Initially, personal trainers didn’t need to be certified or have a degree in the exercise sciences to practice. They may develop enthusiasm about exercise, get employed by a local fitness center, and charge for their private sessions and services.
As one would expect, the system was quite messy as some personal trainers were qualified after they’ve been trained appropriately while others were not, therefore, leaving some clients unsatisfied and having them distrust the trainers’ community. The safety of the public was at risk as untrained trainers could mislead, misinform or injure clients.
The disorganization among the personal trainer’s space continued for a while until standard measures were put into place to ensure that its professionals actually undergo standard training and get certified with widely accepted certifications approved by the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) before the practice as professional personal trainers.
These measures have helped alleviate a lot of tension in the industry since then.
What is an NCCA Certification?
The NCCA which stands for National Commission for Certifying Agencies is an independent, non-governmental agency established in 1989 that sets the standard for professional certification programs via NCCA accreditation.
An NCCA certification is a standard for certification programs and it helps to enhance the trust in the certification to ensure the trainer is current and competent in the fitness field.
The NCCA certification is one standard the NCCA has set to achieve its main goal which is to ensure programs follow the health, welfare, and safety standards to provide quality programs to the public.
Is the NCCA Accredited?
The NCCA is an administratively independent resource that is recognized as the authority on accreditation standards for professional certification programs.
The NCCA sets standards that serve as simple criteria for organizational process and performance. Being a widely recognized, objective, and current benchmark for certifying bodies the NCCA helps ensure the safety of the public via the accreditation of various individual certification programs that access professional competency.
It’s important to note that the NCCA employs a peer review process to-
- Establish accreditation standards
- Evaluate compliance with the established standards
- Recognize programs that comply to the established standards
- Monitor and enforce compliance to set standards
- Serve as a resource on quality certification
How Long Does it Take to Get NCCA Certified?
In many cases, becoming a certified personal trainer or a certified exercise specialist is some kind of ticket to a rewarding career where you help people achieve their personal training goals and change their lives. It can also be a rewarding to know how to gain clients and keep them happy in your career as a personal trainer and this brings about the popular question “How long does it take to get NCCA certified?”.
There are quite a number of ways to get certified as a personal trainer which include certification via vocational college, certification, and degree via university programs, certification via gym programs, etc. and each will vary in the time it takes to start the process to get your certification.
You can actually get a personal trainer certification in a just few hours via an unaccredited online company that is not recognized by the NCCA, which would be unlikely to help you get a job or real practical knowledge about your practice. It is not recommended for anyone who wants a successful career to do this.
The general answer to the question “How long does it take to get NCCA certified” most of the time is about three to six months. Most times the question is not considered to be straightforward because there are many factors to consider when pursuing a career as a personal trainer like your work schedule, the amount of free time you have to dedicate to study, and your motivation levels. The factors may shorten or lengthen the time taken.
You will most times also need to factor in the additional time costs of maintaining your qualifications in the years ahead.
What Do I Need to Get NCAA Certification?
The NCAA is a governing body of many intercollegiate sports that certifies whether prospective college athletes are eligible to play sports at NCAA Division I or II institutions. The NCAA does this by reviewing the student athlete’s academic record, SAT or ACT scores, and amateur status to ensure compliance with the NCAA rules.
Every school regulated by the NCAA has established rules and standards on eligibility, recruiting, and financial aid and falls into one of the three membership divisions (Divisions I, II, and III). The three divisions are based on college size and the scope of their athletic and scholarship programs.
Also, the NCAA recommends that student-athletes register at the beginning of their junior year in high school and be cleared by the Eligibility Center before they receive athletic scholarships or compete at Division I or II institutions. The registration is done online where the students will have to enter their course work and sports participation outside of high school and pay a registration fee.
It is important to note that there is no deadline for registration and students can register after their junior year. Also, students who have received a waiver for the SAT or ACT are eligible for a waiver of the registration fee and the student’s counselor must submit confirmation of the student’s test fee waiver.
The Eligibility Center requires the students’ transcripts as soon as they complete at least six semesters of high school. The transcripts must be mailed directly from the high school. The high school must have the SAT or ACT test scores reported directly by the testing company to Eligibility Center.
Students can always update the information on the athletics participation section online as often as they want and are advised to do so regularly up until they request for final certification of their status. Usually, around three to four months before enrolling in college students finalize their information.
The core requirements to play sports at an NCAA Division I or II institution are as follows:
- The student must graduate from high school
- The student must complete 16 NCAA-approved core courses
- The student must earn a certain minimum GPA
- The student must earn a SAT or ACT score that matches his/her core-course GPA
It is important to note that only courses that appear on your high school’s list of NCAA core courses will count toward the 16 core-course requirements.
Also note that the NCAA Eligibility Center calculates your GPA (Grade Point Average) based on only the grades you earn in NCAA-approved core courses: Division I requires a minimum of 2.3 GPA and Division II requires a minimum of 2.2 GPA.
Divisions I and II use sliding scales to match test scores and GPAs to determine eligibility. The sliding scale balances your test score with your GPA which means that if you have a low test score, you need a higher GPA to be eligible.
How Much Does it Cost to Get NCCA Accredited Certification?
In the United States and Canada, NCAA registration for certification costs $90 and $150 for international athletes. If you qualify for the federal free lunch program, you can have the NCAA fees waived by completing the NCAA fee waiver.
It is important to note that, all payments to the NCAA are final. So, if you are unsure about registering with the NCAA, create a free profile page and you can easily upgrade that account to a certification account when needed.
What Certifications are NCCA Accredited?
The most respected certifications in the industry are the personal trainer certifications with an option for NCCA accreditation. The NCCA is the gold standard for third-party personal training certifications. Some of these certs include NASM, ACE, Fitness Mentors, and ISSA.
Popular certifications that are accredited by the NCCA are listed below;
1. NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine):
The NASM is widely known and recognized because of its extensive food database and bar-code scanning abilities.
The NASM certification program teaches the NASM optimum performance training which focuses on five fitness pillars: stabilization endurance, strength endurance, hypertrophy, maximal strength, and power. These five pillars were chosen based on longstanding scientific evidence.
This program is well suited for learners who need extra support and access to a mentor. With the all-inclusive option, you get a guaranteed “gymternship” where NASM places at the gym for 80 hours of hands-on, practical experience with personal training clients. Most agencies don’t offer this option.
The NASM is known for its evidence-based training model.
2. ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association):
The ISSA certification is known to provide newly-certified trainers with a wealth of professional support to take off and succeed in their careers. The ISSA has certified hundreds of thousands of personal trainers which has made them be a widely known and highly-regarded agency.
They are accredited by both the NCCA and the DEAC (Distance Education Accrediting Commission) and is affiliated with several reputable and recognized organizations around the world which include the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), which helps fitness professionals, health clubs, and gyms establish best practices to uphold industry standards.
The ISSA offers you tons of assets to start your career as a professional when you pass the ISSA personal trainer exam. One of the notable assets you get is a professionally developed website to showcase yourself as a personal trainer and also unlimited support from ISSA instructors and a 6-month job guarantee
3. NFPT(National Federation Of Professional Trainers):
The NFPT stands out because it has always produced excellence when it comes to providing fee-based and free continuing education for certified personal trainers.
All personal trainers must earn a certain number of continuing education credits (CECs) to maintain their certifications and stay current with industry knowledge.
On average, personal trainers require 20 to 45 hours of continuing education every two years, and also the number of CECs you need varies based on your certifying agency.
One good thing about choosing the NFPT program is that it offers a suite of completely free CEC options for NFPT-certified personal trainers which makes it easier for them to easily acquire at least 10 hours of continuing education from these free programs just because they are certified by NFPT.
4. ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine):
The ASCM certification is a reasonably-priced certification that is an excellent choice for people who love science, want academic rigor, and a strong connection to scientific research and standards.
The ASCM is known for its scientific rigor and strong membership of scientists, fitness professionals, athletic trainers, and other health and wellness professionals.
In this program, you get to learn a lot about anatomy, physiology, adaptations to exercise, and other important things you need to know about the body and fitness training as a professional.
It is also interesting to know that other certifying agencies, including ACE (American Council On Exercise) actually use some research data, facts, and statistics from ASCM to prepare parts of their own certification study materials.
5. NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association) certification:
This certification is best suited for self-starters as all the study materials, educational content and testing are all online.
The program focuses on teaching all of the basics about personal training as it covers important areas: exercise physiology, kinesiology and anatomy, injuries and safety, psychology and behavior, and professional responsibilities.
The NESTA program is the best option for self-starters and entrepreneurs because of its post-exam kit that equips you with relevant business skills to succeed as a professional once you’re certified.
6. NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association):
The NSCA is a respected body well-known for performance-based training and offers a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification.
The NSCA is designed for people who know they want to work with athletes or performance-oriented fitness enthusiasts e.g student-athletes, recreational marathoners, etc.
Similar to other certifications, NSCA focuses on teaching essential knowledge about anatomy and physiology along with legal and professional responsibilities. You get to learn sport-specific exercise programming techniques and basic fitness programming.
The NSCA also provides flexibility via their few different study packages which allow people to choose what fits them best according to their learning style and needs
7. NCSF (National Council on Strength and Fitness):
The NCSF is a leader in quality education and has strong partnerships with the best health clubs like 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Equinox.
This certification focuses on the college-level theory which is a good foundation for learning. Choosing the NCSF program will challenge you to hone your critical thinking skills, client communication skills, creative exercise programming skills, and more.
The program is taught by master’s and doctoral-level NCSF-certified instructors and also helps reinforce everything you learn in the at-home study materials.
There are also many other excellent personal trainer certification programs that are accredited by the NCCA which include the AAPTE (Academy of Applied Personal Training Education), WITS (World Instructor Training Schools), IFPA (International Fitness Professionals Association), NETA (National Exercise Trainers Association), ACE (American Council On Exercise) etc.
Each of the NCCA accredited programs is unique in the extra services they offer, the flexibility of the programs and the approach to teaching, and also their main focus in the industry.
How to Get NCCA Accredited Certification
To become a certified personal trainer or obtain a personal trainer license means that you will have to write one of the certification exams.
The following descriptions below illustrate a step-by-step process to get NCCA accredited certification:
- Find a personal training agency that’s accredited by the NCCA; avoid multiple online scams that promise to “get you certified” by taking a weekend online course while you give them your hard earned money. Potential clients won’t accept these fake certifications
- Enroll in their certification program
- Active learn and practice as much as you can during the program
- Write the tests and exams to obtain your license
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What prerequisites do I need to become a personal trainer?
To become a personal trainer you need to obtain a widely accepted personal training certification, be currently CPR/AED certified, be up to 18 years of age and have a high school diploma.
How long does it take to become a personal trainer?
Generally, it takes 3 to 6 months to become a personal trainer depending on the personal trainer certification that you are studying for. Although some other factors may shorten or lengthen this period.
Is it hard to become a personal trainer?
It’s relatively not hard to become a personal trainer compared to most professions as you do not even need a college degree at all. All you need is your high school diploma, 18 years of age, CPR/AED certification and a personal training certification.
How hard is it to get a job as a personal trainer
Job hunting as a personal trainer can be quite difficult especially if you don’t know where to look. That is why having a mentor, getting internship and partial personal training roles at local gyms are good ideas to start doing before you get certified and start your job hunt.
What qualities make a good personal trainer
Some qualities that make people stand out as personal trainers include: good communication skills, professionalism, adequate training and education, a welcoming personality, honesty and patience
What skills do I need to be a personal trainer?
Some skills that you need to be a personal trainer include: ability to progress and regress clients, ability to track progress, great fitness assessment skills, organizational skills and a great memory.
How hard is the personal training exam?
The difficulty of personal training exams range from a 55% pass rate to a 90% pass rate. So, there are great chances that an average student will pass the exam.