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How Long is the ISSA Certification Good For? And Other FAQs

How Long is the ISSA Certification Good For? And Other FAQs

Reading Time: 4 minutes 45 seconds


DATE: 2024-04-08

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is an industry leader in fitness, offering a variety of personal training certifications, from your initial personal trainer certification to specializations, nutrition, health coaching, and more. If you’re thinking of getting certified, you probably have a lot of questions, and we have answers. 

Are ISSA Programs Accredited? 

The ISSA was created by a group of fitness experts in 1988. They wanted to make a difference in promoting fitness as part of a healthy lifestyle by educating and training fitness professionals to help others. 

An important factor when choosing a certification school and program is accreditation. Accredited schools answer to independent organizations that ensure their programs offer students what they promise. The ISSA works with several groups for accreditation and for approval of specific programs:  

  • International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)

  • California Association of Private Post Secondary Schools (CAPPS)

  • National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE)

  • New York Chiropractic College (NYCC)

  • Yoga Alliance (YA)

The most widely accepted personal trainer certifications are those associated with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NCCA accredited programs certify individuals in the fitness industry.

ISSA’s subsidiary, the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) offers several NCCA accredited exams which enables ISSA to offer fitness professionals a wide variety of fitness certifications.

What Is Included in ISSA Certification? 

The ISSA offers numerous types of certifications, but most people start with the Certified Personal Trainer program. This is an ideal entry point for the fitness industry. It provides a survey of all the foundational knowledge and skills needed to start training clients and running a small business. 

Some of the important topics covered include: 

  • Human anatomy and physiology with an emphasis on the musculoskeletal system

  • How to assess clients and help them set goals

  • How to motivate clients to meet their goals

  • Training clients safely and while preventing injuries

  • How to choose exercises for different clients and create comprehensive, individualized training plans

  • Business skills for starting a career in the fitness industry

The ISSA personal trainer certification course includes several tools to help you pass the certification course and become a successful professional: 

  • An updated online textbook

  • An online workbook

  • Practice tests and quizzes to help you prepare for the final exam

  • Online student forum for discussions

  • Video lectures

  • The option of a proctored or open-book final exam

  • Two attempts to pass the final exam

  • Unlimited support, even after passing the course

  • A free professional website

Other ISSA certification programs offer similar tools and curriculum that are relevant to the topic and the type of certification. 

Is ISSA Certification Worth It? 

ISSA programs are a good value. They offer comprehensive instruction in everything you need to know to work as a trainer plus all the bonuses, like support and a job guarantee. As an online program, it is flexible, self-paced, and reasonably priced. 

Anyone serious about working as a trainer needs a credential. Gyms and clients rarely hire trainers without it. The ISSA is widely recognized as a leader in the industry. This certification will be accepted almost everywhere you seek a job in the U.S. 

How Long is the ISSA Certification Good For? 

ISSA certified personal trainers must renew their certification every two years. The ISSA has believed in continuing education since the beginning. Trainers must stay up to date on fitness and nutrition science to provide clients with the best, safest, and most effective training. To qualify for renewal, you must have: 

  • An updated CPR/AED certification

  • A renewal fee, which is waived if your credits all come from the ISSA 

  • Documentation for 20 continuing education units (CEUs)

A CEU is equivalent to one contact hour of instruction. The renewal requirement for CEUs includes many options but is essentially 20 hours of additional learning. 

If you’re sure about sticking with a fitness career for the long-term, consider the option to certify for life. The ISSA offers this program that provides access to all the CEUs you need to stay certified. It also waives the recertification fee you would otherwise pay every two years after submitting CEU verification. 

Here is more detailed information about how to renew an ISSA personal training certification and why it’s important to renew your training credential

How Do You Get Continuing Education Credits to Renew ISSA Certification? 

Did you know that the ISSA was the first fitness certification organization to require certificate holders to take continuing education classes? This is a vital part of being a professional trainer. Because fitness and health are always being updated by science and research, trainers must be lifelong learners. This is why CEUs are a required part of recertification. 

The ISSA provides classes that count as CEUs but also accepts credits from other approved organizations and schools. ISSA courses that qualify as CEUs for recertification give you the chance to specialize and learn about other areas of fitness and health. 

For example, you can take a nutrition and professional development course, earn a bodybuilding specialization, or become a corrective exercise specialist. All of these options count as the required CEUs. There are many other options, including health coach, nutrition coach, group fitness, and business skills courses. 

Health coaching is a great option to add to personal training. Learn more about the ISSA’s health coach certification course

Are There Other Ways to Get CEUs? 

You do not have to take ISSA courses to renew your certificate. You can also complete the requirements for renewal through other organizations as long as the courses are ISSA approved. Keep in mind that if you complete all 20 CEUs through the ISSA, your renewal fee will be waived. 

The ISSA also considers other types of continuing education activities that may count toward renewal CEUs, for example: 

  • Fitness industry meetings and seminars

  • Allied health courses

  • Fitness webinars

  • College fitness courses

  • Publication of relevant health or fitness material, for instance authoring a textbook

  • Presentation of fitness or health material, such as on a panel at a professional conference

Things that do not qualify include anything you normally do as part of your employment in the fitness industry. So, for example, preparing and publishing a manual for the gym where you work would not count. 

What Happens if I Miss the Renewal Deadline? 

To get renewed on time, it’s recommended that you submit materials four to six weeks before the expiration date on your certification. If you miss the date, your certification is invalid. You can resubmit for renewal but face late fees. 

Start thinking ahead about CEUs soon after each renewal period. Make a plan for credits that align with your career goals and then seek out the right courses to meet those goals. Enroll and complete them as soon as you can to avoid missing the deadline when the next renewal time comes around. 

When you have everything ready, you will complete the ISSA’s renewal application, submit the proper documents, and include a fee if applicable. 

Choosing a program to become a professional personal trainer is a big deal. You are planning your future career, and your partner on this journey matters. Get all the information you can about a school, its programs, and recertification requirements before making a final decision. 

If you’re ready to take the leap and become a fitness professional, start here: ISSA Certified Personal Trainer – Self-Guided Study Program. This program has everything you need to launch your career and prepares you to take advanced courses for specialization.  

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