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NCCA Accredited Personal Training
Certification Comparison


NCCA accredited personal training certification programs are the most widely recognized in the industry.

The NCCA is the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The NCCA accredits programs that meet its standards. While there are several other organizations that attempt to offer accreditation, the NCCA is the only one that seems to carry any weight.

The one big exception is the personal training degree, diploma and certificate programs offered by reputable trade schools and Colleges. These personal training schools are often accredited by the government (usually the state) and don't bother to pursue NCCA accreditation.

accredited personal training certificationWhat about Non-NCCA and Non-College accredited personal training certification programs? There are many good programs to consider. Usually they are less expensive and easier to achieve but carry less prestige as well.

We have compiled all the data from our accredited personal training certification program review into this summary table. You can also compare all certification programs in one huge table here.

This is the only place on the Internet to compare accredited personal training certification programs. If you find this information useful, please consider supporting our site.

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

Personal Training Certification School ACE ACTION NASM ACSM NSCA NCSF NFPT NESTA IFPA
Certification Personal Trainer Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) 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
Established 1985 2010 1987 1954 1993   1988 1994


Workshop length 2 days Online Classes (about 20 hours) 2 days 1 or 3 days 2 days 2 days or extended school option 2 days 2 days 2 days
Workshop Availability US major cities Online Select US cities US major cities Limited cities US major cities Major U.S. Cities very limited Major U.S. Cities
Program Cost $399 $45 or Free Option $629-$799 $129 or $375 N/A $309 $425 $489 or $389 without Polar watch $399-$459
Materials cost Included Included Included $125 up to $468 Included Included Included Included
Industry recognition High Med-High High High High High Med - High Med Med - High
Prerequisites 18 years old, Adult CPR/AED Certificate None 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
Exam Questions 150 150 120 125-150 140 150 120 100 100
Exam Time 3 hours 3 hours 2 hours 2.5 hours 3 hours 3 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2.5 hours
Exam Cost $219 (pencil/paper), $249 (computer) $60 Included $279 $235-270 (members)/ $355-390(non-members) (Pencil/paper exam) $285(members)/$405(non-members) (Computer-based exam) $199 $44 $199 included
Retest Cost $135 (pencil/paper) $184 (computer) $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
Exam deadline   180 days 1 year   1 year 90 days 6 months
Exam locations Major cities worldwide Online, U.S. and Canada 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
Time to Complete (Approx.) 3-6 months 2-3 months 4-9 months 4-9 months 4-6 months 2 to 6 months 4-6 weeks 2 to 6 months
Recertification every 2 years every 2 years every 2 years every 3 years every 3 years every 2 years every year every 4 years every 2 years
Recertification Cost including CEU (Approx.) $400 $150 $500 $800 $500 $400-800 $85 $600 $20 + $319 CEU costs

Updated: January 2022

While I have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this accredited personal training certification comparison, please let me know if you think there are any mistakes. Organizations offer many similar programs and options. All of my information and cost estimates are based upon the base personal trainer certifications.

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