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!
Let’s discuss this in more detail.
You’ll learn the following upon reading this article:
We promise to help you understand NCCA accreditation and what makes it absolutely crucial in the fitness industry. The best personal trainer certifications are accredited by the NCCA.
Okay, let’s get right into it!
Our Top Picks
|ISSA CPT||$828 for ISSA|
|NASM CPT||Check NASM Pricing|
|ACE CPT||Check ACE Pricing|
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What is the NCCA?
Regardless of which certification you choose, all of the best personal trainer certifications are NCCA accredited.
But what is the NCCA?
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.
The NCCA gives accreditation to a range of fitness-related certifications including nutrition certifications as well as non-fitness professional certifications.
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.
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.
When you start off as a young personal trainer, knowing a bit about nutrition as well can go a long way. If you have both CPT and Nutrition certs it also allows you to be a one-stop-shop for your clientele.
Gyms will want to hire you because you can be both trainer and nutritionist and your scope of practice is much larger, meaning you have the freedom to candidly discuss all aspects of fitness with your clients.
It’s just a good idea, and you can kickstart your career and standout in a crowded fitness marketplace from the get-go.
While this might seem expensive, both ISSA and NASM have some great deals that combine both CPT and Nutrition certs.
The ISSA offers a buy-one-get-one-free on the ISSA CPT and Nutrition Coach for a total of just $828 or $69 per month over 12 months.
NASM’s current offer is $999 for their Nutrition and Fitness Bundle, but make sure to check the website for any changes!
Before we mention details on some of the 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.
If you’re interested in how to become a fitness trainer when you get certified, know that ensuring you get an NCCA accredited certification will mean you can work more places.
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.
The most successful personal trainers will often go for one of these gold-standard certifications with NCCA accreditation.
Trainers with NCCA accredited certifications typically have a higher personal trainer salary than those who are non-NCCA certified.
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 and will probably be making more money as a personal trainer when you start than someone without a NCCA accreditation.
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!
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:
Without further ado, let’s talk briefly about each one!
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The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is a globally respected personal training certification organization.
The ISSA CPT is our top choice for personal trainer certifications.
Before discussing ISSA, you should know that there are two versions of the ISSA personal trainer certification, one of which is NCCA accredited. Note that there is no difference in the materials used to prepare for the exam; however, the NCCA version is a bit more difficult (but worth having the accredited status).
You will have the choice of which exam you want to take when you sign up for the ISSA CPT.
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?
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.
You can get your ISSA-CPT certification as well as your first round of CEUs if you opt for the Precision Nutrition and ISSA CPT bundle for a discounted bundle price.
For an even bigger discount, we recommend the ISSA Elite Trainer Bundle, which includes both the ISSA CPT and Nutrition certification as well as a third certification of your choice.
This takes care of four whole years of CEUs in a single purchase.
Also, adding in another specialization will give you more tools in your trainer toolbox, and enable you to focus on a particular niche of client.
We’re here to help you suceed!
By using the Trainer Academy ISSA MVP Study Package from Trainer Academy, you are sure of a 99% pass rate in your first attempt.
NASM stands for The National Academy of Sports Medicine, which offers some of the most respected personal training 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
- Exercise libraries
- The NASM Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model
In terms of test prep materials directly from NASM, you have four study package options:
- Premium Self-Study
- Guided Study
|NASM Self-Study||NASM Self-Study Premium||NASM Guided Study||NASM All-Inclusive|
|100% Online Course||100% Online Course||100% Online Course||100% Online Course|
|NCCA Accredited Exam||NCCA Accredited Exam||NCCA Accredited Exam||NCCA Accredited Exam|
|NASM-CPT Digital Textbook||NASM-CPT Digital Textbook||NASM-CPT Digital Textbook||NASM-CPT Digital Textbook|
|Content Learning Videos||Content Learning Videos||Content Learning Videos||Content Learning Videos|
|Exercise Video Library||Exercise Video Library||Exercise Video Library||Exercise Video Library|
|Practice Exams & Quizzes||Practice Exams & Quizzes||Practice Exams & Quizzes||Practice Exams & Quizzes|
|Exercise Coaching Demonstrations||Exercise Coaching Demonstrations||Exercise Coaching Demonstrations|
|Job Guarantee||Job Guarantee||Job Guarantee|
|One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus||One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus||One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus|
|10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible)||10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible)|
|Certification Exam Retest||Certification Exam Retest|
|NASM-CPT Hardcopy Textbook||NASM-CPT Hardcopy Textbook|
|Access to Fitness Experts||Access to Fitness Experts|
|Business Accelerator||Business Accelerator|
|NASM EDGE CPT Exam Prep|
|Recertify for Life|
|NASM Study Package||Cost|
|Self Study Premium||$1,099.00|
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.
NASM is currently running an Elite Trainer Bundle which includes a group fitness cert along with 5 other specializations! This is a deal you can’t pass up if you are interested in multiple disciplines of fitness. The most sought-after trainers appeal to niche clientele as opposed to general fitness training.
With several certifications in your back pocket, you have so many options in terms of who you can train and how you can train them. Investing in knowledge you can use every day on the job is always a win and the more knowledge the better.
The discount is very steep as well so we recommend you scan the website to see if it’s still available!
To help pass your NASM CPT exam, be sure to review our NASM CPT exam info.
You can also opt for the NASM premium MVP study package which will reduce your study time by 50 percent and give you an iron-clad exam pass guarantee.
If you are already convinced NASM is the right choice, kick start your studying ASAP!
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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.
|ACE University||ACE University||ACE University|
|ACE Certification Exam||ACE Certification Exam||ACE Certification Exam|
|ACE Practice Test (1)||ACE Practice Test (2)||ACE Practice Test (4)|
|ACE Personal Trainer Textbook; Digital only||ACE Personal Trainer Textbook; Digital and hardcopy||ACE Personal Trainer Textbook; Digital, hardcopy, and audiobook|
|ACE Personal Trainer Study Companion; Digital only||ACE Personal Trainer Study Companion; Digital and hardcopy||ACE Personal Trainer Study Companion; Digital and hardcopy|
|ACE Answers (Basic)||ACE Answers (Plus); Live Q&A webinars||ACE 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!
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.
The following is a brief list of some of our favorite ACE CEU courses:
Of course, you need to pass the ACE CPT Exam before starting your ACE CEUs.
Be sure to review all of the ACE CPT exam info before taking the test.
For a comprehensive premium study guide that includes flashcards, mnemonics, and audio materials, we recommend the Trainer Academy ACE MVP Study Package.
If you want a deeper look at the ACE CPT specifically, we’ve written a comprehensive ACE CPT review.
If you’re set on getting your ACE CPT, get going on your studying ASAP!
The National Strength and Conditioning Association is a premier non-profit organization that specializes in athletic performance-related topics.
The most well-known NSCA certifications are the NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach.
The NSCA CPT is a standard personal training certification that is similar to the ISSA CPT and NASM CPT, although our team does prefer those certifications.
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.
The CSCS is a more rigorous certification that requires a bachelor’s degree and focuses on maximizing athletic performance in addition to a tough exercise science section. It is our top pick when it comes to the best strength and conditioning certifications.
CSCS certified coaches focus on athletic strength and conditioning to minimize injury and maximize performance across a wide range of different sports. Virtually all professional strength and conditioning coaches will need a CSCS to find a job.
If you’re wondering how to become a strength and conditioning coach, you need to look at getting CSCS certified. This is especially true if you want to earn a high strength and conditioning coach salary.
If you want additional premium study materials, you can purchase our Trainer Academy CSCS MVP Study Guide, which includes flashcards, audio guides, full vocab lists, practice tests, and a comprehensive downloadable study guide.
For more in-depth information on the CSCS certification, we’ve done a comprehensive NSCA CSCS review to give you the full details.
In terms of its CPT certification, NSCA has several preparatory materials to help you pass your CPT exam. Note that these are optional and taking the NSCA CPT exam is not contingent on you purchasing study materials from the NSCA.
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 textbook resources include:
- Dynamic Human Anatomy 2nd Ed. By William Whiting
- Physiology of Sport and Exercise 7th Ed. By W. Larry Kenney, Jack Wilmore, David Costill
You can check out our free NSCA CPT study guide, take our NSCA CPT practice test and review the NSCA exam information to start preparing for your NSCA CPT exam immediately.
For those of you who want to take your studying to the next level, we suggest our Trainer Academy NSCA CPT MVP Study Guide which has a 99% pass rate and a money-back exam pass guarantee.
For a more in-depth look at the NSCA CPT, we’ve done a focused NSCA CPT review to look at the content covered in this certification.
The National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) is another very popular, NCCA accredited certification.
NESTA has a focus on technology integration with fitness training. As such, it’s a good personal training certification for becoming an online trainer.
NESTA-PFT’s (Personal Fitness Trainers) 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.
|PFT Basic||PFT Plus||PFT Complete|
|NCCA-Accredited PFT Exam||NCCA-Accredited PFT Exam||NCCA-Accredited PFT Exam|
|Digital certificate upon passing the exam||Digital Study Manual||Digital Study Manual|
|Paper certificate with official seal mailed within North America 2-3 weeks upon verification||Digital certificate upon passing the exam||Over 10 hours of video & audio training|
|4-year renewable accredited certification||Paper certificate with official seal mailed within North America 2-3 weeks upon verification||Chapter Review Quizzes|
|4-year renewable accredited certification||Unlimited 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.
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.
The NESTA CEUs include the Fitness Nutrition Coach, which earned itself a spot on our best sports nutrition certifications list. It’s also a great way to increase your nutrition coach salary by adding an additional certification.
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 Only||Standard Package||Premier Package|
|Exam Content Outline||Exam Content Outline||Exam Content Outline|
|Home Exam for Certification||Home Exam for Certification||Home Exam for Certification|
|1 Exam Attempt||1 Exam Attempt||1 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 Training||How To’s for Online Training|
|Essential FitPro Forms & Docs||Essential FitPro Forms & Docs|
|Practice Tests (2)|
|Exercise Demo Animations|
|Client Assessment Videos|
|Access to Education Help|
Let’s take a look at the price now!
|CPT Exam Only||$199.00|
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!
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.
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.
The NCCPT was recently purchased by ISSA and is now offered as an accredited exam you can take after studying with the ISSA materials.
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.
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.
If you want to take your NCCPT exam, you can utilize the ISSA materials since the exams have been combined.
We recommend looking at the Trainer Academy ISSA CPT MVP Study Course even if you plan to take the NCCPT version.
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.
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.
|Self-Study + 2-Day Live Review Workshop||Premier Plus Personal Trainer Certification Study Package|
|Prepare on your own using NETA’s recommended study materials||Personal 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|
We’re 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!
|Self-Study + 2-Day Live Review Workshop||Early Bird: $449.00
|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
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.
Just because a program is “accredited” does not mean that the accreditation is relevant to the ultimate use of that certification.
To set yourself apart from other fitness professionals and maintain the utmost professionalism and competency in your field, your best bet is to stick with NCCA-accredited programs for group fitness and personal training. It will ensure your personal trainer career outlook is brighter than without a NCCA accreditation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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.