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a post by

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

Any certified exercise professional is familiar with continuing education credits and the need to annually accumulate them. Most certifying bodies require C.E.Cs (continuing education credits); however, credits don’t always transfer between different organizations. It is very important to determine if your continuing education opportunity will be recognized by your certifying organization before spending your time and money. Here are some of my simple tips to determining what CECs are right for you and local credits opportunities I recommend.

The first thing I do when searching for continuing education credits is to determine the cost per point or credit hour. Every organization requires a different number of points and certain points may be less economical than others. Common ways to accumulate points include webinars, conferences, online self-test, certification exams, college courses, and much more. When deciding on a conference, I often break down the cost into travel expenses, meal cost, lodging cost, and conference admittance fees. Conferences within driving distance and one day courses will dramatically cut down on your cost per point. When you break it all down, conferences can cost you $50.00–$100.00 per point and that might not be economical for you.

For this very reason, I generally do not attend conferences. Long conference hours can also make for a mind-numbing experience. I generally accumulate my points through online self-test, which tend to be the most cost effective. ACSM offers 4.0 credit hours for around $25.00 per test. With that being said, $6.00 and change per point is manageable for most trainers or fitness professionals. Another great thing about online tests is that they don’t have to be done in one sitting. Reading articles and journals can take a considerable amount of time, but you can go through the materials at your leisure. Online webinars and self-test also have no travel expenses and no meal cost. They can be done at any hour of the day and in any location making it easy to fit credits into a busy client schedule.

I also recommend determining how relevant the re-certification materials are to your current career. There is no point in taking credits that won’t enhance your skill set or progress your career path. Good questions to ask before accumulating CECs are: Will I get financial compensation from taking this course? Will you be more desirable to current and future employers with this new skill set? Will you accumulate more clients after accumulating these credits? If you can accumulate more clients and diversify your skills with recertification points then spending more money per credit may be worth it. Also, taking additional certification exams can be very financially savvy. Certification exams generally receive a large number of points (15-25 points) and you may also be compensated by employers. College courses can also be a great opportunity to accumulate credits, but one must consider the time needed for these types of points.

I also recommend selecting credits that may provide you an alternative point of view or training skill set. One of my favorite sports medicine conferences is designed for physical therapist, strength and condition coaches, exercise physiologist, and personal trainers. The multi-disciplinary learning environment provides a step-by-step guide on how to treat the patient/client at each level of care. I have used many different physical therapy exercises to enhance client mobility after these conferences. I have also shown physical therapist different ways to modify or progress common gym exercises.

Recertification points can seem daunting and time consuming not to mention extremely expensive! Make sure you thoroughly research a wide assortment of credit options from a variety of sources. Also, discuss with your employer(s) which certification points will make you a more desirable employee. I encourage you to seek out C.E.Cs that are cost effective, educational, career enhancing, and inspirational.

Credit Opportunities I recommend:

The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) APEX Event
Can be done online or at local cites
Most courses are $99 per day or per workshop
Offers a variety of certifications such as personal training, group exercise, kickboxing, yoga, and spinning

American Council on Exercise (ACE) Value Bundles
All online so no added travel expenses
Most courses are accepted by a variety of organizations (ACE, ACSM, AAMA, NASM, and NFPT)
Most courses cost around $20.00 per credit hour

American College of Sports Medicine
Online, self-paced, and credits are immediately received
Very economical with most costing $20.00 for 4 credit hours
Variety of educational topics such as nutrition, sports performance, and clinical health conditions

Find local approved providers
Courses offered by approved providers will automatically be accepted
Search local provider websites for upcoming opportunities and educational classes
Ask accepted providers if you can be added to their mailing list for up to date information on credit opportunities.

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