Knowing the difference between a fitness certificate and a fitness degree is helpful when you decide to invest in your fitness education. A fitness certificate, or personal training certification, is a course and final exam that prepares you to do the role as an entry level personal trainer. Everything in this type of fitness certificate focuses on what you need to know for the one occupation. A fitness degree, or exercise science degree, on the other hand covers a breadth of information. This includes everything that happens to the body during exercise. It also includes the applied science of fitness in careers other than personal training. For example, you can learn how to become a physical education teacher, group fitness instructor, wellness coach director and more. 

Therefore, the short answer to what’s the difference between a fitness certificate and a fitness degree is the breadth of what you learn and the occupations it prepares you to do.

We’ll break down each of these in this article. And, if you still can’t decide, Lionel University offers both the degree and the personal trainer certificate as part of all their fitness education programs.

Fitness Or Exercise Science Degree

A degree in fitness, or exercise science, encompasses everything the body encounters during exercise. This includes exercise physiology, biomechanics, and kinesiology. It also includes what impacts optimal human performance. Therefore, an exercise science student will also learn about nutrition, general wellness, conducting a fitness assessment, developing a fitness program, and exercise psychology. Lastly, you’ll also learn applications of these principles in the business world. For example, you’ll learn about sport management, health sciences, and fitness business.

As you can see, a student in an exercise science degree program becomes an expert on fitness, the fitness industry, wellness, and nutrition. Therefore, this program prepares students to do a variety of roles, including:

  • Personal trainer
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Group fitness instructor
  • Wellness director
  • Nutrition coach
  • Physical therapy technician

A degree program can take time, but the value far exceeds a fitness specialist certificate because of the expertise and career options a student will get. However, it’s easy to earn a living in the fitness profession while you complete your degree. A master trainer certificate includes a personal trainer certification, nutrition specialist certificate, and other fitness specializations you can choose from. It’s part of your degree program at Lionel. You’ll get your trainer certification in the first few months of your education. This allows you to start working as a fitness trainer before you graduate. It’s great because it eases the tuition cost and helps you learn more about your fitness interests as you go.

Personal Trainer Certificate

A certified personal trainer certificate teaches you exactly that. You’ll learn how to work with clients to achieve their fitness goals. Of course, this is more than just one workout. Below is a short list of things a personal trainer needs to know to get a job:

These topics are covered across most fitness certifications available. As part of the certificate program requirements, you’ll also need to do continuing education every couple of years. This can include additional fitness specialist certificates that allow you to work with other populations or develop a niche. Some examples include:

  • Strength and conditioning
  • Corrective exercise
  • Nutritionist specialist
  • Bodybuilding
  • Health coach
  • Youth fitness
  • Senior fitness

There are many certifications you can choose from when becoming a fitness trainer. Here are some of the common ones to name a few:

Although a fitness certification can get your foot in the door, it always depends on the employer. Most gyms or fitness studios will accept one of these certifications to start as a personal trainer. In these instances, the more specializations you have, the more you’ll be able to earn as a trainer. However, having a degree in addition to a certification will increase your chances of getting a job. This is because you’ll be able to provide specialty services such as working with unique populations (prenatal women, aging adults, youth, and fitness competitors). The degree gives you that complete breakdown of fitness sciences needed to work with anyone and for any type of goal.

If you’re looking to work at a higher end facility, boutique fitness studio, cruise ship, or resort, you’ll likely need a degree in exercise sciences. This is because these types of employers want to provide the most amazing customer experience possible and highlight their personal trainers and being true fitness experts. 

And, if you’re looking to go into business for yourself as a personal trainer, you can start a fitness business in a few small steps and with just the certification. However, a degree will teach you the business side of things you’ll need to be even more successful.

Regardless of the fitness job you’re looking to get, one thing is for certain. Education is important. Businesses want to make sure that their customers are safe, and getting closer to their fitness goals. For each of these jobs, having a Lionel degree on your fitness resume will help you stand apart from the competition. This is in large part because of the elite reputation of Lionel in the fitness education space. History, credibility, and reputation are critical when it comes to an exercise science degree program.

Regardless of whether you’re pursuing an associates degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, at Lionel you earn multiple certifications and specializations along the way. This means you can start working on getting that dream job before graduation day. And, with the help of financial aid, earning your exercise science degree is even more of a possibility. Check out our programs and contact Lionel today!