Fitness Certifications 101: Part 2

Fitness Certifications 101: Part 2

Our previous discussion detailed some of the advantages and disadvantages of two NSCA certifications, the NSCA-CPT, and the NSCA CSCS. These are great certifications, but they may be overkill for individuals who don’t wish to work with athletes or in the case of the CSCS, are not college graduates. That’s OK, if the NSCA certification is not for you there are plenty of other great certifications.

Two of those are the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Personal Trainer Credential and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer Credential. These are bothhigh-qualityy certifications with pros and cons to each.

ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

The ACSM is well known and respected as a research-based, medically inspired and integrated organization. Additionally, the ACSM has strong ties to many great kinesiology departments from a variety of universities. In short, in a medical setting, the ACSM is the gold standard of authority, which makes a certification from the ACSM very well respected. Additionally, the ACSM has a plethora of higher-level certifications that also add to the credibility of this certification.

From a gym-owner perspective, a new trainer who holds a certification from the ACSM should have a leg up on trainers who have a certification from a lesser-known organization. The time commitment required to study for and pass this certification may likely rival the NSCA-CPT exam, and the content may be similar as well. However, unlike the NSCA certifications that have an athletic tilt, this certification will likely have more of a medical tilt. While the reputation, effort, and content may not be all too different between this certification and the NSCA’s, the cost to take this exam is significantly lower, meaning that your return should be better.

Company Reputation Effort/Time Cost Return Who Should Get It?
10 8 $280 9 Personal Trainers

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

The ACE CPT credential is one of the most popular fitness certifications available. In fact, ACE has the largest number of certified professionals in the nation at over 58,000. This is a huge advantage to up-and-coming trainers who are looking to join a credentialing company with strong networking opportunities. Additionally, ACE does an excellent job of distributing quality content to both its credentialed pro’s and the general population. While it isn’t as closely tied to colleges and universities as the NSCA or ACSM, ACE does have a quality advisory board filled with qualified professionals.

This is the first fitness certification that I earned and it opened up a ton of doors for me in college. I recommend this certification to college students who are looking for a quality certification, and to gym owners who are looking to gain a great deal of knowledge and network within the fitness industry. This certification is not easy to earn by any means, but it’s definitely not nearly as difficult as the CSCS either. Four consistent months of focused studying should be sufficient to pass the ACE exam. However, while this credential is not as difficult to earn as some of the others, it is more expensive than the ACSM exam, making its return a bit lower than it would be otherwise.

Company Reputation Effort/Time Cost Return Who Should Get It?
8 7 $400 7 College Students, Gym Owners

Both the ACSM and ACE credentials are great options for anyone looking to add to their knowledge and credibility in the fitness industry. However, depending on your career interests, one may be a better choice than another. Stay tuned next week for Part 3 of our certification series.

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Matthew Johnson is a fitness writer, personal trainer, strength coach, as well as a former gym owner. Matthew holds an MBA from The University of Memphis and a Master’s in Exercise Science from Middle Tennessee State University. Matthew has also earned the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist credential from the NSCA. Matthew recently published his first book, 300 30 Minute Workouts for Busy People, and lives in Memphis, TN with his wife, Anna, and their dog Henderson, and cat, Sox.

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