshop so that you can get hands-on experience.
NASM’s most expensive program will run you $999 and includes some extra online study materials, a job guarantee and a free retest in case you do not pass on the 1st go around. Prices change from time to time, so I suggest checking out the current prices.
In my experience, the online study materials were very beneficial. After you purchase the certification you will be given six months to sign up and take the test. You can sign up at any Lasergrade facility.
These facilities are located in most major cities throughout the United States.
The test contains 120 multiple-choice questions. You will have 2 hours to complete the examination, and you will get the results immediately after you finish. You need to score a minimum of 70% to pass.
Regarding continuing education or CEU’s, NASM requires each personal trainer to complete 20 hours over the course of the two-year certification. It costs $99 to recertify every two years. You can check out more information on NASM continuing education here.
Along with NASM, there are three main packages that you can purchase with ACE. The cheapest version is $599 and includes an exam voucher, training manual as well as their primary textbook.
Their middle-grade version is $699 and contains everything that the previous version has as well as a video series, a booklet to help master the manual and flashcards to aid in your study.
Their premier package costs $799 and contains a retest pass (in case you fail the 1st time), as well as a “fitness math” book. These are the prices at the time of writing this, check out how much it costs today.
There are 150 multiple-choice questions that you need to answer. Although there are 150 questions, ACE equates this to a maximum of 800 points. You need to score at least 500 points to pass which equals approximately a 62.5% or higher is necessary to pass.
You also get a whopping 3 hours to answer all these questions.
In my experience that is way more time than is needed. There is a 65% pass rate for 1st-time test takers according to ACE. Here is my full review on ACE. You need to check out their website for the most current information!
The pass rate should not affect whether you choose ACE or NASM because they are nearly Identical.
Just like NASM, ACE requires their personal trainers to recertify every two years. You also need 20 hours of continuing education credits for ACE.
The cost to recertify is $129. You can check out some continuing education options for ACE in my article here.
Conclusion on the price, study materials, and test
- Pricing: The base package for NASM starts at $699 while the base package for ACE will run you $100 cheaper at $599. The winner for pricing is ACE.
- Exam pass rate: ACE has a 65% pass rate while NASM has a 64.3% pass rate. These are both very close to one another, but ACE has a slight edge in this category.
- Exam questions: ACE has 150 questions whereas NASM only has 120 questions. NASM is the winner in this category.
- Quality of study materials: Both of these companies provide excellent study materials and assistance to prepare for their respective tests. You can’t go wrong with either one in my opinion. ACE and NASM tie in this one.
- Continuing education: Both certifications require 20 hours of continuing education. NASM is slightly cheaper at only $99 to recertified in comparison to $129. Slight edge to NASM.
My Youtube video comparing the two certifications
The conclusion of NASM vs ACE
Regarding job potential, both are very highly recognized by employers. They are both accredited by the NCCA which is good. I have talked to employers that prefer NASM over ACE as well as the other way around.
The gym I work at currently prefers NASM over any other certification on the market. You honestly have a high chance of getting employed and making a good living with either certification.
I have to say that NASM gets the slight edge for me as the best personal trainer certification, but you really cannot go wrong with either!
ACE does cost slightly less money than NASM which is a good perk. Also, some of the best personal trainers I have ever known are certified through ACE.
I think the study materials for NASM and ACE are fantastic. If you are having trouble understanding specific concepts, both companies will provide additional assistance and offer different ways to study so that you can finally understand the topic.
Both certifications have excellent study materials is when it comes down to it. Whether you choose ACE or NASM, you will feel adequately prepared for training your first real client when the time comes.
Some of the best trainers that I know are certified through both agencies. In the end, it all comes down to what type of clients you will be training in the future.
If you were working with anybody that is coming off an injury, I would go with NASM Both certifications are excellent for training the average sedentary American as I have mentioned above.
If you are looking to train athletes, NASM has an advanced certification called the performance enhancement specialist. I highly recommend that you check out both websites to see which one would be the best for you!
I hope my article on the differences between ACE and NASM was helpful in choosing which certification will be right for you.
Shoot me a comment if you have any other questions regarding these certifications.
When it comes to NASM against ACE, which will you choose? Leave a comment below!
Tyler Read has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Tyler is also a certified personal trainer with NASM, ACE and CSCS. Tyler’s main goal is to help people get started in the personal training industry and to become successful personal trainers. Tyler is the owner of Personal Training Pioneer which helps people get started in the personal training industry and become successful.