Welcome to the most exquisite PTPioneer article featuring the best NETA-CPT review!
I break down the following aspects, both the good and the bad:
Once you’ve read this article, you’ll know whether the NETA-CPT is right for your personal training career.
If you are still unsure about which CPT you should choose, I recommend that you take the quiz to find out which PT certification is the best fit for you.
Let’s get to it!
Quick Breakdown: NETA Certified Trainer Certification
- NCCA accredited
- Offers good hands-on experience with their workshop
- The convenience during the test writing is of good report
- You don’t need to have a college degree before sitting for NETA certification exams
- Thin study materials and study options
- I’ve heard that the test is ‘way too easy’
- Several editions of the study materials that are not totally congruent with one another
NETA General Information
- Exam Cost: $349 – $499
- Study Material Cost: $350 – $500+
- Prerequisites: 18 years of age or older, High school diploma or the equivalent (GED), Adult CPR/AED
- Exam Passing Score: 72% (of the 100 scored questions)
- Average Completion Time: 3 to 9 months
Introduction: What is NETA?
Established in 1977, the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA) is a fitness professional certifying agency.
Though not as popular when compared to some of the best personal trainer certifications, such as ACSM, NASM, or ACE, it is still a widely accepted certification.
If you want a deeper look at the best personal training certifications on the market, check out my article breaking down the best personal training certifications in the industry.
Also, the NETA-CPT is an online personal trainer certification accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the gold standard accreditation in the fitness industry.
NCCA is saddled with the duty of certifying fitness professionals in various specialties, through a rigorous process.
An NCCA accredited personal trainer certification validates to clients and every other person that you are qualified to work in a gym or independently as a trainer.
In case you wonder how long it takes to become a personal trainer, it varies, and in the case of NETA, students took approximately 3 to 9 months.
I sat down with my team of trainers to discuss the ins and outs of the NETA-CPT.
Some are also certified through other agencies such as NSCA or NASM, while others explored some of the best nutrition certification programs to advance their fitness career.
They were each able to offer great insights into the differences between these certifications.
The fitness industry is so vast that the personal trainer job outlook is predicted by the National Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to significantly grow.
This certainly makes learning how to become a personal trainer valuable.
As more people are becoming body-conscious and trying to stay healthy, one of the benefits of being a personal trainer is that you can help.
As the saying goes, “health is wealth.”
NETA-CPT Content Coverage: the Good and the Bad
The main textbook for this CPT course is The Fitness Professional’s Manual, 5th Edition, and costs $59.00.
At 374 pages long, the NETA-CPT book is broken down into 8 sections and 27 chapters, not counting the appendices and glossary.
After a thorough review of the manual, here are my thoughts on its content coverage.
As personal trainers, it’s essential to have at least the fundamentals of exercise science down pat.
The NETA-CPT curriculum addresses exercise science in a basic, well-put-together manner, and in both a scientific and practical way on the following topics:
- Human anatomy
- Applied kinesiology and biomechanics
- Exercise physiology
In the Human Anatomy chapter, you’ll learn everything you need to know and a wealth of movement terminology surrounding planes of motion, bones and muscles, and muscle functions.
I personally find the Applied Kinesiology and Biomechanics chapter to be a whole lot of fun.
You explore the whole kinetic chain, basic principles of biomechanics, and how the body is supposed to move.
In the Exercise Physiology section, you dig deeper into the cardiovascular system, the flow of oxygen and blood in the body, the neuromuscular system, and more.
The only downside is that because the NETA-CPT textbook is black and white only, it may be easier to drift off while reading.
Overall, the NETA-CPT curriculum provides a solid base for personal trainers on exercise science.
However, if exercise science fascinates you and you want to learn more, it’s recommended to specialize in corrective exercise to advance your career.
Behavior Change Coaching Skills
Behavior change coaching skills are absolutely essential for personal trainers to know and apply.
Below are some critical topics that the NETA-CPT curriculum expands on surrounding behavior change coaching skills, and additionally provides real-life scenarios for trainers to apply:
- Transtheoretical model
- Decisiconal balance
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Self-Determination Theory
- Health Belief Model
- SMART goals
- Motivation and adherence
The example above on the Stages of Change Model demonstrates one of the NETA-CPT’s many infographics provided in the chapter, which visual learners, such as myself, greatly appreciate.
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NETA compares well to other personal training certifications with its exceptional focus on motivating clients inside and outside of the gym to have the discipline to take control of their choices, and ultimately, their health and fitness.
If this section heavily interests you, then I’d recommend learning how to become a health coach as well.
Though what a health coach does is different than what a personal trainer does, there are overlapping job duties, which means the knowledge you learn can only broaden your horizons.
Consulting and screening clients to reduce risks of injury
In section four of the NETA-CPT textbook, health and fitness assessments, as well as essential personal training equipment to have on hand, are thoroughly covered.
The NETA-CPT curriculum gears its attention toward making sure trainers are well prepared to conduct, read, and interpret basic fitness assessments.
One thing I really like is the postural analysis assessment.
NETA goes as in-depth as NASM with its emphasis on posture, postural distortion patterns, and postural screenings.
Lastly, the NETA-CPT covers the following fitness and health-related assessments:
- Body composition
- Cardiorespiratory endurance
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Muscular flexibility
Overall, NETA addresses client initial screening similarly to how other fitness certifying agencies do, and definitely provides enough information for trainers to get to know and apply.
Program design and resistance exercise technique
Chapter 18 of the NETA-CPT textbook, Muscular Fitness Programming, goes over the many benefits and types of resistance training, including tips for core workouts.
Also, you’ll discuss general resistance training guidelines, resistance training program models, and common resistance training exercises.
Not as in-depth as ISSA or NSCA, but definitely easy to follow and comprehend.
So if you want to learn more about getting creative with your exercises, I’d recommend seeking outside sources.
Aerobic training program design and technique
Moving on, Chapter 17, titled Cardiorespiratory Fitness Training in the NETA-CPT textbook, covers all the basics of aerobic training.
Firstly, you’ll learn all of NETA’s elements of cardiorespiratory fitness.
Then, you’ll learn guidelines and monitoring intensity, by both heart rate and perceived exertion.
Lastly, you’ll cover some effective cardiorespiratory programming strategies.
Overall, this chapter is short and lacks sufficient depth compared to other fitness certifications.
As you may expect, most fitness certifying agencies include a small section on nutrition.
The NETA-CPT textbook dedicates its entire third section on this, titled Principles of Nutrition and Weight Management.
While this section will not teach you how to become a nutrition coach, you get sufficient coverage of macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water.
NETA also includes tips and basics on weight management, healthy eating, metabolism, and even how to calculate your resting metabolic rate.
If nutrition interests you beyond this, you can always review some of the best nutrition certification programs to enhance your career as a personal trainer.
If you decide to take on this route, then I’d recommend the ISSA Nutritionist certification, or the ISSA Elite Trainer Bundle, which includes the ISSA-CPT, nutrition certification, and another certification of your choice well.
Though nutrition is important to cover, it is not within the scope of practice for personal trainers.
This is why I’m not too crazy about its mention of “dietary guidelines” and MyPlate.
It’s too “one-way” and this can be harmful.
And, in my perspective, it may be critical to recognize maladaptive behaviors, such as eating disorders, in clients, but this isn’t appropriate for trainers to expand on.
In the event that you suspect a client has an eating disorder or other mental health disarray, or he/she had told you, you should refer him/her to a more qualified professional, such as a mental health therapist.
Helping Special Populations with Fitness
The NETA-CPT curriculum covers fitness considerations for the following special populations:
- Youth and adolescents
- Older adults and personal training for seniors
No mention of helping individuals with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, or Multiple Sclerosis.
But considering that this is a more general personal trainer certification, I think NETA covers the above-listed special populations pretty extensively.
Thinking Long-Term: Business Skills for Personal Trainers
The business aspects of personal training are crucial to flourishing into a successful personal trainer, and lacking even basic knowledge makes it hard to progress.
Unfortunately, the NETA-CPT textbook has no mention of personal training tips surrounding business.
As personal trainers, you should also establish clear personal training rates.
Overall, the NETA-CPT textbook covers almost everything you need to know to be a good personal trainer.
Although NETA discusses the personal trainer job description and provides in-depth exercise science coverage, it lacks coverage on the business of personal training.
And in my perspective, this, along with learning how to get personal training internships, is definitely one of the most important topics.
While the book is strictly black and white and comprised of full pages of writing, there are pictures, charts, and infographics to help break the monotony.
My overall rating for the NETA manual is fairly decent, and it may not be the absolute best, but it is certainly sufficient.
Overall, personal trainer requirements are similar to other fitness certifications, such as NASM, ACE, and ISSA, they are as follows:
- 18 years of age or older
- High school diploma or the equivalent (GED)
- Adult CPR/AED
One thing I definitely respected is that no prior experience or educational background is required.
Such requirements would discourage a new trainer from seeking this certification.
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What about requirements once certified?
While personal trainer insurance is not required, I would recommend it, especially if you want to work independently.
NETA-CPT Study Materials: Quality and Price
NETA provides comprehensive study materials and is inexpensive compared to study materials from NSCA, NASM, or ISSA.
Overall, their main textbook goes along quite well with the NETA-CPT course content.
If your want to learn how to become a group fitness instructor, the NETA Group Exercise Instructor Online Review Modules cost $169.
This consists of six comprehensive modules of lectures and demonstrations on common group exercise topics.
For instance, there is more of an emphasis on the group fitness instructor qualities, leadership skills, communication skills, and behavior change than there is on exercise science.
According to a NETA-certified fitness trainer who completed these modules, the voice of the lecturer was unenthusiastic and annoying, and such a distraction definitely decreases its value.
It would have been helpful if these modules came with printouts to follow along with.
The Fitness Professional’s Workbook for Group Exercise Instructors costs $29.
The fill-in-the-blanks, labeling items, matching items, and even math problems make this great practice for your exam.
It goes chapter by chapter and covers most of what the manual does.
These modules are congruent with the primary NETA-CPT workbook and are certainly a plus for those who are serious about their career in fitness.
In fact, NETA provides one of the best group fitness certifications in the industry.
The Personal Trainer Certification Online Review Modules cost $189.
Again, the online modules are a mirror image of the main manual and cover pretty much everything you’d need to know for your exam and how to be a personal trainer.
On a final note, there are other study materials, such as:
- NETA practice exams
- NETA study guides
- NETA-CPT online review modules
For example, there are Personal Trainer, Group Exercise, and Wellness Coaching practice exams all at the value of $10.
You can choose between online or hardcopy versions.
Though not required, it would be helpful especially if you are new to this field.
NETA-CPT Certification Packages
So how much does the NETA-CPT cost?
Like most personal trainer certification costs, the NETA certification cost varies depending on the package you choose.
While some packages come with study materials, others are designed strictly for people who only want to test-only.
The first option is the Self-Study plus 2-Day Live Review Workshop.
This consists of 14 hours of instruction and one-on-one practical experience with a trained instructor and is best for new trainers.
Note that there is a discounted rate package for those who register 30 days before a scheduled workshop called the “Early Bird,” which costs $449.
Otherwise, the standard fee for NETA workshops and certification exams is $499.
At the workshop, you’ll meet well-rounded, professional instructors who are always happy to share knowledge with prospective certification candidates.
Overall, the workshop focuses on building leadership, gaining practical knowledge, and developing one-on-one relationships.
These are personality traits and skills that are best for certified fitness trainers.
According to NETA certified fitness professionals, this workshop is a valuable way to learn how to stand out from the rest.
The second option is the Premier Plus Personal Trainer Certification Study Package.
I think this online personal trainer certification option is ideal for those who like to learn at their own pace, and who may already have related education and experience.
You get user-friendly online preparation modules, along with the respective study materials (the manual and the workbook) and education department support.
And finally, the third and cheapest package is their “test only” option which costs $349.
It may not be the best certified personal trainer course online, but it does provide some solid personal trainer education at an ok price.
This option does not come with any study materials.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend the test-only option unless you already have a personal trainer certification, a strong Kinesiology or Exercise Science background, or have access to the NETA textbook and study materials from a friend.
Note, however, that it is virtually impossible to pass the test without the textbook.
For just $29, they have an additional fitness professional’s study workbook, which may definitely help you better understand their primary textbook.
This workbook definitely deserves a 5-star rating.
The NETA personal training certification has the same standard practice when compared with other fitness certification agencies.
Overall, the study material, the exam, and PSI/Lasergrade testing or online testing will cost approximately $499.
NETA is the most comparable to some of the other cheapest personal trainer certifications, such as ISSA, NESTA, and NCCPT.
NETA Personal Trainer Exam Content Outline
The NETA-CPT test is divided into six domains, and below are each respective percentage it counts toward your overall grade:
- Domain I: Initial Client Intake and Assessment 20%
- Domain II: Initial Program Design 15%
- Domain III: Program Implementation 15%
- Domain IV: Reassessment 15%
- Domain V: Ethics and Professional Issues 15%
- Domain VI: Communication, Rapport, and Client Relationship 20%
You are given one full calendar year after purchasing your study package to take your NETA-CPT exam and look forward to getting NETA certified.
The exam includes 120 multiple-choice questions using four response options (A-D), of which 100 questions are scored and 20 questions are experimental.
Experimental questions are randomly placed throughout the exam so you remain blinded as to which are among the 100 scored and the 20 experimental questions, and these responses do not affect your score.
You will respond to each exam question using a Scantron answer sheet for paper/pencil exams or using ProctorU online for computer-based exams.
According to the NETA exam retake policy, you’re eligible to retake the exam for a period of one year following the initial exam.
A mandatory 30-day wait period must elapse from the most recent exam attempt before the candidate is eligible to retake the exam.
Please note that you are limited to a maximum of three attempts (initial attempt plus two retakes) per year.
The NETA exam retake fee is $129.
Overall, NETA exam rules, policies, and fees are similar to those of NASM, ISSA, or ACE.
NETA-CPT Exam Difficulty: How hard is the NETA-CPT exam?
Thankfully, when compared to some of the easiest personal trainer certifications, such as ISSA or NASM, the NETA-CPT certification falls right in line.
The passing score is 72% out of the 100 scored questions.
You are permitted a maximum of 120 minutes, 2 hours, to complete this exam.
NETA-CPT Continuing Education
As you may know, the fitness industry is constantly evolving with new discoveries surrounding the human body.
If you obtained your NETA-CPT two years ago and there are new and more efficient ways of doing your job and you are yet to know, your clients will not be getting the best from you.
As such, all fitness professionals must generally stay informed, and this is why NETA requires recertification for its trainers to take place every two years.
How does it work?
To recertify, you are required to earn 20 continuing education credits (CECs) of which 6 are from NETA live workshops or NETA home study.
So if you want to be a certified NETA-CPT year after year, here’s what you ought to do:
- Update your NETA certification by upgrading yourself (seek additional certifications, college courses, learn how to become a strength and conditioning coach, etc.)
- Enrich your prior knowledge with NETA’s short CECs
- Attend and complete required NETA-CPT CECs within the two years
- Resubmit your application and pay your CPT renewal fees
You can even feel free to browse through some online, easy-accessible, and cheap CECs for personal trainers.
Time to renew your NETA fitness coach certification?
The recertification prices are as follows:
- 30 days before the NETA-CPT expiration date: $65.00
- Between 1 to 90 days past the NETA-CPT expiration date: $80.00
- Beyond 91 to 180 days past the NETA-CPT expiration date: $95.00
Whether you are a personal trainer, wellness coach, or group exercise instructor, you are to embark on recertification constantly and as scheduled.
What happens if you don’t go for recertification?
It is quite simple: you lose your NETA personal fitness trainer certification.
Also, if you continue to pose as a NETA certified personal trainer even after you have elapsed the grace for recertification, you’ll be disqualified from renewal.
Thus, it is in your own best interest that you go for recertification.
NETA-CPT Review Methodology
I based my expert review of the NETA Personal Trainer certification based on the following criteria:
- The opinions of experienced fitness coaches and personal trainers
- A critical review of quality and pricing
- Typically reported information from trainers who passed the exam
- Other comparable entry-level fitness certifications, specifically other CPT certifications
NETA-CPT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
NETA has been around for a decent amount of time, but they have not done a great job of establishing themselves as a top-notch certification in this industry.
When looking at which gyms accept which certifications, NETA doesn’t show up too often due to its unpopularity.
But this shouldn’t discourage you.
Just because it isn’t popular, doesn’t mean that gyms, such as 24 Hour Fitness, won’t value you as a trainer.
In the end, you need to choose the best personal trainer certification that fits your own needs, and hopefully, you learned a lot more about the NETA-CPT and if it might be right for you.