NASM vs NCCPT – Which Certification is right for you in 2019?

Welcome to my article comparing NCCPT vs NASM.

By the end, you will have a very clear idea about which certification would best suit your needs. Also, make sure to read my guide on the best 5 certifications for your training style! If you like the Vs article style also read: NASM vs ACE and NASM vs ISSA.

Afterward, I recommend checking out the NCCPT site as well as the NASM site.

I strongly recommend that you take the quiz to find out which CPT certification is right 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.

For people trying to study for the NASM exam, check out my free study guide or premium study materials from Trainer Academy. They have a great team over there.


Get a 3 certifications with the the ISSA Elite Trainer Package! Only $332/Cert ($1,400 of savings)
Here is the link to the ISSA Elite Trainer Deal
Save 25% (up to $500 off) on NASM CPT certifications. Use code my personal code PTP25
Here is the 25% off NASM sale
Get $200 off the ACE Pro advantage CPT Certification
Here is the link to the ACE CPT Sale

NCCPT vs NASM Quick Information

Both NCCPT and NASM certifications are accredited by the NCCA. They are also both have a strong focus on corrective exercise and stabilization. NASM has widely been considered the gold standard of certifications while the NCCPT is a relatively newer certification that is gaining traction. NASM currently costs between $699 and $2000 whereas the NCCPT certification costs between $250 and $550. Both certifications require recertification every two years with 20 hours of continuing education.


The General Focuses and recognition of NASM and NCCPT

If you have checked out any of the comparison articles on my website that relate to the NASM certification, then you will know that this agency places a lot of emphasis on corrective exercise training.

The NCCPT certification has been building some good traction lately in the industry. Similar to NASM, it has a strong focus on proprioception and stabilization.

Both of these certifications hone in on muscular imbalances as their primary focus. They both base a lot of their program design on the research done by ACSM, although I believe that they do a better job organizing this material than ACSM does.

Both certifications are great for training individuals that have been mainly sedentary for a good portion of their lifetime. Sedentary individuals generally have multiple muscular imbalances that need to be addressed before a more intense strength or power exercise routine can be put in place for them.

These types of clients are also the most common innate typical gymnasium. Most clients, at least at first are looking to lose weight and correct these imbalances.

Here is the official video from NASM:

Here is a trainer testimonial video from NCCPT:

Although both certifications focus strongly on corrective exercise, I believe that NASM’s OPT training model is slightly better than NCCPT’s because it has been tested over the years and has been proven to work for any client, no matter their age or level of fitness.

Most gymnasiums or sports complexes not only recognize the OPT training model, but most prefer it for their personal trainers.

NASM is the winner for certification focus 

In terms of the popularity of each certification, NASM has been the gold standard for the past decade or so. Not only is it extremely well recognized within the United States, but it is also one of the two certifications that are recognized in Europe as well. The other certification that is recognized in Europe is ACE.

The NCCPT is a certification that has not been around for nearly as long but has been gaining good traction within the personal training industry over the last 10 years.

Both certifications are accredited by the NCCA which is recognized as one of the best (if not the best) accrediting agencies.

the NCCPT does not have as much of a global reach as the NASM certification does.

Here is how both certifications compared to one another in terms of Google search trends over the last 12 months.

As you can see, the NASM certification is much more searched compared to the NCCPT certification overall.

NASM is the winner for certification popularity.

The Study Materials and Costs


There are three primary certification packages that you can buy through NCCPT.  The 1st option has attracted a ton of attention for being one of the cheapest certifications in the industry.

The 1st option is the “exam only” option. It only contains a voucher for taking the exam. This option does not come with any study materials at all and I don’t recommend it unless you have a bachelors of science in kinesiology or exercise science. This 1st option costs only $239. This is the cheapest personal training certification available although they come with zero study materials.

The 2nd option is their “online study package” option and primarily consists of a digital copy of the textbook only with the addition of the exam. This is the minimum package that I would purchase as it comes with the textbook. This option costs $479.

The next most expensive option is called the “online premium study package” option and will cost you $529. It Includes a digital copy of the textbook, a study guide, and a training manual and one sample test.

The fourth package is called the deluxe package and includes everything that the online premium study package does with the addition of online videos, a hardcopy of the primary textbook and a hard copy of the sample test and study guide. This option costs $599 and is a great option if you prefer a hard copy of the study materials. Personally, I like hard copies as I like to highlight and add sticky notes to everything that I want to memorize.

The most expensive package from NCCPT is called the 2-day live workshop package. This premium option gives you access to a live workshop which offers hands-on experience with real clients. It also contains everything that the standard options contained. This option is great especially if you are a hands-on or kinesthetic learner. Some people cannot simply study from the textbook and learn what they need to in order to pass the exam.


Similar to the NCCPT certification, NASM offers three different options.

The cheapest option costs $699 and is called their “self-study package”. It includes a digital copy of the textbook (PDF format) and the entrance fee for the examination. You also get access to online video lectures, their full exercise library, a cueing library, practice exams, practice quizzes and a digital copy of their study. They have a current deal for $125 off this option. This brings the overall price down to $574.

The 2nd option is their “self-study Premier Package” and will run you approximately $999. This package contains everything that the normal self-study package did with the addition of additional anatomy memorization activities, additional learning activities and flashcards. The flashcards for me were extremely helpful for memorizing difficult muscle insertions. With the $125 off, this package costs $874.

Get a 3 certifications with the the ISSA Elite Trainer Package! Only $332/Cert ($1,400 of savings)
Here is the link to the ISSA Elite Trainer Deal
Save 25% (up to $500 off) on NASM CPT certifications. Use code my personal code PTP25
Here is the 25% off NASM sale
Get $200 off the ACE Pro advantage CPT Certification
Here is the link to the ACE CPT Sale

The next most expensive program is called the guided study program and in addition to the self-study packages, it also includes exam prep webinars, access to personal mentors or coaches for any questions you may have, discussion questions, a live workshop, an exam prep guarantee and a hardcopy of the primary textbook. This program package costs $1299 and with the $125 off coupon that I have a comes to $1174.

Once again, if you are a hands-on learner, these life workshops are extremely valuable. The exam preparation guarantee and will let you take the test over again if you fail the first time around. This is also a great option if you prefer a hard copy of the textbook as I do.

The most expensive package is called the NASM all-inclusive. Includes everything that the guided self-study with the addition of an advanced development program as well as their NASM business accelerator program. This program costs $1999. With the $125 off it comes to $1874. These prices change from time to time, make sure to check here for the current prices.

The development program includes 80 hours of additional on-site practice which basically lets you work with test clients. The business accelerator program is fantastic for learning how to sell personal training market personal training and make more money overall with your personal training business. This is by far the most valuable program as both the 80 hours of hands-on learning as well as the business accelerator program are worth 10 times the price in my opinion.

Overall, the NCCPT is the cheapest certification if you are just looking to take the test. That being said, the next available option is $100 less than the cheapest NASM certification but it only includes a digital copy of the textbook. The study materials for NASM are far more helpful and in-depth. The study materials you get for the price clearly puts NASM ahead of NCCPT.

Check out my free NASM study guide here. For the best NASM study materials (yes even better than the ones provided by NASM), check out Trainer Academy. These can help reduce your study time by 50% and offer an exam pass guarantee.

The winner for study materials/price goes to NASM.

The Tests and Recertification for NASM and NCCPT


The NCCPT examination contains 140 questions that are all multiple-choice. It is not an open book exam, so make sure you study thoroughly before you set a test date. You need to set an appointment at your closest PSI/Lasergrade testing center in order to take the test.

These facilities let you take tests for various certifications in a controlled environment where they make sure that no cheating occurs. You have six months from the time that you sign up to study for the exam.

There is a $75 fee if you go over your six-month time limit and miss your examination. If you fail to pass the test, you will be required to pay $139 to retake it, so make sure you prepare thoroughly. You can take the test a maximum of 3 times in any given year.

NCCPT states that you need to score a minimum of 655 points or approximately 73% on the test to get a passing grade. The great thing about PSI/Lasergrade testing facilities is that you find out whether or not you passed immediately after taking the test.

Once you pass, you receive your certification by mail within a month. Unfortunately, I was unable to find out the pass rate for the NCCPT exam. Check out my full review of the NCCPT certification here.

The NCCPT certification requires 2.0 continuing education credits every two years. This equates to approximately 20 hours of continuing education.

You need to be 18 years old, CPR certified and have a government-issued ID card to qualify for the NCCPT test.


NASM also requires you to take their 120 question exam through a PSI/Lasergrade testing center. You will get the outcome of your test immediately after taking it. NASM has an approximately 70% pass rate. This 70% is on a sliding scale as some tests are harder than other tests. To see how difficult it is, take my NASM practice test here.

Just like the NCCPT, you need to take the test at a laser great facility. Overall to pass rate for NASM is 64%. This is about average in the personal training industry when it comes to tests. Overall the hardest tests are for ACSM and the NSCA exams.

You will have two hours in total to finish the 120 questions. Upon purchasing your NASM package you will receive 12 months to study before you need to take the test. Just like NCCPT, you will know whether you passed the test were not immediately after the computerized exam.

NASM has a steep retest cost of $199 in the event that you do not pass on the first time. This is unless you purchased their CPT guided study package or their all-inclusive package that includes a free retest voucher.

You need to be 18 years old and have a valid CPR/AED certification in order to take the NASM test.

Recertification for the NASM certification is done every two years and requires 2.0 continuing education credits or approximately 20 hours.

In terms of test difficulty and recertification, it’s a tie!

The conclusion of NCCPT vs NASM

NASM is most likely in the most popular and recognized certifying agency in the industry. I am yet to see any health club facility or gym that does not accept NASM certified personal trainers.

In fact, most health clubs would prefer if you are certified through NASM as opposed to other certifying agencies. Because of their OPT training model, it lets you work with a wide variety of individuals. This is why it wins the comparison. Although NCCPT is another good option.

I recommend that you take the quiz to see what result you get in regards to the personal training certification fits you the best. This is especially helpful if you are undecided still.

For those of you who want to see this comparison in video format, check out my video that I made a few years ago on the topic!

NASM Also has a variety of specialization certs such as the PES and CES certifications if you want to specialize even further. NCCPT seems like a certification that is on the rise though. It has not been around for too long and is already NCCA accredited.

You will not be able to find a cheaper certification that is NCCA accredited. I have also seen incredible Groupon deals for NCCPT so make sure to look out for those.

It will be interesting to see how NCCPT  grows as an organization over the next few years. But in the meantime, it is hard to beat the gold standard NASM when it comes to personal trainer certifications.

Since you are most likely just getting started in the personal training industry, let me point you in the right direction. First, you should check out my guide to becoming a personal trainer.

If you want to know how much money you can make in this industry, check out my article on the income you can make as a trainer.

They have proved to be the best time and time again! NASM along with ACE (my review on ACE) are my top two favorite certifications as of right now due to their in-depth curriculum, industry recognition and beneficial study materials.

I hope this NCCPT vs NASM article helped you gain some insight on these two certifications.

Leave a comment for me down below to let me know what you think.

  • scarlett67 says:

    Passing rate is 65.9% for NCCPT exams taken in 2015 (per their candidacy handbook)

  • Talijanac says:

    How respected and desirable NCCPT is in fitness industry ?
    Thank you

    • Tyler Read says:

      Hey Talijanac,
      It is an up-and-coming certification that is gaining traction quickly. It is not the most highly recognized but it is definitely recognized and accepted by a wide variety of employers for personal training.

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