Other than for seeking a job or building a career, adding prestige to one’s profession is one major criterion for acquiring a certification – especially in such a very competitive field like personal training.
Since this is the case, it is, then, important to select certifications from agencies that are nationally accredited, renowned, recognized by employers, and would also give you a competitive advantage.
The steps to acquiring a certification may look stressful but they are not. I can testify to that!
In this article, I will show you the things to consider before deciding and selecting the best online personal trainer certifications out of those available and offered online.
I’ll also explain how you can go about acquiring them – and how much each cost, of course.
But there is a catch – there are many fake certifications trolling the internet at the moment.
Beware of Online Scams – We’ve Got You Covered Here!
There are lots of online personal trainer certification programs that are not legit but are out to take your hard-earned money from you leaving you with a worthless piece of paper at the end of the day.
As experts with several years of experience in this field, you can take our word for it – we’ll only reveal and recommend to you the ideal online certifications you need to have to become a truly certified personal trainer.
For you to be a nationally recognized and certified personal trainer, rest assured that this article will be an eye-opener as I highlight 5 best online personal trainer certification courses that are legitimate and all you need to know about them.
The Importance of Certification
Below are the seven key reasons why certification is a really BIG DEAL!
- The essence of having a certification in a profession is to shield the public and to also ensure that the certified individual has met the required qualification for professional and ethical standards.
- Passing the credentialing examinations for your profession shows you have indeed studied and met the standard of practice.
- It also depicts an allegiance to the profession and devotion to keep updating your knowledge to uphold them.
- Nowadays, employers want their employees to possess the right certifications to show a level of competence, further boosting the company’s business profile.
- Possessing a valid national certification is proof of a wide and profound understanding of the profession.
- You also need these certifications to boost your earning potentials and advance your career at any time.
- Lastly, you also get to be ahead of your peers in terms of current knowledge in your field considering the continuous educational requirements needed for re-certification.
In summary, acquiring certifications means you are now a HOT CAKE on the market!
The online personal training certification programs we are focusing on got their accreditation from the two most recognized accreditation agencies.
It is this accreditationthat actually lends credibility and confers legitimacy on the certifications issued by these bodies.
The agencies are:
NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies)
DEAC (Distance Education Accrediting Commission)
Be that as it may, where you desire to use such a certificate to work should be considered before choosing an online personal training certification program that is accredited by any of the above-named bodies.
Find below the list of best online personal trainer certifications
ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association)
The ISSA is an internationally recognized certification that was established in 1988.
Since then, it has issued its highly coveted certificates to over 200,000 trainersfrom over 91 countries of the world.
The ISSA is also DEAC-accredited.
It is a program that is 100% online and gives the benefit of a general fitness certification without neglecting its area of focus – personal trainer certification.
The essence of the program is to give you practical knowledge with respect to the skills needed to succeed as a personal trainer.
Its 100% online status gives you the benefit of a flexible study plan to accommodate your lifestyle and schedule.
You are also privileged to take your certification exam at your convenience since it is an online examination.
With ISSA, you can also enjoy choosing your training mode between the instructor-led 10 weeks’ online certification program and the comprehensive study guide online courses (which you can complete at your own pace).
An outstanding selling point of ISSA which makes it a favorite of anyone interested in pursuing an online personal trainer certification course is the 759-page complete guide.
It is an up-to-date course material made available in both hard and digital copies. It is presented, also, in an understandable language that allows for easy comprehension of key concepts.
The cost of getting an ISSA certification as a personal trainer is not as expensive as you may think.
- The amount currently paid for the study-guide led courses is $799 which is inclusive of a free nutrition certification course too
- There is an option of paying a monthly fee of $66.58 for 12 months. This is interest-free
- If you decide to opt for the 10 weeks’ instructor-led online classroom certification program, it will cost you $1,199
Still, you will get value for your money with its benefit packed program.
The study materials available to personal trainers undergoing or desirous of using the online personal training certification program of ISSA are indeed loaded.
They contain more than enough materials to take advantage of in the course of training.
- A 759- page hard copy textbook with comprehensive information; also available as an e-book
- A workbook and study guide which you make reference to while studying the textbook
- The marketing and business guide to teaching trainers how to turn their ideas into a source of income without lowering the quality of their service
- The practice exam and quizzes serve as a way of ensuring you test your knowledge retention level after studying a chapter
- An exercise reference guide DVD to give practical demonstrations of exercises taught in the program. This packageensures you will not miss out of the fun
- There is an online student forum where students share ideas and get to interact with each other. It allows for diverse opinions on issues of discourse
- The creation of an online exercise lab allows you to watch about 250 animated exercises 3D to have a better understanding of them
- Students have unlimited access to ISSA professionals to give them the needed support on any issues faced while undergoing the certification.
- You can take the test at any your time in your home
- It is an international certification and widely accepted
- It has a good pass rate
- It offers a wide range of training
- Flexible payment plans
- Excellent instructional videos
- Not certified by NCAA
The ISSA certification comes highly recommended by everyone that has gone through the classes.
It has more than enough study materials that are focused on imparting practical skills so you can become a great trainer.
Like others who have passed the ISSA certification, I also strongly recommend itgiven that, among other things, it continues to support you after training with a free website to promote your services.
AFPA (American Fitness and Associate)
AFPA (American Fitness and Associate) is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence as well as about 18 other third-party accrediting organizations.
It started in 1994 and gives a choice of either an online or mail-in certification exam.
Little wonder it is highly sought after by people looking for the best online personal training certification.
It has an adaptable and accessible program too.
AFPA is internationally and nationally recognized in the fitness and wellness world.
I can tell you that it has over 110,000 certified professionals all over – that says a lot indeed.
- The amount to pay for the program ranges from $499 to $649
- It has a flexible payment option as low as $44 a month on meeting set criteria.
What you will get from AFPA as study materials will depend on the tuition amount opted for.
- A full module textbook which comes as an e-book or in printed form
- Availability of online video courses to aid comprehension and assimilation
- Demonstration and illustrations of over 150 exercises and exercise programs
- Study assignments and practice quizzes to gauge the effectiveness of knowledge gained
- Access to business resources to help you make the most out of your career
- Educational advisors are always on the ground to give support
- 100% online which makes it convenient for all
- Gives loan for payment
- Different payment plans available to all
- Not certified by NCAA AND DEAC
Despite not having the two popular accreditations, it is an acceptable online personal training program with a lot of reputation and a wide acceptance too – largely owing to its’ 100% online flexible study an exam style.
AFPA gives credibility to its holder as it is well respected in the industry.
The course structure is designed in a way that does not affect whatever job you might be doing while taking the certification.
NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
NASM is an NCAA accredited online personal training certification program started in 1987 with an emphasis on corrective exercise.
Its reputation as a certifying agency increases daily thanks to its unique Optimum Performance Training model.
NASM CPT enjoys wide acceptance and popularity in the United States by employers.
Over 500,000 personal trainers have received their certification from this great body owing to the prestige attached to it.
NASM offers 4 varieties of the program to fit into the goals of everyone interested.
Whether you want to choose the self-study program, the premium self-study program, the guided study program or the all-inclusive program, I assure you the body has you in mind when they were crafting their programs.
The NASM final test is usually done at a PSI testing center,any of which you can choose from all over the United States.
Remember, though, you must go along with a proof of identification and CPR/AED certification.
- Self-study costs $524 spread through 4 payments at $131 each
- Premium self-study costs $749 spread through 4 payments at $187 each
- The guided study cost $974 spread through 4 payments of $243 each
- The all-inclusive costs $1499 spread through 4 payments at $374 each
The resources you will receive in your study pack will depend on the program you have chosen. Generally, this includes the following:
- A digital textbook of 20 chapters and 720 pages
- Video lectures
- A wide variety of exercises and cueing library which contains everything suitable for your clients
- Practice exams and quizzes which helps to test retention of knowledge level
- An official study guide for monitoring progress while studying the textbook
- Anatomy memorization and learning activities to make it easy to understand the anatomy section of the textbook and other sections
- Use of webinars to prep for exams and to explain difficult concepts
- Students have access to a coach and mentor to guide them
- You get to receive a hard copy of the textbook which is great for people who love to read from printed copies
- To cap it off is the CPT development program which is an 80-hour practice time working with real clients
- Introduction to the NASM business accelerator program which teaches the business angle of personal training
- Assurance of a job offer after training
- It has a rich training module
- The customer service is top notch
- The exam is not conducted online
ACE (American Council on Exercise)
This is one of the online personal training certification programs that are NCAA certified.
It allows you the benefit of a general fitness certification which would, in turn, enable you to work with people that have weight issues.
ACE has its own integrated fitness training model.
The impact of Ace with respect to online personal trainer certifications cannot be pushed aside.So far, it has certified over 85,000 health and fitness professionals.
ACE has two personal trainers’ programs. The first is theBasic Study Program offered 100% online. It aims at teaching the essentials required to pass the certification exam.
Alternatively, ACE conducts the Plus Study Program which offers more content to study – especially offline.
- The Plus study program costs $499 but you can enjoy a discount of $100
- The Basic study program costs $399 but you can enjoy a discount of $100
- ACE also gives the benefit of three monthly payments interest-free
To enjoy these discounts, I will tell you to buy your study materials with your certification
This is depending on the study program you decide to go for.
- The ACE academy elite encompasses video lessons, articles and resources from experts and quizzes to ensure you understand the study
- The ACE personal trainer manual and ACE essentials to exercise science for fitness professionals are available in hardcopy and e-book
- A study companion that explains concepts in the textbooks in an understandable form and also in soft copy
- Facebook groups, video learning live webinars, Q&As and other study support are available to trainees
- Online practice tests are available to find out the level of readiness
- ACE applied exercise science workshop for the plus study program
- It helps to understand all aspects of personal training
- It is designed to be flexible so as to meet the needs of individuals
- The exam isconducted at a brick and mortar computer-based-testingcenter
ACE is generally accepted because of the easy pace of the program which makes it easy to understand.
One major attraction to ACE for candidates is its discounts and special offers which serve as a motivating factor.
It also maintains its certified trainers by giving them current information via its monthly fitness publication which they receive in a digital format.
NCCPT (National Council for Certified Personal Trainers)
The NCCPT has been in existence for over 20-years now, certifying health and fitness professionals around the country.
It is a CPT that is also NCCA certified.
NCCPT is an online personal trainer certification that gives quality education at a low cost.
The main aim of the NCCPT program is to bring about changes to the client through the new knowledge and skills they are guaranteed to acquire.
It focuses on stabilization, muscular imbalances and proprioception.
Final certification exams take place at PSI testing facilities closest to you – not online.
NCCPT packages range from CPT Exam Only, Online Study Materials, Online Premium Study Materials, Deluxe package, and 2-day Live Personal Trainer Workshop, each with its unique qualities.
The cost for NCCPT is also dependent on the package you select from its many options.The prices are as follows:
- $239.99 for CPT Exam Only
- $479.99 for Online Study Materials
- $499.99 for Online Premium Study Materials
- $599.99 for Deluxe package
- $399 for 2-day live Trainer Workshop
NCCPT study materials are based on the package you pay for.
- All packages have access to career advisers who assist with any grey areas
- One exam attempt
- Availability of online videos to serve as instructional materials
- The personal trainer’s manual, sample test and study guide all come in PDF format
- Deluxe package gives you the benefit of the personal trainer manual in hardcopy and access to the final readiness quiz
- It is affordable and has different packages
- It has NCCA accreditation
- Most of the materials are in softcopy
- Popularity level is low
- Final exams are not written online
NCCPT has an added advantage because it is recognized by the AFAA, NASM, ISSA and is acceptable for continuing education for their respective certifications.
FAQs About Online CPT Programs
Q. How long does it take to become a certified online personal trainer?
A.Becoming a certified personal trainer is dependent on the choice of the body that you have chosen to get your online personal training certification.
However, it is not compulsory to pick an exam date when paying for study materials. This is important so as to ensure a flexible study plan and adequate preparation.
In any case, note that each accrediting agency has its own unique conditions which are set out prior.Defaulting might lead to incurring extra charges.
Specifically, from the list containing thebest online personal trainer certifications that we have reviewed above, the expected duration is as follow:
- ACE – You should pay the certification fee within 6 months of the date while the actual exams can still take place after the 6 months’ deadline.
- ISSA– The certification program takes between 4-6 months to complete depending on your studying pace.
- NCCPT– You can take as much time as you need but the agency recommends between 80-100 hours of study time.
- NASM–It can take between 10-12 weeks or 6 months at the most.
- AFPA –You earn your certificate within 6 months or less
In effect, the length of the period required to achieve an online personal trainer certification depends on YOU and your studying pace.
Q. How long does the personal trainer certification last?
A. No doubt about it, every certified professional is only as good as the level of knowledge and skills he/shepossesses.
As a good online certified personal trainer, you must ensure you are up to date with the trends and acontinuing education planyour certification demands – school never stops, it seems.
Recertification criteria vary with the different bodies which may include taking extra coursework within a two-year period and also paying a certain fee.
Doing this gives you a competitive edge in the marketplace and places you above your peers.
Q. What requirements do I need to take a CPT exam?
A. Before you can decide to take an Online Personal trainer certification course and exam, you need to have the following:
- Be 18 years and above
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- You must have a certification in Emergency Cardiac Care (CPR) or Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
Q. Which CPT exam is most flexible and easy?
A. Having done a review of 5 of the best online personal trainer certifications and taking a cue from our operating word,“online,” the CPT that best meets the criteria for flexibility and ease are as follows:
- ISSA is 100% online with all its array of study materials and examsfully available online and at your convenience.
- ISSA is, by far,the best with respect toonline personal training certifications, putting all parameters into consideration.
- AFPA also falls into the same category as it is an online-based platform that allows everyone interested to have access to it, no matter their location.
Q. What is the CPT exam pass rate?
A. The best online personal training certification programs under review with the highest pass rate are as follows:
- ISSA (90%)
- AFPA (90%)
- NCCPT (65.90%)
- ACE (65%)
- NASM (64%)
ISSA has the best pass rate since it is done online without supervision. This, consequently, gives room for open book testing and has no time limit.
What you should really focus on as you decided to do one of the best online personal training certifications is the amount of knowledge you can assimilate.
This will enable you to prove to your future employers and clients that you know your onions.
Do not choose a program that will give you room to pass without exerting any mental effort.
It is true that the best online personal training certification is only as good as the third party accrediting body backing it up.
Therefore, you should look out for the popularity rating and acceptance level by employers in general.
Do not also forget that your area of specialization should be considered when taking this decision.
Since I have taken these exams before and passed excellently, here is my verdict:
I can tell you for free that the ISSA is 100% online and by far the best and most convenient of them all. That being said, ACE and NACM are great too, but only partially online. The choice is yours!
Finally, the cost is also an important factor that should correlate with the value of the certification to be selected.
This review is to give you a heads-up while trying to take a step forward with respect to which online personal training certification programs you should go for without falling prey to scam artists.