When purchasing through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
- To become a personal trainer, you must be certified, which you can do online.
- Below, professional coaches Evan Williams and Kristi Alicia share tips on finding a program.
- We have also included the top 5 online personal trainer certification programs that you can enroll in.
If you enjoy working out, have a good relationship with people, and like to help them achieve their fitness goals, becoming a personal trainer may be a good career for you. Whether you are already in the fitness industry or feel ready to leap into a whole new field, there are many online personal trainer certification programs that you can choose to take your career goals to new heights.
Deciding which online certification course is best for you can be tricky, so I spoke with a couple of certified personal trainers – Evan WilliamsCSCS, CPT, E2G Performance CEO, Kristi Aliciaand CPT, NCSF, ACE, AFPA and co-founder of ABC Fit Collective — to provide insight and advice on what to look for when deciding on an online personal trainer certification.
“One of the most satisfying aspects of being a coach is seeing your clients achieve their goals,” says Williams. “As coaches, we play a huge role in how they approach and see their fitness, so it is important to provide an exceptional experience while educating them on how to safely achieve their goals in the most effective way.”
For Alicia, the best part of her career is making a positive change in a person’s life. “Watching my clients, many of whom are pregnant or postpartum, feel the strength in their bodies and confidence in their lives really continues to fuel my passion,” she says.
Williams and Alicea shared their tips on what you should consider before you even look for software, what legitimate software should be as requirements, and their own recommendations for some of the best software.
What you need to know before searching for or enrolling in a personal training program:
The fitness industry is competitive, becoming a personal trainer takes a lot of study, and once you get your degree, find a job or take the steps to start your personal training business.
Williams is candid about what it looks like in such a competitive field, especially when you start out: “Being a personal trainer is tough.” Alicia agrees that it can be difficult at first. “Just like any other industry, getting started is tough, but once you get on your feet you find a lot to learn,” she says.
It is also important to know that the usual schedule is the opposite of a nine-to-five job. “As a personal trainer, we work outside of our regular office hours: think early morning, after work, and weekends,” says Alicia.
5 Tips for Choosing an Online Personal Training Certificate Program:
With so many personal trainer certification programs to choose from, it can be difficult to decipher between legitimate and worth the money and time.
Williams and Alicia break down what you need to know to make sure you choose the program that best fits your needs and career goals:
1. Check job listings to see what the ideal employer is looking for.
As with any profession, personal trainer jobs usually require specific studies or certifications in order to be considered. Williams recommends looking at personal trainer job listings to learn about the qualifications needed for the position to help you decide what is right for you.
2. Look for a nationally accredited degree.
Professional personal trainers go through a lot of study, training, and testing before they can even start working with clients.
“You should look for a nationally accredited degree: one that includes a curriculum focused on anatomy, science, and reliable methodologies and movement patterns,” Alicia suggests.
3. Only consider programs that make you take an exam until you get certified.
With so many different institutions offering online personal training programs, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between what is legitimate and what is not. But there are some things to watch out for.
“You have to take an exam to get your degree,” Alicia says. One of the warning signs as a certificate rather than a certificate is the time it takes. “No program should promise you that you can earn a degree in one day,” she adds.
4. If the program seems too easy, it may be a scam.
“Some of the things to look for are certifications that are really easy to obtain and require a little preparation or knowledge to obtain,” Williams says. Unfortunately, he adds, there are places that offer testimonials that “just want to raise money and don’t care too much about being prepared and in the know.”
5. Think about your long-term goals.
The good news is that there are a variety of legitimate degree programs available, but not all are one-size-fits-all.
Williams recommends that you know the type of work you want to do in personal training and the types of clients you want to work with. “I work with professional athletes, so it was imperative that I get my CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) certification from the NSCA,” he says.