What Is Required for Personal Trainer Certification?

Are you interested in helping people improve their health and fitness? You might want to consider a personal training career. Personal trainers provide fitness coaching to clients individually or in small group settings. Read on for information about personal trainer certification requirements. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Certification Requirements for Personal Trainers

Though you aren't technically required to gain certification to work as a personal trainer, most employers prefer to hire those who have earned some type of certification, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, certification isn't offered by just one agency, but by several certifying bodies, such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association and ACE Fitness.

Most types of personal trainer certification can be earned by passing a comprehensive examination, which may test you on human anatomy, physiology, nutrition and correct exercise form. You'll also likely be tested on your ability to provide fitness assessments and formulate exercise routines for specific types of clients. To take a personal trainer certification exam, you must typically possess a high school diploma and be at least 18 years of age. Additionally, you may be required to receive Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training before applying for certification.

Important Facts About Personal Trainers

Work Environment Health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, hospitals, studios
On-the-job Training If you work for a specific gym, you may be trained in their practices.
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026) 10% (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*
Median Salary (2018) $39,820 (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Recommended Education

Although formal education isn't necessarily a requirement to become a personal trainer, some employers in the field may require you to hold a postsecondary degree in a fitness-related field, such as sports medicine, health, exercise science, physical education or kinesiology. To gain personal training knowledge without starting a degree program, certifying organizations often offer training courses and workshops to prepare you for certification.

Obtaining Certification

Prior to taking a personal trainer certification exam, you can often obtain exam preparation guides for home study, which are offered by various certification organizations. Depending on your educational background and experience, the time it takes to prepare for an exam can vary between a few weeks and several months.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you should confirm that the certification organization you choose is recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) to ensure that you're applying with a legitimate organization (www.bls.gov). After earning certification, you may be required to receive recertification every 2-3 years, which involves taking continuing education courses to stay current on industry practices.

Certification Organizations

There are many personal training certification organizations across the country. Examples of professional organizations that are NCCA-approved include:

  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • American Council on Exercise
  • Academy of Applied Personal Training Education

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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