The ACE personal training certification is the largest, most widely recognized and widely accepted personal training certification there is out there. The draw is that you can complete the course at your own pace, on your own time, completely independently. While many find this the perfect choice to become a personal trainer, some criticize the ACE for not requiring hands on experience. While they do strongly recommend that you do 100 hours of practical experience, it isn’t a requirement. Find out more about the ACE certification process and decide for yourself if it works for you.
You can purchase study materials online that range from a simple textbook and practice test to DVDs, flashcards and practice tests. When you feel you are ready for the test, you can sign up online at any time and pick a testing area close to you.
The prices for study materials vary whether you go with the Premier, Deluxe, or Standard package, but expect to pay around $300-$400 for the exam materials. The ACE certification group also runs an Exam Review course every three months or so around the US. This counts as 1.6 continuing education credits (CECs), runs you around $220 and gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This is not a requirement to get your certification.
Also every three months, the ACE runs a 2 day, 15-hour Practical Training Program for additional help before the test to give you insight into critical areas such as Assessment, Program Design, and Strength Training. This runs about $300 and can be counted as 1.5 CEC’s but again, is not a requirement.
What can you expect from the test? A group of industry experts created an outline of expected job tasks and skill sets required to perform a personal training job effectively. The questions for test were then created, sent in a survey to fitness professionals, then approved by an exam committee to make sure the exam accurately portrays everything personal trainers need to know to be successful. There are 150 questions on the exam, with 2 simulation questions, and you have three hours to complete it.
The simulation questions are designed to check your ability to safely and effectively program for an individual. Questions usually include the age, weight and height of a prospective client, along with their goals and special considerations like an injury or health concern.
To be eligible to take the test, you must be at least 18 years of age and valid CPR certification. If you fail, you can retake the test for an additional fee.
Like most certification programs, the ACE requires continuing education credits (CEC). The ACE requires that you get 2.0 CEC’s before your two year renewal period. 0.1 credit equates to one hour of instruction. That means that for 2.0 CEC’s, you need 20 hours of structured ACE learning in the first 2 years. You can get CECs from ACE, specific college credits, and CPR recertifications.
The ACE certification is valid for a two-year period. During that two years, you need to complete 2.0 CEC’s and then and submit your renewal application with applicable fees before your certification expires. Each certification renewal costs $69 and you can renew any time during your certification period. ACE will renew your certification up to two months after it expires for $89. For renewals between two and six months, the fee is $109. After 6 months, you may be required to take the certification exam again.
If you want to work at your own pace, and learn best independently, the ACE certification may be the best choice for you. If you feel you need a lot of hands on training, consider signing up for their additional courses.