How to Obtain Personal Training Certification Online: 5 Courses

There are a variety of options available if you want to attain a personal training certification online. The most respected alternatives all adhere to industry accreditation standards, so the curriculums are fairly similar.

Each program has a few individualized, unique packages with assorted options, but they all have similar prerequisites and basic requirements. You need to be at least 18, plus hold a current certification in CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator). Here’s a list of five accredited and highly respected personal training certification online courses.

personal fitness trainer helping a client lift weights

Getting Personal Training Certification Online

1. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

The ACE personal trainer program was established in 1985. ACE is one of the oldest and most respected personal training options in the industry. There are multiple package options available, the least costly being around $600. Each subsequent package adds a higher, more difficult level of certification and the cost goes up to $50 at each level.

Once you’ve selected an ACE package, you will need to set a date to take a mandatory exam at a set location. Most of the exam locations are in major cities across the United States, but it’s a good idea to know where these exam sites are before you sign up for the ACE course.

The exam is composed of 150 questions and takes on average about an hour, with a 65% pass rate. You should plan on studying for at least 6 months to successfully pass the ACE exam.

One important thing to consider when getting your personal training certification online is what type of clients you will prefer. While ACE will certify you to work with most, the course is better designed for trainers who want to work with elderly, or more non-athletic clients.

2. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

Being the personal training certification online course option with the most available packages is an appealing part of the NASM course. The base package offers a certified personal trainer (CPT) qualification and costs about the same as the basic ACE package. The levels graduate from there.

One of the most noteworthy highlights of all the different personal training certification online courses offered is the highest-level NASM package. For around $2,000 the NASM supreme offer will put you through one of the most rigorous study regimes preparing you to be a personal trainer. This package is so difficult that if you can pass the required test, NASM will guarantee you a job as a personal trainer.

Another nice feature, especially if you are considering the highest priced option in the industry is that re-testing is free, unlike many of the competitors who charge a “sitting fee” every time you have to take the exam.

3. National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT)

Started 3 years after the ACE program, the NFPT offers a certification that is considered average, but acceptable by industry standards. The NFPT has the same base prerequisites but also asks that their students have at least 2 years experience in the fitness industry. While some experience in the health and fitness field will help with any of the other course options, it is not a requirement.

There are three standard choices for enrollment in the NFPT and they all include a “sitting fee”, or entrance charge to take the exam. NFPT joins with certain health and fitness clubs by offering a discounted rate for individuals who currently work for a connected facility. If you do work for a health club already, you should check to see if they are affiliated with NFPT, as it could save you money when signing up for their course.

4. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

The American College of Sports Medicine has a two-tier course structure. There is a general certification CPT. Being one of the oldest entities to offer a personal training certification online, ACSM has an excellent reputation.

This two-tier option is an excellent idea for individuals who would like to get started in the industry while studying to enhance their career options. The ACSM certified personal trainer (CPT) test is known to be a little more difficult to pass, but it is a great way to get into the fitness industry while studying.

With the CPT paper in your hand, you could begin working as a personal trainer while you study for a degree. Then since you are already part of the ACSM, you can receive a discount rate for their industry acclaimed health fitness instructor (HFI) second level certification. The HFI tag will immediately balloon your earning potential and is an essential certification requirement in many large clubs that offer group personal training classes to their members.

5. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

The NCSA course is very similar to the ACSM program in that it offers two levels of certification. If you make the NCSA course your choice for a personal training certification online, you can also become a certified strength and conditioning specialist. You will need to have a bachelor’s degree to earn the CSCS second level certification, but it is one of the most celebrated qualifications in the personal trainer field.

NSCA has a measure to deter the less serious personal trainers since they require passing one of the hardest tests on the market. The core curriculum in the NSCA program mirrors that of the NASM, but the exam is reportedly a lot more difficult to pass. For this reason, tt is suggested that a trainer wanting to secure an NSCA certification follow a current trainer around who is already NSCA certified.

The personal training certification online qualification you secure will begin to help you build your own unique training personality. Many experienced trainers choose to earn multiple certifications by taking more than one of these courses. Each course is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), important because it is the recognized accrediting agency of The International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association.

These five personal training certification online providers also offer specialized certifications in areas like senior fitness, youth fitness, group personal training. Check out reviews on these options and talk to trainers who are already certified before you finalize your choice. Plus if you have questions, they all provide a helpful customer service staff.