Physical Fitness Certification and Schools

A career in physical fitness can take a number of different directions. If you want to learn more about the certifications available in the fitness industry, keep reading for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Getting our fast but still sedentary modern world in shape remains a big business, and the physical fitness professional with much will-power, energy, stamina and a natural ability to inspire others in the right direction is a key component to making sure our society functions as healthily as possible. There are various fitness and training programs for those looking to succeed in this field.

Programs Certificate programs; 2- and 4-year programs; graduate-level
Certification Available from the American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association Certification Commission
Online Study materials online, although certification tests typically in person

What Types of Physical Fitness Certifications Are Available?

Although there are a number of different types of certifications available related to physical fitness, some of the most common are for personal training, group fitness and physical fitness. If you're interested in teaching a specific type of exercise you may be required to become certified in those areas of specialty. For instance, prospective Pilates teachers may earn certification from the Pilates Method Alliance organization. Requirements to earn certification vary by organization, but commonly include having at least a high school diploma, possessing current CPR certification and passing a test. Some of the certifying organizations you might look into include:

  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • American Council on Exercise
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certification Commission

What Are My Online Test Options?

While many certification agencies allow you to take practice tests and review study materials online, you typically need to take the certification test in person. However, some programs might offer you the opportunity to take your certification exam online.

What Are the Requirements to Work in This Field?

While most fitness workers are required to be certified, some employers may also require you to hold a relevant bachelor's degree, such as one in exercise science, physical education or kinesiology, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( An associate's degree in applied science may also help get you started in the field of physical fitness and could later allow you to transfer to a bachelor's degree program if you so choose.

A related degree may also help you advance to supervisory or managerial positions within health clubs or fitness centers. Keep in mind, though, that even if you hold a degree, you may still be required to acquire specific certifications for your area of work and expertise.

What Might I Look for in a School?

When choosing a school, you can consider programs at community colleges or 4-year colleges and universities. Associate's degree programs, commonly found at community colleges, are offered in such areas as physical fitness, fitness specialist and human performance. Bachelor's degree programs from 4-year schools are often titled as being in exercise science, kinesiology and exercise physiology. Graduate schools offer advanced exercise programs in a variety of specialty areas, including physical education and exercise science. This brief list of schools can help you get started in your search:

  • Skyline College (San Bruno, CA)
  • Penn Foster Career School (Scranton, PA)
  • Bryan University (Multiple locations)
  • Monroe Community College (Rochester, NY)
  • University of South Carolina (Columbia)
  • Essex County College (Newark, NY)

Are There Online Options for This Field?

Some schools do offer online education programs in various physical fitness areas. Programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels but are more commonly offered at the graduate level. Online graduate programs may award certificates or master's degrees. Online programs are also available in physical education, and these programs prepare you to teach fitness at public schools.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

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