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Do I Need a Certification to be a Personal Trainer?

Have you considered being a personal trainer?

Perhaps you have looked into being a personal trainer – and have thought: “do I need to get a certification to be a personal trainer?”

This is what you need to know!

While you are not required to have a certification to be a personal trainer, it’s the smart way to go. After all, anyone can call themselves a personal trainer – but not everybody can show proof of their training by being certified.

There are a number of different certifications out there that can help to not only help personal trainers expand their expertise, but to demonstrate proof of training. A few popular certifications accepted by many gyms are NCSF, NASM, ISSA, and Ace. But let’s get back to the topic: why do I need a certification to pursue a career in personal training?

The Pros of Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer

The biggest pro is that most gyms and fitness facilities require the proper accreditation to train at their location. This will make it much more difficult to get clients and therefore harder to maintain a personal training business. Further, without a certification you won’t be able to get liability insurance as a personal trainer – which brings a whole new area of risk to being a personal trainer without certification.

How to Get Business Liability Insurance

Possessing the proper business liability insurance is a necessity for a personal trainer working with a fitness facility or gym. The fact is: most insurance companies will not allow someone without the proper accreditation to get liability insurance. The purpose for this is that people who have passed certification have had the proper training and should therefore be less likely to injure someone they are training.

Cons of NOT Getting a Certification

As with many specialized roles, you will be very limited in finding an employer or a gym that will let you train people using their facilities. Furthermore, lacking certification will make it much harder to demonstrate to potential clients that you are legitimate and know what you are doing. The nature of personal training is one of providing support for others’ (the clients’) wellbeing. It doesn’t matter if it is nutrition or strength training or weight loss, the trainer is responsible for ensuring quality and safe instruction to the client – which is certainly more difficult to show and demonstrate without certification. Proper accreditation proves that you put the time in to finish a formal training and that you can provide a personal training plan that will truly help the client, regardless of their goal.

How Do I Get Certified?

Different places and facilities have different requirements for what is credible training, so where you are will impact what certification is best for you. The easiest way to figure out the best certification for you is to discuss requirements with the facility at which you aim to work. There are, however, fairly standard certifications that are accepted at most facilities as acceptable accreditation – such as NASM or NCSF. Courses and programs make it easy to obtain these certifications. Luckily, these programs do not require years of training or thousands and thousands of dollars.

There are a few requirements however:

1. At least 18 years old

2. A high school diploma or GED

3. CPR/AED certification

After you complete the program and education, all you must do is pass the certification exam!

FAQs on Becoming a Personal Trainer

What’s the difference between a personal trainer and a fitness coach?

Fitness coaches are more likely in the ‘grey area’ of certification. They can have the proper accreditation, but it is not an expectation for one to call themselves a fitness coach. Whereas, to call yourself a personal trainer, it is typically expected you have achieved the proper accreditation.

Do I need a degree to be a personal trainer?

A degree is NOT needed to become a personal trainer. While some colleges do provide programs that allow you to obtain a certification in personal training, an aspiring personal trainer absolutely does not NEED a college degree.

Do I need a certification to train virtually?

Virtual training is the same as in-person training – so the same expectations apply: you do not NEED a certification, but it is highly recommended. The safety of clients is important regardless of training being in-person or online, which is why certification is still highly recommended.


To start your journey towards having a successful business as a personal trainer – get certified. With proper accreditation, you will be able to rent space in a gym, train a fitness facility, demonstrate to potential clients proof of your knowledge, expertise, and abilities.

Schedule a phone consultation today with PFTA Austin to hear about our upcoming classes and the best certification for you!

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