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Tips for Trainers: Prioritizing Your Certifications

February 24, 2016

Before you become a personal trainer, you will need to be certified so you have credibility and the knowledge to cater to clients safely. Different certifications allow you to pursue different opportunities and can have a strong impact on your career and future in the industry. We know you only have so much time in your schedule for pursuing certifications, so it’s important to find a certification organization that fits your needs. To help you make the right decisions when it comes to your career, here are a few helpful tips:

 Select a Type of Certification to Attain

There are many different generic types of training certifications that you can aim toward, such as:

  • Personal Trainer: Fitness professional certified to provide exercise prescription and instruction to clients.
  • Group Fitness Instructor: Fitness professional certified to lead group fitness classes
  • Health Coach Certification: Fitness professional certified to provide health related instruction to clients in order to improve their lifestyles.
  • Medical Exercise Specialist: Fitness professionals certified to provide medical exercise instruction, like posture correction and rehab.

In addition, there are also specialties you can get certified for so you can narrow down your career goals:

Research each before you commit to find out which area suits your needs and goals best. You don’t want to find out that the path you chose isn’t for you. For instance, if you want to lead youth group fitness classes, attaining a Group Fitness Instructor certification along with a specialty in Youth Fitness would be the most useful path for your goals.

Compare Certification Organizations

There are many different accredited organizations available for you to choose through whom to get certified. Popular organizations include, but not limited to:

  • ACE: “Achieve, Certify, Educate”
  • ACSM: American College and Sports Medicine
  • NASM: National Academy of Sports Medicine

Each organization’s website will include comparative information that will easily allow you to see the pros and cons of each for your specific certification preference, helping you decide. There are differences between each organization in terms of:

  • Cost
  • Timelines
  • Credentials
  • Requirements

Research each organization and their requirements thoroughly to find the best fit for you. Keep in mind that almost all organizations require a valid CPR/AED certification in order to enroll to complete any exam. Even if it’s not required, it’s a good idea to get certified anyway—doing so will help your credibility as a trainer and potentially save a life.

Maintain All of Your Certifications

After you have become certified, make sure you keep track of when they expire. That way, you can continue your career as a certified personal trainer. Certifications generally expire one year after you’ve completed your certification and the expiration date can be found on your certificate. To renew your certificate, you will need to take continuing education courses—at least two per year. If your certification has already expired, don’t worry—you can get recertified without having to retake the exams for up to two years. Past that, you will have to restart from scratch.

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