What Is a NCCA-Accredited Personal Trainer Certification?
These days, there are many different paths you can take to become a personal trainer. However, the most reliable and respected path you can take is to earn a certification from one of the organizations accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The NCCA was the first institution to offer accreditation in the fitness industry as a means for ensuring the public's safety, health and welfare. NCCA-accreditation also guarantees that all certified personal trainers will be nationally recognized by most gyms and fitness establishments. For more than 30 years, the NCCA has been a global leader in providing education, networking and advocacy resources to the credentialing community. It's not surprising, then, that NCAA-accredited personal trainer certifications are the most well-known and widely accepted credentials in the industry. The purpose of this article is to compare the four major providers of NCAA-accredited personal trainer certifications:American Council on Exercise (ACE) National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Who Are the Top Providers of Personal Trainer Certification Programs?
Every personal trainer certification program has unique benefits to offer participants. In the following section, we'll discuss the important features and specific details of each of the four fitness organizations mentioned above. For your convenience, we've included a well-defined chart below so you can easily compare some of the major similarities and differences between each program.
ACE The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization that was established back in 1985. As one of the largest fitness certification, education and training organizations in the world, ACE has more than 50,000 certified professionals, and four accredited certification programs: Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, and two advanced fitness certifications the Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist and Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. To become a personal trainer through ACE, you must be at least 18 years of age and hold an Adult CPR/AED Certificate. Program participants can take the exam in one of two ways: 1) traditional pen and paper method, which costs $219; or 2) computer-based exam, which runs at about $249. Candidates preparing for the ACE personal trainer certification exam are offered a wide range of study materials including free study coach program, manuals, practice tests, study guides, online courses, flashc ards, consultations and more. Discounted study bundles are available between $199-$579. Exam participants are given three hours to complete 150 questions. Once the individual passes the exam and becomes an ACE-certified personal trainer, he/she must renew their certification every two years by completing 2.0 CECs (20 hours of continuing education) and paying a standard renewal fee of $79.
NASM The National Academy of Sports Medicine has been around since 1987, and they too offer an official CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) credential. Similar to the ACE personal trainer certification, NASM programs requires participants to be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid CPR/AED Certificate. However, NASM credentials are a bit more costly than other fitness certification programs. Certification packages run anywhere from $599-$799, with the exam itself costing about $549. After properly enrolling and preparing for the CPT exam, individuals are allotted 2 hours to complete 120 questions. The price of renewal is also more than other recertification fees (about $700), but the continuing education requirements are the same. Every two years, professionals must complete 2.0 CECs to maintain their personal trainer certification.
ACSM Established in 1954, the American College of Sports Medicine offers its own NCAA-accredited personal training certification. To become an ACSM certified personal trainer, you must be at least 18 years of age, and possess both a high school diploma and an adult CPR certificate. The basic CPT program is comparable to other personal trainer certifications in that it qualifies you to train healthy individuals, provide exercise recommendations and make fitness assessments. Test applicants must pay the $279 exam fee and then complete 125-150 questions over the course of 2.5 hours. Unlike the ACE and NASM personal training certifications, ACSM credential programs require fitness professionals to enroll in continuing education courses every three years instead of two.
NSCA Founded in 1978, the National Strength and Conditioning Association is an international nonprofit educational association that currently serves nearly 30,000 members across 52 countries. Besides the standard age requirement and essential CPR/AED Certificate, the NCSA insists that all program participants possess a high school diploma (or equivalent). The actual exam is widely viewed as a very difficult test consisting of 140 questions35 of which are based upon responses to a video presentation. Many believe it would be in their best interests to get hands-on, practical experience prior to taking the exam. After passing the exam, NCSA-certified personal trainers must renew their credentials every three years by earning continuing education credits and paying a recertification fee (approximately $185-$220 for members; $305-$340 for non-members).
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