If your goal is to become a personal trainer I’m sure you have wondered if it’s necessary to go to college or if you can just get a certification and be a successful trainer. In this article I’ll give you my insight on this topic since I’ve done both.
College vs certification to become a personal trainer
When I first started as a trainer over a decade ago I did a lot of research on my own, I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on and I learned a lot. Some things I learned were right and I could use them and some were wrong and over time I would figure that out and weed them out. After studying on my own for years I decide to pursue a career following my passion for training and nutrition so I got certified for personal training. This certification entailed self-studying and then sitting through two days of classes and taking an exam. If you passed the exam you would be a certified personal trainer. After passing this exam I was now a personal trainer, but I didn’t feel like my knowledge was any better than before I took the exam.
I decided to go to college for Exercise Science studying at East Stroudsburg University for four years and completing my BS. in Exercise Science. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience through out my career in school and working under my boss who has his master’s degree in Exercise Science. Going to school was difficult for me because I was working as a personal trainer and working at two different gyms, doing in-home training paying my tuition, while taking 18 credits per semester.
I think there are pros and cons of going to school versus getting a certification. I believe you get more extensive base of knowledge and practical application when going to school, you can also charge more having a degree. On the other hand the cost is much greater than going to college. A certification costs a few hundred dollars once where as college is over 50,000 plus for four years!
The best advice I could give someone pursuing a career in training is to continue to study and research whether you go to school or not. I finished school and got my certification through American College of Sports Medicine and I’m still a member of the NSCA and ACSM, which means I receive journals that I read to stay up on the latest research in the field of nutrition and exercise science. Being in the fitness industry over the years I have met people who have certifications that are qualified trainers and I’ve met people who have degrees that are not qualified to train. The biggest factor in being a successful trainer is practicing, evidence based principles, proper technique, and constantly striving to become better whether it’s going to school or self-education through books, and journals.
I hope this article helps anyone who is looking to pursue a career in personal training!