ACE certifications are valid for two years. To maintain a certification, ACE Certified Professionals are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education credits (CECs) in that two-year period (1 hour equals 0.1 CEC, so 20 hours equals 2.0 CECs).
The primary purpose of continuing education is the protection of the public, as it means certified professionals are better prepared to provide safe and effective fitness instruction and education. The secondary purpose is to help the professional advance their career. Another consideration is the dynamic nature of the health and fitness industry, which requires you to maintain an understanding of the latest research and professional standards and guidelines and their impact on the services you provide to your participants or clients.
So, how can you take full advantage of your continuing education in terms of enhancing your skillset and increasing your chances of long-term success as an ACE Certified Professional?
The first step toward maximizing the impact of your continuing education is to embrace it as part of your evolution as a health coach or exercise professional, rather than viewing it as something you have to do in order to maintain your ACE certification. Remember, earning a certification is not the end of your professional development. In fact, it is better viewed as the foundation. Continuing education is an opportunity to get better at what you do and to forge a path to success, no matter how you define it.
To get started, answer the following three questions:
- Where are you now? Answering this question requires you to honestly assess where you are in your career at the moment. Knowing where you stand is the first step in moving forward in your career.
- Where do you want to be? This is the key question. Do you want to add more fitness modalities to your teaching repertoire? Do you want to broaden your potential customer base by adding new skills? Do you want to focus in on a certain subgroup among a population you enjoy working with? Do you want to add an entirely new group of services to what you are currently qualified and certified to offer?
- What do you need in order to get there? Here’s where you must dig deep and be honest with yourself. What education, skills or experience are you missing that you’ll need to move from where you are to where you want to be? Once you figure that out, you’ll know if you need to pursue an additional certification, specialty program, or any of the many other means of becoming more educated and expanding your skill set.
It’s important to note that there are several ways to earn CECs, from passing an additional ACE Certification exam to taking part in community outreach in a fitness-related event, and there are endless options in terms of what topics you can pursue. Review ACE’s Recertification Handbook to learn more about potential sources of continuing education credits, as well as other requirements of recertification, such as up-to-date CPR and AED certificates.