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Pinnacle Certification v. Penn Foster

by John

Editor's Note: The text below was submitted by a reader who did a great job researching the differences between two popular online personal training programs. Thanks for sharing your research John.

There are three big differences:


Penn Foster appears to be (I repeat appears to be . . . I don’t know) a diploma mill that sells or is connected to ACE.

PCI is connected to NSCA.

In my local area there are 13 ACE certified trainers and 0 NSCA . . . NSCA is by far the more difficult to achieve.


Penn Foster does not offer college credit.

PCI offers 42 semester hours/65 quarter hours which are apparently transferable. (I say apparently because again, I have not checked in depth to see where they can be transferred to.)


Penn Foster offers no hands-on component.

PCI offers four weeks (160 hours) which includes three weeks with a trainer in your local area and one week in a “boot camp” conducted at a gym in Las Vegas.

I would say that the decision to go with PCI has to be made very carefully because it is EXTREMELY expensive. When you consider that you can get certified elsewhere for $500-700 then the $15,000 PCI tuition is twenty times more expensive.

As I told PCI . . . the differential is astronomic.

A Porsche is only 5 or 6 times more expensive than a Saturn . . . the best house in my area is only 5 or 6 times more expensive than the average starter home . . . Yale law school is only twice as expensive as some rinky-dink state law school.

So it comes down to a question of whether the future CPT wants a very thorough education and preparation . . . or not.

Because PCI is the only one offering such thorough training, they can charge whatever they want. As they get other competition in good online CPT courses the market will force them to charge less to stay competitive . . . but right now they ARE the market price setter because they have no competition.

Hope that helps the next guy or gal!

Much thanks from the trenches


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I Agree
by: Evan

Great write-up! I've done some research and found the same things. PCI seems like it's "schooling" and certification is much more in depth but it is unfortunately over priced. If the college credits do transfer, I guess you could see what typical college credits cost and see if the price is still outrageous.

I'm still considering PCI. I've got some other things to payoff first and then I might apply for some financial aide to see what they can give. I've got a full time career and I'm looking to change so I'm not sure what kind of aide they'll give. It's worth a try.

Penn Foster VS Pinnacle
by: Aimee

I have been checking them out too and Penn Foster does give you a NCSF certification which I think is better than ACE. I think like you say, Pinnacle seems great but no way am I paying 15,000.00 for a 10 month course.

Penn Fosters curriculum seems really thorough. I'm really looking for someone that has actually went through it to give me some advice on if I should do it or not.

I'm not a young chicken here and I really have a passion to do this but I would like to get my certification done soon. I know it will take time but to learn what I need to know but I really need to weigh my best options for my age as well.

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