Have you discovered your passion and interests with personal training? Maybe you’re in love with exercise, health, nutrition, and fitness. Whatever landed you on the path to becoming a personal trainer, it’s important to know what’s necessary for completing the process.
Before we begin, you must have a thorough understanding of who a personal trainer is supposed to be. A personal trainer is a qualified fitness professional who helps develop and direct exercise programs to meet a client’s health goals. Some personal trainers work in corporate wellness programs, while others are self-employed or work for gyms or healthcare facilities.
So what does a personal trainer do? Personal trainers serve as motivators and coaches who design and implement safe, effective exercise programs for clients. They assess clients’ needs and abilities, discuss lifestyle goals with them and gauge their progress over time. A good personal trainer is also willing to educate clients on proper exercise techniques, nutrition, weight management, stress reduction techniques, and other related health issues.
There are many different types of personal trainer certifications out there. Learn what makes sense for you and the career you want. Let’s find out what’s the best personal trainer certification for you.
Table of Contents
The Best Certifications
Let’s start with a broad overview of each personal trainer certification and how they typically rate.
- NASM is known as the best overall for certifications
- The ACE is the best for a basic certification
- ACTION is the best certification in the low-cost category
- ISSA is known to be the best online certification
- NASM is also known for being the best in-person exam
- NESTA is the best for continuing education
With this overview, maybe you can get a decent understanding of where to begin when choosing your personal trainer certification. For example, maybe you don’t care about the cost of the exam. Or perhaps you only want to take the exam online. These are all important factors to consider when choosing the best personal trainer certification for you.
Arguably, the most important thing to consider when choosing the best personal trainer certification is accreditation. Accreditation is essentially your certification’s credibility across institutions and organizations. When it comes to accreditation, there are three big names you want to always see on your certification:
You want these governing bodies to be the authentication for your exam. Otherwise, you will not be credible in the field and it will most likely be very difficult to get hired as a personal trainer.
Another extremely significant component in selecting the best personal trainer certification is cost. The financial side to becoming certified in anything can be a true barrier. Let’s look at what the expected cost for study packages with each certification is:
- ACE: $599
- ACTION: $99
- ISSA: $799
- NASM: $799
- NESTA: $399
The biggest reason study packages are critical for certifications is that personal trainer certification exams are not easy. It’s important to be prepared for such a monumental exam.
Difficulty and Pass Rate
Perhaps a very important factor in choosing the best personal trainer certification for you is the difficulty level of the exam. Let’s take a look at what to expect with each certification pass rate:
- The ACE pass rate is 65%
- The ACSM has a pass rate of 70%
- ACTION’s pass rate is 54%
- The FM pass rate is 78.2%
- The ISSA exam has a pass rate of 90%
- NASM’s pass rate is 66%
- The NCSF has a pass rate of 79.15%
- NESTA has a pass rate of 76%
- The NFPT pass rate is 72%
- The NSCA’s pass rate is 72%
Taking each of these certification exams into consideration, it may be true for you that the difficulty of the exam is very important. There is a range of pass rates for each of the certification exams. If this is an important attribute for your certification, you might want to examine the level of difficulty.
Expected Study Time
Another feature to be prepared for is what is expected of you. With ranges in pass rates, test times, and content, each exam has a different level of recommended study time. Let’s take a look:
- ACE: nine months
- ACSM: three, six, 12, or 24 months
- ACTION: three to six months
- FM, ISSA, NASM, NCSF: six months
- NESTA: three months
- NFPT: 12 months
- NSCA: four months
Preparing for each exam is a critical component of passing the certification exam. Consider study time when choosing the best personal trainer certification for you.
One of the biggest areas to consider is the specific focus that comes with each certification. When it comes to specializations and concentrations, you want to choose an exam that lines up with your desired career path.
Each exam’s area of focus:
- ACE: change the psychology and development of healthy habits
- ACSM: advanced research and education
- ACTION: fundamentals of exercise and application
- FM: entrepreneurship in fitness
- ISSA: programming and prescription
- NASM: best overall personal training certification with a corrective exercise leaning
- NCSF: programming considerations
- NESTA: business fundamentals
- NFPT: fundamental program design
- NSCA: exercise fundamentals
With each of these areas of concentration, maybe this has helped you narrow your search for the best personal training certification. Each certification has a different focus, which ultimately impacts the way you navigate the field.
Make Your Decision
You can have a fulfilling and lucrative career as a personal trainer. A personal trainer certification will prepare you for this role and help you earn the respect of potential clients. If you have some experience in exercise but are not sure if you want to go all-in on a career as a personal trainer, try it out at your local gym or fitness center first. If you know that this is the career for you, begin with one of these beginner-friendly certifying programs today. Choosing the right personal trainer certification is important. There are many factors to consider in order to make the wisest decision for you. Now that you have the information, the choice is yours.