ISSA Personal Trainer Certification Review (Fall 2022 Update)

The International Sports Science Association (ISSA) has been around for decades — 34 years to be exact — and is well-regarded in the personal training community. The mission statement of the ISSA is to bring healthy living to everybody in the world through education and community. Their personal trainer certification is a great way to get started sharing your passion for fitness with others, so you can help them be the best version of themselves, too. In our ISSA Personal Trainer certification review, we found that the curriculum covered a broad range of information such as anatomy, program building, and how diet and exercise work together. We also liked that ISSA puts an emphasis on helping you learn how to market yourself as a professional in the fitness industry with information on marketing, business development, and sales.

A personal trainer certification enables you to work with the general public with a focus on improving fitness and health. You’ll learn how to be a personal trainer in all aspects, from exercise selection to motivation, and even business development. After you complete the course you can practice as a certified personal trainer and help members of the public reach their fitness goals. Additionally, you’ll be able to instruct your clients on how diet and exercise work together to improve their fitness. With the host of resources available for you from the ISSA, you can complete this certification in 10 weeks. For those who want to take their passion for fitness and turn it into a career as a personal trainer, this certification is a worthwhile undertaking with everything you need to start.

ISSA Certification

Turn your passion for fitness into a career with the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification. With only one hour per day, you can finish in as little as 10 weeks and the ISSA guarantees you’ll find a job. Included in the Personal Trainer Certification Bundle are audio lectures, assigned readings, quizzes, a personal success coach, and more to help you succeed. 

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Main Takeaways

  • This certification is an excellent way to break into the fitness industry, especially for those without a formal education in exercise science.
  • The resources are vast and it’s clear ISSA has your success in mind with so many different ways to support your learning journey and beyond. Getting the certification is just the start. They have a job placement tool, website builder, client intake forms, and a step-by-step business guide, as well — all of which come included with your purchase of the course.
  • Whatever your learning style, the courses can work for you with both audio lectures and reading assignments for each week.

ISSA Personal Trainer Certification Highlights

Over the course of 10 weeks with only one hour per day, ISSA has all the tools that you can need to complete this personal trainer certification. This comes thanks to the included comprehensive guided study program that includes a textbook, audio lectures, and quizzes (one for each concept). All of your hard studying culminates in a 200-question exam, but don’t sweat if you get test anxiety — the final exam is open book. The exam is more about applying the concepts rather than just memorizing stuff, so it’s more beneficial to real-world scenarios.

From the time you enroll in the program, the team, which includes enrollment specialists, a success coach, and bootcamp instructors, who make every effort to see you succeed with their guidance and support. We loved that the entire program is at your own pace, so you can take your time or grind it out depending on how much time you have and what your goals are. There’s a lot to like about the way this certification is run and the quality of knowledge you’ll obtain through it. The only downside is that the program may be a bit too expensive for some people, but there are payment options available in that case.

Who Should Get the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification

  • Anyone with a passion for health and fitness who wants to turn that passion into a career as a personal trainer.
  • People who like to learn at their own pace. The guided study portion of this certification allows you to blast through the information you’re comfortable with and take deep dives into new material.
  • Those who want to be their own boss. ISSA includes a number of lessons on marketing, sales, and business development for those who don’t want to work for a gym as a personal trainer.

Who Shouldn’t Get the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification

  • Anyone looking to train special populations — such as those with diabetes, heart conditions, or other chronic diseases — may want to look at other, more specialized certifications.
  • If you just want to learn more about working out and lifting but don’t expect to work as a personal trainer, there are more cost-effective and directed ways to do so.
  • Those who want to give diet and nutrition advice will want to get a nutritionist or another dietician-related certification.

How Much Does The ISSA Personal Trainer Certification Cost?

The Certified Personal Trainer bundle from ISSA comes with a bunch of extras included, helping you get the most out of the certification process. Each bundle comes with the CPT online boot camp, which offers individualized guidance weekly and a study group, so you can work with a community of your peers. You’ll also receive 18 practice quizzes and both audio and video lectures to set you up for success. Without any discounts, the course costs $1,427 normally, but ISSA offers discounts regularly, which include other certifications or study materials, so be sure to check before making a purchase. The price can be paid in full or broken down into five or 11 payments with as little as one dollar to get started. If you don’t already have a CPR/AED certification, you’ll need one, which will cost you another $49 as a one-time charge.

Who is the International Sports Sciences Association?

The ISSA was formed in 1988 by a team of fitness experts with the goal of stemming the tide of physical decline and specifically “to increase the fitness of the people on our planet by helping more fitness professionals enjoy a successful career in fitness.” They offer a ton of certifications on top of the Personal Trainer Certification, like Nutritionist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Online Coach, Kickboxing Instructor, and many more. Whatever aspect of fitness you’re interested in, they’ve probably got a certification for it.

The certifications issued by the International Sports Science Association are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the Distance Education and Teaching Council (DETC), both are nationally recognized accrediting organizations. They’re also affiliated with top-tier organizations like the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association. The ISSA partners with a lot of fitness facilities that you probably already work out at, which means you know that your certifications will hold value.

ISSA Certified Personal Trainer Study Materials

The ISSA has a wide variety of study materials ranging from audio lessons to guided readings to quizzes and boot camps. There are a ton of different ways to prepare for the final exam and each person will want to utilize the resources available differently. No matter what type of learner you are, there’s study material for you.

Study Guides

With your purchase of the Personal Trainer Certification bundle, you receive the ISSA’s guided study online material. The guided study lays out reading material, audio lessons, and a quiz each week for 10 weeks. Upon completion of the guided study, you should be ready to take and pass the final exam. Each week you can expect to dedicate between two to four hours to study, depending on your speed and familiarity with the week’s topic. You’ll want to read the assigned chapters of the textbook, listen to the audio lectures, then complete the quiz for the week. After that, check back to any info you were unsure of and brush up on it.


There are 18 different quizzes available on subjects from the psychology of behavior change, to client assessments, and business and marketing. The quizzes encompass all of the areas of study you’ll need to master to become a great personal trainer. They’re all multiple choice and pertain to the reading and lecture information of that week. You receive instant feedback on the questions you answered correctly and those you missed, so you can read up on the information. Each quiz should only take about 15 minutes to complete.

Online Forum

ISSA includes their CPT Educational Bootcamp which runs an online meeting once per week for five weeks to help you study and get you acquainted with other aspiring personal trainers. Each week focuses on a different topic and is designed to expand your knowledge on the subject, such as exercise selection. In addition, the instructors have office hours weekly to help give more individualized guidance.

Study Material Medium 

Most of the material is online for the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification. That said, the option to do everything on paper and send it in for grading is still available — it just takes longer to get your results. ISSA doesn’t indicate how long the results will take to receive, but it could easily be over a week. You’ll also have to front the cost for postage. Though the textbook is available in paperback for purchase, this certification is meant to be taken online and is designed as such. You’ll be missing out on a ton of helpful information like the online lectures and boot camp if you choose to do everything on paper.


The ISSA guarantees that you’ll find a job within six months of completing their personal trainer certification, or they’ll give you a full refund. If you take and pass the certification exams and apply to at least three gyms within six months of completing your certification, but you aren’t hired, ISSA will give you your money back.

Final Exam for the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification

The final exam for certification is long at 200 questions and meant to be challenging— they aren’t just giving these certs out to anyone. Despite the length and challenge, if you’ve prepared well and completed the prep material you should be well on your way to passing the final exam.

Exam Sections

The final exam has six sections, which have a total of 200 questions. The sections are: Basic and Applied Science, Client Assessment, Special Populations, Program Design, Nutrition, and Professional Practice, Drawing-In Phase, and Fiscal Fitness. As you can see, the sections are quite varied as your job as a personal trainer will be too. The questions are all multiple choice, and you can expect the final exam to take anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours or more depending on your test-taking speed. You can break it up though. If you log out you can pick up where you left off when you sign back in.

Expected Study Time

ISSA says the certification can be completed in as little as ten weeks and the guided study is set up for exactly that. If you come into this program with absolutely no knowledge, it may take you a bit longer. On the other hand, if you already have a solid base of knowledge in exercise science you could potentially complete the course in a few weeks if you dedicated a few hours per day to it.

Pass Rate

You need a score of 75 percent or better to pass, and the pass rate for this certification is 90 percent — but don’t think the exam is a cakewalk because of that. The preparation and study materials are top quality and prepare you to do well.

Retest Cost

Should you have skipped some of the preparation, or test anxiety got the best of you, don’t sweat. Luckily, ISSA knows that, and you can retake the final exam — for free — within 30 days. You’ll only have to retest on the questions that you missed too since you already know the other stuff.

Continuing Education Requirements

In order to renew your certification, you need to prove that you’ve been keeping up with the latest science related to personal training and exercise. You can do this by providing proof of at least 20 continuing education units (CEUs) in the form of workshops, other certifications, seminars, or other approved activities. In addition, the recertification cost is $99 which is among the lowest prices in the industry. Other recertification costs range from $150 to $300, depending on the organization.

Possible Career Paths

It may seem pretty straightforward that getting a personal trainer certification opens up the career path of being a personal trainer, but there are more options available than just that one. If you want to explore other career paths with a personal trainer certification, there are many out there. They include fitness center manager, group fitness instructor, health coach, fitness writer, workout developer, and fitness model.

Expected Salary

This one is tough to nail down as salary varies wildly in the fitness industry and especially amongst personal trainers. Celebrity personal trainers make easy six figures while the personal trainers at your local gym are more likely closer to the national average of $50,872. (1)


ISSA certifications are accredited by some of the biggest accreditation organizations in the U.S., which means their certifications hold weight. ISSA certs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the Distance Education and Teaching Council (DETC). Both are highly regarded and nationally recognized. On top of this, there are numerous organizations like the National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE) and the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) that are partnered or affiliated with the ISSA.


ISSA is one of the most popular personal trainer certifications and certainly among the most widely sought after personal trainers certifications that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. Having been around for so long and being accredited by top national organizations, the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification is among the most desired and respected in the industry. This certification is highly sought after not because of the name alone, but because of the high quality of training that comes along with it.

Final Word

If you’re looking to start your career as a personal trainer no matter the circumstances, the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification is a great place to look. They offer top-notch preparation materials for all types of learners and even give you a week-by-week guide to keep you on track. The final exam is challenging, and that’s a good thing to know that this isn’t somewhere you can go to just pay for a certification. That’s attested to by all of the accreditations and affiliates that ISSA has racked up over their 34 years of being in business. With a certification like the ISSA behind your name, you’re guaranteed to land a job, or they’ll give you your money back. They may be somewhat pricey up front, but we think it’s worth it for the high quality of what you receive with this cert for your career in the long run.


What is required to get my ISSA personal training certificate?

You must meet the criteria set forth by the ISSA which includes submitting all course quizzes, passing the final exam with a score of 75 percent or better, and provide proof of a current adult CPR/AED certificate. All of these requirements are neatly laid out on the home screen for you, and the final exam is locked until you complete all the quizzes.

Can I get a printed copy of the textbook for the ISSA personal trainer certification?

If you’re the type of person who prefers pen and paper or likes to read paper books, then ISSA has you covered. You can purchase a printed version of the textbook online and have it sent to you as well as textbooks for any course they offer.

Once I pass the personal trainer certification, what other programs does ISSA offer?

Once you pass the personal trainer certification, you can also take the nutritionist certification that ISSA offers. Those are the two primary certs available to which you can add specialization certifications, such as advanced personal training, strength coach, glute specialist, and more.


  1. What is the average personal trainer salary by state – ziprecruiter. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from

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