Which is more valuable a Bachelor's degree or specialized certifications?
I want to be taken seriously as a Personal Trainer. I've obtained my certification, but I want to continue my education so I can be a better trainer especially for those clients that are just starting their fitness journey and those that have had injuries or trying to lose a lot of weight. I am wondering what experienced trainers consider the best education a four year degree or numerous certifications.
A certification will give you that. A certification reflects what an organization feels you are capable of doing (with the training that you received). Some specialized certifications actually requires you to have at least a bachelor degree or be in the final year of your program (such as the NSCA CSCS). A bachelor degree will generally open up more doorways for you and allow you to obtain a lot of the certifications that requires a certain level of education as a prerequisite.
Years ago I would say a bachelor's degree, but given this economic high unemployment rate environment...I know many degree holders out of work. Along with that...most health clubs will require a CPT certification to gain employment regardless of a bachelor's degree.
Any chance/opportunity of higher education is key to any successful career.
Wishing You Great Success!
There are far too many people out there who call themselves trainers, but are far from qualified. They use terms like "muscle confusion" instead of periodization. They think doing Insanity in basements and learning CrossFit from their buddies is the next great revolution. And they look up to Jillian Michaels. $600 and a weekend doing "core" workouts don't make you a qualified trainer. And guess what? The media is 10 years behind the field, and what you hear on TV is often twisted and out of proportion.
On the other hand, rarely do I come across college grads who don't know their stuff. With a degree, you learn the physiology, the biomechanics, and how to deal with different populations. You gain great experience. Most importantly, you can actually answer your clients' questions and help someone. As a trainer, I can actually have an intelligent discussion with you.
So if you want to teach one or two classes for fun, get a good workout, or a little extra cash, go ahead and get some certifications. Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Spinning, etc. are preferred, and you can teach classes with them.
But if you want to make a career of it as a trainer, coach, director, manager, etc. PLEASE get a degree. Without a degree, you can't really get into corporate wellness, the sports industry, or good quality upscale facilities anyways. And most of all, with a degree you earn the respect of those of us in the field trying to make it better.
From my perspective, it is subjective.
There are some great personal trainers who are very knowledgeable who don't have degrees and personal trainers with degrees who don't know squat.
I am working on my second masters degree at present and all I can say is that the degrees I have earned have proved to be very valuable to me.
You might question, why I am pursuing a second masters degree. Well, the first masters degree put me in a position to earn the highest fitness credential in the industry which is ACSM RCEP.
As a consequence of earning the ACSM RCEP credential, I met the qualifications to apply to Teachers College at Columbia University to study Diabetes Education and Management. Pursuing this education prepares me for the next phase in my professional career and it would not have been possible without first earning a bachelors degree.
I hope this gives you some direction.
All the best!
ACE also has great specialty certifications
Building a solid educational and professional base is key
This isn't to say that numerous certifications wouldn't also help you (or anyone else) become a better trainer. But if a Bachelor's Degree is a viable option I'd definitely recommend it.
If it is a viable option, what types of degrees would you be interested in? Did you have any additional questions and/or concerns about what you might focus your studies around?
Hope to hear back from you soon and best of luck either way!
Good luck on your journey!
With the above said, I also think a variety of certifications (as time goes on) is helpful just because trends change, research changes and we have to keep learning to meet the needs of clients and the industry.
The bottom line is we are in a field in which we have to be life long learners to be effective and taken seriously! Best of luck! Great question to be considering!
The more education the better, of course. Then again, it depends on the person and how much they choose to learn and what to do with that knowledge.
A degree does not make the person, their actions do.
Whatever you decide, do your best and the clients will be able to tell that you are a professional.
I would say a certification carries more weight ONLY because some
facilities may insist their trainers have an accredited certification but not a degree (for liability reasons).
Of course if you want a degree that's no reason not to go for it!
There are many different paths to learning new things.
I already have a bachelor's degree and two masters degrees, none of them fitness related. Although I value education highly, the chance that I'll go back for a fitness-related degree is minute. I choose, instead, individual trainings and certifications that support my specific areas of interest and types of clientele.
Another route to consider is a shorter-term trade school, like NPTI. They have a 500 hour program in personal training, of which about 200 of the hours is training clients with the supervision and assistance of a mentor. That's a HUGE benefit, in my opinion. I've seen trainers fresh out of school with no experience working with people - looked great on paper but looked skittish around the gym.