Obtaining Certification as a Fitness or exercise science professional
This is an excerpt from Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription 9th Edition With HKPropel Online Video by Ann L. Gibson,Dale R. Wagner & Vivian H. Heyward.
Fitness and exercise science professionals obtain certification by passing examinations developed by professional organizations. These organizations typically offer education and training programs, administer their own examinations (written and practical), and issue certifications to those who pass the examinations. These certifications are generally issued for a 2 to 3 yr period; certification is maintained by taking continuing education courses and earning continuing education credits. Some certification programs are accredited by third-party agencies like the NCCA.
In the United States alone there are more than 40 organizations providing certifications for exercise science and fitness professionals, and most of these organizations offer multiple certifications; consequently, well over 100 certifications exist (Wagner 2023). Given that there is no governing entity to oversee the development of certification examinations and eligibility requirements, there are inequalities between the available certifications. Some programs are more rigorous than others, with stringent eligibility requirements (see the previously mentioned accreditation requirements for ACSM and NSCA exams); others may or may not be accredited by a third-party accrediting agency like the NCCA. To address the differences between certification programs, the NCCA formally reviews applications for program accreditation.
In 2004, the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) recommended that all of its member health clubs hire only personal fitness trainers certified by an NCCA-accredited organization or agency. Still, not all certifications are equal. This leaves the consumer uncertain about who is and who is not highly trained and qualified as an exercise professional. It also complicates the process of choosing the most appropriate certification for yourself. Some agencies sponsor certification programs primarily for financial gain, while others certify professionals in order to promote exercise science as a profession.
Table 1 lists the organizations that offer certifications accredited by the NCCA. Additionally, the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals (CREP), a not-for-profit corporation composed of organizations that offer NCCA-accredited exercise certifications, established a registry of professionals in the United States who are certified by any of five organizations (www.usreps.org). This website offers a convenient way to find professionals by location, certification, or name. Additionally, the International Confederation of Registers for Exercise Professionals (ICREPs) is a global registry that contains over 300,000 certified exercise professionals spanning five continents (www.icreps.org).
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