Which Trainer Certification is Best?

I transfered to the University of Alabama this spring. The manager of the rec center suggested that if i would go and get certified, i could be a personal trainer at the student rec center.

The four programs I can choose from are –

ACE- American Council on Exercise
AFAA-Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
ACSM-American College of Sports Medicine
NSCA-National Strength and Coditioning Association

I think the certification you want to choose will be based on where you EVENTUALLY want to go with it. From what I gather, if you want to eventually be a strength and conditioning coach at a university level (according to alwyn cosgrove) a CSCS from the NSCA is almost mandatory, on the other hand if you want to eventually be a fitness director at a gym or chain of gyms, the ACSM “Personal Trainer” or “Health and Fitness Instructor” (I believe thats what its called, its a level higher than the personal trainer) certification may be the way to go.

ACE I have heard of and seems to be reputable, but I have never heard of the other organization you listed. Thats something to be wary of, I literally just got my first job as a trainer on friday and am in the process of getting my ACSM, taking a class on it while in my final semester of getting my exercise physiology degree(though I plan on getting my CSCS eventually), the owner of my gym will recognize ACE, ACSM or NSCA, and give me an extra 5% of commission, but the N.E.S.T.A certification I received in high school was not recognized.

What I am getting at is that while an “off brand” certification might be cheaper now, you run the risk of it becoming worthless. Also, I know that both the NSCA and ACSM have great benefits just for being a member, conferences you can go and watch, scholarships for further learning, magazines, etc… ACE may offer the same stuff, but I would at least check that out before you jump.

Good luck

awesome man. thank you so much.

Basically what Harebol said -

There are hidden costs though - you need to earn CEU (continuing education units) with the NSCA - i think its the same with the ACSM also. These normally come from attending seminars and performing online tests that have to be paid for, so be aware of that.

NSCA-CPT is the one I’m getting while I’m still in school. To be a strength coach, most companies require NSCA-CPT, NSCA-CSCS, CPR and First Aid certs. ACSM is preferred by one of my assistant prof’s but his credibility is fair at best. If you’re looking to be a strength coach, I would recommend getting your NSCA-CPT when you’re in school, and your NSCA-CSCS during spring semester of your senior year. If you want to be the most competitive though, I would get both NSCA and ACSM certs. School loans can usually cover the cost of those if you can’t afford them at the time.

Yea, thats something else that I think these guys have hinted at but might need some clarification; some of these certifications have prerequisites of either having a degree or being in your final semester of one, something to check out.

CSCS from NSCA has always been the very least a trainer would need before I would recommend him to someone.

ok. i think i’m going to get mine through NSCA.

once again, i REALLY appriciate all the help you guys have been.

No problem, best of luck man!