NCSF Certification Review: Are The NCSF Personal Training Certifications Good?

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Review Summary:

Over 350,000 educated professionals have changed lives by pursuing the job of their dreams as personal trainers. Suppose you want to be a part of a group that has professional excellence in fitness and wellness. In that case, NCSF Certification can give you a world of knowledge and hands-on training, designed to empower you with the skills needed to excel in the dynamic realm of fitness training, exercise science, and personal coaching.

  • PROS:
  • Comprehensive curriculum
  • Accredited by the NCCA
  • Practical application
  • Affordable
  • CONS:
  • The recognition and acceptance of NCSF certifications can vary from region to region
  • No guaranteed job as this industry is competitive
  • Lack of brand recognition

Quick Facts:

Founded: 1997
Price: $399-$699
Beginner Friendly: Yes

Risk of Injury: Minimal
Founded by: Susan Wright
Target Audience: All levels

Benefits Expected?: Increased earnings, 95% graduate satisfaction rating, easy-to-follow study and exam materials

When starting a career in the fitness industry, selecting a reputable and credible certification is a top priority. The National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) stands out as a significant contender in this arena, offering a comprehensive certification program that purports to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to thrive as personal trainers.

The NCSF has been growing in popularity lately so we figured we’d check some of what they have to offer. A quick spoiler though, for the most part, we thought that their CPT certificate was solid! 

In this review, we’ll take a look at the NCSF certification program’s features, advantages, drawbacks, costs, and most importantly, whether it’s a worthwhile investment. We’ll also compare NCSF with other certifications, examine reviews from certified trainers, address common FAQs, and provide concluding insights.

What is NCSF Certification

The National Council on Strength and Fitness is a respected institution that provides certification programs for aspiring personal trainers. NCSF’s certification process covers a range of topics including exercise science, program design, nutrition, and client assessment. 

NCSF aims to ensure that certified individuals possess a strong foundation in fitness knowledge and are prepared to deliver effective and safe training programs to their clients. NCSF provides NCCA accreditation (National Commission for Certifying Agencies), a widely esteemed recognition that holds significance in industries necessitating certification.

With a history spanning over 25 years, NCSF has established itself as a prominent global leader, offering exceptional education, training, and advocacy for exercise professionals across the world.

How to Become a Personal Trainer with NCSF

Achieving NCSF certification involves several steps:

  • Choose the NCSF certification program that aligns with your career goals.
  • Enroll in the chosen program.
  • Study the provided materials, which may include textbooks, online resources, and practice exams.
  • Complete the certification exam, which is typically conducted at a testing center.
  • Once you pass the exam, you will earn your NCSF certification.

NCSF Certification Benefits

  • Comprehensive Curriculum: NCSF’s curriculum covers a wide spectrum of fitness-related topics, equipping trainers with a well-rounded understanding of exercise science and training principles.
  • Credibility: NCSF is recognized in the fitness industry and can enhance your employability as a personal trainer.
  • Practical Application: NCSF’s emphasis on practical knowledge ensures trainers can design effective programs tailored to clients’ needs.
  • Continuing Education: NCSF offers opportunities for ongoing learning and professional development.
  • Lower Cost: NCSF is cheaper than most other CPT certificates

NCSF Certification Disadvantages:

  • Limited Recognition: While NCSF is respected within the fitness industry, it might not enjoy the same level of recognition as some other well-established certifications.
  • Cost Consideration: The cost of NCSF certification can be a factor, especially when compared to other certifications that might offer similar recognition at a different price point.
  • Competitive Landscape: The fitness industry is saturated with various certification options, making it crucial to assess how NCSF certification compares to alternatives in terms of market demand and competitiveness.
  • Lesser Known Brand: Some gyms or employers might have a preference for other certifications due to regional or historical biases, affecting your employability.
  • Scope of Specialty: NCSF’s specialization might not align perfectly with certain niche areas within the fitness industry, potentially limiting opportunities in specialized fields.

How Much Does NCSF Certification Cost?

The cost of NCSF certification can vary based on the program you choose and any additional study materials you opt for. Generally, prices range from a few hundred to around a thousand dollars. Here are a few personal trainer programs you can choose from:

  • Home Study: $399 or $37/month 
  • Home Study+: $449 or $41/month
  • Certified Personal Trainer + Sports Nutritionist Specialist: $649 or $59/month
  • Certified Personal Trainer + Certified Strength Coach: $699 or $64/month

Ready to elevate your fitness career? Unlock a world of opportunities and become a trusted fitness professional. Don’t miss out on even bigger savings – using our exclusive discount link

Is the NCSF Certification Worth It? 

Determining whether NCSF certification is worth it depends on your career goals and preferences. The comprehensive curriculum, practical focus, and industry recognition make it a valuable investment for those aspiring to become personal trainers.

We suggest you weigh the benefits against the costs. According to NCSF data from Indeed, Google, and Facebook, 85% of professionals increased their earnings with their NCSF certification, 95% graduate satisfaction rating, and 97% would recommend it to a family member or a friend. 

So, in our books, we can safely say that the NCSF certification is worth the cost for most aspiring personal trainers.


Comparing NCSF with other certifications like NASM, ACE, or ISSA is crucial. Each certification has its strengths and specializations. For more context, we’ve done a comparison review on the top 5 US fitness coaching certifications ranked

When it comes to having a strong reputation within the fitness industry, NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) is the industry leader. With an evidence-based approach, the NASM curriculum is more rooted in scientific research and evidence-based approaches. 

If you’re looking to PT your way globally, we also recommend NASM over NCSF as NASM’s recognition extends internationally, potentially broadening your career opportunities. However, NASM certifications are more expensive than NCSF.

So which is best? We recommend our readers to go for the NCSF certification if they’re low on budget for CPT and just want to get their foot into the personal training world. Whereas if you have more budget to spare and want to go all in from the start, then NASM would be the better option. 

Why Become a Personal Trainer With NCSF?

According to PubMed, the number of individuals relying on personal trainers has increased, for the support and guidance they can provide can be very effective in helping individuals meet their fitness goals. 

It’s no wonder why, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditional Research, personal trainers are considered to play a vital role in the support and development of exercise-related intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, and competence in adults. 

NCSF Certification Reviews

Reviews from individuals who have obtained NCSF certification are generally positive. Trainers often highlight the practical knowledge gained, the applicability of the training, and the informative and easy-to-navigate learning material. 

They have also highlighted that NCSF was always there to answer any questions they had promptly and professionally. 

We believe that this is the key to creating helpful career services: a positive environment, and good career preparations. See what other people have to say.

Expand Your Knowledge With Gymless

 If you’re serious about becoming a personal trainer, then we think you’d benefit from reading our blog posts on training methodologies to help your clients evolve to their best form. Check out some of our written blogs:

NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Frequently Asked Questions (5 FAQs)

Yes, all certification exams can be taken online or at your local testing center.

NCSF certification is valid for two years, after which you need to complete continuing education requirements to maintain it.

While a background in fitness can be helpful, NCSF programs are designed to accommodate various skill levels.

NCSF offers continuing education opportunities, networking events, and resources to help trainers stay updated and connected.

Our Final Thoughts On NCSF CPT 

We believe that the NCSF certification serves as a solid stepping stone for individuals aiming to establish themselves as skilled and knowledgeable personal trainers. It’s one of the more affordable certifications with a practical focus, comprehensive curriculum, and industry recognition just about anywhere in the world.

However, financial investment and limited industry recognition should be considered when making your decision. If you consider the value of the Certified Personal Trainer + Sports Nutritionist Specialist package, it provides a lot of value for $649. 

We would overall rate this certification a 7.5 out of 10. It possesses favorable attributes, although it doesn’t rank as the foremost option in the field. However, it’s the clear frontrunner for those on a tighter budget who need a great certification at a low cost.

Ready to turn your passion for fitness into a rewarding career? The NCSF certification is your ticket to success. Join the ranks of elite trainers today and get even bigger savings using our exclusive discount link


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