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What You Need to Know About Certification Renewals

ACE-certified Personal TrainerWhether it is waiting until April 15th to get your taxes done, Christmas Eve to start your holiday shopping, or cramming the night before an exam, procrastination is only human.

Surely, few humans make perfect use of their time, but everyday procrastination, even when there is a grace period involved, often carries with it a hefty price.

Staying on top of renewing your hard-earned ACE certifications is no exception.

“You need 20 hours of CECs (continuing education credits) to renew your certification,” said Todd Galati, ACE Certification and Exam Development Manager. And, he stressed, “The six-month grace period for renewal doesn’t equal an extension of your certification. It’s merely a courtesy extension of your renewal period.”

Galati ought to know. After all, he and his ACE team deal with issues of maintaining and renewing ACE certifications every day. They understand the lesser and more serious ramifications trainers can face when time slips away.

In this article, Galati provides answers to frequent inquiries from ACE-certified professionals, including time period for renewal of certifications and the true meaning of ACE’s grace period for renewals. He will also talk about possible ramifications of letting your certifications lapse, including fees that may apply, offer tips on keeping your certifications current and talk about the many creative ways to earn CECs through ACE and other providers.

Time Periods for Renewal

“A recurrent issue is that some newly certified ACE professionals don’t realize their certifications expire,” said Galati. “However, the ACE certification expires the last day of the month, two years after you’ve earned it,” he added.

To clarify, he offers an example: “Say you’ve earned your ACE Personal Trainer certification on June 13, 2007. It would automatically expire on June 30, 2009, unless you complete the requirements for renewal before that date.”

ACE-certified professionals, who have done their due diligence and earned the required 2.0 CECs during the two-year period after earning their certifications, can renew for another two years. Returning to the example above, the certification would be renewed for two years from July 1, 2009 until June 30, 2011.

Grace Period Does Not Equal Extended Certification

Many professionals also wrongly assume that their certification extends into the six-month grace period, when this extension is merely offered as a courtesy to our ACE-certified professionals, Galati noted.

ACE-certified professionals who fail to renew their certifications, but continue to work with clients may not realize that a lapsed certification bears liability issues that could have serious consequences in terms of their employment status, career and even personal assets, if a client sues.

Galati outlines some potential issues below:

  1. If an employer or client contacts ACE to verify certifications, they will learn that the professional is not currently certified.
  2. Trainers who let their certifications lapse are generally no longer covered for professional liability insurance, including the two providers that offer discounted insurance for ACE professionals.
  3. If a client makes a liability claim against a professional with a lapsed certification, the courts will look at this in a similar fashion as with any allied health care professional who practices without the appropriate certification or license.
  4. If a trainer claims to hold an ACE certification that is no longer valid, it is considered false advertising, constitutes fraud, and represents a clear violation of the ACE Code of Ethics.
  5. If the ACE Certification Department receives notice that a professional is claiming to be ACE certified, but is not, the department will follow up on the inquiry. A trainer who has entered the grace period will be notified that he or she is no longer certified and needs to renew within the grace period. An individual who has let an ACE certification expire beyond the grace period, or has never held an ACE certification, will receive a cease and desist letter and is given three weeks to remove all false claims regarding holding an ACE certification. After that period, the ACE legal department will pursue further action as required.

Certification Renewal Rates

Besides the need to complete 20 hours of CECs for certification renewal, ACE also requires its professionals to keep their CPR certificate current and to pay a renewal fee. Trainers who live in the United States and in Canada also need a current AED certificate. Trainers also need to be in good standing with ACE to stay certified.

The easiest and most cost-effective way to renew is to pay online. Trainers may also send in their renewal fees by mail or fax. The following is a break-down of ACE’s renewal fees:





First Certification:


On-time Recertification (prior to expiration)



Additional Certifications:


On-time Recertification for 2 Certifications

$69 each

$79 each

On-time Recertification for 3 Certifications

$59 each

$69 each

On-time Recertification for 4 Certifications

$49 each

$59 each

Late Recertification:


Recertification up to 3 months late

$169 each

$169 each

Recertification up to 6 months late

$199 each

$199 each


















If you are 6 or more months late and wish to renew, you must contact ACE to determine if you are eligible to be reinstated.
*Rate based on total number of current certifications at time of renewal.

Galati’s Tips on Keeping Your Certification Current

The best way to ensure that you’re keeping current with your certifications, including the CPR and AED certificate, is to mark your calendar for renewal dates.

Then it’s time to start thinking about earning CECs. Getting an early start on continuing education not only ensures that trainers stay current on the latest health and fitness research and information, but helps guarantee a fast-track career.

ACE recommends that trainers strive to earn at least 10 hours of CECs during their first year of certification; but more education is generally better.

“When focusing on CECs, pick your primary areas of interest from a personal and professional standpoint while thinking about your existing and desired client base,” Galati said. “Become an expert in the areas you need or want to be an expert.”

CEC Providers

With 3,000 ACE approved continuing education courses offered by more than 400 providers annually, every trainer can find their niche while exploring new areas of interest.

By looking at the ACE approved CECs on the ACE Website, trainers can search among 11 topic areas, including sports performance, special populations/post rehab, and mind & body; course format (at-home, in-class and conference); or number of desired CECs.

To find a live course in a specific area, simply scroll down the left-hand menu and click on the state of interest. In California, for example, there are 69 ACE approved courses remaining in 2009. Trainers looking for a specific continuing-education provider can choose among such popular organizations as ACE, DSW Fitness, IDEA, Nutrition Dimension, SCW Fitness, Sunshine Fitness Resources, Twist Conditioning, YogaFit and many more with a click on the mouse.

Creative Ways to Earn CECs

Attending symposiums and workshops are excellent ways for trainers to get up to speed with industry trends and scientific advancements. They also offer a unique networking opportunity to meet with world-renowned industry experts.

The ACE Fitness Symposium, which will take place in San Diego from Nov. 4-7, allows trainers to meet and greet key members of the friendly and professional ACE team as well as many of the health and fitness industry’s leading presenters. Among the keynote speakers presenting the latest scientific findings are Todd Durkin, Heidi Skolnik, and Dr. Nicholas DiNubile.

Attending the three-day conference alone will earn participants 18 hours of CECs (1.8 CECs), a reward that comes with additional benefits of creating key relationships with industry insiders and the know-how to  provide new, effective, and advanced training programs for clients from all walks of life.

What Happens with My Earned CECs?

“Once you enter your CECs into your ACE Web account, our system will automatically apply the earned CECs to all of your current certifications,” says Galati.

For example, a trainer who completed the ACE Personal Trainer Certification on Feb. 1, 2008 as well as the Group Fitness Instructor certification on March 13, 2009 and plans to attend the ACE Symposium in the fall, would earn 1.8 CECs (or 18 hours) toward both certifications, which would leave a mere 2-hour deficit (0.2 CECs) toward each renewal. That is for the ACE Personal Trainer certification renewal on Feb. 28, 2010 and ACE Group Fitness Instructor certification renewal on March 31, 2011.

Many trainers, however, go above and beyond the required CECs to enhance their levels of professionalism and advance their careers.

“Some people are enhancing their careers through advanced training and credentials by earning up to 50 or more hours during the two-year period,” Galati said. He added, “But remember, only 20 hours will apply to the current renewal cycle. The remaining hours will advance your career, but cannot be applied to the next renewal cycle.”

A detailed description of creative ways to maintain certifications can be found on the Maintain your ACE Certification Page. Writing fitness-related articles, book chapters that provide expertise in a specialized area, presentations on fitness-related topics, and teaching or attending college courses appropriate to the field are all viable options for earning CECs.

Who can Verify Your ACE certification?

Trainers may not realize that current or prospective employers, clients, and for that matter, anyone in the public, is able to verify the certification status of a professional on the ACE Web site or with a simple phone call.

To protect the trainer’s privacy, ACE only verifies current certification status by name, without disclosing any other information. Hence, trainers who have changed their first name, surname or both after passing the exam, or advertise training services using a nickname or any other version of their name, need to inform ACE of the name change.

It’s easy to see why procrastination can lead to embarrassment at best and questions regarding a trainer’s professionalism and integrity at worst, when practicing without a current certification.

So what’s the best cure for dillydallying with your certifications?

Galati recommends the following checklist:

  • Make sure your certifications are current and note the expiration date for each certification.
  • Determine your areas of interest and identify topics of study required to become an expert in these areas.
  • Use the ACE Continuing Education Center to find ACE approved CECs that meet your career objectives and fit your schedule and learning style.
  • Complete the CECs and enter them into your ACE account using the “My CECs” tool.
  • Maintain current CPR and AED certificates.
  • Renew your ACE certifications before they expire.

“The dynamic nature of the health and fitness industry requires fitness professionals to maintain an understanding of the latest research and professional standards and guidelines. To stay informed, professionals must complete a variety of continuing education courseware and workshops on an ongoing basis,” Galati said.

Marion Webb is the managing editor for the American Council on Exercise and an ACE-certified Personal Trainer and ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor. For specific fitness-related story ideas or comments, please e-mail her directly at