What Certification Programs Are Available in Fitness?

Completing a certification program in fitness demonstrates to employers and clients that you have specialized knowledge in various fitness and exercise science fields. This article shows you some of the certification programs available in sports medicine, personal training and fitness assessment. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

About Fitness Certification Programs

The type of certification program that you might pursue depends on the fitness career you want. Different programs address exercise physiology, sports nutrition, personal training and weightlifting. The following choices are nationally recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Important Facts About Different Fitness Certifications

ACE Medical ExerciseNSCA Strength and ConditioningNESTA Personal Fitness Trainer
Exam TopicsAssessments, program design, behavior changeExercise science, nutrition, evaluationInjury prevention, exercise psychology, exercise instruction
Exam Format150 multiple choice questions in four domains220 multiple choice questions in two sections125 multiple choice questions in seven domains
Exam PrepManual, study companion and practice tests availableManuals, study packages and practice questions availableManual, lessons and review questions available
Continuing EducationTwo units required every two yearsTwo units required every three yearsFour units required every four years
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 10% growth (for fitness trainers and instructors) 13% growth (for exercise physiologists) 23% growth (for athletic trainers)
Median Salary (2018) $39,820 (for fitness trainers and instructors) $49,270 (for exercise physiologists) $47,510 (for athletic trainers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

American Council on Exercise: Medical Exercise Specialist Certification

This ACE certification program demonstrates competency in identifying and diagnosing risk factors in cardiovascular, metabolic, pulmonary, skeletal and muscular health. To become a certified Medical Exercise Specialist, you must demonstrate your ability to design fitness programs that respond specifically to these potential problems.

American College of Sports Medicine: Health Fitness Certifications

The ACSM offers several fitness certification programs for candidates who have different levels of education, including Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Exercise Physiologist. The Certified Personal Trainer certification, requiring a high school diploma or its equivalent and CPR certification, signifies your ability to apply exercise science as you create and implement appropriate exercise programs. The Certified Exercise Physiologist program requires a bachelor's degree in health- or fitness-related fields. These CPR-certified professionals serve people with illnesses and conduct fitness assessments.

National Strength and Conditioning Association: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification program is for people who hold 4-year degrees such as the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. The certification demonstrates competency in developing strength-training programs for athletes. Injury prevention and sports nutrition are also covered in the certification program.

National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association: Personal Fitness Trainer Certification

NESTA's Personal Fitness Trainer certification shows the applicant's skill in providing individual exercise guidance. The topics covered in the certification-study program include exercise physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, applied bio-mechanics and nutrition. NESTA requires a high school diploma or its equivalent for this certification.

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:

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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.

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