With more and more personal trainers entering the job market, it’s more important than ever to set yourself apart from the rest. By becoming certified, you’ll be helping yourself out tremendously.
Having a reputable and trusted personal trainer certification verifies you have a greater degree of proficiency and have fulfilled a higher standard in the fitness field. Going through the credentialing process also indicates that you have good working knowledge and awareness of your professional duties.
This in turn shows your motivation and dedication to advance your career preparation and opportunities, which reflects greatly onto potential clients and those around you as quality assurance, encouraging them that as a certified personal trainer you are without a doubt qualified.
Furthermore, having one of the best personal trainer certifications allows prospective employers to set you apart from applicants based upon a recognized criterion of knowledge, skills and abilities.
Here are the top 6 personal training certification organizations and a brief description of the CPT certification offered by each, respectively.
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
ACE Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification (link)
Emphasizes personalized training programs for all types of people through their patented ACE Integrated Fitness Training (ACE IFT) model. Becoming a certified personal trainer through ACE is a great choice for individuals interested in working with a wide variety of clients. One of the most widely accepted CPT certifications among employers. ACE presents a very transparent and structured organization, which is another advantage to take into consideration. Highly recommended for those just starting out in personal training to provide a solid, well-rounded foundation.
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
NASM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification (link)
Includes teaching of NASM’s patented training model called Optimum Performance Training, which implements the most current scientific research from the field of human performance. More geared towards training of physically active individuals and competitive athletes.
NASM is currently offering a free 2-week trial for their online Certified Personal Trainer certification course. No payment or credit card info is required, so no attachments or billing after the trial is over. You get complete access to various teaching modules designed to help you learn subjects such as exercise programming and fitness assessment.
Just go to the NASM CPT Free Trial page, click ‘add to cart’, create a login, then checkout to receive full access at no cost.
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification (link)
The ACSM is recognized as the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. Some hospitals and wellness centers require or prefer ACSM certification for their personal trainers. ACSM has an established set of fitness and body composition guidelines/recommendations for both healthy and diseased populations including children and senior citizens. These widely recognized guidelines are used largely in clinical settings and universities. Recommended for those who wish to work in a clinical setting or interested in eventually pursuing a medical or healthcare career.
National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)
NSCA Certified Personal Trainer certification (link)
The NSCA is considered by many to be the leading human performance research organization in the world. Their CPT certification prepares its trainers with an overall solid background to train a wide variety of clients, though a little more geared towards active, healthy individuals. Recommended for those who would like to eventually obtain an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification and train sports teams.
Cooper Institute (CI)
CI Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification (link)
Emphasizes exercise as preventive medicine in both children and adults, also takes a more holistic approach to improving health. May provide an advantage in finding employment in public health institutions, holistic wellness centers and integrative medicine facilities. More geared towards the health benefits side of training as opposed to athletic performance.
International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) certification (link)
Preferred by many popular fitness center chains including Gold’s Gym, Lifetime Fitness, Bally’s and Equinox. More geared towards improving body composition/body building and fitness levels in adult, non-athlete clients.
Infographic: The Big Four Personal Training Organizations
- How To Become a NASM Personal Trainer
- The Guide To ACE Fitness Certifications
- Comparison of NASM, ACSM and ISSA CPT Certifications