A quick guide to the ISSA personal training certification

A quick guide to the ISSA personal training certification

Eddie Lester
By Eddie Lester
Apr 30, 2024
5 min read

Obtaining an International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) certification can be a crucial step for personal trainers looking to enhance their professional credentials. The ISSA personal training certification program offers comprehensive training and education, equipping trainers with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the fitness industry.

With its esteemed reputation and industry recognition, an ISSA certification not only validates a trainer’s expertise but also opens up new opportunities for career advancement and client acquisition.

Let’s take a quick look at this certification. This post will cover:

About the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

ISSA was founded in 1988 and is a leader in fitness education, offering fitness certifications and specializations. The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is the global leader in online fitness and wellness certifications. Founded in 1988, ISSA now offers over 50 certifications and specializations and has educated nearly half a million trainers in 176 countries.

Getting your ISSA Personal Trainer certification for the first time

The ISSA Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) program allows you to study at your own pace, with all study materials and testing available online. Despite being a fully online program, there is unlimited educational support and customer support available before and after you’re certified.

Course package includes:

  • Reference textbook: Fitness: The Complete Guide
  • CPT workbook and study guide
  • Practice examinations
  • Marketing and business guide
  • Online student forum
  • Online exercise lab with animated exercises
  • Reference DVD
  • A free professional website

The Certified Personal Training program provides the foundational knowledge and skills needed to start training clients and running a small business.

Course topics include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology (emphasis on the musculoskeletal system)
  • How to assess clients and help them set goals
  • How to motivate clients to meet their goals
  • Training clients safely while preventing injuries
  • How to create comprehensive, individualized training plans
  • Business skills for starting a career in the fitness industry

How much is the ISSA personal training certification?

The ISSA CPT course costs vary depending on bundles, sales and discounts available. At the time of writing, it costs $1119.30 not including taxes and fees. ISSA offers interest-free payment plans of 12 or 6 month installments.

An accelerated Fast Track program — designed to help trainers pass their exam in four weeks — is available for an additional $99 on top of the main CPT program. Additionally, an expanded study pack that accommodates different learning styles (auditory, kinesthetic, visual, reading/writing) is available for $49.95.

There are many other courses and bundles available personal trainers can layer together with the CPT program, so check ISSA’s site for current offers and courses.

How long does it take to get certified?

Because the course is self-study, completion times vary. However, ISSA requires all CPT courses to be completed withing six months of purchase; that is, you must also satisfy all of the certifications requirements below within six months.

If you do not finish within six months, your account will either become inactive. However, you can request a one-month extension for a fee. You may request up to three one-month extensions before having to re-enroll.

CPT certification requirements

To obtain ISSA CPT certification, you need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Submission of all course quizzes
  • A score of 70% or better on the final examination
  • Proof of current Adult CPR/AED certificate

Passing the ISSA CPT exam

To become an ISSA certified personal trainer, you need to pass a final exam, which is only available after taking all of the course quizzes.

ISSA offers two choices for a final exam:

  1. Open-book exam. This is a take-at-home, untimed exam with multiple choice questions.
  2. Proctored National Council of Certified Personal Trainers exam. This is a closed-book, proctored National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)-accredited exam.

Depending on the course you take, there could be up to 200 questions for the final exam.

Recertification and continued education

All ISSA personal trainers must renew their certification every two years. To maintain certification with ISSA, trainers must:

  • Complete 20 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
  • An updated Adult CPR/AED certification
  • Pay the renewal fee of $99

If all 20 CEUs are earned through ISSA, the renewal fee will be waived. Learn more about qualifying CEUs.

ISSA specialization certifications

Besides the popular ISSA Personal Trainer Certification course, the ISSA offers a number of other specializations that can boost your knowledge and skills to give you a step up in the industry.

Course include, but are not limited to:

  • Bodybuilding Specialist
  • Glute Specialist
  • Kickboxing Instructor
  • Performance Enhancement Coach
  • Powerlifting Instructor
  • Strength & Conditioning
  • Online Coach
  • Tactical Conditioning Coach
  • Corrective Exercise Specialist
  • DNA-Based Fitness Coach
  • Exercise Recovery Specialist
  • Exercise Therapy Specialist
  • Health Coach
  • Nutritionist
  • Running Coach
  • Transformation Specialist
  • Yoga Fundamentals
  • Group Exercise
  • Group Personal Training
  • Indoor Cycling
  • Lifespan Coach
  • Weight Management Specialist
  • Youth Fitness Instructor
  • Senior Fitness Instructor

You can bundle the CPT course with some of these specializations to round out your skills and save money. They are the Elite and Master Trainer bundles.

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Eddie Lester
About the author

Eddie Lester is a personal trainer from Los Angeles and the founder and CEO of Fitness Mentors. With over 20 years experience, 10 different certifications and specializations, and multiple years teaching personal training at the university level, Eddie loves sharing his personal training knowledge and PT exam strategies.

Eddie is the author of Business and Sales: The Guide to Success as a Personal Trainer.

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