T Nation

Personal training certifications


I know there is a good amount of animosity among T-mag contributors and forum users towards "personal trainers" - mostly because so many of them are so ignorant and aweful. But I could use some feedback as to which certifications are the "best" - or the least bad. I'm currently going back to university for a career change (medical field) and I need a flexible work schedule to do that. I have a friend who is the GM of 24HR fitness club and he offered me a decent enough paying job as a PT until I get my degree. The catch is that I have to get certified with one (or more) of the organizations that 24HR accepts. These include: AFAA, ACSM, ACE, BSMI, Cooper, NCSF, NASM, NSCA. I've been training and researching training, health, fitness, nutrition etc. for 15 years on my own time, including reading T-mag almost from the beginning. So think I'm pretty knowledgable already. But I figure that if I'm going to invest the time and money to get certified, then I might as well choose one that will be the most useful. BTW, I know that many T-mag contribs recommend the ISSA for certifications, and I would probably go that route except that unfortunately, 24HR does not accept that as one of thier "approved" certifications. Any feedback, suggestions, or help would be appreciated.


ACSM is out because you do not have a degree. So of the remaining ones that are left, NSCA is the best.


Actually, I do have a degree - just not
in a field related to PT or medical. I
did not realize that ACSM requires a
degree - so thanks for that info. Also,
could you tell me why you think a
particular certification is better. For
example, why do you say that ACSM is the
best, and why do you say that NSCA is
the second best? Thanks again. (I love
this forum!)


ACSM doesn't fool around. They require you have a degree before hand. They seem to actually care who they put out into the workforce with their blessing. Where as a lot of the other certification "shops" let anybody get certified. Its basically pay us X amount of dollars and you're certified. This is the reason why there is a lot of garbage in the personal training field. People are quick to make a buck and can care less about reading up on their field. They fail to realize that there are other aspects to training than the lat pull down and silver 5lb weight bicep curls. NSCA is the same way. For their PT certification you do need a HS diploma. But they have higher level certifications that require you to have a BS/BA. So looking at that they do show some concern who they send out there.


NSCA is definately a good one to get.


i'd always been told ISSA was the best to get...any input?


NSCA CSCS but you need BS/BA in health/fitness related. I took the exam and passed without even studying. Nothing really special. You're much better off by leaerning Russian/European training methods but i just use the certification to get around.


Thanks guys. I really appreciate your input. I'm seriously going to consider the NSCA. So far that sounds the most like what I'm looking for. I take pride in my work, and I'm not interested in doing a crappy job just to collect a pay check.
Perhaps if I stick with PT after getting a degree in a related field, I'll look at the ACSM.

I would appreciate any suggestions or feedback that anyone else might have.


I have the NSCA right now, but am thinking about getting the CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). This is a subdivision of the NSCA. The CSCS is more intense as far as studying goes.



I thought the CSCS exam was easy.I didn't even study and I had been out of school for a year prior to the exam (due to location and i didnt want to drive) The only problem was that i'm hearing impaired (100% hearing loss) was that I didn't have a reliable accomodation so when the video section came, I was kinda lost but still managed to pass that section. If I was the manager, I'd require CSCS certification for PT jobs, none of those crappy certifications. I work out at gold's gym and the PTs there are not very good at all. I applied for the job there and it didn't do shit despite me having CSCS. I don't know if me being deaf had to do with it but I'm 10 times better than those PTs there. Then again, i'd never work as a personal trainer. I don't have time for the client's excuses. I'd much rather work with athletes, knowing that they'd work hard to achieve the goals. The problem with the regular clients, they come with all kinds of excuses why they don't show up or work hard for it. They want the magic bullet for fatloss or whatever. They just don't want to work hard for it.


I agree with everyone here NSCA and ACSM are the best. Preferably CSCS with NSCA and CES with ACSM


Maybe this is off- topic on this thread, but are there any personal trainers on this website located in or near NYC? Let me know. Thanks.


search "so you want to be a personal trainer"


CSCS seem to be pretty good. World wide acceptance too.