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Certification 101

How to become a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist

Today's clients oftentimes suffer from a variety of chronic medical conditions, requiring a health and fitness professional that holds specialized, comprehensive knowledge in medical fitness. The ACE Medical Exercise Specialist study program was created to help individuals gain valuable expertise in creating programs for clients with a range of medical conditions. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, here are a few steps to make the process seamless.


Step 1

Do your Research

Once you've decided that becoming a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist is right for you, the first (and extremely important) step is choosing a certification program. Of all the similar certification programs available, only a few are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Considered the gold standard in health and fitness, NCCA accreditation ensures programs for a wide range of industries meet defined standards of excellence for performing a specific job. It's also the standard recognized by leaders (and employers) in fitness and medical communities. To learn more about the pre-requisites required to sit for the ACE Medical Exercise Specialist exam, download our Certification and Recertification Handbook or sign in to your My ACE account to review the pre-approval process.

Select an NCCA-Accredited Certification

Step 2

Choose a Study Program

Once you've decided which certification program is right for you, it's time to secure your study materials. Certification providers typically offer different plans for candidates that vary based on how much guidance they receive. Preparation for ACE exams is self-paced and done through a combination of online and physical materials. To prepare for the ACE Certified Medical Exercise Specialist certification exam candidates generally invest 80-100 hours of study time over a 3-4 month period depending on background, experience and available time. ACE offers several tools you can use as you prepare, including ACE Answers, our self-serve resource center, and ACE Answers on Facebook, our social study center and live video stream.

View Full Programs Comparision

Step 3

Register for Your Exam

Costs associated with registering for a certification exam are included in each of the study program options. The only requirement is that you register for your exam within six months after purchasing your materials (even though you can select a date beyond that deadline). Prior to registering, make sure you meet all pre-requisite requirements for your exam, which includes holding a current CPR/AED certification with live skills check. Please note that purchasing ACE study materials is not required in order to register for the exam.

Find an Exam Location

Where would you like to take your exam?

Step 4

Pass Your Exam

Once you successfully pass your exam you will officially be an ACE Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, ready to start a career. As an ACE Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, you'll gain access to exclusive resources aimed at helping you launch your career, including professional discounts on equipment, liability insurance and a wide range of other products. Once you pass your exam, you'll also receive your certificate and a wallet ID card in the mail that will make it easy to verify your credentials to potential clients and employers.

Programs and Benefits

Step 5

Get a Job

There are a lot of factors that go into finding the right position. First, you'll need to determine which environment you want to work in (a health and fitness club, specialty studio, medical fitness facility, or if you'd like to venture out on your own) and where. It may help to check out our salary report to find out what ACE Certified Pros are making nationwide. Whichever career path you pursue, ACE has a number of tools to help you get started. For more information on these benefits, visit Programs & Benefits or log in to your My ACE Account once you earn your certification.

Step 6

Maintain Your ACE Certification

In order to maintain the high standards set by the NCCA, ACE Professionals (and others in the industry) are required to earn 20 hours of continuing education credits (2.0 CECs) every two years. Establishing and enforcing that standard helps us validate that professionals continue to enhance their competence to safely and effectively lead people to change. To fulfill those renewal requirements, ACE offers a number of diverse opportunities to help you build your expertise.

Get Certified

Medical Exercise Specialist Exam Requirements

To sit for the ACE Medical Exercise Specialist certification you must:
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a current CPR and AED certification with live skills check*
  • Present a current government-issued photo ID with signature (driver's license, passport, military ID)
You must also submit BOTH of the following documents:
  • Proof of a four-year (bachelor's) degree in exercise science or a related field (upload unofficial transcript below).
    • Click here to see a list of the most common degrees submitted for review. Note: This list is not all inclusive.
  • Proof of 500 hours of work experience designing and implementing exercise programs for apparently healthy individuals and/or high-risk individuals, as documented by a qualified professional (upload pre-approval form , as completed by a supervisor, below).

Want to know if you meet these requirements? Please submit your pre-approval documents here.
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