Are There Online Courses Available for Certification to Be a Personal Trainer?

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Personal trainers work with clients to help them reach their fitness goals. They design custom fitness programs for people of all ages and body types. Their coaching expertise allows them to offer encouragement and guidance to their clients at all times.

Personal trainers can find employment in many facilities, including:

  • Gyms
  • Health clubs
  • Fitness studios
  • Resorts and spas
  • Retirement homes
  • Corporations

Personal trainers aren’t required to have a license to practice in the United States. However, there are many certifications and courses that will boost their knowledge and help them serve their clients more effectively. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

What types of certifications are available for personal trainers?

There are many different paths to earning your personal training certification. You can decide which option is best for you based on your schedule and prior work commitments.

  • College or university programs: Some people choose to earn a personal training degree at a college or university. This takes two to four years, depending on whether students pursue an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. This education path is a great choice for people who are interested in managerial positions or starting their own business.
  • Certification by an accredited organization: Many aspiring personal trainers choose to earn their certification from an organization such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine or ACE Fitness. Both offer 6-month accredited courses that familiarize students with the field and give them the knowledge they need to succeed. This type of certification will be enough to qualify you for most entry-level personal training jobs.
  • Gym programs and local courses: Some gyms and health clubs offer personal training courses. The length of time for these courses varies by location. Before signing up for a local course, be sure to investigate the instructor’s credentials and ensure the program is accredited.

Can I earn my personal training certification online?

In the past, most people chose to earn their personal training certification in person. However, online personal training courses have grown popular in recent years. It’s now possible to earn your certification entirely online, without ever setting foot in a classroom or gym. However, there are also many “hybrid” programs that will require you to spend some time on-campus to learn proper training techniques.

Personal training degrees from colleges and universities are far more intensive than the certificate programs: If you choose to earn an associate’s or a bachelor’s in personal training, you may be required to show up on campus at least part of the time. However, most non-university certifications are much more lenient and can be completed 100% remotely.

What subjects can I expect to study while I earn my certification?

Online personal training programs usually focus on the same material as traditional ones. College and university programs typically require general education and business courses, while shorter certification programs focus on teaching students the fundamentals of personal training as quickly as possible.

Regardless of where you choose to earn your certification, a comprehensive personal training program will focus on:

  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy
  • Kinesiology
  • Weight loss techniques
  • Exercise
  • Meal planning
  • Exercise program creation

An accredited program will give you the tools you need to encourage your clients and help them meet their fitness goals. You’ll study proper exercise forms and coaching techniques throughout the program. After you earn your certificate, you’ll be well-equipped to help your clients improve their lives.

How much do online personal training courses cost?

One quick google search will lead you to plenty of programs offering free online personal training certification. But before you get too excited, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Although some reputable new courses have been known to offer free certification in exchange for reviews or promotions, this is somewhat rare. Most of these “free” courses won’t help you serve your clients more effectively at all—and in the worst cases, they can even be scams that are attempting to steal your credit card numbers or login info.

Instead, you should focus on finding an NCAA-accredited program that offers certification at a reasonable price. Personal training online certification cost varies depending on the institution, as well as the length of the course. In general, you can expect to pay around $500 for certification through an accredited organization. As you would expect, an intensive 6-month program will cost much more than a week-long course at your local gym—and college degree programs are the most expensive at all. However, you may be able to take out loans to pay for your certification, and you may even find that you qualify for a grant.

What are some the best online personal training programs?

The following online personal training courses are highly-rated, accredited, and reasonably priced:

ACE Fitness

ACE Fitness offers several respected personal training certifications that focus on “scientific, evidence-based fundamentals of personal training.” The program focuses on anatomy and physiology, coaching techniques, and custom fitness program design. Program costs range from $599 for Basic to $1,299 for Advantage. Students have access to the ACE Academy Elite, an interactive online learning platform. A textbook is included with the cost of tuition as well.

Learn more about the different program options at ACE Fitness here.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) offers four different personal training programs ranging from $699 to $2,199. All programs offer detailed exercise videos, as well as practice tests for the NCAA-accredited exam at the end of the course. One of the most interesting things about this program is the guaranteed job placement: The NASM promises to give students their money back if they can’t find a job within 90 days of earning their personal trainer certification.

Learn more about earning your personal training certification at NASM here.

Bryan University

Bryan University offers an online associate’s degree in personal training that can be completed in as little as 19 months. They also offer an undergraduate personal training certificate. Upon enrolling in the course, all students receive webcams so they can participate in live interactions with instructors throughout the program. The total cost for the program is $31,325, and financial aid is available for students depending on their income.

Learn more about the personal training programs available at Bryan University here.

Erica Ciko Campbell

Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Biology| Utica College

Associate of Science (A.S.)| Herkimer County Community College

January 2020

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