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 exam and proficiency tests 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.
If you have a Cooper Institute Physical Fitness Specialist certification, the information below may help you decide how earning the CI-CPT credential may be right for you.
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 for the job of Personal Trainer – independent of a specific course of study or education/course provider. The exam questions are based upon a Personal Trainer job analysis instead of being based upon course learning objectives. 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.
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 a third-party accredited Certified Personal Trainer certificate with an expiration date, the Physical Fitness Specialist certificate does not fulfill this requirement. However, passing the CI-CPT exam does fulfill this requirement.
Course-based certificates, such as the Physical Fitness Specialist, typically do not require renewal. When the change was made to CI-CPT, the Physical Fitness Specialist certificates were available to be reprinted without an expiration date. The CI-CPT does require renewal. A certificate renewal program is a requirement of the accreditation process.
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.
Yes, the exam is different in several ways.
The Physical Fitness Specialist course provided instruction and training to aid participants in acquiring knowledge/skills/competencies that were identified in the learning/course objectives. The end of course test was an integral part of the certificate program. However, the primary purpose of the Physical Fitness Specialist program was to provide instruction and training.
The CI-CPT exam is a voluntary process in which individuals are assessed against predetermined standards for knowledge/skills/competencies and are granted a time-limited credential. The primary purpose of the CI-CPT certification is the assessment of the predetermined job-related standards and the assessment process is independent of a specific course of study or any education/course/curriculum provider.
The exam covers four performance domains that were identified during the job analysis and CI-CPT development process. Information on the exam, the four performance domains, and the percentage of questions for each domain can be found in the CI-CPT Candidate Guide. All potential exam candidates are encouraged to read the handbook before registering for the exam. 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.
Many individuals seek instruction and training courses such as the one offered by The Cooper Institute as one way to prepare but the choice of how to prepare is solely the decision of the individual. It is important to understand that preparation methods provide you with personal training knowledge and/or skills. Preparation methods do not “teach the exam” or teach you how to take the exam. To prepare for the exam, you should be able to gather, analyze, and apply personal training knowledge to a typical job situation.
No. The 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.
Yes, the CI-CPT credential is granted for a period of three years. During the three year period, certificants should participate in continuing education activities that build upon or enhance the core competencies identified for Personal Trainers. You will need to accumulate at least 30 contact hours that meet this standard in order to apply for renewal. Renewals are granted for an additional three year period, and are only available to those certificants who are “Currently Certified and in Good Standing” with The Cooper Institute. For more information see Certification Renewal. If you have other questions regarding the Physical Fitness Specialist certificate and/or the CI-CPT program, please at email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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