Best Personal Trainer Certifications Online

The 5 Best Personal Training Certifications Online

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Are you passionate about fitness and eager to help others achieve their health goals? Embarking on a career as a personal trainer can be both rewarding and fulfilling. However, with the plethora of online certifications available, it can be challenging to determine the most reputable and comprehensive programs.

In this guide, we’ll unveil the five best personal trainer certifications available online. These certifications not only equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the fitness industry but also hold the credibility to boost your career and make a lasting impact on your clients’ lives. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect fit for your personal training journey!

Article Topics

Can I get certified as a personal trainer online?

There is a growing demand for online and at-home fitness trainers. To fit the ever-increasing need for certified personal trainers, there are many programs online you can choose from to become properly certified.

How long does it take?

Usually, personal training online certifications allows 6 months to a year to cover all bases. Some parts of the online certification training aren’t completely online because you’ll need hands-on experience at a gym lifting weights and other proper form techniques.

What are the requirements to getting certified?

Before you choose any specific certification program online, there are certain things you should look and prepare for. You’ll need to fulfill specific prerequisites before you can start a personal certification program. Consistently, these are the requirements:

For some organizations like the NSCA, you’ll also need to have obtained or be in the process of obtaining a bachelor’s degree to qualify for certain certification programs. This is especially true for anyone aspiring to be a personal trainer for professional athletes or those going into clinical studies.

The 5 Best Personal Trainer Certifications Online

As of 2021, five online certification programs stand above the rest in terms of service, studying materials, prices, and course diversity. These were the main qualifiers, in addition to a couple more characteristics that we’ll discuss a bit later.

Here are the five programs that we found to be the best personal trainer certifications online:

  1. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
  2. American Sports and Fitness Association (ASFA)
  3. National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
  4. Fitness Mentors
  5. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

So what do these programs have that make them a top-five personal trainer certification? Why did we choose these for our list vs. the multiple other options?

Accreditation is one characteristic that sets these online certification training programs apart from the others.  Not every online training program is accredited, so it’s important to find online certification programs that fit your needs and meet the right credentials in the professional world. Accreditation in the field is required for employment and ensures the program prepares the student for the certification exam. Thus to becoming an effective entry-level fitness professional upon completion.

Programs like ACSM, ACE, NASM, and NSCA are all accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the golden standard agency in the certifying world. ISSA, because of its worldwide reach, is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), well-known for its thorough examinations and re-accreditation standards.

Another element is coursework. In-person and online certification programs cover a wide range of subjects engineered for specific certifications throughout the fitness world. Depending on which certification program you choose, you’ll need to be sure to purchase the proper study materials to prepare for the often vigorous exams.

Subjects you’ll need to study include but are not limited to:

  • Human Anatomy
  • Exercise Technique and Selection
  • Health and Wellness
  • Kinesiology/ Study of Mechanics of Human Movement
  • Nutrition
  • Physiology/ Study of the Life Mechanisms on a Cellular Level and Up
  • Weight Management

Generally, these types of courses can have in-person or online training at least once a week, distance learning at regular intervals once or twice a week, self-paced learning modules, and externships where they can gain work experience at gyms. Depending on what type of personal trainer you want to be, it’s beneficial to look through various courses and intended certifications to know what is best for you.

If you are more interested in being a stay-at-home online course trainer, there are also organizations looking for online home-centered fitness trainers that offer their products/courses online. 

1. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) offers worldwide support through various online courses. Accredited by the DETC and NCCA, ISSA courses are ideal, especially for those who would like to teach and take the certification exam outside the United States. Through its College of Exercise Science, its courses primarily focus on overall fitness. 

Thanks to their top-of-the-line online certification programs, the ISSA has trained over 400K in 174 countries. around the world. If you are wanting to study for and complete your certification but are out of the United States, the ISSA is the ideal choice.

In total, ISSA offers more than 20 certifications, including personal fitness, fitness nutrition, exercise therapy, senior fitness, youth fitness, strength and conditioning, professional athlete fitness training, and sports nutrition. The ISSA exam includes questions on the basic and applied sciences, program design, nutrition, client assessment and professional practice.

ISSA offers a 12 month payment plan for the certifications which are $799 with the occasional sale bringing them lower and CECs are required, recertification is $99, but that fee is waived if CECs are taken through ISSA.

The pros outweigh the cons for ISSA, here’s a briefing on each:

● Provides a 100% online study program and exam you can access worldwide.
● Has a complimentary retest option.
● Accredited by the DETC and NCCA, depending on which certification you choose
● Has great online support
● No live instruction because it's all online.
● NCCA certifications need to be taken separately.
● Expensive

2. American Sports and Fitness Association (ASFA)

Another great option to become a Certified Personal Trainer is this certification from the American Sports and Fitness Association. With ASFA you’ll have a series of options to choose from. Study and certify in a general Personal Training Certification or branch off and specialize as a Sports Fitness Instructor of even Senior Personal Training.

ASFA really is about helping fitness professionals enhance their careers and become tailored specialists down the fitness professional career track of their own. ASFA is one of the largest fitness instruction organizations in the world with and partnered with other global brands like Human Kinetics and Physical Therapy Sites.

The American Sports and Fitness Association highlights a few key areas covered in their primary course for certification:

  • A demonstrated commitment to personal fitness training and fitness industry specialty education
  • An enhanced ability to design tailored, effective training regimens for a wide variety of clients
  • An increased understanding of successful workout components and considerations
  • A refreshed fitness knowledge of basic personal training methodology, nutrition & exercise form

3. National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)

This Personal Training Certification by National Council on Strength and Fitness is recognized throughout the fitness industry and one of the premier certifications for health and fitness minded professionals.

The NCSF has educated over 300K professionals globally and has impacted over 160 countries. NCSF has partnered with top health clubs throughout the globe to help with the transition into careers for students. They’ve also created a top of the line course curriculum and delivery method, using well structured content videos facilitation processes to ensure students come away confident and knowledgeable.

There are varying programs to choose from to include completely online and self-paced to assisted. In addition, students can add on Nutrition Certifications to their packages.

Check out their site to learn more.

4. Fitness Mentors

This great course by Fitness Mentors is for both new and experienced fitness professionals. A key focus of their program is that it helps students learn to put their Personal Training businesses online. This course is designed to give you personal and financial freedom while creating a career for yourself in a job niche that continues to grow.

The Fitness Mentor’s course is nationally recognized by the National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE). In addition to learning how to train clients via online platforms they also ensure you know how to grow and scale your business. Just a few of the content pieces you’ll be getting with this program are:

  • Coaching Templates
  • Audio Book Lectures
  • Video Presentations
  • Online Business Support Group
  • Actionable Assignment
  • And more…

Some of the business models you’ll learn how to put into place for your Personal Training business are:

  • Private Personalized Online Training
  • Non-Personalized PDF Fitness Programs
  • Non-Personalized Video Fitness Programs
  • Hybrid Online and In-Person Personal Training
  • Live Video Streaming
  • Workouts Online
    Online Group Personal Training

There is also the additional option of adding a Live Mentorship feature onto the certification package that gives you mentorship and help to

Check out their site to learn more.

5. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization accredited by the NCCA with a wide variety of personalized training programs for all types of people. They have great study and support groups that follow up and check up on you from the beginning of training. Besides personal trainer certifications, they also have certifications and specializations for group fitness instructors, health coaches, and advanced health and fitness specialists.

Among fitness employers, ACE certifications rank as one of the most widely accepted. They are a transparent and well-organized organization with a solid, multifaceted personal trainer program. They also have easily accessible learning materials.

ACE certifications are split between specialist and online courses. All their courses are founded on scientific studies in nutrition, behavior, and even lifestyle medicine.

The ACE Personal Trainer Certification Exam covers material in four categories: interviews and assessments, program design and implementation, program modification and progression, and professional conduct, safety, and risk management.

Depending on which package you choose, ACE certifications cost between $849-$1499, with seasonal sales and discounts. Recertification usually costs $129 every two years.

To help decide if this program is right for you, here are the pros and cons:

● Highly respected and widely accepted throughout North America and Europe
● Has a great support group you can utilize throughout training
● Accredited by the NCCA
● Courses founded in proven scientific research
● Also, provide certifications for specialized populations like senior citizens and
● Has a well-rounded and engaging study program
● Certification and Recertification are more expensive compared to other programs.

Last Thoughts on the Best Personal Trainer Certifications

All of these offer a solid education through their wide variety of study materials and help establish trainers in the fitness world. No matter which program you choose, all the above-listed organizations are accredited and highly favored in the athletic community. 

And if you want to see more options here are some of the most respected personal training certifications!

(Interested in studying exercise physiology online? Check out that article!)