FM VS ISSA: Which CPT is for You?

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A career in personal training can be a rewarding and lucrative one! The CPT you choose will help set you up on the path that’s best for you.

Here, we’ll quickly help you determine which certification is best for you. 

We will go over the specifics for both the Fitness Mentors and ISSA and the differences you’ll find. Once you’ve finished reading, you will better understand what to expect with each certification.

How to Become a Personal Trainer
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What is Fitness Mentors?

Fitness Mentors is the go-to certification for trainers wanting to work independently, build a business, or learn how to train clients remotely.

The Fitness Mentors team is composed of industry veterans and entrepreneurs. These mentors help students not only pass their FM-CPT, but use it to build a long-term training career. When students choose Fitness Mentors, they gain the required skill sets needed to provide as much value as possible to their clients as an online personal trainer and ultimately, experience the most success with their business.

What is ISSA?

ISSA stands for The International Sports Sciences Association. Founded in 1988 by a team of fitness experts and exercise scientists, their personal training certification has consistently grown in popularity, and is recognized worldwide.

Once a student takes and passes the ISSA exam, they are qualified to offer fitness and personal training services. Exam topics include Anatomy & Physiology, Kinesiology and Biomechanics, Health and Physical Fitness, Nutrition, and General Fitness.

Pricing of Fitness Mentors vs. ISSA

Fitness Mentors has a more affordable starting cost and includes a bit more to hit the ground running. This certification course starts at $499 for the self-study option.

  • 100% Online Course
  • NCCA Accredited Exam 
  • Digital Textbook
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Audiobook lecture
  • Exercise Video Library
  • Practice Exams & Quizzes
  • Discord community support
  • Unlimited team support with the FM coaches
  • Online certification exam
  • Unlimited Educational Support with on-staff coaches

*Note: prices are subject to change, and terms and conditions may apply.

ISSA has a higher starting cost. This certification course starts at $1,598* for the self-study option, but you can find exclusive promotions here.

This option includes:

  • A full online textbook and course materials
  • Complete 10-week guided study program
  • Audio Lectures and Written Notes
  • Online Exercise Lab
  • Practice Exams and Section Quizzes
  • Online Student Forum
  • Online certification exam
  • Job guarantee within six months or a full refund
  • Free Professional Website for your personal training career
  • Unlimited Educational Support with on-staff professors

*Note: prices are subject to change, and terms and conditions may apply.

Pass Rate of Fitness Mentors vs. ISSA

Both exams require extensive study and knowledge having the same pass rate (see test questions and experience below).

Fitness Mentors Pass Rate: 89.9%

ISSA Pass Rate: 89.9% 


The focus of education:

Fitness Mentors: General fitness training with an emphasis on program design, business and sales, and career growth.

ISSA: General fitness training with an emphasis on program design, athletes, and peak performance.

Number of Test Questions on the Fitness Mentors vs. ISSA

Fitness Mentors has one of the best reported testing experiences for students. So if you’re a test-taker who needs a bit of extra time to think, or has a tendency to cave under the pressure of being timed, Fitness Mentors may be the better choice for you.

Fitness Mentors: 100 multiple choice questions with an allotted 120 minutes, online, remote, and not proctored (70% or better is passing)

ISSA: 160 questions with unlimited time allotment (75% or better is passing)

To increase pass rates of the ISSA exam, students often use third-party educators like Fitness Mentors to provide more in-depth education and study tools.

Continued Education Requirements for Fitness Mentors vs. ISSA

Maintaining your certification is a requirement of both Fitness Mentors and ISSA. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) come with an additional cost throughout your personal training career. It’s essential to consider these costs and the time periods for which you’ll repeatedly incur them.

Both Fitness Mentors and ISSA’s  CEU requirements are the same:

Fitness Mentors: 20 hours of CEUs and $99 to recertify every two years

ISSA: 20 hours of CEUs and $99 to recertify every two years

Average Income of Fitness Mentors and ISSA Personal Trainers

One of the most popular questions asked when it comes to obtaining a certification is, “how much money will I make as a personal trainer?” The income averages can vary based on which certificate you possess, so it’s vital to consider this when choosing which direction to go.

Remember, what you do with your certification will ultimately determine your success and your salary. Some trainers make $200,000 per year if they have the drive and knowledge paired with prime location and a great approach. To make the most of your business, taking a course such as this one can help you get a full load of clients and make the most money possible.

Fitness Mentors vs ISSA FAQs:

Yes. Fitness Mentors offers an accredited exam for their Certified Personal Trainer course/certification. Fitness Mentors’ CPT is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) with their partners at the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT), which is widely accepted and recognized.

Yes. ISSA offers five accredited exams, including that of Certified Personal Trainer. They also offer advanced coursework in several specialties. ISSA is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which the Department of Education recognizes.

Personal trainers must be at least 18 years of age and have completed high school (or equivalent) education.

Final Thoughts From a Certified Trainer: Which Certification is Better, Fitness Mentors or ISSA?

Both Fitness Mentors and ISSA are highly regarded personal trainer certifications that are likely to help you form a sound foundation for program design and training.

If you’re looking to work with athletes or high-level performers, ISSA may make more sense as a starting point. If you’re looking to work as an independent trainer, or build your own business, Fitness Mentors is the option to go with. 

*While both CPT certifications are nationally accredited, Fitness Mentors’ accreditation is with the NCCA, and the ISSA is accredited by DETC. These differences may also define which your potential employer prefers.Of course, it is also imperative to know what type of training you’d like to do to determine which choice to make. 

Before making any decisions, check with employers for whom you wish to work for (if any) to ensure you’re meeting their requirements.

For more information on how to become a personal trainer, check out our post on the topic or feel free to give us a call, and we can always help point you in the right direction (800) 614-7004.

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