the certifying agency matters to a point. Some employers will specify certain agencies, and those tend to be the NCCA accredited and nationally recognized ones.
Better is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, but you cannot go wrong with ACE, ACSM or NASM.
This is a very good question to ask when contemplating certification. I also agree with both Karin & Daniel.
NCCA accredited and nationally recognized certifications are most sought after with employers hiring fitness professionals. As noted above, ACSM, NASM, ACE, & AFAA are all NCCA accredited and nationally recognized certifications.
I’m going to answer your question a bit differently than my predecessors.
Do you know where you want to work, or what kind of work you wish to do? What client populations you’re most interested in working with? If you have a real specific area of interest, take a look at the advanced trainings offered by ACE, NASM, and ACSM and see which of those also pique your interest. It’s often cheaper to stay with one agency if you are going to have multiple certifications. If you have a specific employer in mind, ask them what they prefer and why. I haven’t had trouble getting a job with ACE, but one of the places I worked was a NASM shop; I was the only person they’d ever hired who didn’t have NASM, but I had some specialty certifications they desired.
IMO, NASM and ACSM are slightly higher ranked than ACE. NASM and ACSM seem to be more close to the research, and ACE uses them as a resource material.
OK, here’s another one to add into the mix.
“The first personal training certification in the industry to be done in collaboration with 26 of the world’s most influential and progressive Health & Fitness educators”
I’ve attended lectures from at least a half dozen of the people who steered and wrote their curriculum, and they’re forerunners in the industry. I love that they use Anatomy Trains as part of their curriculum, and I love that they use Gary Gray’s functional nomenclature to describe body position and movement.
You can google the company. They’re also NCCA-accredited.
Here’s their facebook.