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The Cheapest Personal Trainer Certification

author image Aileene Palm
Aileene Palm is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and nutritionist with more than 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She holds a B.S. in zoology and a B.S. in physical education and exercise science, both from the University of Rhode Island. As an author and expert, Palm's work has appeared in "Swimmer" magazine, "Shape" and the Scrubs online magazine.
The Cheapest Personal Trainer Certification
A woman is working with her personal trainer. Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Jobs in the fitness industry are expected to increase 29 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, much faster than any other occupation. In 2008, personal trainers earned between $16,120 and $60,760, with a median annual salary of $29,210. There are numerous certifying agencies for personal trainers and cost can be a factor in deciding which one to choose.


In 2008 there were 26,100 jobs held by fitness workers, including personal trainers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fitness and recreational sports centers employed about 61 percent of all personal trainers, civic and social organizations employed 13 percent of trainers, and another 9 percent were self employed. Many personal trainers work part-time jobs or work at multiple locations. Most employers require personal trainers to be certified, and a college degree is desired.

Cheapest Certification

The Athletic Certification Training Commission (ACT) offers the cheapest personal training certification as of April 2011 The basic plan is free or you can pay $65 for the pro plan. The exam consists of 100 questions with 1 1/2 hours to complete. There are no prerequisites to take this exam. Recertification is required every two years. Unfortunately, this certification, which was established in 2010 is not accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or recognized in the industry as of publication.

Cheapest Certification with Accreditation

Established in 1993, The National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) is the cheapest accredited certification for personal training as of publication. The cost to take the exam is $199 in April 2011. You have three hours to complete 150 questions. Prerequisites include: a minimum age of 18 and a high school diploma or equivalent. Recertification is required every two years. This certification is recognized in the fitness industry.

National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

The NCCA provides accreditation to organizations that have proven to offer legitimate certification. Organizations voluntarily apply for this important, highly recognized distinction so that stakeholders and the general public know which certifications are valid in the industry. Every five years, accredited organizations have to renew to ensure that recognized standards have been maintained.

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