T Nation

Trainer certifications

Got laid off from my engineering job on Thursday, which, uh, kinda sucks. Anyways, I thought that while I am on the job hunt I might pursue employment where my passion lies. Wanted to pick everyone’s brains on what I should do/what cerification I should get to enable myself to get a job as a trainer the fastest. Before I get flamed, let me say that I don’t think much of training certs as a whole, but most places require you to have something. I am looking for a shortcut only in the aspect of getting a job as soon as possible, not to be lazy. Good training comes from research and constant education. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I did some research awhile back and found that the NSCA CSCS exam is one of the most highly regarded.

I actually just took this exam today and hopefully passed it.

I liked the content much more than some of the other certifications out there. It seemed a lot more up to date and had a lot of studies cited with it. They also send out a Journal of strength and conditioning which has a lot of cool studies in it.

I currently have an IFPA certification, but I didn’t agree with a lot of the stuff and it was more out-dated, but if you want an easy one, you can take that one at home :slight_smile:

thanks! speed of acquisition is my number one priority now, so I can start working. I will definitely check out IFPA!

I assume that you want for-real answers, rather than positive-mental-attitude cheerleading. Sooooo…

  1. I got the ISSA cert, when it looked likely that I would be permanently unable to continue my career as a pilot, for medical reasons. It cost some time and about $350, plus about $200 for liability insurance. That’s not a big invenstment in a new career, until you see that most of the better trainers can’t make a full-time living at it.
  2. Every second you spend pursuing a personal training career is another second that you CAN’T spend, looking for another engineering job. Forget about the one-in-twenty personal trainer who is making a good living. Instead, compare the incomes of the average personal trainer and the average engineer: this is not an I.Q. test. Keep in mind that your own training will be more productive, if your meals include groceries…
  3. The most successful personal trainers aren’t necessarily the BEST personal trainers. They are more likely to be the best salesmen and/or bullshit artists. Also, if you are competing for business against young, “fitness model” types, it helps to be a young fitness model. This is not to imply that ALL personal trainers are pretty boys who don’t know diddly about serious strength training. However, pretty boys do tend to prevail in this field.
  4. You are tempted to get out of engineering, because it is often boring. (Yeah, on paper I’m an engineer too.) Training young, agressive athletes is a lot more interesting. However, most of your clientelle will be fat, self-indulgent, older, non-athletes who shy away from anything that smacks of effort, self-discipline, or any amount of any kind of pain. These are the people who you must CONVINCE to spend money on your services. The young athletes are out there, but they’ve got no money. Sports teams have money, but, without an advanced degree in exercise physiology and well-placed friends, you’d have to be DAMN lucky to get one of those jobs.
  5. Every potential trainee who has a job swears that he/she can only train on Mon/Wed/Fri, between 5PM and 6PM. They can all find trainers at that time, because every third name in the phone book is a part-time trainer who only works from 5PM to 6PM, @ $30/hr or less or a lot less. Do the math.

Other than that, it’s a great career choice! Now, have a nice day.
Strength & courage,
“Coach Joe”

I agree that engineering can be boring or a drag. But that is probably because you have seen it from the inside. Coach Joe eloquently pointed out some of the drawbacks of personal training. Im sure Engineering looks much more exciting to the outsider (ie the design / creation aspect of it, not the cranking out math problems). Right now (as I type), I am working on a pretty cool military proj that may carry our military technology for the next few decades, the kind of wow job that other people would drool over and kids would say they wanted to get into engineering over. But it is still sitting at a computer all day running graphical design and stress / deflection analysis. You have a degree that affords you a career and a lifestyle that many of my business degree friends who live at home with their parents envy. Don’t throw in the towel yet. I PMed you, and I’ll try to find some So Fla contacts. . . BTW, does the A stand for Andy, and did you go to UF for ME?

PS – Coach Joe is right. . . there is some huge jacked trainer at my gym, and he is ALWAYS there, day night weekends, 7 am on weekdays. And he is always kissing the asses of these middle aged to 60 year old women, trying to inspire them to walk harder on the bitch walker.

You shall never call me Andy! That said…Thanks guys! Coach Joe, I appreciate your candor. I am not necessarily looking to pursue a career in training, although that would be AWESOME! I am just thinking of something to do part/full time to make at least some money while I job hunt. I am only 26, with not many responsibilities, so I don’t need anything lucrative. Hate to admit it, but I am a pretty boy. Yes I know, there is help for people like me, but I am in denial and I like kissing middle age fat lady ass. I guess I probably should’ve kept that one to myself! Right now I am just sort of searching, internally rebelling against settling into the “real” world and the trappings that go along with that. For instance, this morning at church it occured to me that I’d really like to hike the Appalachian Trail. Used to do a lot of backpacking, climbing, etc. as a teen and loved it. That’s an open invitation BTW, I wouldn’t want to do it by myself; I need someone to cuddle with. JK, not about the invitation though.
Before I got laid off I worked for a dredging company as a field engineer. Very cool job, we worked 21 days straight and then got 7 days off. It was a traveling job and they set us up with hotels/apts. while we were working and then flew us home or wherever on our time off.
Enough rambling. Thanks again guys, and I hope some of the other contributors will stop by and share their knowledge/experience.

apayne, do it now if you’re gonna do it. once you get ‘settled’ somewhere it’s much much harder to just go off and do this stuff. once you’re at that stage of your life, you’ll NEED a steady income to pay for all your committments and then you’ll not have the luxury of just picking something fun and trying it out. good luck! and see if you can drop some cash into a savings account while you’re at it, just in case times get a bit rough (even for a single guy, LOL)

Good luck. I have NSCA CSCS and it didn’t do me much good at all. Even though, I’m better than most, it still doesn’t matter unless you “know” someone as I’ve found out the hard way. It never cease to amaze me that this gym that i apply for a PT job (where i work out) and I wonder how those pea brained PTs get hired and I didn’t even get a call. I don’t even think some had college degree like I do. I’ve seen them have their clients use smith machine as their primary workouts for bench press, squats, shoulder press, shrugs, etc!!! Unbelievable…