ACSM Certification Review
Updated: October 2021
Many people who know the health benefits of being fit find it difficult to fit in a training schedule in their busy lives. More and more people with this problem are turning to personal trainers so that they can tailor their training routines to suit their individual circumstances. This is a growth industry, and getting your ACSM Certification is a great way to start your personal training business.
First off, ACSM is an acronym for the American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM is a research organization and contributes greatly to the body of knowledge surrounding exercise science. Because of their strong reputation the ACSM CPT is considered one of the best personal trainer certifications in the industry.
Benefits of ACSM Certification
The ACSM CPT exam is probably the toughest in the industry. Getting ACSM certified will make you as a personal trainer who is not only qualified but will have a much better chance of providing value to your clients. It will also help you get your first job if you choose to work in a chain gym.
ACSM Certification creates a better impression with potential clients and will also boost your own confidence, and improve your skills as a trainer. ACSM qualifications are recognized throughout the world. Yet another benefit of getting ACSM personal training certification is that you may be able to charge higher fees for your services.
The Downsides of ACSM
There are very few downsides to getting certified through ACSM. The biggest one is that it is just plain difficult (see the exam information below). We have had many future trainers regret choosing ACSM as their first certification. It can be very overwhelming if you do not already have a health related background. You will need to spend a considerable amount of time studying for your qualification. If you have no previous experience, you may want to consider other entry level certifications before taking on ACSM.
While it is tough, our exam prep course for ACSM can help you pass the exam on the first try (in fact we guarantee it).
The second downside is the cost. ACSM is very expensive. Especially if you have to take the exam more than once. The materials, the workshop, the exam, and the CEUs will run you more than $1000.
How to get ACSM Certified
You must be 18 years old, and hold an Adult CPR qualification prior to earning ACSM Certification. You will need to pass the CPT exam in a testing center. The exam lasts 2.5 hours and contains 125-150 questions. The pass mark for this exam is 68.75% (minimum score of 550 out of a possible 800), and the historic pass rate is 71%. The exam fee is currently $279, with a $150 re-sit fee.
You can do all the study for the exams in your own time and in your own home. ACSM also present workshops throughout the country, and you can optionally attend one of these. A 3-day workshop currently costs $375. ACSM also provides textbooks to cover all elements of the exam, and the total cost of these is around $125. Books like ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, currently in its 9th edition, is an invaluable resource.
Topics Covered on the ACSM Exam
Getting certified requires that you have a good grasp of many different topics related to health and fitness. When you are studying, you should keep in mind that what you are learning is going to help you to be a better ACSM personal trainer. Your studies are not just for passing the exam.
Among the topics covered will be basic Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology and Biomechanics. You will also learn how to do Client Assessment and how to design exercise programs. You will cover exercise techniques and nutrition. You will learn how to train special groups like seniors, children, obese people and those with injuries. Your ACSM Certification studies will also cover safety matters, as well as legal and business issues.
Continuing Education Requirements
Your ACSM CPT certification is valid for three years. To stay certified, you will need to accumulate 45 CEC (continuing education classes) units. You get these by attending workshops hosted by ACSM or through other education providers.
You may decide to take the ACSM Health/Fitness Instructor (HFI) certification exam. However, you cannot do this without a bachelors degree in a health related discipline.
Now that you know the basics of ACSM Certification, check out what our readers say in their reviews of the program below.
by Katie Donnelly
Vital Statistics: ACSM Certification
||Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
||US major cities
||High School Diploma, Adult CPR Certificate
||Major cities worldwide
|Time to Complete (Approx.)
||every 3 years
|Recertification Cost (Approx.)
What do you think about ACSM certification?
Here's your chance to have your say about the ACSM CPT. Questions, comments and stories are all welcome.
ACSM Certification Discussion
Learn about the ACSM personal training program from the people who have been through it. Our readers share their experience below.
Next Page: The ACSM Certification Exam
Education Providers: List of Accredited Personal Training Schools
School Index by State: AZ - CA - CO - CT - FL - GA - IL - MA - MI - MN - MO - NJ - NY - OH - OR - PA - TX - UT - VA - WA
Certification Reviews: ACE - ACTION - AFAA - ACSM - NSCA - NASM - NPTI - NCSF - NESTA - IFPA - ISSA - CanFitPro - NFPT - Cooper - NATA
Exam Preparation: Take our Certification Exam Prep Course