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Personal Training Certification School Comparison

The Full Results

We have compiled all the data from our
personal training certification school
review into one monster table. It is huge,
and hard to read. But I have also created
three filtered versions of this table listed below




Each of the links in our personal training certification school table will take
you to our information page for each program.


Certification Personal Trainer Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
Diploma in Personal Training,
CPR/AED Certification
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Certified Personal Trainer (cPT) NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) Certified Personal Trainer (cPT) CPT - Certified Personal Trainer Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT) CPT - Certified Personal Trainer Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) Personal Trainer
Established 1985 2010 2000 1987 1954 1993   1988 1994 1988 1983


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Workshop length Online Classes (about 90 hours) Online Classes (about 20 hours) 500 hours 2 days 3 days 2 days 2 days or extended school option 2 days 2 days 2 days 2 days 3 days
Workshop Availability Online Online Locations in 30 U.S. cities Select US cities US major cities Limited cities US major cities Major U.S. Cities very limited Major U.S. Cities US major cities
Program Cost $499-$699 $45 or Free Option $5900 - $6300 $629-$799 $375 N/A $309 $425 $489 or $389 without Polar watch $399-$459 $754 $469
Materials cost Included Included Included Included $125 up to $468 Included Included Included Included Included $59
Industry recognition High Med-High Med-High High High High High Med - High Med Med - High Med-High Med
Accreditations NCCA NCCA State Certified Training NCCA NCCA NCCA NCCA NCCA lost their NCCA Accred NCCA, ACET DETC DETC
Prerequisites 18 years old, Adult CPR/AED Certificate None 18 years old, U.S. Citizen or Green Card (not required for online program), High School diploma or equivalent 18 years old, Adult CPR/AED Certificate High School Diploma, Adult CPR Certificate 18 years old, Adult CPR and AED Certificate, high school diploma or equivalent None High School Diploma, 18 years old, 2+ years fitness experience 18 years old, high school diploma or equivalent High School Diploma, 18 years old, CPR High School Diploma, 18 years old, Adult CPR/AED Certificate Unavailable
Exam Questions 150 150   120 125-150 140 150 120 100 100 168
Exam Time 3 hours 3 hours   2 hours 2.5 hours 3 hours 3 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2.5 hours
Exam Cost $399 $60 Included Included $279 $235-270 (members)/ $355-390 (non-members) (Pencil/paper exam) $285(members) /$405(non-members) (Computer-based exam) $199 $44 $199 included Included Included or $199 (without program)
Retest Cost $319 $60   $199 $150 $185-220 (members) $305-340 (non-members) (Pencil/paper exam) $235 (members) $355 (non-members) (Computer-based exam) $135 $60 $95 $79 one free online, $149 at seminar, ($50 charge for each additional attempt)
Exam deadline     180 days 1 year   1 year 90 days 6 months 2 years
Exam locations Major cities worldwide Online, U.S. and Canada Major U.S. Cities Major U.S. Cities Major cities worldwide Major cities worldwide (pencil/paper) United States only (computer-based) 400 testing locations in North America 300 testing centers worldwide Major US Cities Major Cities worldwide Online plus Major U.S. cities
Time to Complete (Approx.) 3-6 months 2-3 months 6 months (4 month and 12 month options available) 4-9 months 4-9 months 4-6 months 2 to 6 months 4-6 weeks 2 to 6 months 13-16 weeks
Recertification every 2 years every 2 years N/A every 2 years every 3 years every 3 years every 2 years every year every 4 years every 2 years every 2 years yes
Recertification Cost including CEU (Approx.) $400 $150 N/A $500 $800 $500 $400-800 $85 $600 $20 + $319 CEU costs $600 (20 CEU and $75 fee) $600

Updated: September 2016

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Discuss our Certification Comparison Chart

So how do the major personal trainer certifications compare? Tell us what you think in the form below. You can ask a question or submit comments about the various certifications.

Personal Training Certification Comparison Comments

Click below to see contributions from other visitors about our personal training certification school comparison table.

GI Bill Approved Certifications 
There are a lot of us guys in the service who are looking at getting these certifications, would you be able to tell me which ones are GI BILL friendly? …

Do I Need an NCCA Accredited Certification? 
I am looking for a personal training school that offers a certification that is recognized in the industry as professional. Can you tell me which certification …

ACE doesn't deserve a high rating 
ACE certification isn't rated as "high" ...every club I worked at - ACE was frowned on and the people who held an ACE cert got bagged on a lot. Everyone …

How to Save on Recertification Costs 
I am finding the price for recertification different from the prices on this page. Is there something i don't know or something these people aren't telling …

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