How to Become a Personal Trainer in 5 Simple Steps

how to become a personal trainer

How to Become a Personal Trainer in 5 Simple Steps

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What Cert is Best for You?

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Have you always wanted to become a personal trainer?

You’re halfway there. But, as with most things in life, wanting is only the first step of the journey.

In order to become a trainer and succeed as one, you need to have the right game plan in place and follow it up with consistent action — just like your workouts. As you’ll see in this guide, there are five simple steps you’ll need to take to become a personal trainer. And we’ll be covering the best ways to tackle each one.

If you are interested in training clients online check out our How to Become an Online Personal Trainer blog.

1. Get Your Prerequisites Completed First

Before you begin with a personal trainer course, you’ll likely need to have a few items checked off before you can get certified. These are:

  1. 18 years or older
  2. High school diploma or GED
  3. CPR/AED certification

Most personal training certification bodies require these items before you sit down for the final exam. Additionally, many companies are requiring the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Certification along with the Emergency Cardiac Care (CPR), but these certifications can usually be packaged together by the same provider.

The American Red Cross is a popular choice for the CPR/AED certification, and you can check out their website to find classes near you.


What Cert is Best for You?

We designed this quiz to help you choose the perfect certification based on your learning style and goals.

2. Nail Down the Best Certified Personal Trainer Course (for you)

What is the best personal trainer certification?

A better question is “what is the best personal trainer certification for me?” The certification body you choose is a highly subjective decision — and often a confusing one — so here are some questions you can ask yourself before committing to one over another:

How do I learn new concepts best?

Do you understand concepts better when they’re presented in-person with a teacher or can you handle learning on your own?

Personal training education isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. You actually have several options, including:

  • Certification via accredited US company (self-study)
  • Vocational college (in-person)
  • University programs with Bachelors or Masters (in-person)
  • Unaccredited online options (self-study)
  • Gym program (in-person)

Learn more about the different personal trainer courses.

How much time do you have?

Are you looking to get certified as soon as possible or would you prefer to get a college degree along with your certification? The self-study options are the quickest approach whereas the vocational college and university programs are obviously more long-term.

As you answer these questions, you should also be thinking about the differences between each personal training program.

Here are some answers to some common FAQs about becoming a trainer that may also help you decide which route you want to go:


Do I Need to Go to College to Become a Personal Trainer?


If the thought of becoming a full-time student isn’t something that interests you, you’re in luck.

You don’t need to go to college to become a personal trainer.

While a university program will give you the most in-depth learning experience, including learning subjects that aren’t solely personal-training focused, it comes at a price not everyone can afford, both in time and money.

However, if you have your sights set on becoming a personal trainer and you love school or are already working towards earning a Bachelor’s or Master’s, a college degree can strengthen your expertise and build trust with future clients.

This is especially important in the beginning of your personal training career when you’re still building your client base.

So if you don’t need a college degree, the next question is:


What Kind of Education Do I Need to Be a Personal Trainer?


As we talked about in this guide, there are five education routes you can follow to become a personal trainer:

  1. Certification by a US company
  2. Vocational college
  3. University programs with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
  4. Unaccredited online options
  5. Internal gym programs

Each option has its own educational program and certification procedures. By completing one of them, you’ll hold a certification from that institute to teach people as a personal trainer.

Keep in mind, only the first three options on that list are accredited.

Let’s go over the difference between an accredited and an unaccredited program so you know which sounds best for you.

Do I Need to Find an Accredited Program?


An accredited program, such as Fitness MentorsNASM or ACE, means that it has been credentialed by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE) or other top accrediting bodies. While there are other personal trainer program credentialing bodies, the NCCA is considered the gold standard.

More importantly perhaps, NCCA-certified personal training programs are generally recognized at most health facilities, meaning if you go with one of these you are almost guaranteed a job at a corporate gym.

Some of the most popular Accredited personal trainer bodies include:


• Fitness Mentors



On the other hand, unaccredited courses may not be accepted by corporate gyms and fitness studios.

Unaccredited courses are usually better for someone who already has an established network of clients through their own training methods and has no intentions of working at a corporate facility.

The majority of potential personal trainers will want to find an accredited program.

You’ll receive a more in-depth education and will be better prepared to find a job once you pass your test.

You can opt for an accredited self-study program, such as Fitness MentorsNASM or ACE, or you can enroll in a vocational college or bachelor’s program at your local college, as mentioned earlier. Vocational schools or colleges will have relationships with accredited certification bodies so you’ll walk away with a degree and your CPT.

Once you select a program, grab a calendar and set your exam date.

3. Choose an Exam Date & Prepare

Picking an exam date is the first major step towards seeing your personal trainer dreams through.


Put it off and you may end up backburnering your goal indefinitely.

That’s why certain programs have you set a date right away for this very reason.

Keep in mind, you should be realistic with your date.

Fortunately, this next section can help you understand the real magnitude of the work so you can adjust your timeline and plan accordingly.


How Long Does it Take to Become a Personal Trainer?


Consider your schedule, current workload, and other obligations before setting a date that’s too close for comfort.

You should give yourself at least three to six months, depending on your certification, to prepare. Plan on committing anywhere from 75-100 hours to doing so.

Here’s a breakdown of the expected study time for each personal training program specifically:

  • NCCPT: 80-100 hours is the recommended study time
  • FITNESS MENTORS: 80 hours is the recommended study time
  • NESTA: You must complete the test within 90 days of requesting the exam voucher so study well before this time
  • ACSM: 3, 6, 12, or 24-month options
  • ACE: Schedule test within 6 months of purchase date, but you can take it before 9 months
  • ISSA: 6 months to complete
  • NASM: Must complete in under 6 months
  • NCSF: Must complete in under 6 months
  • NCSA: 120 days after purchasing exam
  • NFPT: 12 Months after purchasing exam
  • AFAA: N/A

With your target test date in mind, you can then work backwards to plan out how many chapters you’ll need to cover each week and month in order to be best prepared for it.

However, if you want to fast track your certification, without sacrificing how much information you’re learning, use this study schedule to knock it out in just two months:

  • Read one or two hours per day at a minimum
  • Create your own chapter-by-chapter notes from the book/coursework
  • Use study guides to review hand-picked topics for reference
  • Listen to audio lectures to review the information while driving/working out/during down time
  • Take practice tests for each chapter
  • Quiz yourself on 5-10 chapters of the book at a time every few weeks
  • Reread study guides as you build upon new concepts
  • Quiz yourself and document the questions you miss; revisit the sections of the book discussing the topics you didn’t get right
  • Take a quiz every day leading up to the final week of study
  • Sit down for an entire practice exam and write down questions you missed; revisit topics you need a better understanding of
  • Take the official certification exam when you consistently earn at least 85% passing score on practice exams

You can also use study resources to help you work out pre-test jitters while you get a feel for the test’s format.

All this can help ensure you make it to this next (huge) step.

4. Pass Your Exam

There’s nothing better than seeing the words PASS after you submit your personal training certification exam.

But you can only get there if you put in the necessary time reading and studying the material and understanding the concepts.

Practicing test questions and using practice test preps also help increase your chances of passing your exam.

And once you do, you’ll officially be ready to start working as a personal trainer.

5. Land a Job as a Personal Trainer

Before you spend countless hours applying for jobs you may not enjoy, you should take the time to figure out what you really want and think about what gets you excited first.

You’ll save time by only applying to positions that check these boxes. Or, you may decide you don’t want to work for anybody and take a more independent route.

So consider these questions:

  • Do you prefer to work primarily in-person or online?
  • Do you prefer large group training classes or one-on-one sessions?
  • Would you prefer to work for yourself or somebody else?
  • If you prefer to be employed, would you prefer to work in a big box gym, boutique gym, or some other setting?

If you’re looking to gain experience, it can also help to approach the staff where you currently work out to see if there are any openings.

Since you’re already familiar with the place and the staff may be familiar with you, you’ll boost your chances of getting your foot in the door.

The last burning question many soon-to-be trainers have is:


How Much Money Can You Make as a Personal Trainer?

personal trainer salary

The good news is personal trainer salaries have an average median of $58,318 and 10% make over $80,000 per year! 

When you do what you love and you truly help people become their healthiest, happiest selves, your salary may not be your top priority in comparison. But, there is no doubt you’ll be compensated well for all your hard work.

Now that you know what it takes to become a personal trainer, and you understand how to ace all five steps to get there, it’s time to start chasing your dream.


12 Customizable Program Templates!
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FAQs on How to Become a Personal Trainer

The qualifications most personal training certifications require include: age 18 or older, has a high school diploma or equivalent degree, a CPR/AED certification, and the passing of a certified personal trainer course.

Some personal training certifications, like the Fitness Mentors CPT, can be obtained in a month with rigorous study. Most programs, however, take 3 months or more to complete the coursework, study and pass the final exam.

On average, personal trainers have an average median of almost $60,000 and 10% of trainers make over $80,000 a year.

Becoming a certified personal trainer is not nearly as time-consuming or challenging as other professions. However, a fair amount of studying and dedication are needed to complete a course and grow and build a client base.

A career in personal training typically begins at the gym for most trainers. This is the most ideal place to learn how to train, speak with prospects, and work on your sales technique.

Research suggests one in ten trainers earn six-figure salaries.

Personal trainers can use their skills to perform other jobs such as gym managers, sales managers, fitness writers, workout program developers, and group fitness instructors..

Most gyms require a qualification from a third-party accredited personal training body or their own internal certification for trainers to gain employment.

A personal training certification is not a legal requirement in order to assist others with their fitness goals. However, the safety and wellbeing of clients is a primary concern of the industry as a whole, which is why it is such an important aspect of any certification.

Personal training can be a great part time job. As an independent trainer you are free to charge as much as you’d like, choose your hours, and try to generate as much supplemental income as possible.


Become a Personal Trainer Today

With all this information under your training belt, now’s the time to take action.

Start by knocking out your prerequisites.

Then choose an education route you know you’ll stick with. Work through the rest of the tips in this guide and you’ll be one step closer to passing your certification test and achieving your personal training goals.

If you are interested in getting certified with the goal of building a lifelong career, check out the Fitness Mentors certifications.

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The Only ACE CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need (infographic)


The Only ACE CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need (infographic)

Bonus: 4 week and 8 Week Timeline for Studying for your NASM CPT Exam

The ACE CPT exam is known to be one of the most difficult in the fitness industry. With 150 questions in 180 minutes, you’d better know your stuff if you’re going to pass this one the first time around.

When you sign up, the study materials you get from ACE include a book, some basic online materials and a “good luck” pat on the back. It is no wonder that nearly one third of all ACE CPT test takers fail.

But, you’re smart and you’re found this great resource that will help you be one of the two-thirds who passes and starts an awesome career path in personal training.

The following recommendations have been put together by me, a college professor responsible for helping 1,000s of students get their personal trainer certifications. In my many years of experience I have figured out the best study materials and have even created a few of the best ones on the market. I also have many leather bound books and my walls smell of mahogany.

Without further ado, here is an infographic on my recommendations for studying for the ACE CPT.

ACE CPT Exam Study Guide
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Here’s our take on the study resources tips from the infographic:


ACE textbook

American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual, 5th Edition Textbook:

Trust me when I say that this textbook will be your best study tool as all the information you’ll find in the final exam is contained in the book.

At the time of this writing, the fifth edition is the most up-to-date version of the book. Here, you’ll find the key concepts and terms that you’ll need to prepare yourself for the exam and to become a solid personal trainer.

You’ll also find the ACE Integrated Fitness Training® Model, insight on managing a personal training business, and technical standards adopted and developed by ACE.

From the authors:

In addition to new technical standards for cardiorespiratory, functional and resistance training, the manual also features new information about managing a personal training business, engaging graphics that identify key concepts and terms, and essential exercise science information.

Although some chapters are more important than others, you’ll likely find that questions are pulled from every chapter, so it is important to read each chapter and understand its concepts.

The Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals text is also a good asset to read and understand as it covers foundational exercise science, human anatomy, exercise physiology, fundamentals of applied kinesiology, nutrition basics, and the physiology of training.

Appendices A-C are also very important and will contain a few test questions, namely from the ACE Code of Ethics.


ACE provides a few online study tools that you will want to utilize as part of their ACE Academy Elite 2018 interactive study platform. This platform includes video lessons, progress tracking, and practice quizzes to help you reduce the time you need to study.

The ACE Study Center on Facebook is a dedicated social page that allows you to connect with others preparing for the exam as well as help you find tips from candidates who have taken the exam.


There are numerous study guides that I have found to be useful, however, the Fitness Mentors team created most of them.

Within the ACE book, the Exam Content Outline located in the back of the book is a helpful resource.

Fitness Mentors has created a Free ACE CPT Study Guide that includes a chapter-by-chapter resource. The Fitness Mentors Premium Study Guide for the ACE CPT Exam provides you with all the specific topics that are covered on the exam, puts you through tried and true learning methodologies, and ensures you learn the topics from lots of different angles.


When looking through the App Store, whether Android or Apple, there are a total of 4 apps that aim to assist students in passing their ACE CPT Exam. Most of these are just test questions and/or flashcards created from or taken from older versions of the material. The subjects don’t change a whole lot as far as the information, but the questions from the actual exam change significantly. That being said, utilizing these tools to improve your test taking ability and question comprehension can be useful to someone who struggles at test taking in general.

Perform a simple search for “ACE CPT” and you’ll see a wide range of apps from free to $10. While I do like these apps for improving test taking ability and comprehension of concepts, I caution you to not allow the apps to build too much confidence. Reason being, ACE will do their best to alter the questions so that they are not the same ones that are littered around the internet.

The takeaway is that apps can help you prepare, but you won’t rely on them as if they are the exact test questions you’ll see on the exam. This is why it is so important to not only practice test taking, but to also ensure you understand the concepts of the book so you can interpret different styles of questions.


Imagine getting ready in the shower to an extremely good-looking professor going over all the important concepts to study in for the ACE CPT exam. With the Fitness Mentors’ Audio Lectures for the ACE Certified Personal Trainer Exam, that is exactly what you get.

Why ACE has not created something like this boggles my mind. People tend to learn best when an actual human breaks down concepts in a simple to digest way they can understand and learn to apply.

For example, when you are reading the text you’ll come across ventilatory thresholds. Broken down into VT1 and VT2, the VT is the ‘point of transition between predominantly aerobic energy production to anaerobic energy production.’

Blah, blah, blah most of you will scratch your head and wonder what that even means; or if you do get the definition, applying it may be difficult.In the audio lectures, I’ll just say something like, “they are a way to measure a client’s intensity during exercise.” Here’s some further breakdown of VT1 and VT2 that is intended to be a bit more practical and applicable:

ventilatory thresholds ACE exam example

The Audio Lectures can be used similarly to the Study Guide, as you study for the first time chapter by chapter (recommended 2 months of studying), or after you have read you go back and review the material in a different light (recommended 2 weeks to 1 month of studying).When you combine the explanation of Audio Lectures with the further comprehension of the Study Guide, you get a study package set up for true understanding and success. As a teacher and continuous student of all things fitness, it is easy to stand by the 99% pass rate as a measure of effectiveness. Click here (shameless plug) to learn more about the Audio Lectures for the ACE CPT.


Practice tests are an excellent way to test your knowledge and measure yourself against a clock. ACE provides two, 150-question practice tests as part of their study packages that you’ll definitely want to check out.

I’ve shared my feelings towards apps — they are good for improving test taking ability and comprehension of concepts, but I would not rely on them for memorizing similar questions on the exam.

For the most up-to-date questions that are updated based on actual test-taker feedback, you’ll want to check out the Practice Tests for the ACE CPT from Fitness Mentors. With over 400 ACE CPT questions based off of specific test topics, and organized in quiz form for every chapter as well as two final exams, they are the best test-taking resource on the web.

The Practice Tests should be used after completing your reading and other study materials on a chapter-by-chapter basis or at the finish of all studying. Once again, if you test yourself before you know anything it might not do much good. The Practice Tests for the ACE CPT should be used anywhere from 1-3 days before the exam, to 2 months prior if you choose to test yourself after each chapter you complete.


With ACE, you have six months from the time you buy your study materials (from them) to schedule your exam (but you can take it within nine months). While you could just read the book within that time frame and take the test, I’ve found that most students don’t have a lot of success this way.

As life tends to get in the way of studying and we can’t all remember everything we read forever, we have created a 8 and 4 Week Study Timeline. This is especially helpful for those of you that want to dive right in and complete your certification ASAP, or for those who may have struggled and have limited time left.

Of course, study timelines are not always enough if you leave it to the last minute to cram, and in this case, you’d be better suited using our practice tests, study guides and audio lectures to get up to speed.

You can also call us anytime if you have a special scenario so we can point you in the right direction and tailor a specific study program that fits your needs (424) 675-0476. Complete the form below to access the 8 and 4 Week Study Timelines for the ACE CPT Exam.

Download your FREE 4 and 8 week study timeline for the ACE CPT exam.


This may sounds like another shameless plug, but we are confident in our products and have worked really hard making them the best ACE study materials out there.

The Fitness Mentors’ Online Course for the ACE CPT Exam includes all the stuff we’ve discussed above — practice tests, study guides, audio lectures — plus a bunch of bonus stuff we only offer in this package: PowerPoint Presentations, PowerPoint Lectures, Study Guide Answers, and a Final Exam Review. We are so confident in it we even offer a pass guarantee.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us or feel free to leave a comment below.

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Five Secrets to Passing your ACE-CPT Exam

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ACE CPT Review

ACE CPT Review

ACE Personal Trainer Certification Review

Considering getting your CPT with the American Council on Exercise (ACE)? Here’s an ACE CPT review to help you decide if this certification is right for you.

First and foremost, ACE is NCCA accredited, meaning the National Commission for Certifying Agencies has identified their coursework as reputable and meets the criteria for what is considered a high-quality program within the personal training industry. This also means that this CPT gives you a high likelihood of getting you a job within a gym.

It is also one of the most popular of the personal trainer certifications, with our research indicating that there are over 13,100 tests taken each year, second only to NASM. Like NASM, the cost of ACE’s study materials and test are a bit higher than most. The cheapest study package and test sits at $599, whereas some of the other CPTs fall around the $500 range.

While slightly more expensive up front, ACE looks to be a good investment as the average income of an ACE personal trainer is amongst the best in the industry. ACE personal trainers, on average, make $41,546 per year, second to only NASM trainers. Of course, there are a lot of other factors that allow a trainer to earn more, and we recommend this online course for learning many of them.

ACE also has modest continuing education (CEU) requirements. Trainers are required to take 20 hours of CEUs and the current cost is $129 to recertify every 2 years.

The exam is comprised of 150 questions, and a 62.5% or higher gets you an ACE CPT. The focus of ACE’s education is Program Design, Implementation, and Modification, meaning you’ll learn how to design programs for your clients, help them achieve success within them, and modify them as necessary as their skillsets improve.

General Consensus on Difficulty of the ACE CPT Exam

In our analysis of personal trainer exam pass rates we found that ACE was sort of middle of the road at 65%. The exam with the highest pass rate is ISSA at 89.9%, but that exam is open book.

The consensus we have heard about the exam from actual test takers is that the questions are subjective and there always seems to be more than one right answer. Another thing we frequently hear is that the ACE study materials are somewhat inconsistent with the information that is provided on the exam, making some feel inadequately prepared after solely relying on these.

This is why we recommend learning how to study for the ACE CPT but also what to study to ensure you pass the first time. The Fitness Mentors’ free ACE Study Guide will help you along your path. If you really want to get serious, check out our Premium Study Guide that focuses on the subjects that are most important to pass the ACE CPT.

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Five Secrets to Passing your ACE-CPT Exam

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ACE vs NASM: What’s the Best CPT for You?


ACE vs NASM: What’s the Best CPT for You?

You’ve made the wise decision to pursue a career in personal training. Fantastic!

Now, on to the next major decision. Which certification should I pursue, ACE or NASM?

I’ll detail some very important factors regarding ACE vs NASM, and by the end of this post you’ll be able to determine which CPT is right for you. It should also preface that I have a certification in both, so I can provide realistic views of which cert may be better for who.

NASM vs ACE Video Review


Before you make a decision on your CPT, it pays to know a little bit about what makes each organization unique.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) was founded in 1985 under the name IDEA Foundation, with the goal of becoming one of the first major fitness education bodies with national credibility. ACE places a strong commitment to create global impact and “facilitate partnerships with policymakers, fitness industry leaders, community organizations and the Healthcare Industry.”

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the younger of the two at its 30th year, is a global leader in fitness certifications with recognition all over the world. They focus their health and fitness solutions on evidence and research that they use to craft their training and knowledge programs. NASM boasts that their certifications “require the most comprehensive knowledge of human movement science, functional anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, as well as functional assessment and program design.”

Both organizations are NCCA-certified, the gold standard for fitness certifications.

ACE vs NASM fitness

ACE vs NASM: An Objective Look into Other CPT Considerations

Price of ACE & NASM Study Packages and Exam

We did some research into the cost of the cheapest study package and test. Here’s what we found:

ACE is the cheaper of the two CPTs, coming in at $599*. (Click here for 30% Off) Their most basic package includes:

  • ACE Personal Trainer Manual
  • ACE Personal Trainer Manual Study Companion
  • ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals
  • ACE Academy Elite 2018 (Interactive Study Platform)
  • Access to Personal Trainer Resources
  • ACE certification exam
  • ACE Personal Trainer Manual eBook

NASM comes in at $799 (Click here for 30% Off) and is the most expensive of all CPTs that we evaluated in our initial best personal trainer certification analysis. This cost includes:

  • NCCA Accredited Exam
  • Textbook (hard copy and PDF)
  • Lectures Videos
  • Exercise Library
  • Cueing Library
  • Practice Exams
  • Quizzes
  • Study Guide

*Note: these prices are subject to change and sale prices may reflect different numbers.


Pass Rate of ACE & NASM Exam

Both ACE and NASM are known for having somewhat difficult exams that require extensive study, as well as knowledge, on challenging topics such as anatomy, physiology and biomechanics. While there are tests with significantly higher pass rates in the industry (ISSA’s pass rate is 89.9%), these certification bodies ensure you obtain the knowledge necessary to become a stellar trainer.

The focus of education:

  • ACE: Program Design, Implementation, and Modification
  • NASM: Exercise technique and training instruction

NASM Exam Pass Rate: 64.3%

ACE Exam Pass Rate: 65%

Winner: Tie

Number of Test Questions on the ACE & NASM Exam

NASM has the fewest test questions in the industry as a whole, whereas ACE has amongst the most. If you are the type of test taker who’s mind goes blank due to testing anxiety, you may want to consider a shorter test.

BelowNumber of test questions / total test time / minimum passing score

NASM: 120 questions / 120 minutes/ 70% or higher is passing

ACE: 150 questions / 180 minutes / 62.5% or higher is passing. 800 points available based on scaled questions 500 points needed to pass

Winner: NASM

CEU Requirements for ACE & NASM

Maintaining your certification via continuing education is required by both ACE and NASM as well as all other personal trainer certification bodies. The more CEU hours you need to get within a certification period, the more time and money you have to spend.

Fortunately, both ACE and NASM have similar recertification requirements as well as similar costs.

NASM: 20 hours of CEUs and $99 to recertify every 2 years

ACE: 20 hours of CEUs and $129 to recertify every 2 years

Winner: Tie

Certification Popularity for ACE & NASM

This factor is based on the number of trainers with a given certification, something to consider if you are looking for evidence as to what other trainers are doing in the industry.

Unfortunately, when we called NASM they said they don’t publish numbers on how many trainers have earned their CPT. They did, however, mention that they have twice as many as their competitors combined. We do have data on ACE that showcases they have about 45,000 trainers certified.

Without throwing out some unverifiable number, let’s just say NASM has 50,000 trainers with their CPT.


Average Income of ACE or NASM Personal Trainers

How much will I make as an ACE trainer? How much will I make as a NASM trainer?

These are common answers that I get that I have an answer for! While ACE and NASM don’t publish this information I was able to extrapolate it from self-reported data on reputable websites such as These incomes are averages of 30+ different people holding the same certification currently working as fitness professionals.

To me, this consideration may outweigh some of the others — study materials cost, pass rate, CEUs, etc. — because an upfront investment can pay dividends down the road.

Unsurprisingly, NASM and ACE are at the top tiers of average incomes for personal trainers.

NASM average income: $41,598

ACE average income: $41,546

Winner: Tie

It should be noted that the mere acquisition of a NASM or ACE CPT doesn’t mean you’ll make $41k, nor does it mean you’ll be limited by that income amount. Your success as a personal trainer is dependent on a lot of other factors including your business acumen, how you market yourself as a trainer, and other factors like geography and approach.

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Which CPT is Better ACE or NASM?

Now you have some objective (and subjective) data for which to make a decision about moving forward with an ACE or NASM CPT. Based on the above data, NASM gets a slight nod based on the popularity of the certification. However, this factor can be considered subjective, and is unlikely to affect your ability to get a job or train.

That said, these certifications are both fairly even in the areas of exam difficulty, CEU requirements, and average income.

The bottom line is that you need to identify which factors are the most important to you and determine how the career path you want to follow necessitates one CPT over the other.

ACE vs NASM: Thoughts from a trainer with both certifications

When considering either certification it is first important that you check with the employer you’d like to work for to ensure they accept one or both of the certifications, as that can provide the direction you need.

As stated above, both certifications are nationally accredited which will get your foot in the door almost anywhere. What truly matters is what elements from above have the biggest impact on you? Cost, test-length, income, popularity/reputation? They both require abundant study time and are difficult to pass. (If it’s grasping the material is a concern we have you covered as we provide the best study tools to help you easily pass either test and become a successful personal trainer.)

My final thought would be that NASM provides an easier to use programming model (the OPT Model) that is great for new trainers, while ACE focuses their education on working to assist clients in optimizing their behaviors. If you feel you would struggle with the coaching of clients and want to improve in that area, go with ACE. If you feel you want to have more knowledge of how to design an effective workout program, go with NASM. For more information on how to become a personal trainer, check out our post on that topic.

Feel free to give us a call and we can always help point you in the right direction (424) 675-0476.

Reviews of our ACE & NASM Study Materials

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