Personal Trainer Certification Comparisons

As you begin to evaluate different certification companies to become a personal trainer, you may be wondering which one is best.  Before you make that decision, here is some important information you should know about the industry, in general.

While the personal training industry is widely respected around the world, that doesn’t mean it is highly regulated. In fact, just the opposite is true. There is no oversight industry that regulates personal training. However, some organizations are accredited by a credentialing authority.

An organization referred to as the NCAA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) is an organization established for the purpose of setting standards throughout many industries. They are not solely dedicated to the personal training industry, but rather serve many different industries. They offer a form of validation to let others know they have gone through a process of standardization that may not apply to other companies.

In the personal training industry, here are some of the companies who have gone through this approval process and are registered with the NCCA.

  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • American Council on Exercise
  • Academy of Applied Personal Training Education
  • National Council on Strength and Fitness
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • The Cooper Institute
  • And a few more

Each of these organizations has a different educational emphasis and approach to the personal training market. As a result, each one is unique in its own respect and appeals to different people who want to become a professional personal trainer.

Since there is no formal regulation and each company provides slightly unique benefits, what are some good reminders when choosing the right certification company for you?

Learning is continuous

Receiving a piece of paper with your name on it is only the start. What you learn by working with clients, continuing your education and your quest for more knowledge is what will take your training to the next level. IBIS World, a market research firm, has estimated employment of personal trainers at over 250,000. They have also been seeing a growth trend with new trainers coming to the marketplace daily.

With increased numbers, comes more competition. However, it is also a wonderful opportunity to learn how to differentiate yourself and the services you provide. Much of this can be done through continuing education and offering high quality services.

When you choose the personal certification company that is right for you, don’t get hung up too much on that single piece of paper. Use it to get your foot in the door for the job you desire, but then challenge yourself for improved learning and growing opportunities for the future.

results.jpgClients want results, not abbreviations

Most trainers want to be able to toss around their abbreviations for credentials like “I’m certified with ACSM or ACE”. Some organizations where you interview may have a preference or two for organization they like to hire. Otherwise, your clients won’t ever likely know what your abbreviations stand for, nor will they care.

What do your clients care about? They care about your empathy, your ability to get them to their goals and your competency. They also care about the kind of rapport you have together. Do you give them the motivation they need to get the job done?

They will never know how many hours you studied or how long it took you to take a test. They also won’t care whether you took an online test or drove 8 hours to be present at a special location.

Remember this when choosing an organization to certify you. Find a company that allows you to learn what is necessary and makes it easy for you to absorb the important information and get tested as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Seek diversity

Some organizations offer a personal trainer certification and that’s it. While there is nothing wrong with that, most organizations require that you be recertified every couple of years. If you choose an organization with one or a handful of course, then you will ultimately have to switch to another organization to fulfill your long term needs.

There are also many different ways to grow as a trainer. Choosing from a diverse set of courses can help you grow and develop your skills and education as well as make it easier to do business with only one organization that will meet all of your needs. 

Oftentimes, the larger organizations are more robust in their offerings and it is easier to build some loyalty around one company. 

Look for service and customer support

Some companies become too large to be truly helpful and difficult to reach when you have questions or concerns. This can sometimes take away from the learning process. Seek to work with an organization who is quick to handle any logistical questions or concerns in a timely manner.

A solid organization will make sure help is available 24 hours a day and you can contact them whenever you have questions. They will want you to succeed with their programs and encourage you each step of the way towards the your future career as a personal trainer.

Other modes of evaluation

Some organizations are very expensive while others are more reasonable. Typical costs range from the high 200’s to over $700. That is a large range when you are essentially studying to become the same thing. Why spend more when you don’t have to or the value isn’t there. Also, make sure and examine the total cost of each program. Some charge a one time flat fee and others will charge you one price for the program and additional cost to take the test. You may also need to add in travel costs and extra materials. So be sure you know that total costs before moving forward.