5 Best Online Personal Trainer Certifications in 2021

If you aspire to become a personal trainer through an online certification then this article is for you. This is the ultimate guide to personal trainer certification online where you will find:

  • The 5 best personal trainer online certifications
  • Personal trainer online courses
  • A comparative study considering the pros and cons

Every personal trainer needs to get a certification online or in-person to start earning money. This certification course will guide you on how to become a successful trainer by helping you learn in detail about physical fitness and behavioral studies.

 Here are the 5 top personal trainer certifications online.

 1. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

ISSA is one of the leading personal trainer certifications online. Here are the key facts you should know about ISSA.

The certification is recognized all over the world through its online-only approach. It focuses on fitness and nutrition essentials separately from the business side of coaching.

 It is the most cost-effective certification on the list and is easily accessible to anyone.

 Cost

The certification will cost you $799, but before you enroll check for discounts.

 Curriculum

  •  Quizzes and practice exams
  • Video lectures
  •  Workbook and study guide
  • Access to a student forum

 Exam

It has an average passing rate of 90%. You also get a chance to re-certify yourself with a fee of $75.

 Accreditation:

ISSA certification is accredited by the gold standard accrediting body, DEAC. In 2020, ISSA also received accreditation from NCCA.

 Pros

  • The test is completely online and accessible from anywhere, anytime
  • Widely recognized
  • Good passing rate
  • Different forms of training
  • Instructional videos
  • Paying options are flexible
  • NCCA accredited

 Cons

  • Open-book
  • Self pass exam may affect the trainer’s quality in some cases

 Conclusion

Many personal trainers have made a successful career with ISSA certification. It is one of the best online certs that even offers a package to grab 2 or 3 certifications for the cost of 1.

 2. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

NASM has earned a reputation of its own among personal trainer certifications online. This program was started in 1987 with a focus on corrective exercising.

 Due to its optimum performance model of train, NASM is widely accepted by employers across the U.S.

NASM offers four different certification programs to suit the interest of every aspiring personal trainer.

 Cost

Here is the cost of 4 different self-study programs of NASM

  •  Self-study package at $699 to $524
  • Premium package at $1099 to $824
  •  Guided package at $1499 to $1024
  • The all-inclusive package at $2199 to $1649

 

Curriculum

  •  Digital textbook containing 20 chapters in 720 pages
  • Video lectures
  • Cueing and exercises library
  • Quizzes and practice exams
  • Study guides
  •  Anatomy memorization
  • CPT development program
  • Webinar
  • Online tutor
  • Access to business accelerator program by NASM

 Exam

120 multiple choice questions with a passing score of 64%.

 Accreditation

NASM certification has received the prestigious NCCA accreditation.

 Pros

  •  Job offer after completing the training
  • 100% online course
  •  Optimum training module
  •  Active support system

 Cons

Limited reach globally.

 Conclusion

It is one of the reputed personal trainer certifications online that has brought good recognition to the trainers who have used the program.

 3. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

ACE certification emphasizes general fitness to help clients with weight issues. The certification is globally recognized among affiliated originations.

 ACE started its journey in 1985 and has built an international network of qualified trainers.

 ACE trainers enjoy a similar level of job opportunities as NASM.

 The training module has a broad spectrum focusing on the basics of health, nutrition, and fitness. ACE offers 2 personal trainer certification programs.

 Cost

ACE certification comes in a 3-tier package with a different fee range.

  • Basic package at $599
  •  Plus package at $799
  •  Advantage package at $1299

 Curriculum

  • ACE answers
  •  Certification exams
  •  Academy elite
  • One practice test
  • Manual for the personal trainer
  • Study companion
  • Exercise science essentials
  • Workbook and video lectures (Plus/ Advantage only)

 Exam

The exam paper includes 150 questions. The passing score is 500 points with a passing rate of 65%. ACE allows recertification with a fee of $129.

 Accreditation

ACE is accredited by NCCA

 Pros

  •  Overall knowledge on every aspect of personal training
  • Flexible plans and packages
  • The comfortable pace of the program that is easy to understand

 Cons

The traditional format of a computer-based testing center.

 Conclusion

ACE certifications have received wide acceptability because it includes the basics of all aspects of health science.  ACE keeps its trainers up to date through its monthly fitness publication on the latest fitness practices.

 4. Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

AFAA has a 35 years old legacy in certifying trainers with movement-based functional training. This interests both trainers and their clients alike. 

Just like NASM, AFAA is also a subsidiary institution under the same umbrella offering personal trainer certification online.

 Cost

The complete study material for the course will cost around $600 which includes $199 for an exam-only package, $69 for fitness training, $20 for practice exams and assessments.

 Exam

Instead of the regular multiple-choice format, AFAA will give you a practical component. The exam paper includes 120 multiple choice questions with 20 case studies. The duration is 120 minutes and the required passing score is 70%.

 Accreditation

AFAA has been accredited by NCCA.

 Pros

  • Good workshop facilities
  •  Completely online course
  • NCCA accredited certification

 Cons

  • Inadequate study materials
  • Not recognized by most employers

 Conclusion

From an educational perspective, AFAA certification is acceptable to gain fundamental knowledge on fitness and weight management.

 5. National Council on Strength And Fitness (NCSF)

NCSF has built a reputation in certifying trainers since its inception in 1996. The certification is widely recognized for its in-depth focus on fitness and health.

NCSF certification includes everything required to establish you as a certified personal trainer. However, they only allow candidates of age 18 years and above to enroll for the certification course.

 Cost

NCSF has categorized the certification under 5 different tiers that come with separate fees depending upon the study materials. Check them out here.

  •  $299 for exam only course
  •  $688 for home study course (includes digital textbooks, video lectures, 1-year membership, quiz, practice test, etc.)
  • $757.95 for home study plus course
  • $728 for workshop and exam
  • $797 workshop plus course

 Exam

150 multiple-choice questions covering all aspects of health and fitness. Recertification is allowed every 2 years with an additional fee and 20 hours of CEUs.

 Accreditation

NCSF has been accredited by NCCA

 Pros

  • Ample opportunity for practical study
  • NCCA approved
  • Well-recognized in the industry

 Cons

  • Lack of program design
  •  The textbook covers only the fundamentals of fitness education

 

Conclusion

The certification course is offered at competitive pricing. Although not recognized by most employers, it is a great way to begin your career for certain gyms.

Final Thoughts

Use the information in this guide to give you a clear idea of what you should look for as you plan your career in the health and fitness industry. Pay close attention to the pros and cons of each personal trainer certification to decide which one is best for you.