In order to become a personal trainer, you will have to take a test. You cannot get a certification via experience, you will have take the certification test. Most personal trainers agree that in order to pass a certification test, you will have to take a personal training course.
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There are a variety of personal training courses that can last for just a few weeks or can award you a bachelor's degree after 4 years of college. The more training you have, the more potential you have for bigger earnings as a personal training.
What is a personal trainer?
Many people believe that a personal trainer is simply someone who teaches someone else to exercise. While this is usually the primary directive of a personal trainer, it isn’t the only thing that a personal trainer has to offer.
With the right training, a personal trainer can act as a motivator, dietician, a rehab technician and more. Some personal trainers go so far as to get some training in the medical field so that they can act in the role of a medical tech and a personal trainer combined.
Becoming a personal trainer doesn’t mean that you have to work in a gym or have your own private gym. You can work for sports teams, doctor's offices, hospitals, and more. Of course, to do this, you have to become a certified personal trainer and you need the education to back it up.
Do I need an education do I need to become a certified personal trainer?
The first thing you need to understand is that there is a difference between a certified personal trainer and just a personal trainer. There is no US standard of acceptance in terms of requirements to become a personal trainer and, as such, many people who call themselves personal trainers don’t have any education or certifications in this field.
The truth is that you can work in this capacity, but don’t expect to get a job at any of the premier gyms or in one of the other fields that require the use of personal trainers. In addition, your money making ability will be limited as well.
As mentioned above, you don’t have to go to school in order to become a certified personal trainer, however, it is rare for someone to past the certification without education first.
What kind of education do I need to pass the personal trainer certification exam?
Most people look for continuing education options in order to become a personal trainer. What this means is that instead of attending afour year college or getting their associate's degree, they look at personal training certification agencies in an effort to qualify for the certification.
One of the most important aspects of a personal training education is that you get educated through a NCCA, now called the Institute for Crediting Excellence (ICE) accredited program. While there are other types of accreditation, NCCA or ICE is considered to be the very best for personal training education accreditation.
You have several options in terms of your education:
- Self-educate: The most basic is at home education. This is distance learning and you don’t have the benefit of a classroom. However, if you are someone who can motivate themselves, (and a personal trainer does need that quality), and will take the time to look for additional resources online, this may work well for you.
- Online courses: There are also online courses for you to consider. Again, you don’t have live instructors helping you to feel different muscle groups and aiding you in areas that you have trouble, but there are some who benefit well from online programs.
- Workshops: Perhaps one of the most common choices is to go to personal training workshops. Several reputable organizations provide workshops around the country. The American College of Sports Medicine is one of the most popular choices and they have the highest rate of success in terms of their graduates passing the certification exam successfully. Of course, there are many other acceptable options too.
- College degree: You don’t want to forget the possibility of getting an actual degree in this field. If you have a college degree in one of the personal fitness related fields, then you will have no difficulty passing the certification exam to become a personal trainer.
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a sports team trainer or as a personal trainer that works with people with special medical needs, then you may wish to consider a degreed program rather than a diploma program. However, the most highly respected certification programs like the National Strength and Conditioning Association do offer the education to work with specialized populations.
How long does it take to become a certified personal trainer?
The length of time it takes depends on what kind of course you decide to take. There are a couple of online courses that only take 4 weeks. Most workshops take about 6 weeks but can last up to a year. Many certification programs take 6 months to one year to complete with courses and the required test. Degreed courses, naturally, take 2 to 4 years depending on the type of degree you are trying to get.
In terms of the basic certification, which is called the CPT (Certified Personal Trainer), you have 3 hours to complete the test. Some personal trainers say it only took them an hour, some said they couldn’t finish it the first time in this amount of time.
There are also advanced certification tests, which vary between institutions.
If I decide to go to college to become a personal trainer, does my past training count as school credit?
Unfortunately, unless you attend a school that gives you college credit for the courses you are taking, you will not receive college credit if you decide to pursue a degree in this field. You will have to decide if the college experience as a whole has benefits for your life and your career. Speak to your admissions advisor and ask about life credits.
Some institutions will provide you with experience credits for certain classes. This doesn’t mean that you can get these credits, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
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