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How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Updated on August 13, 2015

Certifying Bodies and their requirements

There are two main certifying bodies for personal trainer certification- The American Council on Exercise (ACE) and The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Both require that you be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, have a current CPR certificate, and pass their certification exam. They each also require you to participate in continuing education to keep your certification. In general, ACSM is the more thorough, difficult, and highly sought after certification. However, ACE is the only one also recognized by the European Health and Fitness Association (EHFA).


Advanced Certificates

Beyond earning a Personal Trainer certification, both ACE and ACSM offer advanced certifications. Here are some of the specialization options you have as secondary certifications. All require that you first earn the PT certification.

With ACE, you can study to earn an advanced certificate in Weight Management, Sports Conditioning, Functional Training, Mind Body Specialist, Orthopedic Exercise, Therapeutic Exercise, and Senior Fitness.

With ACSM, you can study to earn an advanced certificate as a Cancer Exercise Trainer or Inclusive Fitness Trainer. Both of ACSM's advanced certifications require a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science.

Degree Programs for Certification

There's no doubt that a degree in Exercise Science will help you get a job, whether you're going for one of the advanced certifications that require it or not. Three of the best schools to hold an Exercise Science degree from are University of Florida, Columbia, and University of Illinois. However, most four-year colleges do offer Exercise Science degrees that will benefit you in the field of personal training.

You may also consider an online degree program. The American Public University, which also serves the military, is a great opportunity for online learning that is also widely recognized by employers.

Studying for Certification Independently

You can visit either the ACE or ACSM websites to order study materials to prepare for the exam. Both also offer online classes, webinars, and other resources to help you get certified.

Based on ACE Salary Survey 2010
Based on ACE Salary Survey 2010 | Source

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