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Top 10 Best Personal Trainer Certifications

by
author image Jeremy Hoefs
Based in Nebraska, Jeremy Hoefs began writing fitness, nutrition, outdoor and hunting articles in 2006. His articles have been published in "Star City Sports," "Hunting Fitness Magazine" and RutWear field journals, as well as on the Western Whitetail website. Hoefs graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Top 10 Best Personal Trainer Certifications
Woman working out with personal trainer at a gym. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

With the widespread popularity of personal training and fitness, hundreds of personal training certifications have been created. However, only a few of the certifications are routinely recognized by fitness clubs and other trainers. The best personal training certifications are the most widely recognized while being accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

CSCS

The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist -- CSCS -- offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (nsca-lift.org) is one of the most recognized personal trainer certifications in the fitness industry. It is also one of the most difficult certifications to earn and requires a 4-year college degree. The CSCS is commonly earned by strength coaches or personal trainers working with athletes.

ACE

The American Council on Exercise (acefitness.org) offers various health and fitness certifications and their general personal trainer certification is considered one of the best. ACE offers a 2-day workshop to help you study and prepare for the certification examination. You must recertify every two years to remain ACE personal trainer certified.

NASM

Since 1987, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (nasm.org) has been a leader in the sports and fitness industry. To become an NASM certified personal trainer, you must be at least 18-years old, CPR certified and successfully pass a two hour examination with 120 questions. You must recertify every two years and can add various specialty certifications based on your clientele.

ACSM

The American College of Sports Medicine (acsm.org) was created in 1954 and offers one of the top personal trainer certifications. The accredited certification program requires a high school diploma and CPR certification to take the 125 to 150 question examination. After earning the certification, you must recertify every three years.

NSCA-CPT

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (nsca-lift.org) started offering the Certified Personal Trainer -- NSCA-CPT -- certification in 1993 and is considered one of the most challenging examinations. The prerequisites for taking the NSCA-CPT test include at least 18-years old and CPR certified allowing college students to work as a certified personal trainer as they study health and fitness.

AFPA

The American Fitness Professionals and Associates (afpafitness.com) personal trainer certification uses current exercise science, sports medicine and nutrition research in the certification program. The AFPA doesn’t require any prerequisites for earning the certification which makes it one of the easiest accredited certifications to obtain. You can also add various specialty certifications from the AFPA to your personal trainer certification.

NFPT

Created in 1988, the National Federation of Professional Trainers (nfpt.com) personal training certification is accredited by NCCA and widely recognized as one of the best personal trainer certifications. You must have a high school diploma, be at least 18 years old and have at least two years of fitness experience before taking the NFPT certification examination. You must also recertify every year to maintain the certification.

NESTA

The National Endurance and Sports Trainers Association (nestacertified.com) personal training certification started in 1992 and grew rapidly to have certified trainers in more than 20 countries. You must be at least 16 years old, have good reading skills and have basic fitness experience to take the NESTA certification examination. You must recertify every four years to maintain the certification.

IFPA

Offering a total of more than 70 certifications, the International Fitness Professionals Association (ifpa-fitness.com) personal trainer certification gives you the knowledge, skills and abilities to be a successful personal trainer. You must be at least 18 years old, have a current CPR certification and a high school diploma to take the IFPA personal trainer certification. You can attend a workshop to study and prepare for the 100 question examination and you must recertify every two years.

Cooper Institute

Established by Kenneth Cooper, M.D., the Cooper Institute (cooperinstitute.org) is a nonprofit research and education organization for medicine and health. The Cooper Institute also offers the certified personal trainer examination that is recognized as one of the best certifications. You must be at least 18 years old with a current CPR certification to take the Cooper Institute exam.

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