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NCSF Personal Trainer Comprehensive Guide 2023

The best personal training program for you will depend on a variety of things. There are numerous program possibilities, and the amount of information available about them might be daunting. You will learn everything you need to know about the NCSF Personal Trainer certification from this review. Find out if it’s a good fit for you by reading on!

Although choosing to pursue personal training may have been simple, you’ll quickly discover that making decisions related to being a personal trainer are necessary.

When limiting your options, the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF Personal Training Certification), one of the more well-known certification bodies, should be taken into account. We will examine this organization in detail below, outlining its advantages and disadvantages so that you may decide where you want to earn your personal trainer certification with confidence.

Who is a Personal Trainer & Responsibilities

A person who has earned national certification in personal training typically possesses in-depth understanding of human anatomy, kinesiology, exercise science, and nutrition. In a range of venues, they instruct and educate clients about fitness. Additionally, they recommend specially designed regimens for each client.

Setting goals, encouraging and holding customers accountable, and providing comments on workout form and changes are all ways that personal trainers inspire their clients. They are able to work one-on-one, facilitate group activities, and conduct lessons or boot camps.

There is a rising need for personal trainers as a result of the aging baby boomer generation and companies realizing the advantages of staff fitness programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2018 and 2028, the personal training market is expected to rise 15%. This indicates that you have a job waiting for you!

Personal trainers make an average salary of $40,510 per year. The pay may vary based on the workplace, experience, work hours, vacations, and other certifications or specializations.

NCSF Personal Trainer

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What is the NCSF?

By defining and evaluating competency standards, ethical practices, and quality standards for exercise professionals, NCSF aims to promote safe and effective physical activity for all.

This mission is supported by three main objectives: to recognize exercise professionals as health care providers; to promote NCCA certification for all exercise professionals; and to raise public knowledge of the benefits of safe physical activity.

The NCSF is governed by the NCSF Board for Certification, which oversees all facets of the certification procedure, from exam design and administration to recertification requirements and disciplinary action. The NCSF Board for Certification meets regularly throughout the year.

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Advantages of NCSF Personal Trainer Certification

If you are considering the NCSF personal trainer certification, these are the benefits you stand to enjoy:

1. Excellent Educational Foundation

The difficulty of each NCSF personal trainer certification exam is a positive thing. To achieve their fitness goals, clients must have complete faith in their trainers. Therefore, you must be knowledgeable and careful not to deceive your client.

The extensive information provided by NCSF must be carefully and methodically absorbed in order to pass the challenging exams. However, your clients will only gain from this in the long run.

2. Second-rate Certification

Passing the NCSF exam attracts the attention of any employer in the fitness industry due to its difficulty. In the fitness industry, NCSF is a well-respected business that offers you excellent job security and prospects.

3. Rapid Certification

All of NCSF’s certifications must be finished within six months, as opposed to certain certifying bodies (like ACSM) that require 24 months. This demands commitment to your studies, but it also helps you stay on track and focused on your goal of becoming a personal trainer.

4. A less costly choice

Some CPT courses might be somewhat expensive (for example, NASM costs $799). At $499, NCSF is priced in the middle among certification programs. The NCSF personal trainer certification offers a great deal at just $599, especially if you’re interested in completing a combination certification.

Additionally, qualified service members and veterans can finish the program with G.I. bill funding.

5. Numerous Certification Possibilities

As well as CPT & CSC and CPT & SNS combo certifications, NCSF offers CPT, CSC, and SNS certifications. Anyone interested in personal training can find something to suit their requirements and goals among the variety offered.

6. A Range of Package Choices

NCSF recognizes that each person has unique financial requirements. Their offerings are reasonably priced and suitable for practically any budget. A payment schedule is also available for more flexibility. Regardless of the bundle you choose, you will be well-equipped to take the test.

7. Very Positive Comments

Numerous customers have given the NCSF personal trainer certification program positive feedback (with an average rating of 4.9/5 stars! ), and it is highly regarded in the personal training industry. Reviews extol the virtues of in-depth and understandable texts, films, and workshops that aid in exam success as well as superior career preparation.

8. The eighth-lowest number of CEU requirements

NCSF allows you to keep more of your salary because there are less CEU requirements. In fact, in the discipline of personal training, NCSF requires the fewest CEUs!

Also Read: 8 Ways to Convince Your Parents to Let You Study Abroad

Disadvantages of NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Program

1. NCSF Personal Trainer Makes the Lowest Pay

Despite their distinction and excellent educational backgrounds, NCSF trainers earn the least money overall—an average of $35,061 per year. Although income can depend on abilities, other qualifications, and self-promotion, this is still an important figure that needs to be taken into account.

2. Recertifying Is Required Every Two Years

The NCSF mandates recertification every two years, as opposed to other certifying bodies (such NESTA or ACSM) who demand it every three or four years. More commonly, CEUs, fees, and deadlines must be satisfied.

3. Less well-liked

Your clients might not recognize your hard-earned NCSF accreditation, even though prospective employers will. Compared to NASM, which sees over 22,000 attempts annually, the NCSF-CPT exam is only taken 2,455 times a year.

This implies that a client can choose not to choose you as their personal trainer simply because they didn’t know the acronym. It’s similar to purchasing the most well-liked phone, not necessarily because it’s the greatest, just because everyone else has it.

4. The Exam Is Difficult

Although forcing comprehension is a wonderful thing, you must also consider your test-taking abilities. The demanding exam offered by NCSF might not be suitable for you if you struggle with test anxiety.

NCSF Personal Trainer

NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Accreditation

It wasn’t previously necessary for personal trainers to have a formal education. Before 2005, instructors could just be gym employees who enjoyed working out who compensated for their services. However, the public’s safety was in danger due to the inconsistent and unregulated nature of trainer education.

In order to ensure that clients receive safe, standardized instruction, the International Health, Racquet, and Sports Club Association started proposing in 2005 that gyms and health clubs require trainer certification.

The suggestion gained traction, and more than fifteen accrediting organizations were created to regulate the many organizations that currently train fitness instructors.

But what is accreditation exactly, and why is it significant?

By being accredited, institutions and programs have proven their educational offerings are of a high enough caliber and standard. This means that for fitness certifications, the public’s health, welfare, and safety are protected by the high educational standards.

There are other accrediting organizations, but the National Commission for Certifying Agencies is one of the most esteemed (NCCA).

An enormous benefit of being a certified NCSF personal trainer is that it has been examined and accredited by the NCCA and is well-respected among exercise specialists. Your resume is immediately noticeable.

Because the exam is challenging to pass, the majority of gyms and health clubs prefer personal trainers who have achieved certification under the strict criteria of the NCSF. Obtaining an NCSF certification proves that you are an excellent trainer who will make a valuable addition to their team.

If you decide to use a different program than the NCSF personal trainer certification, be on the lookout for frauds and ensure that the program you select has been accredited. Your certification will not be accepted if it is not from a recognized program by gyms and fitness centers.

NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Exam Registration

No matter which course you choose, you can take the NCSF personal trainer certification exam whenever you’re ready. However, keep in mind that you must take the exam within six months after getting your course bundle! You must re-register with NCSF in order to take the test once six months have passed without testing.

Any exam may also be taken without purchasing a study guide. Candidates who opt to use resources other than those offered by NCSF should use this.

At a Prometric testing facility nearby, sign up for your exam. If you purchased study materials from NCSF, your package purchase conveniently includes coverage for the exam fee.

Call the Prometric testing facility 72 business hours in advance if you can’t make your planned appointment time. If this isn’t done, you’ll have to re-register to take the test.

If you decide not to take the exam after registering, you can ask for a refund rather than rescheduling. A 50% refund may be requested by writing to the NCSF within 30 days of your first exam registration. After the 30-day grace period has passed, refunds are not given.


NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Requirements

The NCSF just demands that applicants be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or an equivalent, like many other certification programs.

However, NCSF does offer instructional advice on how to succeed as a personal trainer and pass their exam, like:

  • Working knowledge of the health and fitness industry.
  • Use their courses or exam prep materials, or select educational offerings from other institutions or universities.
  • Universally regarded exercise philosophy, concepts, and recommendations are covered by the NCSF exam. Candidates now have the option to use study materials that the NCSF does not provide.

Three certifications are provided by NCSF:

  1. Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
  2. Certified Strength Coach (CSC),
  3. Sports Nutrition Specialist Certification (SNS).

Let’s examine each of these in more detail.

NCSF Certifications

1. Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)

The entry-level personal training certification is the CPT. CPTs can find employment in a range of places, such as gyms, offices, residences, or retirement homes. They may work for an organization as employees or as independent contractors as trainers. CPTs may work at resorts or on cruise ships while traveling the globe.

The NCSF website states that CPTs function with:

  • People with client-specific objectives
  • People getting ready for special events
  • Adults over the age of 65 with a range of health and function-based needs
  • Children should increase their physical exercise, motor skills, and healthy behavior
  • Small-group instruction
  • Those with compromised health to lessen the consequences of their sickness
  • Companies to enhance employee health-related performance and lower stress and absenteeism

For CPTs, the possibilities are infinite! It’s a fulfilling career that enables individuals to have more fulfilling lives.

2. Certified Strength Coach (CSC)

Schools, universities, and sporting facilities are where you’ll mostly find CSCs. But many coaches work with athletes in unconventional places like physical therapy and wellness centers to improve their athletic performance.

Regardless of the environment, roles and responsibilities are identical, although there are some differences, such as the number of athletes being trained at once and the resources available to the CSC.

CSCs work with individuals, teams, or groups and frequently concentrate on injury avoidance, physical growth, skill development, and training and conditioning to enhance athletic performance. As additional employment options:

  • Youth-focused initiatives to enhance performance-related fitness
  • Smaller groups to deliver tailored workouts focused on the performance aspects of fitness
  • Military and local governments to guarantee physical readiness

3. Sport Nutritionist Specialist (SNS)

Although the name implies that it just pertains to sports, an SNS actually serves a range of people and purposes. A SNS can use nutritional techniques to assist clients gain strength, increase sports performance, or improve their general health.

Clients and athletes are aware that proper nutrition is crucial to reaching their objectives. An SNS assists customers and athletes in customizing their meals and supplements to meet their unique needs and objectives.

Additionally, there is a rising need for Sports Nutrition Specialists, and this subject is becoming more and more popular in academic and professional contexts.

A personal trainer certification is not part of the NCSF SNS certification. To take the SNS exam, a candidate must hold a CPT certification from the NCSF or another organization with NCCA accreditation.

4. Concurrent/Combo Certifications

The NCSF provides two combo certifications—personal training and strength coach and personal trainer and sports nutrition specialist—in addition to the single qualifications (listed above). Your marketability as a fitness practitioner is considerably increased by these complementing certificates!

Employers like to hire fitness professionals with a variety of specialties so they may enhance their profit by just hiring a small number of highly qualified trainers. This implies that it’s wise to have at least one extra certificate to your name in order to remain competitive on the job market.

The combined programs offered by NCSF expand your knowledge and skill base, positioning you for success as a personal trainer in the future. Additionally, their programs are a wonderful value at only $649 for each combo bundle!

NCSF Personal Trainer

FAQs about NCSF Personal Trainer

How long does NCSF take to finish?

Roughly 2 to 4 months! Candidates have six (6) months from the time they enroll to arrange and take the NCSF-CSC Exam. Prior to examination, students should plan to spend, on average, 2-4 months studying the content.

What occurs if you don’t pass the NCSF test?

If you don't get the required minimum score on the exam, you can reapply to take it. Exam retake costs are $99.00. Thirty (30) days must pass between each candidate's exam attempts.

The NCSF test consists of how many questions?

There are 150 multiple-choice questions in the test. The exam has a three-hour time limit, however most people don't require that much time to finish it.

Ncsf Test difficulty?

The NCSF certification test is not among the toughest in the field. 70% is the minimum passing score, and roughly 3 out of 4 exam participants succeed. Even if the NCSF test questions are not the most difficult, you should nevertheless look at sample tests.


There are several things to consider when selecting a personal trainer certification. You must consider your financial situation, test-taking abilities, learning preferences, CEU needs, frequency and cost of recertification, and other factors.

You must decide what matters most to you, even though NCSF has twice as many advantages as disadvantages. The NCSF-CPT is a less well-known certification that consistently earns the least money, according to the statistics. It’s also a challenging exam that might not work for some testing methodologies.

NCSF, on the other hand, provides a quality education in a welcoming environment. The credential is highly regarded and almost ensures employment.


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