personal trainer getting an online certificate

The Ultimate Guide to Getting an Online Personal Trainer Certification

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Obtaining your personal trainer certification at home or generally wherever you have connection to the internet is an extremely convenient, affordable, and efficient means of getting this important distinction. Whether it’s time to boost your current level of fitness acumen or you’re launching a new career, personal trainer certification is a benchmark to set yourself apart as a knowledgeable professional in the field.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll explore the best practices for getting your personal trainer certification completely online and how to leverage this achievement in today’s world of fitness.

First Off, Can You Get a Personal Trainer Certification Online?

You can absolutely get an online personal trainer certification, it’s just a matter of finding the right course and path of study that’s right for your individual situation. Most of the time, the learning curriculum is going to be a bit of a refresher for knowledge you use every day or at least have seen and are basically familiar with. As you progress through the program, there will be other subjects that aren’t as familiar to you that can help bolster your knowledge in a particular field.

Generally, most online personal trainer certification programs utilize a two-prong approach to learning using both material-based learning, as well as virtual, scenario-based learning. In the end, the entire curriculum is centered around helping personal trainers develop a well-rounded competency within many different core areas of professional fitness training.

Once the material has been covered and passed within adequate scoring levels, almost all programs will utilize a personal trainer certification exam. This exam is meant to ensure that each student progressing through the program has retained the necessary information to perform their work in a safe and competent manner. Certification goes further to showcase to clients that a trainer has successfully passed their coursework and has demonstrated a degree of subject matter mastery.

The Big “A”: Online Accredited Personal Trainer Certification

A truly critical aspect of online personal trainer certification is to only undergo programs that are accredited by an industry-recognized agency. There are an untold number of certification programs which allow personal trainers to breeze through online coursework, complete an exam, and then print out a shiny new certificate. Programs that lack accreditation might be an easy and quick means of putting certified personal trainers on your resume but you really will not be doing yourself any favors for going through a less-than-adequate program.

On the other hand, accredited online personal trainer certification programs provide a framework for success. Accredited programs have passed both regulatory requirements, as well as industry best practices for effective teaching of the material. These programs both instruct and equip personal trainers to have the foundational knowledge and skills to be successful in the field.

There are a variety of very well-known and well-respected online personal trainer certifications out there including those offered by the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT, the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council of Exercise (ACE), and others. Just make sure any program you’re looking into is accredited specifically for online personal trainer certification. If there’s ever any doubt, ask the program administrator. If they can not or will not provide their accreditation information, move on to another program.

Taking the Personal Trainer Test Online

As we’ve covered, the coursework for an online personal trainer program culminates in a testing of your retention of everything that was covered in the program. The courses are typically divided into subject-based learning modules that are all geared towards helping you learn and retain the knowledge for the furtherment of your fitness career.

The online courses are both preparing you for the final exam by giving you the foundation needed to pass the subject matter mastery covered on the test and also to give you a taste of real-world application. It is important to remember that not everything covered in the classes is going to show up on the exam, there’s simply too much content for that. Rather, expect a broader overview of important milestones covered in your classes.

In preparing for the final online personal trainer certification exam, there’s a few tips that can help maximize your productivity as you study the material including:

  • Study Outline: Request a breakdown of the health and fitness subjects that are going to be covered. Most programs will provide a kind of outline generally summarizing the subjects to be covered but if not, request a breakdown. This will help you hone in your studies to the most pertinent sections for the exam. Remember, almost all personal trainer exams will test you both on your knowledge of key terms and definitions, as well as the application of this knowledge in real life scenarios training clients.
  • Exam Prep Materials: Many programs also include specific trainer certification preparation materials pertinent to their specific test. Some programs will include sample questions and exam formats. Make sure to go over these materials to get a better feel for how the test will be administered to make sure you’re best prepared.
  • Dedicate Time & Space to Studying: Cramming for an exam rarely works and the information will be hard to retain. Instead, come up with a dedicated study schedule where you can review the sections that you need a refresher for. As well, set aside a physical space where you can be as distraction-free as possible. Turn off the TV or other electronic devices for a time and really dive into your exam preparation. Your future self will thank you.
  • Be Creative in Developing Study Materials: using flashcards, drawings, songs, or whatever other study-related devices work best for you, develop your final study guide following the outlined material from above. This will make the process more enjoyable and you’ll increase your retention of the material.

Now, none of these processes are a surefire way to make you ace the exam but they do provide the best chances for success for someone who has purposefully participated throughout the course and is properly prepared to take the exam. A good night’s sleep the night before the test and a good breakfast the day of are the last two tips to giving yourself the best set-up for exam time.

Establishing a Career Post-Exam

Let’s skip ahead past your online personal trainer certification courses and you successfully pass the final examination. What now? A career as a certified personal trainer can be an extremely rich and fulfilling one but there are some steps you should take from the get-go that will make sure that your certification and skills mastery do not go unused.

  1. Get Insurance – it may sound like an unimportant matter but getting personal trainer insurance should be at the top of your list after you become certified. Personal trainers face many different forms of risk, any one of which could sideline a career in fitness just as it was beginning. The best form of protection available to you is a comprehensive personal trainer liability insurance policy. At IFG, we are in the business of helping fitness professionals maximize their potential by having their backs every step of their careers. You focus on guiding your clients through their regimens while we make sure you’re covered from the unexpected.
  2. Get Online – consumers today are more online than ever before. That means, when they go to look up “certified personal trainers near me”, if you don’t have a web presence, you’ll be missing out on these potential new clients. Echoing point numero uno above, a policy through IFG includes a free professional website to get your name, your certifications, and your skill sets in front of the specific people in your location looking for just that.
  3. Never Stop Learning – it’s easy after you’ve just gone through your certification courses and exam to want to put aside learning for awhile but this can be counterproductive. Sometimes you’ll learn things in your program that you don’t touch for awhile that might otherwise be lost. Make sure you’re participating in continuing education like workshops, training, mentorships, or other advancement opportunities to stay on top of your game. You’ll increase your marketability and simply provide a more well-rounded personal training experience for your clients.

As a certified personal trainer, with the backing of insurance, and a solid game plan moving forward, the sky really is the limit. No one activity guarantees success, but like with studying, the more work you put in, the better your results will be. Every client, every rep. For more information on becoming a personal trainer, check out our handy e-guide.

Prepare Your Career for Taking Off With Personal Trainer Insurance

The best part about making sure your career is covered for the long haul with comprehensive personal trainer insurance is that it is both incredibly affordable and offers a tremendous amount of additional benefits. Get insurance completely online, just like your certification, and then enjoy a wide range of member benefits including whole libraries of curated content made by fitness pros, for fitness pros.

Meet The Author:

Parker Franklin

Parker, IFG’s Brand Manager since 2022, began his wellness journey in 2020, leading to a significant personal transformation. He holds a journalism degree from Murray State University and started his career as an award-winning journalist in western Kentucky before transitioning into marketing and PR. At IFG, Parker is responsible for writing content, managing The Fit newsletter, and overseeing promotions and collaborations with affiliate fitness organizations.