Focus of Each Certification:
The ISSA certification is a good entry-level certification for people who want to focus a little bit more on power lifting. This certification has a strong emphasis on what is called the ‘strength curve’. This style of training is primarily used by power lifters and athletes. NASM on the other hand has a strong focus on corrective exercises and muscular imbalances. This is a great certification for understanding how to train individuals coming back from an injury or individuals that are coming from a very sedentary lifestyle. NASM teaches their trainers how to progress people through an exercise program no matter what level of fitness there currently at. While ISSA does a very good job of teaching you the basics, they fail to focus on functional training compared to NASM. If your main goal is to work with athletes and peak performance ISSA might be a better choice. NASM does offer a more advanced certificate called PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist). This certificate focuses on athletic performance. This advanced certification can only be obtained after getting their standard certification. The PES uses cutting-edge techniques and knowledge for performance enhancement. In my opinion is better than the standard ISSA certification.
ISSA vs NASM: Study Materials…the Test and Price
The cost for ISSA is $595 which includes the textbook, the exam and access to training information on their website. They have a large textbook of about 800 pages. ISSA’s exam has a higher pass than NASM primarily because the test is open book. You are given an unlimited amount of time to take it. Once you register for the program you have two years before your exam deadline. This gives you ample time to study the textbook and other materials. Since the test is open book, you could, in theory, take the test right away and browse through the textbook to find the correct answer to any question. NASM on the other hand gives you three months to take the exam after purchasing the program. To take the test you need to go to a laser grade testing facility where you have two hours to complete their 120 question multiple choice test. You have access to your grade directly following the online test. NASM is a much harder test because you need to have all the information memorized. This is shown with their 70% pass rate. The study materials that come with the NASM program depend on which program you choose. If you just want their textbook, it’s will cost $629. You can find out much more the NASM bundles here! I recommend that you check that out! The thing I like the most about the ISSA trainer exam is that there is a multiple-choice section as well as a essay/practical section. The practical section really tests your knowledge about program design. But on the other hand you can have the book open right in front of you while taking the test so that makes it easier.
NASM is quickly becoming the most recognized certification on the market. Their use of cutting-edge training methods and progressive programming are making them the most sought after certification. Being accredited by the NCCA, in my opinion, makes them more credible than the ISSA who is accredited by the DETC. The NCCA is more stringent. They have stronger guidelines. Almost all gyms will accept either ISSA or NASM when hiring potential personal trainers. However, most gyms hold the NASM at the top of their list. This is because most clients are elderly people that need a safe and progressive training program. The knowledge learned through NASM fits those clients more appropriately.
If you are looking to train athletes, they would benefit more from a training program based on the strength curve. ISSA focuses strongly on this. But don’t count out NASM’s advanced certification! They also place a strong emphasis on peak performance and it is even more specialized than ISSA. On top of this if you want to get a specialization certification they offer one called the PES(performance enhancement specialist). For general training, which almost always deals with weight loss and correcting muscular imbalances that were caused by a sedentary lifestyle, I would go with NASM. Most personal training comes down to the individual that holds the certification, and not the certification itself. I do think you have the same chance of getting hired and making good money with either certification. But some gyms do not accept certifications that are not NCCA accredited like ISSA. I think this is really stupid because ISSA is a great certification. But make sure to check with the your potential employers to make sure they accept ISSA before you pay for it. Let me know if I missed anything in regards to ISSA vs NASM. Leave me a comment! Also, if anyone holds certifications in both it would be great to hear your thoughts! You should check out the NASM to learn more about this certification and how you could make 44,000 a year with them! You should also check out my individual articles on NASM and ISSA if you want to learn more about each certification. If you found this helpful please share with with social media on the left side of the page If you are interested in the TRX training system I just wrote a new article about it here! Since you are most likely just starting out I would like to point you in the direction of my 3000 word guide on becoming a personal trainer. This is the best way to start learning the ropes!