This is probably my favorite question from college students, our interns, and of course, my Personal Trainer colleagues.

“Hey, what’s your thought about XYZ certification?

or simply…

“What cert should i get next?”

At this point i have three pretty firm thoughts and here they are below…

1) Does this certification make you money?

I put this as my first point for a reason. Coaching courses typically run $500-$1500, sheesh! My FIRST year as a trainer I made $27,000. (double sheesh!) - you catch my drift here….You can argue that ANY certification will make you money. What I am specifically referencing is does your new knowledge in an area will expand your services, allowing you to charge more? Or will it add a new skill set that will bring you a different realm of clientele?

I typically almost recommend the Functional Movement Screen as a go-to certification - it’s affordable (with in person and online options) and gives coaches a specific skill set that can be monetized. By no means is this a sales pitch, rather, just an example of a certification that clearly adds to someone who holds a base level coaching certification.

The punchline here is to not be afraid of putting on your business hat and making sure you can yield a positive return on your investment!

2) Does XYZ certification fit the mold of your coaching beliefs?

This one typically stumps most people.

In our social media driven world it is very common to fall in to recency bias and want to learn about the new ‘thing’ in our industry.

Curiosity killed the cat, right?

Maybe that’s a dumb reference but you get the point.

Certifications cost a good chunk of money and if you’re in a remote location like northern Vermont, then you probably have to fly and stay in a hotel everywhere you go, compounding overall expenses.

Simply put- if what you want to learn has a place in your coaching methods, fire it up. If not, save your money for what you truly enjoy.

3. Is XYZ certification going to help you get to your career goal(s)?

In my professional life of 10 years of personal training, I have been asked once if I had my Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS) certification. One time. The person to ask? The Athletic Director at the College who contracts our training facility to be their Strength Coaches.

Moral of the story? If you’re a personal trainer who wants to work within a certain population OR within a certain setting? Yes, a certification will help the resume - it will also help you network in that avenue- but don’t jack up your wallet to ‘just have’ every certification under the sun. I guarantee your clients care more that you’re a good person who helps them set and reach THEIR goals rather than pushing your knowledge of some random massage therapy gun that just came on the market.

So the next time you see a banner ad for XYZ certification and you jump to grab your credit card, ask yourself these questions and see if it is really worth your valuable money and more valuable time!