Looking for a New Career? These Top Programs Teach You to Become a Certified Personal Trainer 

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Enter the personal trainer field if you have a high school diploma and love helping others become as physically fit as yourself. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median pay stands at $40,510 per year, or $19.48 per hour, with a projected need of 69,100 job openings every year for the rest of the decade. In addition, depending on which certification you pursue, expect incomes between $31,000 and $62,000 per year without tons of student debt. Consequently, you may want to become a certified personal trainer.

Top Personal Trainer Certification Programs

  1. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
  2. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  3. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  4. American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  5. Fitness Mentors (FM)
  6. National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
  7. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

Balancing program cost against earning potential, the first four of these seven certification programs provide the best value. The International Sports Sciences Association certificate does not require a college degree, making it arguably a better deal than the number one program, the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The ISSA teaches you to conduct fitness assessments and help clients use correct body mechanics to increase energy and performance. You also learn strategies to help your future students beat mental barriers when they reach fitness plateaus.

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

As the premier program for anyone interested in training elite athletes and tactical personnel, the NSCA provides NSCA TV and a jobs board to its members. In addition, NSCA TV provides virtual conferences, sports medicine clinics, and vocational development videos on a month-to-month or annual basis for non-members. Additionally, the NSCA provides members with networking opportunities with local professionals and special interest groups.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

The NASM currently offers specializations in virtual coaching and home gym design, areas currently in high demand. For example, you’ll learn that bodyweight exercises work best for beginners since they require no set amount of space. Other NASM specializations include sports nutrition coaching, corrective training; stretching and flexibility; weight loss; behavior change; senior fitness, performance enhancement, youth exercise, and mixed martial arts conditioning.

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

With its focus on making exercise accessible to all and reducing diseases related to sedentary lifestyles, ACE teaches you to adapt activities to suit specific client needs. In addition, their health coach specialty instructs you on helping clients sustain a healthy lifestyle through exercise. Finally, the functional training specialty provides the knowledge base needed to help clients prevent injuries and increase strength and stamina.

Fitness Mentors (FM)

The Fitness Mentors program provides tools to help build your client base. For example, the program includes personal training program design and meal plan templates. In addition, the 12 workout templates have space for your fitness logo, making them an ideal tool for independent fitness trainers.

National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)

The NCSF supplies four specialty certifications: personal trainer, strength coach, sports nutrition specialist, and Master Trainer. Intended for fitness instructors who have already obtained a college degree in fitness, the Master Trainer specialty increases your overall employability in health, fitness, and professional sports. You become an industry expert who can teach others to help people at all fitness and ability levels.

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

The ACSM provides two initial credentials: personal trainer and exercise physiologist. After obtaining either, you may pursue the Exercise Is Medicine credential or become a Cancer Exercise Trainer, Inclusive Fitness Trainer, or a Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist.

Which Certification Works Best for You?

In conclusion, consider your motivation for pursuing a fitness instruction career. For example, do you enjoy helping people recover from illnesses and injuries or avoid the effects of a sedentary lifestyle in the first place? Or would you prefer to focus on elite athletes? These all constitute valid choices in the health and fitness industry.


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