ISSA Review: Costs, Exam, Salary, How to Become a CPT & More

So you’re thinking of becoming a personal trainer, and you’re researching the different certifications out there.

Rest assured, we’ll help you determine if the ISSA cert is the best one for your individual goals.

Related: Take the Quiz to See Which Certification Is For You

Below is an ISSA personal trainer certification review from an actual ISSA certified personal trainer (me). 

I will include an overview of who ISSA is, what the exam costs (including exclusive discounts for you!), what it entails, ISSA reviews, potential salaries, and next steps should you choose an ISSA certification to pursue your personal training career.

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Who Is The ISSA?

ISSA stands for the International Sports Sciences Association. Founded in 1988, ISSA is composed of fitness experts and exercise scientists. They are recognized as a world leader in fitness training education and a respected teaching institution for professionals in all fields of healthcare and fitness.

The ISSA offers four accredited exams, including certified personal trainer (CPT), yoga instruction, group exercise, and strength training specialist. These certifications are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which is an independent agency formed to set the standards for certifications.

ISSA Certification Cost

The ISSA personal training certification has multiple study options for trainers-to-be, which we will discuss below. You can choose the one for you based on your own study skills and how quickly you’d like to get certified.

This certification course starts at $1,598* for a self-study option, but you can find a special promotion here and pay less. 

This self-study 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 fitness training career
  • Unlimited Educational Support with on-staff professors

Alternatively, the Fast Track certification is another course option but is more intense and puts your whole course into four weeks of exam preparation. This selection is excellent for anyone who would like to get started as a personal trainer quickly.

In addition to everything the self-guided study course provides, the Fast Track certification course also includes a Fitness Genius live scheduled helpline, unlimited retests, and the New Trainer Guide to Success. This course, while more expensive, is like your “answer key” to the certification. This option starts at $2,294*, but you can get a much better price here.

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

The ISSA course includes a lot of bang-for-your-buck. So while it may cost a bit more than some other certification courses, they do offer a job placement guarantee within six months. This guarantee can save you that extra money, so it may be worth it for peace of mind. 

So once you’ve completed the course and you’re ready to take the exam, what can you expect?

ISSA Final Exam for Personal Trainers

The 160-question ISSA exam covers numerous topics that include general fitness, metabolism, nutrition, program development, health and physical fitness, kinesiology, biomechanics, anatomy, and physiology.

The ISSA is an excellent route for those who need extra help in the test-taking department. While you certainly need to have a good grasp of the materials to succeed in personal training, the test is an “open book” exam with an unlimited time allotment. 

You will need a score of 75% or better to pass the exam. ISSA offers a free retest if you fail on your first attempt – however, you likely won’t need it, as the pass rate is an astounding 89.9%.

And if you need to take your time, it’s okay. Once you purchase your ISSA certification course, you will have up to two years to study the materials before being required to take the exam. Many other certifications only allow 90 days from start to finish, which can feel rushed to some.

Once you’re certified, you are only required to keep your CPR and AED certifications up to date, and fulfill the ISSA continued education requirements.

ISSA Post-Certification Continued Education (CEUs)

ISSA does require that you recertify every two years with a minimum of 20 hours (2 CEUs) to keep up to date with the ever-changing health and fitness industry.

There are many options to renew your ISSA certification, including ISSA-recognized Fitness Mentors courses specializing in Business & Sales, Program Design, Pain Management, and Special Populations Exercise. You can find these courses here.

Many who choose to take the initial ISSA personal training certification and ISSA recertification courses have had great experiences.

ISSA Reviews

ISSA uses a third party independent review site to collect reviews from customers who purchased their course and exam. According to Trustpilot, ISSA has received 9,366 reviews and an average of 4.7 out of 5! You can read these reviews here.

In addition to the Trustpilot reviews, the ISSA Facebook page shows an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. 

Their Facebook page is also a great place to connect with other fitness coaches and aspiring trainers to see how their experience was with the course and exam. 

In addition, you can get a glimpse of the successes that CPTs have had, and the careers they’ve chosen post-certification.

ISSA Certified Personal Trainer Salary

Personal Trainer salaries don’t necessarily depend on which certification you decide on, but rather the career path you choose to take afterward.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2019 median personal trainer pay is $40,349 per year.

The bureau also suggests the job outlook is excellent, reporting that “employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As businesses, government, and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other types of health clubs are expected to increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors.”

There is certainly no better time to pursue a career in personal training!

How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Becoming a personal trainer is relatively straightforward. Click here to choose which discounted ISSA course you’d like to take advantage of.

Related: How to Become a Personal Trainer in 5 Simple Steps

Once you’ve taken the course and passed your exam, some certifications can leave you feeling like you lack a defined next step. They provide you the knowledge required to be a personal trainer, but they don’t tell you how to implement that knowledge successfully. 

At Fitness Mentors, we also offer post-certification courses that provide the strategy needed to put what you learned into action. For example, Facebook Success for Personal Trainers teaches you how to get 5-10 online training clients per month with your new certification.

And if you are interested in becoming an Online Personal Trainer where you work with clients virtually (it’s a great time to be virtual!), check out our How to Become an Online Personal Trainer blog.

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