I'm considering pursuing Personal Trainer certification, and I quickly realized there are a large number of organizations that offer personal training, including:

This random website lists these and a bunch more (it's where I got the above organizations from, to be honest), but I don't even know whether that site is trustworthy, particularly for the "industry recognition" row. Which certification, if any, is the best to pursue?

  • I'm not really sure whether this is on-topic, besides this looks pretty localized to the US-only
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 22, 2011 at 13:46
  • I think the question is rather broad. The list of certifications on which is "best" could be argumentative.
    – Matt Chan
    Mar 25, 2011 at 14:22
  • I agree. This question definitely leaves too much of a range for personal opinion, and the answer can vary greatly by location and personal situation. Mar 25, 2011 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


Certificates themselves only make your services more marketable, they don't make you a better personal trainer.

Where do you plan to work? If it's at a gym, ask them what certificates they respect the most. Some organization will require specific ones, and others don't really care, and will give you more pay based on the number (not quality) of certificates. In that case you might as well get the cheapest ones you can.

If you going to market yourself to the general public, almost nobody you talk to will know the difference between NCCA and ACE. They might ask "are you certified?" (and they should), but that's about it. In this case, the decision is really up to you: what do you think will make you a better trainer? These certificates will only help get customers in the door, not retain them.

If you really, really want your question answered then ACE and NCCA are the two I hear mentioned the most and are probably the most recognizable. This is only my personal observation and yours might differ.

  • Thanks, that's a good answer. I guess my real question is the one you brought up, which one will make me a better trainer? Is there any real benefit between the different programs?
    – eykanal
    Mar 22, 2011 at 16:34
  • @eykanal - If you don't have any experience, I'd pick the one that has the most hands-on requirements instead one of the online certificates. If you have experience, then refer to my answer. As for which will make you a better trainer... if you have the basic knowledge, then only you can make yourself better. Mar 22, 2011 at 16:54
  • 1
    @eykanal - Being a better trainer will come with time and experience, but what is it about being "better" that you are seeking? My gut feeling is that, in the end, it may not matter as much if you're providing good service for other people and have earned a good reputation.
    – Matt Chan
    Mar 25, 2011 at 13:31

The certification that matters the most is the type that also gets you liability insurance where you're practicing. I'm not sure how it's handled in the US, but in Canada it's on a province by province basis.

  • This should be a comment @migo unless you have anything more to add
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 24, 2011 at 20:58
  • It directly answers the question that is bolded. The best certification to pursue is the one that provides you with liability insurance.
    – migo
    Mar 24, 2011 at 20:59
  • That doesn't explain me why that's important @migo, so why should I 'believe' you
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 24, 2011 at 21:06
  • If you don't understand the importance of insurance, you shouldn't be a personal trainer. Particularly not in a litigation happy country.
    – migo
    Mar 24, 2011 at 22:36

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