The ACE certification is one of the most popular and respected in the fitness industry. They’ve trained over 53,000 professionals and work with the recruitment teams for leading gym chains. But becoming an ACE personal trainer costs several hundred dollars, so it’s important to do your homework before committing.

In this article – we explain everything you need to know about the ACE personal trainer course including pros, cons, costs, and its industry credibility.

Trainer Essentials articles are written by qualified personal trainers with 15+ years of fitness industry experience. We’ve helped thousands of PTs to embark on their careers, level up their coaching, sales, and marketing skills, and grow their own training businesses.

What is an ACE Certification?

ACE training certification is an educational qualification that’s recognised throughout the entire fitness industry. It enables you to work in gyms and leisure facilities around the world or set up your own wellness business.

ACE CPT stands for ‘American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer’ (we totally see why they shortened it). While most people choose to become an ACE certified personal trainer, they also offer a range of other fitness courses and qualifications on their website

  • ACE health coach certification
  • ACE group fitness certification
  • ACE nutrition certification
  • ACE medical exercise specialist
  • Plus, specialisms like senior fitness, weight management, and functional training

You might also like… our personal trainer certification guide or roundup of the best nutrition certifications for fitness professionals.

How Do I Get Certified?

In order to complete an ACE fitness certification, you need to purchase one of their study programs. The next step is to work through the training manuals to learn about exercise science and creating personalised programs. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how intensely you study.

You also have to register for the certification exam within 6 months (although you can pick a date that’s further into the future). This is something that you’ll need to sit in-person (not online) but there are lots of venues around the world. Once you pass, you’ll receive your certificate and be able to apply for jobs in the fitness industry.

You might also like… How to become a personal trainer – the complete guide from certification to getting clients.

Benefits of the Course

Choosing the right training course involves weighing up the pros and cons before signing up. This will help you avoid unexpected surprises or in the worst case, disappointment with your training.

Studying an ACE PT certification isn’t cheap so it’s important to do your research and understand exactly what you’re getting into. According to many ACE certification reviews, here are the pros that students appreciate…

  • A respected qualification that gives you more credibility with potential employers and clients.
  • Recognised throughout the world so you can work abroad while travelling.
  • Cheapest personal trainer certification available with payment plans to break up the cost.
  • Study at your own pace and fit it around existing work or family commitments.
  • Includes personalised support from knowledgeable study coaches so that you can ask questions.
  • Access to their comprehensive resource centre of videos, blog articles, and FAQs.
  • A Facebook community where you can connect with other students and interact with coaches.
  • You’re guaranteed an interview with a leading fitness chain if you pass.
  • Option to try the course for free before deciding if it’s right for you.


Some disadvantages of the ACE program include…

  • Lack of in-person teaching which can be important when learning the correct exercise form.
  • Business skills and nutrition training aren’t included in the basic level course.
  • You need to pay extra to re-take the test if you fail (unless you opt for the top-tier option).
  • It’s not accredited by REPs which means it won’t qualify you to work in the UK.

You might also like… What do all the different personal training levels mean?

ACE Fitness Course – Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions that crop up about ACE training courses… (we may earn a commission if you click some of the course links but this doesn’t affect the price you pay).

How long does it take to get certified?

take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how intensely you study.

How much does ACE certification cost?

Certification with ACE costs from $849 upwards but you can sometimes take advantage of promotional discounts.

How hard is the ACE exam?

The ACE exam isn’t difficult if you’ve studied the course. ACE provides you with plenty of support and high-quality educational materials throughout. So, as long as you study and ask questions when you don’t understand, you’ll find the exam a breeze.

How much does it cost to take the ACE exam?

The ACE exam cost ranges from $699 to $999. It includes study materials, an exam, and a guaranteed interview at 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, and other big chains. For an extra $100-$300 you get bonus business and nutrition courses, plus expanded study materials.

Can I get certified online?

You can study online but you’ll usually need to take the certification exam in person. However, due to the current circumstances you’re able to take the exam from home (for a limited time).

Which personal trainer certificate is most respected?

Wondering which is better – ACE or NASM? They’re both excellent training providers with strong reputations in the US. However, the key difference between ACE and NASM is how well they’re respected internationally.

ACE is a much more well-known organisation outside of the US and carries a lot of credibility with foreign employers. Plus, their training courses are a bit cheaper than NASM’s.

Personal trainer or health coach certificate – what’s the difference?

The PT course teaches you to use tailored exercise programming to help clients achieve their fitness goals. If you want to work in a gym or fitness studio environment, then you’ll need this certification.

The health coach certification trains you to work with clients on behaviour change. The aim is to use lifestyle medicine to reduce chronic diseases and extends beyond exercise alone.

How does ACE recertification work?

To keep your personal trainer credential up-to-date, you need to earn continuing education credits and complete the recertification process every two years.

Recertification costs $129 if it hasn’t expired but you get discounts for renewing multiple certs. If you wait until after your certification has expired, then it costs $169 within 3 months or $199 within 6 months of the deadline.

Do you have a question that isn’t addressed here? Send us a message using our contact form and we’ll answer it as soon as possible.

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