As the field of fitness expands, so does the need for competent and highly skilled personal trainers. More often, personal trainers are being used in clinical settings, with high-profile clients such as professional athletes and celebrities -- even in a research setting. To accommodate the growing need for well educated master personal trainers, certification groups have begun to offer many types of personal training certifications. If there is a specialty group you'd like to work with or specialized environment you'd like to train in, there is probably a certification offered somewhere.
Gyms used to be small, muscle-head dominated centers for "bulking up and ripping out." Today, you are likely to see more women than men in a gym; the average age of those seeking personal trainers has increased as well. The medical community has taken notice, and begun employing personal trainers in their practice or research. To capture this shift in the culture, a basic personal training certification came about. Later, specialized certifications emerged to improve the skills of the trainer and satisfy the needs of the clients/patients.
Types of personal training tests include Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), the basic certification offered by all certifying organizations; Advanced certifications vary by certification organization, but generally include performance enhancement, rehabilitation specialty, and working with discrete populations such as the elderly, children and pregnant women. For example, the CSCS, or Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification, is for those who wish to train professional athletes. Trainers may also get certified in specific techniques, such as Crossfit or Kettlebell, or supplement their training certificate with Fitness Nutrition or Special Population certificates.
Each certification organization will use different names for essentially the same advanced personal training certifications. The important thing is to utilize a reputable, nationally recognized organization for your initial and advanced personal training certification. The best organizations require continuing education credits to maintain your certifications over time. These groups generally turn out the best personal trainers.
The more personal training certifications you have, the more clients you will be able to service. That is, you will be able to work with a variety of clients in many settings, such as research and clinical arenas, thereby increasing your opportunity to make the most out of your certifications. You will also be paid more at gyms and considered for more specialized work, which often pays more.
Preparing for and successfully completing personal training certifications will make you a better trainer, period. People trust their trainers intensely; you have their health and well-being in your hands, and it is important to live up to their expectations. Take any opportunity you have to increase your certifications.