That’s a great question, but it really depends on who you ask.
Remember that each certification has its own prerequisites and process. A certification that requires a college degree doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better than one that doesn’t.
If you are looking to get employment at a club, then call the club and ask which certifications they prefer. I did that and found that, in my area, ACE was preferred. In fact, as I am starting a new job as a group fitness instructor, my specialty format combined with my ACE personal trainer certification helped me land the job, despite not having a specific group fitness instructor certification (which I’m working on right now).
If you plan on working for yourself, find out which are certified by NCCA and see which fit your budget, education level, and goals. That could be ACSM, AFAA, ISSM, etc.
See what works for you and what your career goals are. Like it says in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People:” begin with the end in mind.
I hold two certifications with ACE and have always found that with every club that they have held my certifications in the highest regard.
ACE expects a high level of professionalism from their trainers which raises the bar for the industry. Also, they are always looking for ways to give back to the community. One great example is their Joining Forces program. It has always made me proud to tell people that I’m ACE certified!
IHRSA put together a recomendation to its member clubs in 2006 after consulting with ACSM, NSCA, AFAA, ACE and Cooper. The recomendation was to acquire a personal trainer certification from an NCCA accredited certifier or one which was accredited by an organization such as the DETC which in turn was recognized by both the USDE and CHEA.
The powers to be do not recognise, GRAY INSTITUTE, RTS, CHECK INSTITUTE as part of their “accredited” organisations, is it because theses organisations are more concern with INOVATION vs ACCREDITATION? How many of you would seek health advice from someone who does not have a degree or a license in that field? Until the powers to be change their paradigm, the Fitness Industry will never go beyond what it is today!