Prior to 2006, The Cooper Institute (CI) offered the Physical Fitness Specialist course for those persons interested in personal training. Individuals passing an end-of-course test received a nationally recognized certificate.
In an effort to meet current fitness industry standards, beginning in January 2006 The Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer (CI-CPT) exam was first offered, replacing the Physical Fitness Specialist certification.
The Physical Fitness Specialist is a curriculum-based certificate. This means you had to attend and participate in the Physical Fitness Specialist course and pass the course test before earning the certificate. The exam measured how well you achieved the Physical Fitness Specialist course learning objectives.
The CI-CPT is a credentialing certification that verifies your knowledge, skills, and competencies according to the job analysis of personal training – independent of a specific course of study or education/course provider. The CI-CPT exam measures if you have the minimum level of knowledge, skills, and abilities to be able to successfully perform the job of an entry-level Personal Trainer.
No. Current industry standards define a Certified Personal Trainer as a person who has successfully completed a nationally accredited Certified Personal Trainer exam. The Physical Fitness Specialist course and test was in use prior to this industry standard and is an assessment of meeting course-based objectives. Thus, according to current fitness industry standards, the Physical Fitness Specialist course and test cannot transfer over to the CI-CPT.
The change reflects quality improvement efforts across the fitness industry that have taken place over the last few years. In 2005, the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) made a recommendation to its member fitness clubs that they hire personal trainers who held at least one certification from a certifying organization that had achieved independent third-party accreditation. The Personal Trainer profession is currently unregulated by the government. The attainment of third-party accreditation gives hiring managers help in identifying quality certification programs. The CI-CPT was first offered and accredited in 2006.
Each employer decides the hiring requirements for their company. The Physical Fitness Specialist is a valid certificate that shows you attended an education course and successfully passed a test based on the information presented. The Physical Fitness Specialist certificate is still accepted by some employers.
If your employer requires an accredited Certified Personal Trainer certification with an expiration date, the Physical Fitness Specialist certificate does not fulfill this requirement.
Earning the CI-CPT credential can be of benefit to you. The current industry standard is for Personal Trainers to hold a Certified Personal Trainer certification. If you earn the CI-CPT, you will show that you are current with industry standards and that you are eligible to use the initials CI-CPT after your name. For employers that require a nationally accredited certification, the CI-CPT meets this hiring requirement. Some employers base hourly wage rates on the number of certifications that the employee holds. Therefore, by attaining the CI-CPT you may be eligible for higher pay.
The exam covers four performance domains that were identified during the job analysis and CI-CPT development process. All potential exam candidates are encouraged to read the CI-CPT Candidate Guide for more information. You will need to know factual information for the exam, but in addition, a large portion of exam questions require you to be able to apply the knowledge to job-related situations.
No. The CI-CPT exam is available at professional testing centers across the United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, The Virgin Islands and U.S. military centers worldwide. To register, click here.