Drum roll, please…

Welcome to yet another Trainer Academy article discussing a very hot topic in the health and fitness industry, and that is…

NCCA Accredited Certifications!

Say what?

Let’s discuss this in more detail.

You’ll learn the following upon reading this article:

What is the NCCA
Why NCCA accreditation is important for your certified personal trainer certification
Some differences between NCCA accreditation and non-NCCA accreditation

We promise to help you understand NCCA accreditation and what makes it absolutely crucial in the fitness industry.

Okay, let’s get right into it!

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Check this: The Best Personal Trainer Certifications

What is the NCCA?

First of all, we’ll start off by telling you what exactly the NCCA even is.

We know you want to know.

In 1977, in cooperation with the federal government, the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies (NCHCA) was founded.

Their main mission was to create gold standards of excellence for certification programs in the health, wellness, and fitness industries.

The NCHCA then changed its name to the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

NCCA is a non-profit, independent organization founded in 1987 by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE).

ICE is one of the two main organizations in the United States that accredit certificates and certifications, such as personal trainer certifications.

But kindly note that NCCA does not only work with fitness professionals but others as well.

For example, NCCA-accredited programs certify nurses, auto professionals, respiratory therapists, mental health therapists, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), crane operators, and more!

The NCCA’s primary goals are as follows:

  • Establish quality accreditation standards
  • Evaluate a program’s compliance with its standards
  • Recognize programs demonstrating compliance with its standards
  • Monitor and enforce continued compliance with its standards
  • Provide the highest-quality certification to all professionals alike

Moreover, the NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs were the first set of standards developed by the credentialing industry for professional fitness certification programs.

They were developed to help enhance the safety, health, and overall wellbeing of the public, and to provide the highest-quality fitness certification programs.

As a matter of fact, NCCA has accredited over 315 programs from more than 130 organizations.

That’s impressive!

Fitness certification and credentialing programs that receive NCCA Accreditation demonstrate both excellence and compliance with the NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.

In this article, we will be primarily focused on fitness certifications accredited by the NCCA.

But before we mention some NCCA-accredited fitness organizations, let’s talk about why NCCA accreditation is so important.

Why is NCCA Accreditation Important?

So now we know more about NCCA.

But what’s the deal?

NCCA is the gold standard in accreditation for fitness professionals all over and ensures the programs adhere to modern standards of practice in the certification industry.

Fitness professionals and personal training certifications accredited by this certifying body are highly respected by employers, as these certifications highly exceed accreditation standards.

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For those who are new to the personal training career, that’s what makes NCCA Accreditation a very important factor to consider when choosing a personal training certification.

Also, employers will increase your pay to acknowledge this additional credential.

Having an NCCA accredited personal trainer certification ensures employers that you have the highest level of competency and credibility for training clients, that you are responsible, and that you are professional.

So now that we know how important NCCA-accreditation is, what’s next?

We’ll briefly explore some NCCA accredited fitness certifications, that’s what’s next!

See Also: How To Become A Personal Trainer

NCCA Accredited Fitness Certifications

We’ve researched some of the best NCCA accredited programs and certs worth tapping into.

These professional certification programs are all among the best personal trainer certifications in the health and fitness industry.

Below is a comprehensive list of NCCA accredited fitness certifications for your convenience:

NASM
ISSA
NSCA
NESTA
NFPT
NCCPT
NETA
ACE

Without further ado, let’s talk briefly about each one!

NASM

NASM stands for The National Academy of Sports Medicine, which offers the most respected personal training (NASM-CPT) and Aerobics and Fitness Association of American Group Fitness Instructor (AFAA-GFI) certifications in the entire industry!

NASM only provides high-quality textbooks, practice exams, online resources, and more!

Some content you cover in this fitness training program is as follows:

  • Exercise Science
  • Anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise libraries
  • The NASM Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model

There are four study package options: self-study, premium self-study, guided study, and all-inclusive.

Let’s review and review them below!

NASM Self-StudyNASM Self-Study PremiumNASM Guided StudyNASM All-Inclusive
100% Online Course100% Online Course100% Online Course100% Online Course
NCCA Accredited ExamNCCA Accredited ExamNCCA Accredited ExamNCCA Accredited Exam
NASM-CPT Digital TextbookNASM-CPT Digital TextbookNASM-CPT Digital TextbookNASM-CPT Digital Textbook
Content Learning VideosContent Learning VideosContent Learning VideosContent Learning Videos
Exercise Video LibraryExercise Video LibraryExercise Video LibraryExercise Video Library
Practice Exams & QuizzesPractice Exams & QuizzesPractice Exams & QuizzesPractice Exams & Quizzes
Exercise Coaching DemonstrationsExercise Coaching DemonstrationsExercise Coaching Demonstrations
Job GuaranteeJob GuaranteeJob Guarantee
One-year NASM EDGE Trainer PlusOne-year NASM EDGE Trainer PlusOne-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus
10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible)10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible)
Certification Exam RetestCertification Exam Retest
NASM-CPT Hardcopy TextbookNASM-CPT Hardcopy Textbook
Access to Fitness ExpertsAccess to Fitness Experts
Business AcceleratorBusiness Accelerator
NASM EDGE CPT Exam Prep
Recertify for Life

Want to see how much they cost? Look below:

NASM Study PackageCost
Self Study$799.00
Self Study Premium$1,099.00
Guided Study$1,124.00
All-Inclusive$1,539.00

Please note that the NASM-CPT certification lasts for only two years, which means that recertification will be required.

This is done by maintaining your continuing education credits (CEUs), which can be done in any fashion, such as attending seminars and webinars, taking online courses, or going for specializations.

Take advantage of NASM’s group fitness instructor or health coach certification to earn CEUs!

To ensure you pass your exams at your first attempt, the Team at Trainer Academy has put up a free NASM study guide and NASM practice test which can be used to prepare for the exam.

You can also opt for the NASM premium MVP study package which will reduce your study time by 50% and give you an iron-clad exam pass guarantee.

An interesting read: The Best Nutrition Certifications

ISSA

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is another popular personal trainer and group exercise instructor certification program.

However, you should note that ISSA is actually a non-NCCA accredited program.

Wait, what!

Instead of being one of the fitness organizations accredited by NCCA, ISSA is approved by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

This organization is responsible for authenticating distance-based certifying agencies.

We’ll discuss this as well as some differences between NCCA accreditation and non-NCCA accreditation in another section!

But weight, there’s more. (Yes, pun intended!)

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As of 2020, ISSA acquired NCCPT (National Council of Certified Personal Trainers), adding NCCA accredited programs to its list of offerings.

So you would be eligible to receive ISSA’s NCCA accredited CPT exam.

The content you will cover in the ISSA-CPT program is as follows:

  • Rich, in-depth scientific and practical principles of health and fitness
  • Program development (main area of focus)
  • Corrective exercise
  • Coaching techniques and methods

ISSA provides students with top-of-the-line study materials, which include the following

  • Current Edition Textbook
  • Online Practice Exams and Quizzes
  • Audio and Video Lecture Options
  • Online Study Guide and Workbook
  • Online Student Forum
  • Online Exam

Unlike many other personal trainer study packages which come with many different tiers, priced according to what resources are included, ISSA only has one that costs $799.00 and comes as a bundle.

Want more bang for your buck?

Get more out of your ISSA-CPT certification if you opt for the Precision Nutrition certification alongside the Personal training certification all at the same price of $999.00.

ISSA win-win! (Yes, another pun intended.)

Every two years, you must maintain your CEUs and pay a recertification fee of $75.00 to recertify.

The CEU requirements for ISSA are 2.0 or 20 hours of any continuing education coursework, be it online, from webinars or seminars, live workshops, or other certifications.

By using the ISSA Premium MVP Study Package from Trainer Academy, you are sure of a 99% pass rate in your first attempt.

An educative piece: The Best Exercise Science Careers

NSCA

The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (NSCA-CSCS) certification is another popular NCCA accredited certification in fitness and wellness.

Founded in 1978, NSCA is a non-profit organization based on furthering research and education in the fields of sports science, health, and fitness.

NSCA-CPTs are fitness professionals who utilize an individualized approach to, assess, motivate, educate and train clients to help them with their goals and to improve overall wellness.

The primary responsibility of an NSCA-CPT is to design safe and effective exercise programs and provide guidance to clients.

NSCA has developed several optional preparatory materials to help you become a successful personal trainer.

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While these study materials are not required, and the purchase of these materials by exam candidates does not guarantee a passing score, it is still definitely worth looking into.

Your options are as follows:

First is the NSCA-CPT Essential Package, which is suggested if you have a background or degree in the field or prefer having basic study aids. 

It includes the Essentials of Personal Training, 2ed, NSCA-CPT study guide, and over 200 practice questions.

  • Member Price: $240.30
  • Non-member Price: $290.70

Second, there’s the NSCA-CPT Essential Plus Package, and this one is ideal if you are brand new to the field, do NOT have a background in the field, or prefer having all of the study materials NSCA provides.

This package includes the Essentials of Personal Training, 2ed, the Exercise Technique Manual, 3ed, NSCA-CPT study guide, over 200 practice questions, and more!

  • Member Price: $455.00
  • Non-member Price: $511.00

Last but not least, there’s the NSCA-CPT Digital Package, which familiarizes you with the type, scope, and difficulty of exam questions.

You’ll have access to an NSCA-CPT study guide, and more than 200 online practice questions.

  • Member Price: $152.00
  • Non-member Price: $202.00

Additional resources include:

An important read: The Best Group Fitness Certifications

NESTA

The National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) is another very popular, international NCCA accredited certification.

NESTA-PFT’s (Personal Fitness Trainers) will learn the following in this program:

  • How to accurately assess health, fitness, and skill levels of clients
  • How to design safe and effective, science-based exercise programs based on the individual client’s needs and goals
  • How to correctly demonstrate and instruct exercise techniques in proper form
  • Coaching and motivational skills
  • Knowing and styaing withing your professional scope of practice, as well as the NESTA code of ethics
  • How to market your personal training services in order to acquire new clients
  • How to deliver proper service and maintain your client base

Upon enrollment in the NESTA-PFT, you will be granted access to a complete business system to help you jumpstart your personal training career.

Also, all coursework is 100% online and you may immediately access all training materials as soon as you register.

You’ll have access to the NESTA-PFT 14-chapter interactive PDF digital manual (easily printable), and instant online access to over 10 hours of online training videos with interactive review questions to check your progress.

You will be provided unlimited access to a NESTA-PFT practice exam, to ensure confidence in taking your official proctored exam.

NESTA provides three study options to choose from PFT Basic, PFT Plus, and PFT Complete.

Check out the table below, as we explore each study option!

PFT BasicPFT PlusPFT Complete
NCCA-Accredited PFT ExamNCCA-Accredited PFT ExamNCCA-Accredited PFT Exam
Digital certificate upon passing the examDigital Study ManualDigital Study Manual
Paper certificate with official seal mailed within North America 2-3 weeks upon verificationDigital certificate upon passing the examOver 10 hours of video & audio training
4-year renewable accredited certificationPaper certificate with official seal mailed within North America 2-3 weeks upon verificationChapter Review Quizzes
4-year renewable accredited certificationUnlimited Practice Exams
100% Online Training
Immediate access to training & exam
Lifetime access to training
Flexible study options
Receive digital certificate upon passing the exam
Paper certificate with official seal mailed within North America 2-3 weeks upon verification
4-year renewable accredited certification

And here is a comprehensive price breakdown so that you could see what each study option costs.

CertificationPrice
PFT Basic$349.00
(Single Payment)
PFT Plus$399.00
(Single Payment)
PFT Complete$477.00
(Single Payment)

For any additional payment details, please refer to their website.

You get only one NCCA accredited NESTA-PFT Exam per purchase.

To renew, you must complete 4.0 CEUs over a four-year period to remain certified.

Each 0.1 CEU is worth one hour of study time or one contact hour in a live training format.

An interesting read: The Best Health Coach Certifications

NFPT

The National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) is another popular, respected NCCA accredited program for group fitness and personal training!

Follow these steps to become certified:

  • Choose a cert package
  • Prepare for your exam
  • PASS YOUR EXAM

You have three options to get NFPT certified: Exam Only, Standard, or Premier.

See them below:

CPT Exam OnlyStandard PackagePremier Package
Exam Content OutlineExam Content OutlineExam Content Outline
Home Exam for CertificationHome Exam for CertificationHome Exam for Certification
1 Exam Attempt1 Exam Attempt1 Exam Attempt
Personal Trainer Manual (Digital)Personal Trainer Manual (Digital)
Personal Trainer Manual (Hardcopy Book)
Workbook (Digital)Workbook (Digital)
Chapter Quizzes (Online)Chapter Quizzes (Online)
How To’s for Online TrainingHow To’s for Online Training
Essential FitPro Forms & DocsEssential FitPro Forms & Docs
Practice Tests (2)
Exercise Demo Animations
Client Assessment Videos
Access to Education Help
SAVE $100!
(Discount Option)
SAVE $100!
(Discount Option)

Let’s take a look at the price now!

CertificationPrice
CPT Exam Only$199.00
Standard Package$239.00
Premier Package$349.00

While both packages may include the same study materials, only the Premier Certification Package includes extras, such as 2 practice tests, exercise animations, assessment videos, and expert support!

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Once you enroll, you’ll be assigned an NFPT ID# and account login details, so that you may access all of your study materials and schedule your exam.

The combination of your NFPT study materials and your existing knowledge of the subjects will no doubt increase the chances of a passing score on your final exam.

Check this also: The Best Fitness Certifications

NCCPT

The National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) certified personal trainer program acknowledges those who demonstrate the competency and skills needed to be personal trainers.

Of course, this program is accredited by the NCCA, which is a key indicator to fitness employers and other potential fitness clients that the trainer is credible and proficient in their field.

Note that the NCCPT-CPT certification exam isn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows, it is suggested that you diligently prepare and study before taking your CPT exam the first time.

NCCPT offers various exam study packages which are through NCCPT’s partnership with ISSA and other media.

Though purchasing these study materials does not guarantee a passing score or NCCPT-CPT certification, it will help you better prepare for your final NCCA accredited exam.

Also, check out this list of open resources you can utilize to prepare here.

The total cost of this program comes to $599.00, making it creep up toward the more expensive side, considering this would be for the CPT only.

And of course, you must maintain 2.0 CEUs every 2 years to renew and keep your certification.

You’ll also need to provide AED and CPR renewal as well.

A valuable piece: The Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications

NETA

Are you seeking a personal training certification through a nationally accrediting body?

The National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA) has been successfully certifying fitness professionals for over four decades!

NETA’s NCCA-accredited Personal Trainer Certification is among the top in the fitness industry and is the perfect fit for trainers and healthcare professionals who want to work with the general population on achieving health and fitness goals.

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NETA’s CPT curriculum is always updated according to the latest research and exercise and coaching techniques to help you be the best you can be in your fitness career.

You will have two study options: Option 1: Self-Study + 2-Day Live Review Workshop, and Option 2: Premier Plus Personal Trainer Certification Study Package.

Look here:

Self-Study + 2-Day Live Review WorkshopPremier Plus Personal Trainer Certification Study Package
Prepare on your own using NETA’s recommended study materialsPersonal Fitness Trainer Certification Exam
Attend NETA’s 2-Day Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Review Workshop (14 hours of interactive lectures, discussion, and hands-on activities)Personal Trainer Online Review Modules
Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Exam
(Administered by an independent proctor)
The Fitness Professional’s Manual, 5th ed.
The Fitness Professional’s Workbook for Personal Trainers & Practice Exam
Education Department Support
Voucher for $10.00 Off Your First NETA CEC Course

I’m sure you’ll also want to know how much you’ll be forking out for each program, so here’s a comprehensive chart for you!

CertificationPrice
Self-Study + 2-Day Live Review WorkshopEarly Bird: $449.00
Standard: $499.00
Premier Plus Personal Trainer Certification Study Package$399.00

If you’re interested in any virtual workshops and training, please check the website for more information and pricing.

Below are the recommended study materials:

  • NETA’s the Fitness Professional’s Manual, 5th Edition – $49.00
  • NETA’s The Fitness Professional’s Workbook For Personal Trainers – $29.00
  • Personal Trainer Certification Online Review Modules – $189.00

You will cover the following content in this program:

  • Exercise science and techniques
  • Client assessments
  • Exercise program designing
  • Nutrition and weight management
  • Coaching, communication, and behavioural change

Read About: Personal Trainer Salary

ACE

Last but not least, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is another top-tier NCCA accredited personal training certification.

Founded in 1985, the ACE-CPT focuses on public health initiatives directed at improving the health, fitness, and overall wellbeing of the general population.

Please note that the ACE-CPT is available in 3 study options: Basic, Plus, and Advantage.

Let’s check ’em out!

BasicPlusAdvantage
$424.00$499.00$749.00
ACE University ACE University ACE University
ACE Certification ExamACE Certification ExamACE Certification Exam
ACE Practice Test (1)ACE Practice Test (2)ACE Practice Test (4)
ACE Personal Trainer Textbook; Digital onlyACE Personal Trainer Textbook; Digital and hardcopyACE Personal Trainer Textbook; Digital, hardcopy, and audiobook
ACE Personal Trainer Study Companion; Digital onlyACE Personal Trainer Study Companion; Digital and hardcopyACE Personal Trainer Study Companion; Digital and hardcopy
ACE Answers (Basic)ACE Answers (Plus); Live Q&A webinarsACE Answers (Advantage); Live Q&A webinars and facilitated study groups
Exercise Science 101 Exercise Science 101
Dedicated Advantage Team

ACE provides you with a personal trainer manual, or study companion, which is very useful as you prepare for your exam!

To avoid the need to retake your exam, you should make use of the Free ACE Study Guide and ACE Practice Test to familiarise yourself with the exam contents.

The Team at Trainer Academy does not only help you retain information learned but help you with study techniques to recall them when necessary if you decide to use the ACE MVP Study Package.

Once you pass your exam and become certified, gyms and health clubs, and really any health and fitness center will be blessed to have you!

As an ACE-CPT, you must fulfill 2.0 CEUs every two years, which equals 20 active hours worth of continuing education and pay a fee of $129.00.

ACE has several CEU earning opportunities, which you can definitely access on their website.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Log in to your My ACE Account
  • Complete required CEUs
  • Click the RECERTIFY NOW button and follow any further instructions

NCCA-Accredited Vs. Non-NCCA Accredited: What’s the Difference?

So we know that NCCA accreditation is important and that it matters in the fitness industry, but why?

Let’s discuss the basics, the difference between accreditation and non-accreditation.

For a fitness program to become accredited, the program must meet several standards of excellence set by an accrediting organization.

Official accreditation means that the program has been vetted for educational excellence, complies with its set of standards, and promotes student success.

On the other hand, if a program is non-accredited, there is no way to verify the quality of their education or their integrity.

In other words, it’s difficult to trust the program’s legitimacy.

Therefore, we can conclude that becoming a personal trainer and earning a certification from a non-NCCA accredited program is very risky, and will close many doors to work and employment opportunities.

Without NCCA-accreditation, employers may not recognize your level of competency and knowledge in the field.

For example, ISSA is accredited by the DEAC, which is a private, non-profit organization that was founded in 1926 and operates as an institutional accreditor of distance education institutions.

Accreditation by the DEAC covers all distance education and basically all online activities and certs.

Though the DEAC is an accrediting body, it is not the accrediting body and gold standard for the professional fitness industry.

In other words, the DEAC has its own set of standards, which review the quality and content related to all online and distance education programs, not the quality and content of the programs as they relate to personal training certification programs or the fitness industry as a whole!

One has nothing to do with the other.

This brings us to another important point.

Just because a program is “accredited” does not mean that the accreditation is relevant to the ultimate use of that certification.

Without NCCA accreditation, the ISSA-CPT program has no competition among other CPT programs which are NCCA-accredited.

It’s sure a good thing that ISSA has recently become NCCA-accredited!

To set yourself apart from other fitness professionals and maintain utmost professionalism and competency in your field, your best bet is to stick with NCCA-accredited programs for group fitness and personal training.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Conclusion

So we covered what NCCA accreditation is and why it’s important.

NCCA accreditation, in a nutshell, is the gold standard in accreditation for fitness professionals and ensures the professionals hold utmost competency and remain intact in the field.

This is often favored by employers because it ensures them that you have the highest level of credibility for training clients and or groups.

Having an NCCA-accredited certification will definitely set you apart as a qualified fitness professional, too.

But what if your personal trainer exam is not NCCA-accredited?

Here’s what you’ll need to know.

ISSA, for example, was not NCCA-accredited at first, but then later did have an option to purchase NCCA-accredited ISSA-CPT exams.

This is great for trainers who have or are seeking ISSA-CPT certification.

Without NCCA accreditation, ISSA certified trainers may be at a disadvantage when job hunting, or trying to build their client base.

NCCA accreditation is the key to the many doors that lie ahead and await you in your personal trainer career.

Before you purchase a personal trainer program, please don’t forget to make sure your program is NCCA-accredited.

Your entire fitness career depends on this! (At least for the most part.)

By choosing an NCCA-accredited program, you are communicating to employers that you are competent, knowledgeable, and professional.

If you want to know more about other areas of personal fitness, check out the well-researched articles below:

The intensive study guides below will also help you on this journey.

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