You are already hooked on fitness.
Perhaps you live in the gym – literally.
You are a motivator and love to help people.
Okay, let’s face it; you want to become a certified personal fitness trainer.
But first, you must know the answer to this pressing question:
How long does it take to become a personal trainer?
Upon reading this article, you will learn the following:
Given your interests, there is absolutely no doubt that your career path belongs within the health fitness space.
Your next steps to become a successful personal trainer are right ahead – let’s explore!
The Personal Trainer Life
If you are asking yourself if fitness is a good career, then there’s most likely some part of you that seeks an answer.
But, that answer only lies within you!
Fitness is a great way to help people in a positive work environment.
It encourages self-care, self-growth, and is very lucrative.
If you find you are hooked on fitness, you enjoy helping and motivating others, then yes, fitness is a wonderful career!
You know you should become a personal trainer if you are passionate about fitness, and enjoy leading, helping, and motivating others to achieve their goals.
But what’s your “why.”
Why do you want to become a personal trainer?
Immerse yourself in the fitness community, attend classes in gyms or studios of interest, and gain the necessary knowledge and experience required to become a CPT.
Once certified, seek internships and employment.
According to Bureau Labor Statistics, there is a great demand for personal trainers.
The average salary for personal trainers is roughly $40,510 annually or $19.48 per hour as of 2020.
However, you can make any amount of money, depending on your years of experience, other certifications, place of employment, and level of education.
Most personal trainers set their own hours accordingly.
You’re your boss!
But just note that, especially at first, your hours may be futile and unsteady.
It is definitely possible to work up to full-time hours.
Personal trainers make their money working in gyms, private studios, independently, online, in apartment complexes, or even doing outdoor Boot Camps.
Personal training is a very lucrative career.
Most newly certified personal trainers start their fitness careers in commercial gyms.
Clients are handed to you, along with access to all types of equipment you’ll need to train them.
Note that commercial gyms encourage new trainers to ask questions and learn from any mistakes.
Where can you find clients?
In commercial gyms, there is easy access to interact with members.
But otherwise, you may use social media platforms, such as Instagram, to post relevant content.
You may take classes at your gym or studio.
Word of mouth is another way to acquire clients.
The number of clients a personal trainer varies and depends on working status and years of experience.
Here’s what you can do:
- Make yourself known as a new fitness trainer
- Consistently take classes at gyms or studios of interest
- Develop relationships with management and employees
- Express interest in a fitness training career and ask about possible internships and/or employment
Becoming a personal trainer is really not hard!
But it does require studying, reading, and work required to ensure you pass your personal trainer certification exam.
It is suggested to view both entry-level and advanced CPT certifications.
Use your gym as a learning tool and gain essential knowledge.
You get what you give!
What if you are in your 40s or 50s?
It is never “too late,” and you are never “too old.”
A career in fitness may start at any age.
Age is just a number!
In fact, the majority of personal trainers are between the ages of 25 and 60.
Though you are required by most organizations to be at least 18 years of age, there is no maximum age to become a CPT.
Do you have to be fit?
Successful personal trainers must practice what they preach!
Personal trainers serve as role models for their clients, and being fit definitely helps motivate them.
However, being fit alone won’t suffice. It is essential to have good communication skills and empathy toward your clients as well.
Additionally, you will need the following skills: leadership, motivational skills, communication skills, active listening skills, being detail-oriented, and professionalism.
Do you have to be certified?
You actually CAN sell workout plans without being certified.
However, it is highly suggested that you are certified to attract clients and improve your standing and authority.
Certifications are documented proof that you do know what you are doing.
Read also: How To Become A Personal Trainer
Training Certification Program Options
Most likely, you know about the different training certification program options and various certification courses.
Some CPT certification programs include the following:
These are all online personal trainer certification programs.
How much time you take to complete your certification program is entirely up to you!
In other words, these online programs are self-paced, home study courses for your convenience.
You may access your coursework at any time.
Also, note that these training programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
The NCCA is the gold standard for certification program accreditation in the fitness industry and health.
Certification program accreditation is very important, especially for your resume.
Throughout most fitness certification curricula, you will learn much about wellness, strength training, some skills you’ll need to be a successful personal trainer, and where you can work.
Also, these NCCA accredited programs emphasize exercise science, program design, and ways you can help clients achieve fitness goals!
But do you qualify for these personal trainer fitness certifications?
Here’s how you’ll know:
To become personal trainers, you must meet the age, certification, and education requirements.
Most trainer personal fitness programs require you to be at least 18 years of age.
You will need to have graduated high school and have your official high school diploma.
If you have no diploma, GEDs are accepted.
Note that it is also required to have a current, valid CPR AED (Automated External Defibrillator) certification.
Do not let this certification expire!
You must be CPR AED certified to ensure a safe work environment.
You may register for CPR AED certification courses online or in person.
Learn more here about obtaining your CPR certification!
Finally, you will need to pass your personal training certification course.
Most CPT certification courses contain study material and practice certification exam questions.
Oftentimes, the numbers and types of questions exams have varies.
So study, study!
Well, now that we discussed the basics, let’s dissect each certification you can go for!
Check this: How To Become A Personal Trainer
Let’s start with the absolute best personal trainer certification program – the one from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)!
The NASM–CPT is the most respected personal trainer CPT certification program and is therefore highly sought after by employers.
Throughout this personal trainer course, you will cover basics, such as anatomy and physiology, exercise science fundamentals, nutrition, and training clients.
It may be a little more expensive than other CPT courses.
You can find out more about specializations, such as the NASM-CES (corrective exercise specialist), strength conditioning, and weight loss, as well as the exam cost.
NASM additionally offers certifications to be a group fitness instructor.
For example, upon completion of these certification programs, you may instruct group classes, like Boot Camps, yoga, pilates, and more!
Curious about online personal training?
A NASM personal trainer becomes quite savvy about the personal training business and ways to build his or her own business!
NASM Study materials include textbooks, practice exam questions, books, articles, and even a Facebook group for NASM–CPTs.
Out of all the certification programs in sports medicine, NASM is the best and most respected one!
Trainer Academy has also made available premium study materials to ensure you have a smooth time when preparing for your exams.
Kindly click on the link below to access it.
Learn more about: Exercise Science Careers
Additionally, the National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer program (NSCA–CPT), is another NCCA accredited top-rated personal trainer certification.
Its mission is the overall enhancement of strength and conditioning, and the empowerment of dedicated sports medicine professionals to provide scientific knowledge.
The NSCA–CPT curriculum and study materials cover anatomy and physiology, exercise science, strength training, aerobics, and special populations.
Also, anyone interested in becoming a personal trainer would definitely benefit from the generous NSCA–CPT continuing education career credits, and membership benefits.
Additionally, as a member, you will have access to the NSCA Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Note that there are separate membership costs.
There are numerous study materials, such as textbooks, online content, practice exam questions, articles, and journals.
Overall, the NSCA–CPT final exam pass rate is 60%.
Similar to other top-rated personal training certification exam, your success depends mostly on your background, and how much you are willing to learn and study!
The exam assesses your overall fitness knowledge, all materials covered in the text, NSCA guidelines, the NSCA certification handbook, NSCA articles, the CPT review questions, and the CPT exam review test.
Find out more ways you can prepare for your NSCA–CPT exam and exam costs here!
Does NSCA offer specializations?
In addition to the NSCA–CPT, NSCA offers the following specializations:
Let’s talk briefly about them!
The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) are sports medicine professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train high school and college sports athletes.
Besides being high school and college sports medicine professionals, CSCSs may also work alongside professional sports athletes.
The primary goal for CSCSs is to improve athletic performance.
Designing sport-specific strength conditioning training programs, which combine strength and aerobics, as well as educating athletes on injury prevention, are the top priorities.
In order to become a CSCS, a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is required, as well as a CPR AED certification, and being at least 18 years of age.
The Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F) certification program is another.
Trainers learn how to properly physically train military, fire and rescue, law enforcement, protective services, and other emergency personnel.
The main goals of a TSAC-F are to improve overall performance and well-being, as well as to prevent the risk of injury.
Similar to NSCA–CPTs, TSAC-Fs assess clients and design safe and effective programs which combine strength conditioning and aerobics.
They may also provide general information regarding nutrition.
Finally, the Certified Performance and Sport Scientist (CPSS) applies scientific processes to improve individual athlete and athletic team performance.
Similarly, there is also an emphasis on injury prevention.
The CPSS may be either a generalist, working across the breadth of scientific disciplines, or a specialist practitioner.
What’s the difference?
The CPSS generalist works across a multitude of scientific disciplines, whereas the CPSS specialist is trained predominantly in one or more specific scientific disciplines.
Do you qualify?
Well, let’s find out.
Note that, unlike the other NSCA certification programs, the NSCA-CPSS is an advanced-level certification.
Specifically, there are three routes you can opt for to be considered eligible:
- Bachelor degree route
- Master route
- Doctoral route
- Eligible professional internships and experience
Going the Bachelor’s degree route?
Check your college for bachelor-level degree options in sports science or related fields.
However, note that degrees in underlying sports science practice, such as Biomechanics, Physiology, Psychology, Nutrition, Strength and Conditioning, Research Methods, and Statistics, are also accepted.
However, not only are you required to have your bachelor’s degree, but you’ll need to have at least three years of full-time experience in the field.
But what exactly qualifies for that?
Acceptable full-time experience often includes being actively involved in a professional sports science-related role.
You must be in this role full-time, which goes beyond the internship level.
Qualifying full-time professional roles include work with sport or tactical athletes, sports teams, and research, analytics, and technology-related disciplines.
Essential skills of a CPSS include leadership, applying fundamentals of multiple sport-related scientific disciplines, competencies in assessment and performance technology, and providing scientific fundamentals to training and research.
The CPSS often works alongside sports coaches, athletic trainers, medical staff, and other professionals.
The goal of CPSSs is to enhance communication and decision-making regarding sports and athletics.
Master’s degrees must also be in sports science or a related field.
But with the master’s route, you are required to have twelve weeks of applied experience, which equates to 480 hours in total.
If you are going the doctoral route, your doctoral degree must be in sports science or a related field.
And finally, here are some examples of eligible professional internships and experience options:
- A significant scientific research experience, such as a thesis, derived from academy sports or tactical settings
- A significant applied practitioner experience in a closely related field, including internships, fellowships, graduate assistantships, or full-time professional roles
- A combination of both academic or professional based research experience AND applied practitioner experience
But overall, similar to the NSCA–CPT, the duration of all of these NSCA certification programs can last anywhere from three to six weeks to nine months.
And because degrees are required, the CPSS program or even the CSCS may require even more time to study.
Again, it all depends on your experience and educational background and how much time you dedicate to your studies.
The below link will reveal to you the valuable study packages from Trainer Academy, that are designed to reduce your study time by 50% and give you a 99% pass rate.
A valuable piece: The Best Nutrition Certifications
Do you seek a fast-track personal training program?
If so, you may want to check out the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) for your fitness education.
This NCAA accredited personal fitness trainer certification program is strictly online and you will definitely get the bang for your buck here!
For instance, ISSA provides you with the following:
- How you can help clients with individual training programs
- In-depth knowledge of biomechanics, kinesiology, and exercise science
- How to assess clients during the initial personal trainer session
- Ways to instruct clients on the importance of fitness training and a healthy lifestyle for optimal quality of life
- How a good personal trainer uses motivation to make client fitness goals a reality
In addition to your ISSA exam, you will receive a FREE accredited final exam!
You want work.
You want experience.
When employers see that your certification program is accredited, you will have much more opportunities.
Accreditation means that a personal training career can become quite lucrative!
Isn’t that just wonderful!
Overall, ISSA provides study materials and learning guides, as well as textbooks and other resources at a fair cost.
You may use these to help you prepare for your CPT exam.
With a high pass rate of 90% and a quicker-paced course, there is no doubt that you will have what it takes to become a personal trainer!
You can get more assistance from the well-researched resources that are available at Trainer Academy. Click on the link below for more information.
Brand new to the fitness industry?
Then the American Council on Exercise (ACE) may be a great personal training certification for you.
The American Council Exercise personal trainer certification program provides you with up-to-date, easy-to-understand, high-quality fitness training education.
Am I right?
The ACE curriculum covers scientific fundamentals, exercise science techniques, exercise psychology, and behavior change, as well as how to design personal training sessions.
ACE study materials include the ACE Personal Trainer Study Program, which is designed for all learning styles by delivering content through the following ways:
- Charts and diagrams
- Graphics and Videos
- Online practice exam questions and support
This is an affordable, self-paced, home-study certification program that will take you approximately 80-100 hours over a three to four-month span.
Specializations – that’s what!
In addition to the ACE-CPT, there are numerous specialization programs you can choose from.
Some examples include ACE Youth Fitness, ACE Sports Performance, and ACE Functional Training.
You may find out more information here.
To pass your ACE certification exam in your first attempt, you should make use of the premium study materials from Trainer Academy.
They have come up with study techniques such as spaced repetition flashcards, mnemonics, and practice exams that help you to not only learn but retain information for future reference.
Click on the link to access the ACE MVP Study Package.
Check this: The Top Group Fitness Certifications
Like the highly respected personal training certification in sports medicine NASM offers, The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also offers this high-quality fitness education.
Here is the breakdown:
The majority of the ACSM–CPT curriculum revolves around corrective exercise and rehabilitation.
But, you cover in-depth content on basic kinesiology, exercise science, anatomy and physiology, and training clients.
Studying for your ACSM–CPT exam is not made difficult.
Study materials include online resources, books, CPT prep courses, online practice exam questions, and even an ACSM personal trainer Facebook study group.
Just so you know, the pass rate for the ACSM–CPT exam is about one-third or about 71%.
As long as you take advantage of the provided study materials, your chance of passing your CPT exam will remain high.
Failing to plan is planning to fail!
How long does it take to study with ACSM?
This self-paced personal trainer certification allows for a minimum of three to six months to prepare for your exam.
There are health fitness specialization options to become a personal trainer, a group exercise instructor, and an exercise physiologist.
Furthermore, you may broaden your horizons with other fitness education.
Want to work as a clinical exercise specialist?
ACSM provides this specialty for those who want to become a critical part of a healthcare team dedicated to improving patients’ quality of life.
Do you already have an NCCA accredited personal trainer certification?
You may now add specializations to broaden your horizon in the fitness industry.
ACSM offers the following specializations:
- Exercise is Medicine® Credential, ACSM/ACS
- Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer (CET)
- ACSM/NCHPAD Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT)
- ACSM/NPAS Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist (PAPHS)
Overall, you cover the personal training industry and personal training career in depth.
Note that each fitness trainer program will require sufficient time to study and digest the study material.
Nothing good ever comes from being rushed!
Before you take your personal trainer exam, please take your time!
Also, make sure to have all your prerequisites fulfilled, if any.
in order to thrive in their new careers., fitness professionals must be apt and prepared to help clients.
You can find out more on how to become certified, specializations, costs, and even continuing education credits here!
Well, you can get assistance to help you study well if you use this ACSM MVP Study Package from Trainer Academy.
Read more on: The Best Fitness Certifications
Personal Trainer Course Progression
You want to know how long studying to become the best personal trainer you can be will take you.
Here’s how we can help you break it down!
First, let’s start with NASM.
Well, given that you are committed, utilize the study materials, and want work, it may take roughly three to four months.
Six months maximum.
It is entirely up to you, and how much time you dedicate to your studies.
What about the NSCA-CPT?
It may take approximately three to nine months, depending on your educational background and experience.
Given that you take your time to prepare thoroughly and utilize the study materials, you will no doubt pass your personal trainer exam!
Additionally, when it comes to the other NSCA certification programs, it can take you anywhere from three to six weeks to nine months.
And in some cases, because degrees may be required, such as for the CPSS program or even the CSCS, studying may take even longer.
Again, it all depends on your experience and educational background and how much time you dedicate to your studies.
Moving on, students in the ISSA-CPT certification program typically spend about four to six weeks.
Meanwhile, you are given a whole six months from the exact date of your CPT exam registration.
Furthermore, note that if you add additional certifications to your ISSA–CPT, then you will have eight months.
That’s not such a long time!
What about ACE?
The American Council Exercise personal trainer course takes approximately four to six months to prepare for your fitness training certification exam.
Similarly, the ACSM-CPT, self-paced personal trainer certification allows for a minimum of three to six months to prepare for your exam.
Overall, you will find that most trainer personal fitness programs take a maximum of about six months to successfully complete.
But you may also finish your CPT course and pass the exam in as little as four weeks.
Again, it all depends!
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Pros & Cons
What we liked:
- Can be your own boss, and set your hours accordingly
- Great for those who love fitness, and motivating and helping others
- Great employment outlook, as demand for personal trainers, is higher than average
- Lucrative career
- Encourages self-care
- Courses are self-paced and available online
- The typical amount of time to study for your certification is not long
- Many different resources and study materials available from all CPT courses
- NCCA accreditation
What we didn’t like:
- Starting salary for new personal trainers working in a commercial gym is low
- Dealing with client cancellations and no-shows
- Unsteady hours which affects income
- Nutrition covered in most CPT textbooks is inadequate, as you will encounter clients who follow all different types of diets and lifestyles
Find out more: Personal Trainer Salary
Is fitness training all you do and dream about?
Well, then step on up, and earn your CPT!
Because who doesn’t want to live a healthy lifestyle doing what they love doing, and inspiring others to be their best – and get paid for it?
You will also have the opportunity to be your own boss, and set your hours accordingly.
It is not difficult to become a personal trainer, just as long as you meet the age, certification, and education requirements.
Also, each CPT program discussed offers great study materials for you to prepare for your CPT exam.
All costs vary.
Overall, the total amount of time you’ll need to study to become a CPT is approximately three to six months.
Give yourself time and seek support.
Learn from others in the field, and ask questions as well.
Best wishes to you as you embark on your new fitness career!
Below are educative articles to help your career choices:
- Top Strength and Conditioning Certifications
- The Best Health Coach Certifications
- The Best Group Fitness Certifications
- The Best Fitness Certifications
- Personal Trainer Salary
- Top Nutrition Certifications