How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer in 4 Weeks or Less

How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer in 4 Weeks or Less

As I have said before, being a cPT in medical school is a great way to make cash on the side. Higher hourly rates and flexible schedules allow you to carve out exactly what "working during med school" should look like for you.


1. Count the Cost

I came up with the idea of getting my personal training certification, bought a few books, registered for the test, studied, took the test, and became a certified personal trainer in a little less than four weeks. HOW?

Once I decided that I would commit to this, I found out how much it would cost. After looking at a few of the big names in personal training certification, I decided to go with the ACSM, or American College of Sports Medicine. They offer a highly discounted membership to medical students, just $10. Being a member allows you a discount on the certification test (non-member cost $349) which brings it down to $279.

The most of books you'll need to study can be found at your academic institution's Biomedical Library or whatever the equivalent is for you. "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer" is the main textbook and I would argue is the most relevant for the test. The "Certification Review" book is helpful because it contains some practice scenarios. I would also recommend the app "ACSM CPT Exam Prep 2017 Edition" by Pocket Prep, INC. This was a very easy way to practice questions on a daily basis, just like using UWorld. It cost me $12.

Cost so far is $10 for ACSM membership + $279 for exam fee + $40 for books + $12 for app = $341. Not bad for a certification that some people use for their entire life! Don't forget to add in a quote for liability insurance $180-$300/year in your final calculations. This can also be found easily online.

2. Study!

This is easy part! If you're in med school this stuff is such SMALL POTATOES! At least 25% of my actual exam was basic musculoskeletal anatomy. I actually wasted a few minutes during my exam because I knew that none of the answers were technically correct- the burden of too much knowledge hehe.

I studied for 2-3 weeks and used the app to get through as many questions I could. It helped that I was on a very easy rotation when I decided to do this, so studying for a Shelf Exam wasn't an issue.

3. Test Out

I hope it is encouraging to you that the amount of knowledge you are amassing can be used productively to make money BEFORE earning your wings as an attending someday. Flex those test taking skills and this exam is a piece of cake. I didn't Ace it, but I passed with plenty of margin.

4. Find a Job

If you want to go the easy way, find a place that hires personal trainers and work as a W2 employee. Just make sure their schedule lines up with yours and allows for flexibility.

If you want to maximize your earning potential, incorporate your business and work as an independent contractor. This requires a bit more free time since you'll have to put time into running your business AND training clients. But hey, it might be right for you.


That's it! If you're passionate about health and fitness, and you just realized med school is possible, get your cPT and make some cash money!

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WAR(d) STORIES: 2/9/2017

WAR(d) STORIES: 2/9/2017