- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must have completed and passed a CPR class.
- You must have a high school diploma or GED.
Choose between formal school and certification. Many colleges and universities offer degrees in kinesiology, sports and fitness education, and exercise science. Getting a full degree in any of these requires several years, but gives you a comprehensive understanding of personal training and fitness. Choosing a certification program requires studying alone on your own time from a textbook, but is much more flexible and takes ¼ of the time a college degree does to complete.Decide on a certification organization. When studying to get certified, you must register with a particular certification group. There are many groups to choose from, all with different study requirements and payments. Just be sure that whatever group you choose is certified by NCCA.
- ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) has certification programs in physical training and group exercise instructors as well as clinical training certifications. Their most basic course costs 5 for ACSM members or 5 for non-members including textbooks and testing. Their program is a work-at-your-own-pace certification, and allows you to choose your own test date based on your personal time requirements.
- ACE (American Council of Exercise) goes by the motto that they may not be the cheapest or the fastest certification program, but that they are the best. They are also the largest personal training organization in the world. They offer three personal training certification options: Standard at $499, premium at $599, and premium plus at $699.
- The NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) offers specialized certifications in strength and conditioning in addition to personal training certification. Their program costs $270 for the members and $405 for non-members.
- NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) has the most expensive but arguably most inclusive personal training certification. They offer your textbooks, testing (plus one free retake), live workshops, and a 90-day job guarantee for $1, 199. For a charge of $1, 999 you can get all of the aforementioned benefits with the addition of associate personal training experience.
- In Canada Canadian Fitness Education Services (CFES) certification has been developed as an alternative choice for fitness instructors and personal trainers wanting to join others in the development of more comprehensive, academically credible and practical fitness leadership certification standards; have a national network of fitness professionals connecting with industry peers; and to advance career credentials.
Part 2Getting Your Certification
- Study hard. Most certifications require that you work from home, studying from a textbook. Although these are typically work-at-your-own-pace, they do have time limits. Usually you are given between one month to one year to complete your studying.
- Set up a strict study routine. This will help keep you from slacking off and promote better learning behaviors. You are more likely to remember what you study if you do so over an extended period of time rather than just cramming at the last minute.
- Test yourself periodically. Some textbooks come with quizzes and tests, so be sure to do them to see how well you are progressing. If they do not, make flash cards covering the material and have a friend quiz you with them.
- Practice what you’re learning. Studying physical education isn't nearly as helpful if you aren't physically engaging in the activities. Include time in your study schedule to practice the exercises and training that you've been learning about to insure your complete understanding of them.
- Take the test. Some programs have writing centers that you must visit in order to test, while others offer online testing. Research each program to find out what you must do in order to test. If you fail the test, you can typically retake it for a fee ranging from $150-$200.
- Maintain your certification. Once you've gotten your certification, you must keep it maintained by ongoing studying and learning. Physical education is constantly evolving, so you must be sure that you evolve with it. Some programs require annual re-testing, while others only need proof that you've taken certain online classes or visited personal training seminars.