ACE Personal Trainer Certification |Is It Worth It?

As a certified personal trainer, I’m often asked which certification program I would recommend for those looking to enter the fitness industry. With so many options out there, it can be tough to know which one is the best choice. In this article, I’ll share my experience with the ACE (American Council on Exercise) Personal Training Certification, discuss how it compares to other programs, and weigh the pros and cons. Ultimately, I’ll help you determine if the ACE Personal Training Certification is worth it for you.

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About ACE Personal Trainer Certification

The ACE Personal Training Program offers three certification options to help aspiring personal trainers achieve their goals: Basic, Plus, and Advantage.

All programs include access to the core study program, ACE U, which offers step-by-step guidance, engaging videos, quizzes, and practice tests.

The Basic program includes one practice test, a digital study companion, and access to ACE Answers Basic, which offers on-demand study support.

The Plus program adds an additional practice test, a hard copy study companion, live Q&A webinars, and the Exercise Science 101 supplemental course.

The Advantage program includes four practice tests, facilitated study groups, and all features from the Basic and Plus programs.

Each program allows you to study online at your own pace, with most people taking 3-6 months to prepare for the certification exam. There are no prerequisites for purchasing a study program, but you must be at least 18 years old, hold a current CPR/AED certification, and have completed high school or equivalent to sit for the exam. If you don’t pass the exam on the first attempt, you can retake it after reviewing your performance and preparing further.

Once certified, you’ll join a community of over 90,000 ACE Certified Pros and enjoy lifelong career resources. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to complete 20 hours of ACE-Approved CECs every two years.

My Experience with ACE

When I decided to become a personal trainer, I researched several certification programs before choosing ACE.

I found their comprehensive curriculum, industry recognition, and commitment to ongoing education appealing.

The study materials were engaging, and the flexible, online learning platform allowed me to study at my own pace.

Additionally, the support from ACE Answers and the community of ACE Certified Pros proved invaluable throughout my journey.

How ACE Compares to Other Programs

There are many personal training certifications out there, but some of the most recognized ones include NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), and NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association). While all of these programs have their merits, ACE stands out for several reasons:


ACE is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), ensuring that it meets high standards for certification programs. This accreditation is shared by NASM, ACSM, and NSCA, but not all personal training certifications have this distinction.

Study materials

ACE offers a variety of study materials, including a digital and hard copy study companion, an interactive online platform, and access to ACE Answers for on-demand study support. This diversity in learning resources accommodates different learning styles and preferences.


ACE provides extensive support through live Q&A webinars, facilitated study groups, and dedicated advisors. This level of support helps students feel confident in their readiness for the certification exam.

Focus on behavior change

ACE places a strong emphasis on behavior change techniques, which sets it apart from other certification programs. This focus equips trainers with the skills needed to help clients overcome obstacles and achieve long-lasting results.

Continuing education

ACE CPT offers numerous opportunities for continuing education, ensuring that trainers stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and research. This commitment to ongoing learning helps trainers maintain their certifications and provide the best possible service to their clients.


Comprehensive curriculum

The ACE PT Certification covers a wide range of topics, from exercise science and program design to client assessment and behavior change. This thorough approach prepares trainers to work with a diverse clientele and address various fitness goals.

Industry Recognition

ACE personal training exam is widely recognized within the fitness industry, which can help trainers gain credibility and attract clients. Many gyms and fitness facilities prefer trainers with an NCCA-accredited certification like ACE.

Flexible study options

The ACE personal training online course allows students to study at their own pace and on their schedule. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those who are balancing work, family, and other commitments.

Support network

ACE offers a robust support network, including dedicated advisors and access to the ACE Certified Pro community. This support helps trainers navigate their careers, connect with peers, and access valuable resources.

Focus on behavior change

As mentioned earlier, ACE’s emphasis on behavior change techniques sets it apart from other certification programs. This unique focus equips trainers with the skills needed to help clients achieve long-lasting results.



The ACE personal trainer certification cost may be a drawback for some, with study programs ranging from $979 to $1,799 (price subject to change.) They do run specials which are quite discounted.

Limited hands-on experience

While ACE offers interactive online learning and practical application activities, some individuals may prefer a program with more hands-on experience or in-person workshops. It’s essential to supplement the online training with hands-on practice to ensure you feel confident working with clients.

Competitive job market

Although ACE is a well-respected certification, the fitness industry can be competitive. It may take time and effort to build a client base and establish yourself as a personal trainer. However, having an accredited certification like ACE can help you stand out among the competition.

Continuing education requirements

To maintain your ACE certification, you must complete 20 hours of ACE-approved continuing education credits (CECs) every two years. This requirement can be seen as a con for some, but it’s crucial to stay current in the ever-evolving fitness industry and provide the best possible service to your clients.

Would I Recommend the ACE Personal Training Certification?

Based on my experience and the factors discussed in this article, I would recommend the ACE Personal Training Certification for those looking to enter the fitness industry.

The comprehensive curriculum, industry recognition, and support network make it an excellent choice for aspiring personal trainers.

However, it’s important to consider your personal preferences, learning style, and career goals when choosing a certification program. If you value hands-on experience, you may want to explore other programs or seek opportunities to gain practical experience alongside your ACE certification.


The ACE Personal Training Certification is a worthwhile investment for those seeking a well-rounded education and a respected credential in the fitness industry. The program’s focus on behavior change techniques, flexible study options, and commitment to ongoing learning make it a valuable choice for aspiring personal trainers. However, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons and consider your unique needs and goals when deciding if ACE is the right certification for you.

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