How to Become a Personal Trainer


In the United States, UK and Canada, personal training is not regulated, which means that you don’t technically have to have any certification or training in order to work in the field. However, the fundamentals are the building blocks to any good foundation. Plus, many gyms and places of employment will not even consider hiring a personal trainer who is not trained or certified because their company’s insurance does not cover them. Just because you can enter the field of personal training without certification does not mean that you should. While your clients may not know or care whether or not you are certified, it does not hurt to have basic knowledge. It is not suggested that you seek multiple certifications just to collect bragging rights because that would waste valuable time and funds. However, it does not hurt to further your understanding about personal training techniques. It does not hurt anything to pursue further understanding and information about recent advances in the personal training industry. In fact, being knowledgeable about the latest techniques and broadening your overall skills can be a benefit because you will have a leg up on the competition, so to speak. While you do not have to be certified or have special training, it can be beneficial to do so in order to strengthen your skills as a personal trainer.

Personal Trainer Certification Requirements

• Anyone seeking personal training certification must be at least eighteen years old.
• Anyone wanting to obtain certification must hold a high school diploma or the legal equivalent.
• Those hoping to receive a personal training certification must hold a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation/Automated Defibrillator certificate that is up to date.

Where to get Personal Trainer Certification

There are multiple places where you can get personal trainer certification in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. In many cases, a few online courses is all that is required for you to obtain certification. The following is a list of the most popular places to obtain personal training certification that is legitimate.
1. National Academy of Sports Medicine – Founded in 1987, the National Academy of Sports Medicine is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. It is by far one of the most prestigious certifying agencies currently on the market. While regarded as a corrective exercise focused certification, this certification touches on many areas, including performance, which makes applied to a variety of different clients. The National Academy of Sports Medicine uses their well-known Optimum Performance Training model, which was created based on recent scientific research from multiple fields, including injury prevention. In the last three decades, over half a million people have obtained certification from this agency.
2. International Sports Sciences Association – Instead of the NCCA, the International Sports Sciences Association is accredited with Distance Education Accrediting Commission. That doesn’t stop it from being one of the most well recognized associations in the industry. Founded in 1988, there are currently two hundred thousand personal trainers hailing from ninety one different countries thanks to the certification program of the International Sports Sciences Association. They offer a general certification that has an emphasis on body composition training and performance training. This internationally recognized certification provider is known as a real academic institution that offers online classes.
3. American Council on Exercise – Since 1985, the American Council on Exercise has been providing personal training certification that focuses on integrated fitness training. This widely recognized program is extremely popular due to the way the program is setup and structured. The American Council of Exercise offers advanced certifications that can make you more appealing as a personal trainer.
4. American College of Sports Medicine – The American College of Sports Medicine is known as having the oldest certification programs that dates back to 1954. Accredited by the NCAA, the American College of Sports Medicine has a prestigious reputation and is recognized for making progressive advances in the field of exercise science. While prominent among sports medicine organizations, their certification can be helpful to those working in a wellness center or clinic. It can also be beneficial to those hoping to gain employment in healthcare.
5. National Strength and Conditioning Association – Founded in 1978, the National Strength and Conditioning Association was one of the first to be accredited by NCAA. When it comes to performance based training certification, this agency is considered to be the top choice. The National Strength and Conditioning Association is popular for those seeking certified strength and conditioning specialist certification. This highly recognized agency offers widely popular certifications.

Getting Started in the United Kingdom

For those who are seeking personal training certification in the United Kingdom, the following choices are the best places to turn. Many of the certification programs listed above cater to those in the United Kingdom, but the following programs are dedicated solely for those living in Europe and the United Kingdom. Certification requirements across the globe are basically the same for personal trainers.
• PT Certifications – In Europe and the United Kingdom, PT Certifications is the top choice when it comes to personal trainer certifications.
• Premier Global – Premier Global has the power to help people from the United Kingdom achieve their goals by providing prestigious personal training certifications.
• ACE Fitness – ACE Fitness is a top choice when it comes to personal training certification in the United Kingdom. With ACE, you can enjoy small training groups that allow you to have one on one training during your certification courses.

Determining Which Certification Agency is Right for You

Figuring out which certification agency best suits your needs will require a little thought and research. You first must figure out which sector of personal training you plan to enter. You will want to pick a certification agency that cater specifically to areas that will benefit your career in the future. Each certification agency has its own unique list of benefits, as well as its own list of requirements. The cost of certification can vary agency to agency, which is an important factor to consider when choosing a certification program. Cost is the number one thing that holds trainers back from obtaining certification.

While each certification agency charges different fees, you should expect to spend at least five hundred dollars or more. However, you should look at this cost as an investment towards your future. Personal trainers who are certified will be eligible to work in more places and receive a higher rate of pay. You may want to consider asking yourself the following questions before making a final decision regarding which agency to seek certification.

• Is the agency you are interested in accredited by the National Commission for Certifying?
• What is the cost of certification at this agency?
• What type of training principals does the agency teach?
• Does the agency offer specialization courses or certifications?
• How long will it take to achieve certification?
• What is the certification exam consist of?
• How often will I need recertification?
• What does the process of recertification involve?
• Are online options offered?

Benefits of Obtaining Personal Training Certification

There are multiple benefits associated with obtaining a personal training certification that you should take into consideration. These benefits can be motivation for you to better yourself and your skills.

• You have the potential to make more money with special training or certification.
• Personal trainers with certifications have more job potential than those who do not.
• With certification, you will be qualified to work in more places.
• Certification can help you stand out in the crowd of your competition.
• Obtaining certification can make you more sought after professionally.
• Certification has the power to help sharpen your personal training skills.
• Those who seek certification can specialize in certain areas of personal training.
• You will gain valuable knowledge and skills.
• You will be up to date regarding the latest advances in the personal training field.
• You will have more job freedom.
• Your potential for personal growth will increase.
• You can take more pride in yourself because you will have professional bragging rights.

Certification Versus Associate’s and Bachelor Degrees: Which is Best?

While most people bypass the college degree and go straight for certification, you should weigh the pros and cons of seeking an associate’s or bachelor degree. Having a college degree is not a requirement to enter the field of personal training, but it can give you a cutting edge over your competition. Consider the following pros and cons when deciding whether or not to seek a college degree.

Pros of Getting a Degree

• There are tons of two year programs offered that can promote your personal training career.
• A college degree can allow you to be more prepared to enter the field of personal training.
• A degree can lay the groundwork for a solid education and understanding of how to make the most of a physical training session.
• You can gain a greater understanding of the science behind nutrition and exercise.
• You will open more doors in the professional world.
• You will be qualified to earn more money.
• You will be a desirable employee due to your higher education.
• You will have improved job skills.

Cons of Getting a College Degree

• It is not required in order to get into the personal training field.
• Obtaining a college degree costs more than obtaining certification.
• It takes a lot more time to get a college degree than it does to get certified.
• A college degree is a big commitment not everyone is ready for.
• Not all colleges offer degree programs in the field.

Areas of Study Helpful to Becoming a Professional Personal Trainer

There are many areas of study that can be helpful in the field of personal training. You can decide to major in one specific area, or you can focus on one area of study. Either way, a college degree is always helpful when attempting to join the workforce.

• Health and/or Fitness
• Exercise Science
• Kinesiology
• Athletic Training
• Human Anatomy
• Physical Science
• Sports Coaching
• Athletic Conditioning
• Nutrition
• Physiology
• Physical Education
• Strength Development
• Therapeutic Exercise
• Sports Administration
• Wellness Coaching

Other Important Tips and Information When Seeking Certification to Become a Professional Personal Trainer

• Don’t rack up certifications just to have them on your resume. Stick to certification programs and classes that focus on your area of interest.
• Don’t be afraid to seek study help when trying to get certification. There is a lot of information to absorb for your final exam. A study guide from your instructor can prove to be very helpful.
• Joining special classes can help you learn about the latest advances in personal training. Staying up to date in your industry is important no matter what kind of career you have.
• Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone to explore new horizons.
• Know what to expect when it comes to your final certification exam so that you aren’t alarmed by surprises.
• Expand your skillset by learning new techniques.


All in all, anyone with the desire to can break into the field of personal training. While no certification or special training is required to become a personal trainer, people considering entering this field should seek certification through an organization that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Obtaining personal training certification does require some costs, but the investment will pay for itself in the long term. How much education you seek and how many certifications you wish to obtain is completely your choice, but you should not seek certifications or special training just to collect papers. Focus on certifications that center on your specific areas of interest.

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