There are many organizations offering personal training certifications, so, as a beginner personal trainer, how do you know which one to choose?
In this review, we’re going to take a look at the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) and its personal training certification.
By the end of this review, you should have a better idea of whether the NCCPT CPT is for you. So, let’s jump right in!
To learn more about the certifications available, don’t forget to check out the official NCCPT website here.
NCCPT CPT Certification Review
The NCCPT was founded in 1995 and has helped thousands of personal trainers and other fitness professionals prepare for their career.
The NCCPT currently offers five certifications that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in the following areas:
- Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
- Certified Group Exercise Instructor (CGxI)
- Certified Yoga Instructor – Vinyasa Flow (CYI)
- Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor (CICI)
- Certified Strength Training Specialist (CSTS)
The NCCA sets certification standards in the industry and accreditation is important because many gym employers will seek to hire trainers that hold only these certifications.
Being accredited, NCCPT certifications is often recognized at many bigger name gyms and studios.
Although the name includes the words “National Council”, the NCCPT is a private, for-profit organization.
In fact, as of late 2019, the NCCPT was acquired by ISSA, an even larger certifying organization which also offers its own suite of certifications.
We did a full write up and review the ISSA CPT. You can check it out here.
What’s In The NCCPT CPT Certification Program?
The NCCPT currently offers the certification exam only. It does not sell nor require the purchase of any educational courses or preparation materials to sit for the exam.
Yes, that’s right. Since the ISSA acquisition, you can only purchase the exams through the NCCPT. There is no NCCPT book or study guide to buy.
The NCCPT CPT exam covers the following seven topics:
- Health Assessment
- Exercise Physiology
- Exercise Application
- Business Training
- Emergency Procedures
Because the NCCPT does not offer any courses on it’s own website, it’s probably a good idea to go with the courses and education available through its parent company, ISSA.
Otherwise, it feels like a bit of a shot in the dark compared to most other major organizations that offer an accompanying textbook and study guide.
However, you’re free to use any study materials available on the market as long as you have a strong understanding of each of the topic areas covered on the exam.
See the NCCPT website for more details so you’re spending your time studying efficiently and effectively.
Pricing of the NCCPT CPT Exam
The cost of the NCCPT CPT exam is $599. No other options are available.
You will also be required to pay the Prometric testing center fee (currently $79).
With the relatively expensive price and lack of accompanying textbook and course, it is recommended that you purchase a CPT program directly through ISSA since each purchase now includes a free NCCPT NCCA-accredited exam.
It’s completely worth it to access useful study guides, practice quizzes and tons more through the ISSA for just a few dollars more.
Prior to its acquisition by ISSA NCCPT had various courses at affordable price points, but that is no longer the case.
ISSA CPT Exam Eligibility Requirements
The requirements to take the NCCPT exam are noted below:
- Be at least 18 years of age or have written permission from legal guardian
- Hold a current CPR/AED certification
- A government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
CPR/AED certifications are accepted through organizations such as American Heart Association, American Red Cross, American Safety and Health Institute, and of course through the ISSA.
You will have six months from the date of enrollment to take your exam, so make a note of your registration and due dates.
NCCPT CPT Exam Passing Score
The NCCPT exam is a computer-based exam and must be taken live at a proctored Prometric testing facility.
The exam consists of 140 multiple choice questions of which 125 are scored on the exam and 15 questions are pre-test questions and not scored on the exam.
You have two hours to complete the final exam. Once completed, you’ll be provided with a pass or fail result at the testing site.
If you are unable to pass the exam, you can retake the exam at a later date once you’ve paid a retake fee ($99). Oh, and don’t forget to add another Prometric testing center fee ($79).
As with any test or exam, you’re encouraged to study hard so you pass the first time around and don’t end up having to pay multiple retake fees.
Once completed, you’ll be able to download your CPT certificate from your NCCPT online account.
If you’ve already got your own personal training website set up then you’re ready to get started training!
Recertification and Continuing Education Requirements
Staying current with industry trends and best practices is important which is why it’s necessary for trainers to ensure their certifications are up to date.
Consistent with industry standards, certifications through the NCCPT are valid for two years and trainers are required to obtain continuing education units (CEUs) in order to renew.
There is a requirement of 2.0 CEUs (20 hours) for each two year renewal period.
Be sure to check with the NCCPT for a list of approved CEU providers before registering and paying for any CEU courses so you’re not stuck footing the bill of an unapproved course.
A good choice of CEU providers for the NCCPT would be, of course, the ISSA. Due to their affiliation, if all of the 2.0 CEUs are completed through ISSA the renewal fee will be waived.
Along with having a valid CPR/AED, there is a recertification fee of $75 every two years in addition to the costs you’ll incur for taking the CEU courses.
Be sure to certify on time and mark the dates on your calendar in order to avoid any late renewal fees.
NCCPT CPT Pros and Cons
Below is a list of pros and cons to the NCCPT CPT program:
- NCCA accredited CPT program
- Has been around the industry a long time
- Partnered with strong industry player ISSA
- Immediately-available exam results
- No accompanying study guide or course since acquisition by ISSA
- Expensive price makes it almost necessary to go through ISSA
- Recertification fees apply every 2 years
One of the first things to know is that as of late 2019, NCCPT is now under ownership of ISSA. A lot has changed since the acquisition but it appears to be for the good of the industry as fewer players offering certifications can lead to increased trust amongst those that are left.
NCCPT CPT certifications are nationally accredited while ISSA certifications are not.
ISSA now includes an accredited NCCPT-CPT exam with each ISSA-CPT package (Prometric fee applies).
Unlike the ISSA exam, this exam is NOT open book/open notes, so be sure to study thoroughly.
For our full write-up on the ISSA CPT certification exam and requirements, click here.
Following the 2019 acquisition by ISSA, the NCCPT continued offering its NCCA-accredited CPT exam but discontinued its educational courses and study materials.
However, the courses are now offered through ISSA which brings with it many more resources and in-depth study content.
Because of the high price point of the NCCPT certification, we strongly recommend that you go directly through ISSA since it’s a small price difference and you get a whole lot more including an NCCPT exam.
Overall, if ISSA is able to get its final exam accredited directly, there’s a chance that it will eventually dissolve the NCCPT. So if one day you find yourself wondering “what happened to the NCCPT?”, you’ll know. Only time will tell.
Due to its NCCA accreditation, the NCCPT CPT is accepted by most gyms, but be sure to check with the potential employer in advance to be certain.
For more information on ISSA and our full review, click here!