How to choose your CPT certification?


Personal training is a big business, a 10$ billion dollar industry. It’s continually evolving industry, one that offers a range of potential career opportunities for individuals interested in becoming personal trainers. Personal training is a flexible occupation and allows for quick entry with a high school degree and national certification. However, advanced training, experience and continuous education can better position trainers for career success. Learn about what it takes to become a personal trainer, the types of certifications and specialization available and occupational outlook.

To help aspiring personal trainers choose the best personal training certification, we’ve decided to put together a list of (mostly) objective criteria we believe trainers are most concerned with. While there really is no “best personal trainer certification,” there are different factors that may better resonate with certain people.



  • Accreditation: most gyms only accept personal training certifications that are National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and European register for exercise professionals  (EREPS) – recognized so this is an important factor for aspiring trainers. These certifying bodies are considered the gold standard for fitness certifications.
  • Price: includes the cost of the test, the study materials and retake fee for the exam.
  • Expected Study Time: this is the time you have to take the exam from the time you purchase the study materials.
  • CEU Requirements: amount of Continuing Education Units required to maintain certification.
  • Popularity of Certification: indication of the amount of people who have a cert and take the test every year.
  • Primary Focus of Education: while this topic may surprise some, each program varies slightly in what their education process concentrates on teaching you. This information is pulled straight off their catalogs.
  • Average Income: average annual income by certification based on actual user feedback from reputable website such as


Now let’s take a closer look to some of the CPT certifications..


NASM is best known for it’s certified personal trainer program, However, they provide a number of other specialization certifications. To name few, they offer corrective exercise, performance enhancement, behavior change, nutrition coaching and group personal training specialization. NASM CPT is based on an evidence-based training model preparing students for real-life situations. In addition to learning and understanding complex scientific principles. Students will use NSM’s proprietary optimum performance training (OPT) model. A systematic system that helps you train in various areas including: flexibility, cardiorespiratory, core, balance, power and strength.


The EuropeActive Standards have been agreed as the minimum requirements for an individual to be called an exercise professional and which makes them eligible for registration with EREPS and the national registers working within its Program. At an individual level skilled exercise professionals are recognized by the European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREPS). Registration means that an exercise professional has met the agreed prescribed minimum standards of good practice, including the adoption of a Code of Ethical Practice and that they are committed to raising standards through a process of personal career professional development. Provides an independent registration process (sometimes called a “license to practice”) for exercise professionals across Europe which is clearly understandable for operators and consumers.

ACSM founded in 1954, the American College of Sports Medicine is the oldest and most established program for personal training certifications. It is highly focused on the clinical side of training, offering certifications such as the Clinical Exercise Physiologist program. They are also a leading producer of studies and scholarly articles. In fact, most CPT courses, including NASM, reference ACSM’s research in their own textbooks.



NSCA is another well-established program for personal trainers, the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Similar to NASM, it has a focus within a gym setting, but this certification is geared towards coaches or those who want to help people become better athletes. Like ACSM, the NSCA CPT exam takes a very scientific approach to its fitness assessments, exercise prescriptions, and motivational techniques.


Take away tip

Which Personal Training Certification Should You Choose?

It can make your head spin with the number of CPT courses that are available out there. Outside of choosing a certification that is well accredited and recognized by the types of organizations or companies you want to work for, determining the right CPT program for yourself also requires assessing and understanding the skills you presently have, and where you want to be in five or ten years.

Q&A: Have you considered personal training certification to achieve your career goals?

Share your answer with us, kindly send it to ( and receive 10% discount on the upcoming (CFT) certified fitness trainer course from FACTS.

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