Gianni Evangelisti Authored By: Gianni Evangelisti
Best Personal Trainer Certification

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Interested in personal training? Check out our reviews of the best personal trainer certification programs below. 

Personal training is a rewarding career path. Individuals who pursue this career will help their clients reach their fitness goals. 

While you do not technically have to be certified to be a personal trainer, those who are certified have a step up on the competition. Certified individuals will not only have additional knowledge, they can use that certification to market their skills and experience. 

There are many different programs to become a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Our team ranked and reviewed the best personal trainer certification programs to save you the time. Each program offers something a little different, but as long as you pass the exam, you will become a CPT. 

Summary: Review the best personal trainer certification programs below to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Table of Contents

  1. Our Picks for Best Personal Trainer Certification Program
  2. Comparison Table
  3. Who Needs a Personal Trainer Certification
  4. ISSA Review
  5. NCSF
  6. NASM Review
  7. ACE Review

Our Picks for Best Personal Trainer Certification Program

scroll right on mobile to see entire table 

  ISSA logo NCSF logo NASM logo ACE logo
T-G choice (Most Comprehensive)

T-G choice (Best Value)
Pricing $2,016 $948
$699 $419
$799 $499
Monthly Payment Option - $79/Month - $35/Month - $41/Month - $43/Month
NCCA Accredited
Course Format 100% Online 100% Online 100% Online 100% Online
Video Lectures
Book Materials
Practice Exams + Quizzes
Job Guarantee
Career Help
Summary  Review Review Review Review
Learn More GO! GO! GO! GO!

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As we said before, you do not need a personal trainer certification to be a personal trainer. With that being said, it could be greatly beneficial for individuals to earn their Certified Personal Trainer certification. 

A Certified Personal Trainer certification can be used to add credibility to anyone in the industry. Someone with a CPT designation will instantly have more credibility and will be more desirable to work with versus someone who is not certified. 

Having a CPT designation will open up more job opportunities and allow individuals to work with more clients. More clients will equal more money.

Factors to Consider

  • Budget – It can be expensive to earn a Certified Personal Trainer certification. Think of it as an investment into your future. 
  • Clientele – Consider the clientele you work with or plan on working with. Would they benefit from you earning a CPT designation? Can you earn more clients with this designation?
  • Job Opportunities – Do you need a CPT to work at some establishments? Earning a CPT designation will make you more employable as a lot of big gyms and fitness centers require their trainers to have a CPT certification. 

Bottom Line - Think of getting your Certified Personal Trainer certification as an investment in your future. Spend a little money up front and reap the rewards from being certified down the road.

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ISSA Personal Trainer Certification 


  • Test-Guide Rating:  T-G Choice (Most Comprehensive)
  • Price: Starting at $948

Visit ISSA

ISSA Summary

ISSA is one of our choices for best personal trainer certification. ISSA stands for International Sports Science Association. ISSA is accredited by the NCCA, which is the gold standard of the industry.

Individuals can earn their personal trainer certification for $948. This is a steal as the usual price is $2,000+. ISSA allows users to pay monthly, which comes out to $79/month for 12 months.

At first glance, the certification may seem really expensive. When you take a step back and look at everything that is included with the certification, it is well worth it.

The course is 100% online – all of your study resources can be accessed from your home, even the final exam. Students have a couple of different learning methods they can choose from. Students can learn from the book they will be provided, audio lectures, or video lectures. All of these options are included at no additional cost.

After students learn the material, they can take online practice exams and quizzes to ensure they understand the content. These are a great way to prepare for the final exam.

After studying all of the course materials you will be ready for the final exam. Students who enroll in this course will have two choices in terms of final exam and certification earned:

  • ISSA CPT Certification
  • NCCPT-CPT Certification

It is all a matter of personal preference on which certification you earn. A benefit of this course is that ISSA offers you the option to become NCCPT-CPT certified for free (besides proctor costs). You can even do both if you want. They are the only course we reviewed that offers something like this.

Some of the best features of this ISSA certification course are the career help they provide. Students will get access to their own free professional website – a great way to get new clients. Students are also given a job guarantee when they take and pass the certification.

On top of everything included in the course, students will also have access to the nutritionist course, CPR certification course, and the fast-track program that allows individuals to become certified in 4 weeks!

ISSA Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Different learning options
  • 2 certification options to choose from
  • Career help
  • Cons

  • -
  • -
  • -

Best Features of ISSA - Different options within the course and career help.

ISSA logo


T-G Choice (Most Comprehensive)

Bottom Line

Our choice for most comprehensive personal trainer certification program. All of the different learning and certification options are a plus. The career help is an added bonus.

Visit ISSA

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NCSF Personal Trainer Certification


  • Test-Guide Rating:  T-G Choice (Best Value)
  • Price: Starting at $419

Visit NCSF

NCSF Summary

The NCSF personal trainer certification is our choice for best value certification. Individuals can obtain the NCSF personal trainer certification for $419. They offer more in-depth options, but the $419 (Home Study) option will get the job done. 

Students can utilize the financing options provided by the NCSF and pay $35/month for 12 months. 

NCSF stands for National Council on Strength and Fitness. The NCSF is accredited by the NCCA, like all of the courses we reviewed. Students will get a digital textbook, lesson notes, instructional videos, and practice questions/answers to prepare for the final exam. 

After completing all review and study materials, students will be ready to take the NCSF personal trainer exam. Students will have the ability to take this exam from home. 

This certification program may not have as many features as ISSA, but it is a great option for individuals who want the best bang for their buck.

NCSF Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Great value
  • Different learning options
  • Payment plan
  • Cons

  • No career help
  • -
  • -

Best Features of NCSF - Value of the certification and course.

NCSF logo


T-G Choice (Best Value)

Bottom Line

May not get as many features as ISSA, but great value option. Perfect for individuals looking to save some money.

Visit NCSF

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NASM Personal Trainer Certification

NASM logo

  • Test-Guide Rating: 
  • Price: Starting at $499

Visit NASM

NASM Summary

The NASM personal trainer certification is available for $499 or 12 monthly payments of $41. This certification is similar to the NCSF certification except it is $80 more. 

NASM stands for National Academy of Sports Medicine. NASM is nationally recognized and accredited by the NCCA. Accreditation by the NCCA is very important for the certified personal trainer certification.  

The course is 100%, even the final exam. Students can learn via lecture videos or audio chapter summaries. Students will also have access to practice exams, quizzes, and knowledge checks. 

One unique feature of this course is the exercise demonstration library. This library consists of 200+ exercises. Students will get a step-by-step demonstration of how to do these exercises and how to coach these exercises – perfect for someone looking to improve their coaching technique. 

After reviewing all study resources, students will be eligible to sit for the NASM final exam. This exam can be taken either online or in-person. The decision is completely up to the student.

NASM Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Advanced learning platform
  • Step-by-step exercise demonstration library
  • -
  • Cons

  • A little more expensive than NCSF
  • -
  • -

Best Features of NASM - Exercise demonstration library and learning platform.

NASM logo


Bottom Line

NASM certification is a solid certification. A little more money than the NCSF certification but could be worth it if you value the exercise library of NASM.

Visit NASM

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ACE Personal Trainer Certification 

ACE personal trainer certification

  • Test-Guide Rating: 
  • Price: Starting at $509

Visit ACE

ACE Summary

ACE offers their basic personal trainer certification for $509 – this comes out to $43/month for 12 months. The course is their most basic course but will help you become personal trainer certified. 

Students who enroll in this certification program will be participating 100% online. Students will have access to ACE University which is their learning management system that includes videos, practice questions, and demonstrations. 

Students will also have the ability to learn via textbooks if they prefer to learn that way. This course is their most basic course and gets the job done but does not include as many features as the other 3 courses we looked at. 

If you want access to more features, we suggest you purchase the $599 ACE Plus course. 

After completing the course, students can sit for the ACE final certification exam. This exam can be taken at home. After passing, students will have earned their ACE Certified Personal Trainer certificate.

ACE Pros and Cons

  • Pros

  • Ace University (Learning Platform)
  • -
  • -
  • Cons

  • Not a ton of features in basic course
  • Only 1 practice test
  • -

Best Features of ACE - ACE University and layout of the course.

ACE logo


Bottom Line

Their basic course lacks some features compared to other certification courses. If you choose ACE, go with their Plus course.

Visit ACE

Do I need to be certified to be a personal trainer?

No, you technically do not need to be certified. However, individuals who are certified will have more job opportunities available to them.

Certified personal trainers can use the credential to work with more clients and advance in their field.

Which personal trainer certification is best?

Our team looked at 8+ personal trainer certifications. We narrowed the field down to ISSA, NCSF, NASM, and ACE.

All of the above certifications are NCCA approved, which is the gold standard in the industry. Our choice for most comprehensive was ISSA and our choice for best value was NCSF.

How do I become a certified personal trainer?

The process will vary depending on which certification you choose to pursue. For the most part, you will enroll in a certification program and work through the program.

The program may include various learning modules, practice questions, practice tests, and demonstrations. After learning the material, you will be ready to take the final exam. After passing the final exam, you will be a certified personal trainer.

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Last Updated: 1/26/2022