Which personal training certification should you choose?
You will want to consider two of the industry’s most respected certifying bodies, American Council on Exercise (ACE) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Both ACE and ACSM are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NCCA accreditation is held as the standard for the industry. In addition, ACE is accredited by the European Health and Fitness Association. At last count, ACE has 56,000 members and ACSM has 25,000.
There are three key areas to compare when making your decision:
- Focus of the Certification
- Ongoing Support
- Continuing Education Requirements and Offerings
Focus of the Certification
The ACE Personal Trainer Certification program will prepare you to train the general population. They have developed an effective training model called the Integrated Fitness Training Model. This model successfully guides you through the process of accessing a client, preparing a program and monitoring progress.
ACSM approaches personal training from a more science based perspective. By teaching you to complete in-depth assessments with your clients, you will be well prepared to create unique plans for those with special needs.
Both certifications offer extensive ongoing support such as employment listings, a client search, liability insurance and product discounts, access to industry research and fitness news.
In addition ACE offers client resources, business forms and documents and an expert blog.
CE Requirements and Offerings
ACE requires 20 hours of continuing education every two years (averaging 10 hours per year) and ACSM requires slightly more at 45 hours every three years (averaging 15 hours per year).
Both certifications offer additional group exercise, advanced and specialty certifications. Continuing education and additional certifications can be obtained through self-paced study and live webinars. In addition, ACE offers bundled courses and workshops.
As you can see, both ACE and ACSM Personal Training Certification programs are very similar when compared based on these three key criteria. ACE takes a slight lead when considering ongoing support and continuing education offerings. However, if you have a science background or a strong interest in working with special populations, ACSM may be a better option for you. Regardless which organization you choose, you can be assured that you are receiving a certificate that will be well received by potential employers and clients.