The most important thing in choosing a certification organization is
to make sure that it is accredited by the National Commission for
Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Once done, it is up to you to choose the
program that best suits your needs (price, location, etc) and one that
you feel comfortable with. I've copied and pasted a few relevant
sections below but please click on the links for full details.
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Outlook Handbook
"In the fitness field, there are many organizations-some of which are
listed in the last section of this statement-that offer certification.
Becoming certified by one of the top certification organizations is
increasingly important, especially for personal trainers. One way to
ensure that a certifying organization is reputable is to see whether
it is accredited or seeking accreditation by the National Commission
for Certifying Agencies.
Most certifying organizations require candidates to have a high school
diploma, be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and pass
an exam. All certification exams have a written component, and some
also have a practical component. The exams measure knowledge of human
physiology, proper exercise techniques, assessment of client fitness
levels, and development of appropriate exercise programs. There is no
particular training program required for certifications; candidates
may prepare however they prefer. Certifying organizations do offer
study materials, including books, CD-ROMs, other audio and visual
materials, and exam preparation workshops and seminars, but exam
candidates are not required to purchase materials to sit for the
exams. Certification generally is good for 2 years, after which
workers must become recertified by attending continuing education
classes. Some organizations offer more advanced certification,
requiring an associate or bachelor?s degree in an exercise-related
subject for individuals interested in training athletes, working with
people who are injured or ill, or advising clients on whole-life
"An increasing number of employers require fitness workers to have a
bachelor?s degree in a field related to health or fitness, such as
exercise science or physical education. Some employers allow workers
to substitute a college degree for certification, but most employers
who require a bachelor?s degree require both a degree and
Median annual earnings of personal trainers and group exercise
instructors in May 2004 were $25,470. The middle 50 percent earned
between $17,380 and $40,030. The bottom 10 percent earned less than
$14,530 while the top 10 percent earned $55,560 or more. Earnings of
successful self-employed personal trainers can be much higher. Median
annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of
fitness workers in May 2004 were as follows:
Other amusement and recreation industries $28,670
Other schools and instruction 22,320
Civic and social organizations 20,530
Because many fitness workers work part time, they often do not receive
benefits such as health insurance or retirement plans from their
employers. They do get the unusual benefit of the use of fitness
facilities at no cost."
National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
1. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
"Considered to be the "GOLD STANDARD" certification organization
related to sports medicine, fitness, and exercise science. Workshops
are offered before the examination for an additional price. These
workshops are very beneficial in preparing you for the examinations."
2. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
"The CSCS and NSCA-CPT credentials are the only fitness-related
certifications that have been nationally accredited for more than 10
years through the esteemed National Commission for Certifying Agencies
3. National Aerobics and Fitness Trainer Association (NAFTA)
"NAFTA offers over 10 different fitness certifications. The two
primary certifications, Personal Fitness and Aerobic Instructor, are
similar to many others offered by the vast majority of certificaiton
organizations. NAFTA is a solid and fast growing organization which
works hard to not only certify but also locate jobs/intenships for its
members. They are a progressive association which seems to always
have new job openings around the country listed on their web site. "
4. American Council on Exercise (ACE)
"A very common and well respected certification required by a large
majority of fitness facilities. Not nearly as difficult as the ACSM
or NSCA, it is still regarded as a quite credible certification.
Ideal for individuals completing their degrees in fitness who are
seeking certification prior to graduation but are not quite prepared
to attempt the ACSM or NSCA."
5. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
Reasons for becoming certified:
+ shows competence in your area of specialization
+ greatly decreases liability insurance costs, many organizations offer insurance
+ may give you that extra "edge" in a job interview
+ builds credibility
+ allows you to charge more for your services
+ helps build your resume'
+ helps secure employment+ helps you make contacts within your field
+ offers you opportunities to present or publish in various publications
+ you are placed on mailing lists for various conferences, product catalogs, etc.
"The following represent Certification and Certificate Programs
accepted into the IDEA PFT Recognition System."
Fitness Trainer or Aerobics Instructor
I hope this helps to get you off to a good start. If you have any
questions, please post a clarification request and wait for me to
respond before closing/rating my answer.
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