ISSA Private Coach Certification Overview (2023 Replace)

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My journey to turning into an authorized private coach started after I hit rock-bottom. Between fully abandoning the health club, spending an excessive amount of time sitting at a desk, and consuming absolutely anything I wished, I packed on various kilos (about 70, to be actual) through the first two years of the pandemic. With a wider-than-ever waistline and a lower-than-ever degree of self-confidence, I lastly needed to embrace the concept of doing issues in a different way.

Nevertheless, little did I do know that forming basic habits like lifting weights at the very least 4 days per week and slicing out processed meals would quick monitor me down a completely new profession path. As I noticed the quantity on the size drop from an all-time excessive of 285 kilos into the 240s, I gained a brand new appreciation for the self-discipline and information it takes to construct muscle, lose fats, and reshape your mindset.

Impressed to assist different individuals obtain their very own bodily health targets, I confronted the pivotal determination of selecting a private coaching certification program. After weighing my choices, I went with one which’s NCCA-accredited, gives a well-rounded curriculum, and affords a ton of helpful assets and examine supplies: the Worldwide Sports activities Science Affiliation (ISSA). I rapidly discovered why it’s one of the vital common certs within the health business. This ISSA private coach certification assessment gives you an summary of this system design, spotlight its strengths and weaknesses, and tackle continuously requested questions so you’ve got all of the solutions.

Key Takeaways

  • At a worth level of about $1,000, this private coaching certification program is a wonderful approach to break into the health business, particularly for these and not using a formal schooling in train science.
  • ISSA clearly has your success in thoughts with many various methods to help your studying journey. Along with an entire slate in fact supplies, they’ve a job placement instrument, web site builder, consumer consumption kinds, and a step-by-step enterprise information — all of which come included along with your buy of the private coaching certification course.
  • A program design that features audio and video lectures, studying assignments, and a workbook accommodates all studying types. Plus, the ISSA web site has further assets for these keen on specializations like powerlifting and diet teaching.

Who’s the Worldwide Sports activities Sciences Affiliation?

The ISSA was fashioned in 1988 by a workforce of health consultants with the aim of stemming the tide of physical decline and serving to aspiring professionals take pleasure in a profitable profession in health. Almost 4 many years later, the group stays a pillar within the health business, with greater than 400,000 graduates throughout 174 nations, per the ISSA web site.Apart from their private coaching certification program, ISSA affords health professionals a wide range of different certification choices, together with Nutritionist, Corrective Train Specialist, Bodybuilding Specialist, and Kickboxing Teacher.

The certifications issued by the ISSA are accredited by the Nationwide Fee for Certifying Companies (NCCA) and the Distance Training and Instructing Council (DETC), each of that are nationally acknowledged accrediting organizations. They’re additionally affiliated with top-tier organizations just like the Worldwide Well being, Racquet, and Sportsclub Affiliation. ISSA companions with many business gyms and native health services that you simply in all probability already prepare at, which suggests you realize that your certifications will maintain worth.

ISSA Private Coach Certification Course Highlights

Personal trainer Stephen Sheehan holding his certificate from the ISSA.
Holding my ISSA private coaching certificates at my dwelling health club.

Whether or not you choose their Licensed Private Coach, Elite Coach, or Grasp Coach program, ISSA offers you entry to all of the instruments it’s good to succeed, together with a complete guided examine program full with a textbook, audio and video lectures, and quizzes (one for every chapter). Though you’ve got six months to finish the CPT course, it usually takes about 10 weeks. The ISSA even affords a $99 Quick Monitor program that gives an accelerated examine information so you possibly can go at your individual tempo, skip the quizzes, and transfer on to the ultimate examination. 

I stored it easy by signing up for the usual CPT course, which took me about 4 weeks to finish with about two hours of examine time per day. At round $1,000, it’s inexpensive than the Elite Coach and Grasp Coach packages. The textbook contained a wealth of data on every part from vitality programs to train routines, and the lectures and quizzes strengthened these ideas.

All your exhausting learning culminates in a closing examination that consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. You have to earn at the very least a 75 p.c to come back out on the plus facet of the move/no move grading system. However don’t sweat if you happen to get test anxiety — the take a look at is each open-book and untimed (it took me about an hour and a half).

Plus, ISSA stands out from different organizations by providing free retests. General, the examination is extra about making use of the ideas reasonably than merely memorizing muscle teams and macronutrient specifics, so it’s extra useful to real-world eventualities.

From the time you join the certification program, the workforce — which incorporates enrollment specialists, successful coach, and bootcamp instructors — makes each effort to see you succeed with steering and help. It’s as much as you to contact them in order for you or want additional assist. You’ll additionally want focus and a spotlight to element to not solely put together for the ultimate examination, but in addition have the boldness and instruments wanted to educate future purchasers.

Who Ought to Get the ISSA Private Coach Certification

  • Anybody who needs to channel their ardour for well being and health into turning into an authorized private coach.
  • Individuals who wish to study at their very own tempo. The guided examine portion of this certification means that you can blast via the knowledge you’re comfy with and take deep dives into new materials.
  • Those that wish to be their very own boss. ISSA contains a variety of classes on advertising and marketing and gross sales so you can begin (and develop) your individual private coaching enterprise.

Who Shouldn’t Get the ISSA Private Coach Certification

  • Anybody who needs to educate on the collegiate or skilled degree will doubtless want at the very least a bachelor’s diploma in kinesiology or train science and a private coaching certification from the Nationwide Academy of Sports activities Medication (NASM) or the Nationwide Energy and Conditioning Affiliation (NSCA).
  • Should you simply wish to study extra about understanding and lifting however don’t count on to work as a private coach, there are cheaper and directed methods to take action.
  • Those that solely wish to present weight loss program and nutrition recommendation ought to go for the ISSA Nutritionist specialization or one other dietician-related certification.

How A lot Does the ISSA Private Coach Certification Price?

With none reductions, the ISSA private coaching certification usually prices round $1,000. Nevertheless, ISSA affords specials frequently that make it extra inexpensive. The value may be paid in full or damaged down into 5 or 11 funds with as little as one greenback to get began. 

From a value perspective, ISSA falls consistent with business requirements. For instance, the NASM CPT course is barely barely inexpensive at $899. In the meantime, the American Council of Train (ACE) gives three private coach certification choices starting from $675 to $975. 

ISSA additionally affords two different CPT packages: Elite Coach (which prices about $1,200 and contains one specialty course of your alternative) and Grasp Coach (which prices about $2,000 and contains one specialised certification monitor with 4 programs). As well as, if you happen to don’t have already got a CPR/AED certification (you’ll want one to be a CPT), you possibly can get hold of one via ISSA for simply $49.

ISSA Licensed Private Coach Examine Supplies

Two computer screens open with the ISSA personal training certification materials.
The ISSA CPT textbook and program-design mannequin on my pc.

ISSA has all kinds of examine supplies starting from audio classes to guided readings to reside boot camps. Plus, signing up for the private coaching certification course offers you entry to 31 follow quizzes that can assist you get able to move the ultimate examination.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the completely different examine supplies and assets the ISSA gives for college students:

Foundations and Functions for a Licensed Private Coach Textbook

Out of all of the course supplies, the ISSA CPT textbook is by far crucial. Not solely are the quizzes and closing examination largely based mostly on its contents, nevertheless it’s a useful useful resource as a result of it covers a breadth of related subjects. Accessible in an easy-to-navigate PDF format or in a print model for round $40, the ISSA’s private coaching certification textbook contains the next chapters:

  1. Well being, Health, and Private Coaching
  2. Psychology of Conduct Change
  3. Motion Methods
  4. Supporting Methods
  5. Ideas of Biomechanics
  6. Power and Metabolism
  7. Consumer Assessments
  8. Parts of Health
  9. Ideas of Program Design
  10. Ideas of Flexibility Coaching
  11. Ideas of Cardiovascular Train
  12. Ideas of Resistance Coaching
  13. Train Choice and Approach
  14. Diet Foundations
  15. Supplementation
  16. Continual Circumstances
  17. Lifespan Populations
  18. Enterprise and Advertising
  19. Security and Emergency Conditions

Clearly, the textbook covers nearly each subject a health coach must know. When you may have a extra formal schooling if you happen to aspire to work with school or professional athletes (a highschool diploma received’t suffice at that degree), you’ll actually be armed with the requisite information wanted to start out your profession within the area of non-public coaching.

I discovered the structure and total design of the textbook simple to learn, and the ISSA did properly to incorporate loads of diagrams and images for help and added context. Given the complicated nature of a few of the subjects — notably the chapters on biomechanics and vitality and metabolism — I appreciated having visible supplies to depend upon.

Furthermore, the inclusion of formulation, tables, and pattern exercises made the textbook notably useful. I began the course with a strong basis of weightlifting information and ample expertise experimenting with completely different weight loss program methods. Nonetheless, ISSA’s textbook taught me a lot extra about train and diet by offering complete lists of workouts by physique half and giving easy-to-understand examples of easy methods to calculate caloric and macronutrient wants.

Examine Guides

Together with your buy of the Private Coach Certification bundle, you obtain the ISSA’s guided examine on-line materials. The guided examine lays out studying materials, audio and video classes, and a quiz for every of the ten weeks.

Upon completion of the guided examine, you need to be able to take and move the ultimate examination. Every week you possibly can count on to dedicate between two to 4 hours to check, relying in your pace and familiarity with the week’s subject. You’ll wish to learn the assigned chapters of the textbook, take heed to the audio lectures, then full the quiz for the week. After that, test again to any information you have been not sure of and brush up on it.


There are 18 completely different quizzes on topics from the psychology of habits change to consumer assessments to enterprise and marketing. The quizzes embody all the areas of examine you’ll have to grasp to turn out to be a well-rounded private coach.

To be able to carry out properly, you will want to depend upon the studying and lecture info from that week. Almost all the multiple-choice questions pertain on to the fabric within the textbook, with a few of them containing particular phrases that may doubtlessly trick you to steer within the unsuitable course. So, be diligent about studying the main points in every reply choice earlier than you make your choice.

Fortunately, the quizzes don’t take lengthy to finish. Most took me about 15-20 minutes to finish, relying on the problem of the subjects coated that week. I additionally favored that I obtained immediate suggestions on the questions I answered accurately and people I missed, which helped me acknowledge the areas I didn’t perceive so properly and wanted to revisit.

On-line Discussion board

ISSA contains their CPT Academic Bootcamp which runs a web based assembly as soon as per week for 5 weeks that can assist you examine and get you acquainted with different aspiring private trainers. Every week focuses on a unique subject and is designed to develop your information on the topic, resembling train choice. As well as, the instructors have open workplace hours every week the place they host a reside video Q&A session for one hour to provide extra individualized consideration and examination prep help. 

Whereas I didn’t personally make the most of this useful resource, I feel it’s a plus to have it out there. Getting one-on-one help and rising your community can solely result in a greater understanding of the fabric and the health business as an entire.


The ISSA ensures that you simply’ll discover a job inside six months of finishing their private coach certification, or they’ll provide you with a full refund. Should you take and move the certification exams, apply to at the very least three gyms inside six months of finishing your certification and aren’t employed, ISSA gives you your a reimbursement.

Fortunately, I didn’t run into any hassle discovering a job within the area. Throughout my transformation journey, I fashioned a bond with one of many managers on the native YouFit I labored out at. As soon as I let him know I had accomplished the ISSA health certification program, that instantly opened the door to a place with the corporate. Whereas being a longtime rugby participant and weightlifter actually helped, having the ability to formally name myself an authorized health coach gave me credibility to get employed.

Last Examination for the ISSA Private Coach Certification Program

The ISSA examination comprises a complete of 200 multiple-choice questions and is damaged up into six sections: Fundamental and Applied Science, Consumer Assessment, Special Populations, Program Design, Nutrition, and Skilled Observe, Drawing-In Part, and Fiscal Health. As you possibly can see, the sections are fairly diverse — identical to your job as a private coach shall be, too.

It could actually take wherever from an hour and a half to 2 hours or extra relying in your test-taking pace. I used to be capable of full the examination in simply over an hour, although I did have prior CPT information earlier than enrolling within the ISSA program. General, you possibly can count on to reference your textbook all through the examination. Since it’s allowed, it solely is sensible to put it to use as a useful resource to make sure you carry out properly throughout all six sections.

Anticipated Examine Time

ISSA says the certification may be accomplished in as little as 10 weeks and the guided examine is ready up for precisely that. Should you come into this program with completely no information, it might take you a bit longer. However, if you have already got a solid base of information in train science and biomechanics, you would doubtlessly full the course in a number of weeks if you happen to dedicate a number of hours per day to it.

Move Fee

Though you want a rating of 75 p.c or higher to move the ISSA CPT examination, the move price is about 90 p.c. Nevertheless, don’t fall into the entice of considering the ultimate examination is a cakewalk due to that. Certain, the very fact it’s an open-book take a look at is a big benefit, however you must also be dedicated to really comprehending the fabric so you possibly can ship high quality programming to your purchasers.

Retest Price

Ought to you’ve got skipped a few of the preparation, or take a look at anxiousness acquired the very best of you, don’t sweat. Fortunately, ISSA is aware of that, and you’ll retake the ultimate examination — totally free — inside 30 days. You’ll solely must retest on the questions that you simply missed too because you already know the opposite stuff.

ISSA Persevering with Training Necessities

To resume your certification, it’s good to show that you simply’ve been maintaining with the newest science associated to non-public coaching and train. You are able to do this by offering proof of at the very least 20 persevering with schooling models (CEUs) within the type of workshops, different certifications, seminars, or different authorised actions. Recertification takes place each two years, which provides you ample time to hit the 20-CEU threshold. 

As well as, the recertification price is $99, which is among the many lowest costs within the business. Different recertification prices vary from $150 to $300, relying on the group. Better of all, if you happen to get your 20 CEUs via ISSA, they waive the recertification payment fully. I already set myself as much as reap that reward by finishing the ISSA Nutritionist course shortly after acquiring my CPT certification. 

Potential Profession Paths With an ISSA Private Coach Certification

stephen sheehan watching issa lecture
Using the train video library with the course supplies.

It might appear fairly simple that getting your cert is a pure step towards being a full-time private coach, however there are extra choices out there than simply that one. In any case, you don’t essentially must decide to solely working in a one-on-one setting in a company health club. Whereas that’s actually an choice, it’s also possible to parlay your private coaching certification into turning into a health middle supervisor, group health teacher, health coach, health author, exercise developer, or perhaps a health mannequin.

Incomes my private coach certification via ISSA instantly paved the best way for me to safe a place at YouFit, the place I constructed a loyal base of purchasers, expanded the high-intensity interval coaching (HIIT) group class program, and contributed to the corporate’s weblog and social media efforts as a advertising and marketing division guide and model ambassador. Leveraging that hands-on expertise and my journalism background additionally opened up alternatives to jot down for numerous manufacturers within the health/diet house, which finally led me to affix Breaking Muscle as a full-time employees author. 

Plus, don’t underestimate the ability and revenue potential of placing your private coaching certification to make use of by way of social media advertising and marketing. Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube supply infinite prospects to share your information and keenness about every part from dietary supplements to biomechanics in an easy-to-digest kind. Or, you would begin an internet site the place you promote custom-made coaching packages to purchasers all over the world. Both manner, you possibly can make the most of your CPT certification to construct a enterprise designed for in the present day’s tech-driven world.

Anticipated Wage

Pinpointing an actual wage is almost unattainable when there’s such a variety throughout the health business. Whereas superstar private trainers can simply earn six figures, that’s not precisely the case for many who work within the company health club setting.

One estimate says the typical private coach wage falls round $66,565. Nevertheless, that largely depends upon location, schooling, and years of expertise. Basically, a full-time private coach at your native health club will doubtless make nearer to the $50,000 mark.

In my expertise as an ISSA CPT, you even have to contemplate the revenue potential of working for your self vs. for another person. Constructing your individual coaching enterprise comes with some apparent dangers and bills like dwelling health club tools (if you happen to determine to run your enterprise out of your own home, which is what I presently do), nevertheless it additionally comes with limitless monetary upside and full management. However, working in a company health club setting could supply extra stability, together with advantages like medical insurance, retirement, and the possibility to earn commissions.

Different ISSA Certification Applications

You may increase your incomes potential by including extra ISSA certs to your resume. Their hottest is the Elite Coach program, which incorporates entry to the NCCPT Accredited CPT Examination. In line with the ISSA web site, turning into an Elite Licensed Coach can will let you make an additional $8,000 per yr.

For a extra sizable step up, you possibly can turn out to be an ISSA-certified Grasp Coach. This program gives six particular person certifications that ISSA claims may also help your coaching enterprise earn $20,000 extra yearly. Whereas all three Grasp Coach tracks embrace Licensed Private Coach and Nutritionist programs, you possibly can earn certifications in areas resembling Energy & Conditioning Coach and Transformation Specialist, relying on which monitor you select. Nevertheless, be ready to pay north of $2,000 if you wish to attain Grasp Coach standing.

A much less cost-prohibitive however helpful various is the Health Coach certification. This program contains the CPT course and one specialization of your alternative out of the next choices: 

  • Nutritionist 
  • On-line Coach 
  • Corrective Train 
  • Bodybuilding
  • Energy & Conditioning
  • Glute Specialist 
  • Group Train 
  • Operating Coach

Even Should you solely join the usual CPT course, you possibly can earn a Health Coach certification by finishing a specialization sooner or later. 


In comparison with ISSA, NASM is best fitted to a graduate of an train science or associated program who needs a scientific-style mannequin for coaching. So, in case you have aspirations to work for an expert sports activities workforce or high-level school program, a NASM certification gives you a leg up. 

Not like ISSA, you do have a time restrict (120 minutes) to finish the NASM closing examination. Though you solely want a 70 p.c rating to move, the move price is considerably decrease (64 p.c) in comparison with the 90 p.c move price with ISSA. Plus, whereas ISSA gives free retests, NASM costs a retest payment of $199. 


Aimed toward group train fans who wish to add private coaching ideas to their courses, ACE affords three ranges of their CPT course. In comparison with ISSA, the value is extra inexpensive, with the least-expensive program coming in at lower than $700. 

Regardless of having a a lot decrease required passing rating than its opponents (simply 62.5 p.c), ACE has a considerably decrease passing price than ISSA at 65 p.c. You could have 180 minutes to finish the ultimate examination, and the retest charges vary from $199 to $250. Like ISSA, you want 20 CEUs to recertify each two years. Sadly for ACE college students, there’s no approach to keep away from the recertification payment of $129. 

Parting Ideas on Getting ISSA Licensed

Should you’re trying to construct a profession within the health business, the ISSA Private Coach Certification is a good place to look. They provide top-notch preparation supplies for all sorts of learners and even provide you with a week-by-week information to maintain you on monitor. The ultimate examination was difficult and thorough in its scope, forcing me to fastidiously assess the query and reply choices.

General, the gathering of assets — from the train video library and pattern coaching plans to downloadable consumer kinds you need to use immediately — made investing within the ISSA’s program properly price it. Until you’ve got a want to educate on the NCAA or skilled degree, you need to really feel safe about spending the money and time on acquiring your private coaching certification from an organization that’s helped numerous fitness-minded people kickstart profitable careers.


What’s required to get my ISSA private coaching certificates?

You have to meet the factors set forth by the ISSA which incorporates submitting all course quizzes, passing the ultimate examination with a rating of 75 p.c or higher, and offering proof of a present grownup CPR/AED certificates. All of those necessities are neatly laid out on the house display of the portal for you, and the ultimate examination is locked till you full all of the quizzes.

Can I get a printed copy of the textbook for the ISSA private coach certification?

Though most college students make the most of the net model, you possibly can get hold of a printed copy of the ISSA private coach certification textbook for round $40.

Does the ISSA supply follow exams?

Along with the 18 quizzes you should full for the CPT course, the ISSA offers you entry to 31 follow quizzes that can assist you put together for the 200-question closing examination.

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