Today's trainers are certified by a variety of organizations, and you may be wondering which is the best certification to possess. Each tends to bring something unique to the table, so the pivotal factor is not the certification itself, but the individual. It is more a matter of finding one who will work best to fit your specific needs and one whom you trust.
Here are some of the more well known organizations and what the credentials mean:
The American Aerobic Association International Certification is based on prior study and an exam. Certifications are good for two years and are renewed each year.
The American Council on Exercise Includes a written test on a variety of questions relating to execise and health related topics, designing programs for hypothetical clients, and requires automated external defibrillator (AED) certification. Credentials are good for 2 years and require continuing education annually to maintain certification.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) This designation requires a current CPR certification and a high school diploma prior to sitting for the exam. The exam includes a written test assessing the ability to design exercise programs, perform fitness tests, and safely work with healthy people and those medically cleared for exercise training. 45 continuing education credits are required each year to maintain certification.
The Cooper Institute Personal Trainer Exam consists of a written exam covering a range of topics; from exercise prescription and assessment to exercise science. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and hold a current CPR certification. Certifications are good for 3 years.
The International Sports Sciences Association consists of an at-home study program; the exam is taken on-line. Students must have a current CPR/AED certification prior to the exam. 20 continuing education hours every 2 years are required to maintain certification.
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Trainers must hold a current CPR/AED certification prior to the exam which consists of 120 multiple choice questions. Two continuing education credits are required every two years to maintain the credentials.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is a 200 multiple choice question exam that assesses the students knowledge of exercise prescription and testing as well as exercise technique. CPR/AED certification is required prior to the exam. This organization also offers other credentials such as the certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) which requires a college degree to sit for the 400 question CSCS exam.