NCCPT vs NASM - Which Certification is right for you in 2021?

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    Right here is a side-by-side comparison of NASM and NCCPT on various parameters.

    It encompasses:

    Quick Information
    General focus and recognition
    Study material, cost, and much more

    With my over 10+ years of experience having both certifications, I’m more than qualified to show you the way.

    NASM or NCCPT; which suits you best? Find out below.


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      Welcome to my article comparing NCCPT vs NASM.

      By the end, you will have a very clear idea about which of these two certifications is the best personal trainer certification for you.

      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.

      If you are yet to become a personal trainer learn how to start personal training with awesome guides.

      NCCPT vs NASM Quick Information

      NCCPT  vs NASM quick info

      In this section, you’ll be introduced to what the certifications are all about.

      Both NCCPT and NASM certifications are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (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 $899 and $2699 whereas the NCCPT certification costs $599 for just the exam, and does not have a dedicated study resource.

      Both certifications require recertification every two years with 20 hours of continuing education.

      After going through this find out the independent and corporate trainer salary.

      The General Focuses and Recognition of NASM vs NCCPT

      General focuses and recognition

      Below is the precise information needed on the focus of each certification and their level of recognition in the fitness industry.

      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 National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) credential has been building some good traction lately in the industry.

      NCCPT generally compares best to other mid-tier certification organizations like NCSF, AFAA, NFPT, NESTA, and a few others. It is still valuable and holds a place in the fitness realm.

      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 which have affected their physical activity and this need to be addressed before a more intense strength training 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 exercise instructor to help them lose weight and correct these imbalances.

      In this industry where one can be sued at any time by clients over incidences or omissions, you are required to have professional liability insurance.

      Though, neither of the organizations offers liability insurance policy coverage for their fitness professionals.

      However, they both partner with different insurance companies to offer insurance coverage at a discounted rate.

      NASM partner with Next insurance at the rate of $11 per month and NCCPT partner with Insure Fitness Group to provide insurance for their Fitness professionals at a rate of $165 a year.

      As you contemplate on this article also find out the best personal trainer courses that will be helpful.

      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 fitness 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.

      NASM uses the OPT model that was designed by experts in the exercise science field.

      The OPT model is a scientific method of understanding the body in the area of injury prevention, kinesiology, and human performance. and was created from the most recent scientific research in the field of kinesiology, injury prevention, and human performance.

      You will have a prerequisite of of personal trainer certification programs where you need to have completed high school.

      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 

      NASM vs NCCPT - Which Certification is right for you in [year]? 4

      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 the ACE certification.

      The NCCPT is a certification that has not been around for nearly as long but has been gaining good traction within the health and fitness 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.

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      The NCCPT does not have as much of a global reach as the NASM certification does, but again, they both are accredited certifications and have up-to-date online courses and training programs.

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

      NASM vs NCCPT - Which Certification is right for you in [year]? 5

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

      NASM is the winner for certification popularity.

      NASM vs NCCPT - Which Certification is right for you in [year]? 6

      The Study Materials and Costs

      NASM vs NCCPT study materials

      Join me below as I unveil what is contained in the study packages for each certification.


      The main option for NCCPT 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 option costs only $599.

      This is no longer the cheapest option when it comes to personal training certification, and the exclusion of any dedicated study materials takes a big hit in value for the company.

      To qualify to write the CPT exams you must be at least 18 years of age and also have a current CPR card.

      This is mostly the standard practice in the industry.

      So, the options when it comes to NCCPT have been made a bit too simple recently when we consider the exclusion of study materials directly from the company. They simply recommend certain resources for you to seek out.


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

      The cheapest option costs $899 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 30% off this option.

      This brings the overall price down to $629.

      The 2nd option is their “self-study Premier Package” and will run you approximately $1199. 

      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 30% off, this package costs $839.

      The next 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 $1599 and with the 35% off coupon that I have a comes to $1039.

      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.

      It includes everything that the guided self-study with the addition of an advanced development program, a job guarantee as well as their NASM business accelerator program.

      This program costs $2699. With the 30% off it comes to $1889.

      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.

      NASM vs NCCPT - Which Certification is right for you in [year]? 7

      The Tests and Recertification for NASM and NCCPT

      Test and Recertification

      Below is a breakdown of what you need to do to pass the test excellently, alongside info on recertification.


      The NCCPT Personal Trainer Certification 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 CPT exam.

      There are several online NCCPT study materials candidates can purchase to prepare for the exam.

      One of them is the NCCPT Personal Trainer Manual and it cost $144.

      This material contains NCCPT practice test questions.

      There is a $79 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 $79 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.

      It is not the most challenging exam, but it is always a good idea to seek out an NCCPT exam study guide and NCCPT practice exams to prepare.

      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 certification exam, as they do not give that information

      Check out my full personal trainer certification review of the NCCPT certification here.

      To maintain your NCCPT Personal Training certification and improve your knowledge as a fitness professional, you are required to recertify every two years.

      You need to obtain 2.0 continuing education credits which equate 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.

      Upgrade your certification with top fitness nutrition specialist certifications or other excellent certifications.

      Do a specialization course and obtain CEUs.

      ACE offers awesome CEUs for recertification and I think you should check it out.

      NASM CPT

      NASM also requires you to take their 120 question final exam through a PSI/Lasergrade testing center.

      You will get the outcome of your test immediately after taking it. 

      This NASM fitness certification 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 exam here.

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      The Top PT Software
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      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.

      If you are looking for other materials for thorough studies here are the ISSA study guide, ISSA exam, and free ACE study guide.

      The NASM CPT stacks up best to the certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the International Sports Sciences Association.

      Studying these other materials can help you stay grounded in the knowledge of fitness training.

      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 retest cost $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.

      If you are willing to take your Personal Trainer certification further and create a new stream of income, NASM gives fitness professionals the opportunity to build on their careers by acquiring other certifications.

      These other specialization certifications help NASM Personal Trainer to go deeper in the area of weight management, weight loss, special populations, fitness, wellness, aerobics, and nutrition, with their clients.

      This Specialization courses can also earn you 1.9 Continuing Education credits each.

      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!

      Check out my article on how to be a certified personal trainer, the top fitness trainer certifications and the average pt salary.


      The conclusion of NASM vs NCCPT

      I believe you’ve received enough sensitization on both NASM and NCCPT to guide your decision making.

      So, make the most out of it.

      The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is the most popular and recognized certifying agency in the industry. 

      I have 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.

      Get the full guide on how to be an online personal trainer from my other awesome articles.

      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 GFI (Group Fitness Instructor), PES, CSCS (Strength and Conditioning) and CES certifications if you want to specialize even further. 

      NCCPT seems like a certification that is on the rise, and definitely worth it.

      It has not been around for too long and is already NCCA accredited.

      I have also seen incredible coupon 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 CPT 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.

      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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

      Visit my other website for amazing certifications programs and you can also learn how to market yourself as a personal trainer.

      Let me teach you how to kickstart your career;

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

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