Aside from professional certification programs or undergraduate certificate studies, personal trainer courses can typically be found through programs in athletic training, exercise science or sports science. Most of these are offered at the bachelor's degree level, though one school also offers a master's degree. Additionally, students can pursue an associate degree in physical education, exercise science and sports studies.
Personal training courses cover exercise equipment operation and safety, exercise physiology, fitness testing and exercise program personalization. Students can gain practical skills by completing at least one internship, and some courses also integrate clinical experiences. When selecting an athletic training program in Massachusetts, students should look for those endorsed by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) or the Committee on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
The Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at this large Boston university offers undergraduate and/or graduate programs in athletic training, rehabilitative services and physical therapy. The undergraduate athletic training program can help students prepare for the Board of Certification (BOC) exam. Clinical experience begins as early as the freshman year, and students also take courses in exercise physiology, human anatomy, life science and orthopedic conditions. Additional departmental features include the option to study abroad or pursue a combined Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training/Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
Bridgewater State University
This Bridgewater school has over 30 academic departments, including the Department of Movement Arts, Health Promotion and Leisure Studies. The 120-credit undergraduate athletic training program includes five clinical education experiences and qualifies graduates for the BOC exam. Students also complete courses in biomechanics, progressive resistance, sports-related injuries and therapeutic exercise. Through the course in personal fitness training, which can count as graduate-level credit, aspiring professionals learn how to work with sedentary and special needs adults and acquire the skills they need to pass the National Advanced Personal Training Certification exam. The 42-credit Master of Science in Athletic Training program is also designed to prepare students for the BOC, and with the exception of the project and thesis requirements, the curriculum is similar to that of the undergraduate program.
Cape Cod Community College
The main campus of Cape Cod Community College is located in West Barnstable, and its Workforce Education Resource Center (WERC) offers certificates, courses and programs for students in the extended areas of Southeastern Massachusetts, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
The WITS (World Instructor Training Schools) personal trainer program is open to high school graduates or those with a GED. In addition to learning how to operate the equipment, students who pursue the 62-hour program take classes in fitness and health and complete a 30-hour internship. To earn the certificate, students must also become certified in adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) and take the national exam.
The School of Sport Science and Fitness Studies at Endicott College in Beverly offers programs in athletic training, exercise science, physical education and sports management. The 15-member faculty includes a certified athletic trainer, and the co-curricular clubs relate directly to the fields of study. The curriculum of the 128-credit Bachelor of Science program reflects the educational standards of the NATA and meets the BOC exam requirements. The content emphasizes the five main areas of athletic training, including prevention and wellness, clinical diagnosis, emergency care, rehabilitation and organizational health. Students also complete an internship, two athletic practicums, 19 credits of clinical training and a senior thesis.
Holyoke Community College
At this Holyoke college, students can pursue a number of specialized certificates in, among other areas of study, strength and conditioning, coaching, health and fitness management, and health and fitness specialist. The 12-credit health and fitness specialist curriculum is based upon guidelines established by the American College of Sports Medicine. Its purpose is to help students acquire a working definition of fitness and develop the skills they need to design a personalized exercise program. The study of human movement is approached from a biomechanical and physiological perspective, and the curriculum includes topics in first aid, fitness counseling and nutrition. Students also participate in a 3-credit internship and take electives in arthritis-specific exercise or physical conditioning.
Northern Essex Community College
This Haverhill community college offers an associate's program in general studies: movement science option. This program provides students with the option to transfer their completed coursework to a bachelor's degree program. In addition to English and the social sciences, the core requirements include training in health and fitness, career education and first aid.
Salem State University
Through the Department of Sport and Movement Science at this Salem university, students can pursue degrees in athletic training or sport science, as well as minors in coaching, dance, health and sports management. The 120-credit bachelor's in athletic training program is designed to prepare students for the Athletic Training Board of Certification exam. In addition to topics in exercise, kinesiology and nutrition, the curriculum includes four practicums and training in strength and conditioning. Students who pursue the 120-credit degree program in sport and movement science take courses in, among other topics, fitness programming, physical performance and perceptual motor development.
The Exercise Science and Sport Studies Department at this private Springfield college offers undergraduate and graduate programs in athletic training, exercise science and nutrition. In addition to a 15-member faculty, relevant resources include state-of-the-art classrooms, a human performance laboratory and an 18,900-square-foot training and exercise science complex.
The 4-year program in applied exercise science requires 120 credits to complete and offers concentrations in personal training, spa management and sport performance. In addition to courses in graded exercise testing, resistance training and evaluation, students who pursue the 18-credit concentration in personal training take courses in business, personal training concepts, budgeting, human resources and marketing.
Core and supporting courses for the 120-credit athletic training curriculum include topics in therapeutic interventions, orthopedic assessments, human anatomy and movement physics. It helps students prepare for the BOC exam. At the advanced level, the 36-credit graduate athletic training program is for industry-certified or certification-eligible trainers and includes concentrations in administration, professional preparation and rehabilitation.
Westfield State University
This Westfield school has a number of departments devoted to the study of health, nursing and science. Through the Movement Science, Sport and Leisure Studies Department, students can earn an undergraduate degree in athletic training or movement science, and they can pursue concentrations in physical education teaching certification, exercise science, sports medicine or wilderness leadership.
The undergraduate program in athletic training requires 69 credits of major coursework, and in addition to fieldwork, students learn about motor learning and development, program supervision and the medical issues associated with physical exercise. To obtain advanced standing, undergraduates must submit a number of documents, including faculty and supervisor recommendations, first aid certification, a personal statement, a resume and proof of membership in a professional organization. Students who complete this program can sit for the BOC exam.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require athletic trainers to have a license. In Massachusetts, the licensing requirements include the completion of an approved educational program and a passing score on the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification (NATABOC) exam. NATA's Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredits six of the schools profiled below, and these include Bridgewater State, Endicott, Salem State, Springfield and Westfield State colleges, as well as Boston University.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Personal Trainer Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Boston University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city||Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training||$48,436*|
|Bridgewater State University||4-year, public; large suburb||Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training,
Master of Science in Athletic Training
|$8,903 (in-state), $15,043 (out-of-state)*|
|Cape Cod Community College||2-year, public; small city||Personal Trainer Fitness Certification||$699 flat fee**|
|Endicott College||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb||Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training||$30,492*|
|Holyoke Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Health and Fitness Specialist Certificate||$4,166 (in-state), $9,110 (out-of-state)*|
|Northern Essex Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Arts in General Studies: Movement Science Option||$4,560 (in-state), $10,344 (out-of-state)*|
|Salem State University||4-year, public; large suburb||Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training,
Bachelor of Science in Sport and Movement Science - Fitness and Wellness
|$9,246 (in-state), $15,508 (out-of-state)*|
|Springfield College||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city||Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science - Personal Training,
Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training
Graduate Athletic Training
|Westfield State University||4-year, public; large suburb||Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training||$8,815 (in-state), $14,895 (out-of-state)*|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **School Website