Everyone wants to get the best results they can. Being a specialist is going to give you more tools to help your clients safely and effectively meet their unique needs and goals. It’s also going to make you more competitive and give you the educational recognition to market yourself as a specialist.
ACE Specialist Programs are designed to build on the knowledge, skills and abilities of your professional credential or license and to provide career advancement opportunities for exercise or health professionals with a personal and professional passion for a specific population or area of practice. Specialist programs focus your professional development in a chosen area of study to help you obtain the knowledge and skills to provide advanced training to specific groups or clients. They also provide you with more than 20 hours of continuing education to apply towards the renewal of your ACE or other NCCA-accredited certification. For these reasons, specialist programs are completed after you have earned a professional credential or license.
Each specialist program is designed to provide information in a specific area. Whatever Specialist Program you choose should be based on what area you are interested in acquiring more focused knowledge and expertise.
ACE uses multiple forms of research and information, including survey data from our network of professionals, industry reports, educational conference offerings and discussions with ACE certified professionals worldwide to identify relevant and emerging subject areas.
ACE encourages anyone who is interested to pursue our specialist programs, as we believe that health and fitness professionals with a broad education can better serve special populations in our communities. In order to be eligible for an official designation as an ACE Specialist, however, you must meet one of the following criteria:
Hold a current professional certification in health education, fitness, wellness, or allied health that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 17024)
Hold a current license as a healthcare professional
Hold a current health or wellness coaching credential from an organization accredited by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). For a full list of approved programs, please visit nbhwc.org/approved-programs.
As we work towards greater recognition for the exercise professional and health coach and seek expanded opportunities for you to participate as a respected member of the broader community of health professionals, ACE believes that holding a current credential from an accredited certification program or license for another health occupation is essential for individuals working as exercise professionals or health coaches. Your certification or license is a means of demonstrating your competence and commitment to your craft to consumers, employers and other stakeholders. Certification and licensure programs include key elements that include a competency-based exam, continuing education requirements and a disciplinary process associated with a professional code of conduct and scope of work. ACE Specialist programs do not have that continuing education requirement or disciplinary process, that allow them to stand alone. Being a Specialist assumes that the individual who has completed a program already holds the underlying credential for a primary job role and is advancing their skills in a particular area.
If you hold a current ACE Certification, you will be automatically approved to purchase an ACE Specialist Program. All other professionals must self-report the credentials they hold during the purchase process. ACE will conduct a random audit of 10% of the professionals who hold certifications or licenses from organizations other than ACE. Those subjected to an audit will need to provide proof of their current certification or license to ACE prior to coursework completion to earn the ACE Specialist designation (provided other pre-requisites are met). ACE will review the documentation and respond within 5 business days of receipt. Individuals unable to provide this documentation will still be able to complete the educational content, but they will not be eligible to earn an ACE Specialist designation.
The credentials listed on the pre-requisite chart are the most common credentials earned by professionals in different fields, but the list is not exhaustive. You can submit a petition to have your certification or license reviewed to see if it meets the pre-requisite requirements. ACE will respond to petitions within 5 business days of receipt. Petitions approved by ACE will be valid for 30 days. If a specialist program purchase is not made within that timeframe, a new petition will need to be filed.
Please note that all certifications currently accredited by the NCCA can be found using the search tool on the organization’s website here. Certification programs in health, fitness, allied health and related fields that are currently accredited by the American National Standards Institute(ANSI) or the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification(ABSNC) may require a petition to be considered for approval as pre - requisites for an ACE Specialist designation.
The designation of ACE Specialist does not expire, however ACE reserves the right to discontinue the sale and/or support of any continuing education course at any time, in order to cancel, correct, or update content based on current industry standards, guidelines, and/or technological advances. Notification will be given 6 months prior to expiration to allow for course completion and no refund will be given for expiring courses.
As long as you complete your approved primary certification within 12 months of completing your specialist program courses, you will qualify for an ACE Specialist designation. Holders of ACE Primary Certifications will be automatically approved as ACE Specialists. Holders of other approved certifications can achieve their ACE Specialist designation via petition to ACE.
If you meet the pre-requisite requirements, you will be able to print your own ACE Specialist certificate upon completion of the course elements. If you don’t meet the requirements, you will only be able to print a certificate of completion after finishing each segment of the content. Without an NCCA-accredited certification or an equivalent professional credential outlined in our pre-requisite list, you will not be eligible for an ACE Specialist designation.
Non-ACE created courses are included in some of the specialist programs to supplement and enhance the learning experience for participants. Non-ACE courses are carefully selected from approved ACE continuing education providers, as they have already been vetted for science-based and relevant content.
Like most other continuing education experiences, an open-book online quiz is administered for ACE Specialist Programs. The purpose of quizzes is to evaluate your understanding of the material. The passing score is set at 70%.
No, the Find an ACE Professional search engine is reserved only for health and fitness professionals who currently hold one or more of our four primary, NCCA-accredited certifications — including the ACE Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach, or Medical Exercise Specialist certifications.
Yes, but you will receive a certificate of completion for the program. Your education provides you with the critical knowledge, skills and abilities and earning a professional certification demonstrates your competence at applying that knowledge against a particular job role. While many employers will accept a degree or certification, ACE believes that holding a current certification or license which is the best practice for most professions is critical part of establishing a high level of respect and recognition for the exercise professional. For more information about accreditation please visit https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/accreditation
ACE reserves the right to revoke an individual’s specialist designation should ACE acquire knowledge that individual did not complete specialist program on their own merit or if the individual falsely self-reported eligibility status.
ACE has established pre-requisites to be eligible for the official designation of a specialist. If your credential does not meet that criteria it will not be recognized and you cannot call yourself an ACE Specialist.
Elevate your career and help others as a specialist
Fitness Specialist programs were created to help health and fitness professionals better serve special populations and healthcare providers complement their on-the-job expertise. Stand out among your peers with knowledge in areas such as fitness nutrition, behavior change, senior fitness, weight management and many others.