How to Choose a Personal Training Certification Provider

Evaluating personal training certification companies can be a bit overwhelming and confusing when you begin your research online. As you will notice, there are many companies who offer certification. With so many companies to choose from, what factors should you consider in your decision and why?

career.jpgAre they professional?

There are a couple of ways to determine if they are professional. Begin by pulling up their website and taking a peak through their pages.  

It shouldn’t make a difference if an organization spent $500 or $50,000 building their website. How does it look to you? Is it easy to navigate? Do they have lots of different courses to choose from? Is it easy to see what it might cost, what you get and how to reach someone if needed? These are all clues that you are dealing with a professional organization. Remember you are choosing this as a career so you want the company to be serious about their business and the service they provide.

Is it online or do you have to travel?

You will have several choices to make regarding the testing process. Some organizations demand that you take the tests in a physical location and on a designated date. This is simply inconvenient for many people. Some people may be working part time or full time already and this may not be a viable option. It can also get expensive to travel. It may also take a lot longer to get certified if you have to wait for an upcoming date to become available or a class that isn’t full. An example is Ashworth College which allows you register online, but has test centers around the country where you have to go to take an exam to get certified.

Take a look at the options for each certification company to see which ones offer online materials and easy access to test taking.

What are the total costs involved?

Costs can vary significantly from one certifying organization to another. The cost structure usually breaks down into several identifiable costs. One is a membership cost. Some organizations require that you become a member of their official organization separately before you start adding in course costs. This can add an extra $100 to $200 to your total costs. Since only a few organizations charge membership fees, it is important to make note of those who do not.

There is a cost for the course and typically includes all course materials. These might come in hard copy or be available via download and sometimes both. Each organization will have a slightly different package and costs associated with their personal training certification program. Costs usually range from $275 to around $700 or more.

There are some organizations that charge an additional fee for the exam. This is an important consideration because this can add an extra couple hundred dollars in some cases. Be sure to ask if the fee is inclusive of all course materials and exams, etc.

Do you see quality materials and do they back up their offer?

This is really a 2 part question to evaluate. Once you receive the material, is it good quality? This applies to both the materials and exam. Is the information laid out in a way that makes it easy to learn? Do they ask good questions for the exam? Does the test exam follow the materials?

Assuming the quality is there, then you are probably going to be happy with it. What if the quality is lacking or not what you were expecting? Do they provide a money back guarantee? If so, how does their refund policy work?

Do they offer a wide variety of courses?

Once you get certified with an organization, you should fully expect to be recertified every other year or within that time frame. It is easiest to come back to the same organization and continue your higher learning. Look for an organization that offers a wide base of courses that allow you to stay certified and challenge your learning.

If you are primarily training one-on-one, you may want to get certified as a group fitness instructor or expand into a particular niche like golf fitness training or become a cycling instructor. You may also want to expand your knowledge into Pilates or even Kickboxing. The point is to make sure the organization is dedicated to helping you progress with your career by offering more advanced courses or a wide variety of choices to meet your needs for many years to come.

Who accepts the personal training certification?

Because the industry doesn’t have any real regulation, you are free to choose any company that feels right to you. However, you may still find some people in hiring positions have a preference towards one or more certification companies. While you might hold a perfectly acceptable certification to meet most people’s standards, one person may get in your way of joining a specific gym or facility. In most cases, all large gym chains and fitness facilities will accept any legitimate personal training certification.

They will look to see if you have a professional demeanor, are you easy to get along with, will clients like you, and what other personality traits and training styles and interests will you bring to the table.

What is also important to remember is that if you go on to train independently, then it will not matter at all which organization certifies you. You will still need the piece of paper for insurance purposes, but you won’t need to worry about any gym policies or procedures on getting hired.

Does the organization offer customer service?

The biggest question you should ask yourself is whether this company will be there tomorrow to continue to support you and your learning process. If you aren’t sure, then go to their website and check out any links to customer service.

Do they offer shipping? Risk free trials? Same day results? Extra costs for items? Do they have a toll free number where you can call and ask questions?

These are all part of important things to check before signing up for a personal training certification program.