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How to Pick Your Personal Trainer Certification


How to Pick Your Personal Trainer Certification

In the same way, as you would only hire a lawyer who has passed the bar exam, or get your taxes done from a certified accountant, your future clients are looking for a personal trainer with the appropriate accreditations. But what is the best personal training certification available today? And how do you know which personal trainer course is right for you?

Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer

Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer involves first choosing the organization through which you’d like to earn your certification.

If you’ve seriously considered becoming a certified personal trainer—either for a career change, as a side gig, for personal development — you should know that most gyms, whether a big-box gym or boutique gym, require certification.

What is the Best Personal Trainer Certification?

The first step for many future trainers is to focus in on the organizations accredited by the NCCA, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. 

NCCA standards were originally developed to help ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public. They have come to highlight the essential elements of a high-quality program.


There are well over 100 personal trainer programs and sets of courses, but only about a dozen are certified by NCCA. 

An NCCA accredited course will set you up for long term success. NCCA accredited personal trainer courses, like NESTA, are more recognized and take longer to study because they include more educational material necessary to train your clients properly. 

NESTA’s interactive home-study program is delivered 100% online. You’ll have access to 40-hours of NESTA’s Certified Personal Fitness Trainer education materials for a lifetime.

Your certification process could take anywhere from a few weeks to six months–it all depends on how driven you are and your own resources. 

Before Taking Your PT Certification Exam

Before jumping into your course work, there are often other prerequisites for a Personal Trainer Certification. Typically, you have to be 18 years old, have a CPR and AED certification, and have a high school diploma or GED. 


Some higher-level certifications require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These can cost a lot more money and take a lot longer to finish. The certifications offered through NESTA and the Spencer Institute do not.

Exams can cost between $350 and $600. Some organizations offer study materials which can include printed and online resources and workshops, for an additional fee. 

Some certifying organizations offer promotional bundles on study materials, workshops and exam fees to lower the cost of becoming a Certified Personal Trainer. For example, NESTA offers four flexible payment options ranging from $124.

Exam prep can average nine weeks to six months, depending on your prior knowledge.

Studying for Your Personal Training Exam

You should begin to study for the exam before purchasing it. Be sure that once you choose, set a deadline by signing up for a test date to keep you on track. 

NESTA offers 30, 60 and 90-day study plan checklists, so you can stay focused, on track and are able to study at your own pace. When you are ready to take the NESTA Personal Trainer test, you will have 90 days to schedule and take the proctored exam

Personal Trainer Mentorship and Support

It’s important to supplement your study with guidance before and afterward to help you through the transition period between the test and officially working with clients. 

As you prepare to take your test, and even after, consider finding a mentor who is knowledgeable, has done well in the field, and can help to lead you in the right direction. 


You can shadow an established personal trainer to familiarize yourself with their day to day and what the job generally entails. You can start to do this while you are studying for your personal trainer certification. You can make mental models in your head about what you learn and see how they may or may not apply in the real world, with actual real-world situations.

Something else to consider when researching certifications is the certifying organizations’ attention to customer service. Our student support team is here to help you reach your goals. We are available by email or phone. Plus you can reach us by live chat to answer any questions you may have.


The Business of Personal Training

You need to learn and understand sales and marketing and the business of personal training. That is what is going to help you get clients and make money. 

NESTA provides its students with many turn-key fitness and coaching business systems, so you can jump-start your career success. We teach you easy-to-follow and cutting edge business and career skills you need to land your dream job and get more training clients without a struggle.


Specialty Personal Training Certifications: What Type of Clients Do You Want to Work With?

Your Personal Trainer Certification is just the beginning. Your initial certification is just the launching point for more specialized training to serve specific types of clients. You should continue to increase your knowledge based on what you would like to specialize.

Specialist and niche programs provide a robust, individual education on one specific area of training or one specific population of training so that you can apply all of your personal trainer qualifications and take that and specialize with advanced knowledge to work with unique populations.

Enroll online in the courses that interest you most and help you with your specific goals. If you are unclear which certifications are best for you, think about how you want to conduct your business, who you want to train and serve, and what makes you the happiest.

NESTA has over 35 different specializations, including ones that focus on kids, nutrition, weight loss, and wellness.

Additional specializations and niche certifications help personal trainers to both serve existing clients and attract new ones. Personal trainers who wear multiple hats are the most successful. Like with many other industries, the wider your scope of practice, the better.

Continuing Your Education

Many certifying organizations require between 20-60 continuing education credits or units every 2-3 years. Recertification can cost anywhere from $45 to $129 and if you are unable to complete your CEUs, you most likely will need to retake your personal trainer exam in order to become re-certified.

The NESTA ECB requires its certified personal fitness trainer to complete only 4.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) over a 4 year period.

Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer also gives you access to periodicals, liability insurance, networking opportunities, and online resources. Additional specialties and continuing education will be critical for your continued success as a trainer or coach.

Getting Started with a Personal Training Career

Check out what it takes to start a career in personal fitness training. This is your most affordable and fastest way to become a highly qualified personal trainer.

There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.

NESTA and Spencer Institute coaching programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.

That’s it for now.

Take action!

NESTA | Spencer Institute

PS: Click here to see many helpful business/career resources

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