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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree in Exercise Science/Personal Training

Majors Overview March 10, 2014

Throughout the United States, community colleges offer Associate of Science (A.S.) degree programs in exercise science/personal training; this is the first step to becoming a personal trainer. Graduates may be certified with a Certified Personal Trainer credential from the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

A.A.S. Programs in Exercise Science/Personal Training

The study of the effects of exercise on the body, and human physiology in general is covered in an academic major termed as exercise science. Coursework covers the risks related to exercise, such as working with clients afflicted with health risks including heart disease, and the gains of exercise, such as weight loss and heart health. Coursework also focuses on ethics, professionalism, physical training safety, kinesiology, and individualized fitness plans. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma, in addition to evidence of a physical exam done recently; programs may also require submission by students to a criminal background check and participation in internships.


Coursework includes a broad array of subject areas pertinent to personal training; students can expect to learn to establish a professional relationship with clients, and understand their individual needs. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Movement principles
•Body composition
•Resistance training
•Muscular fitness

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2010, there were about 251,400 individuals employed as fitness trainers and aerobics instructors in the United States; (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)), mainly hired by the amusement and recreation industries. A faster-than-average job growth rate of 24% has been projected for these professionals during the decade from 2010 to 2020; (BLS). In May 2012, these professionals took home an average annual wage of $31,720.

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Those who successfully complete the program gain eligibility to take the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) examination. Admission criteria to the exam require candidates to have AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) certification. They also have to maintain certification by completing continuing education credits every two years. The American College of Sports Medicine offers the CPT exam for graduates to take; the certification can be maintained by completing 45 continuing education credits every three years.

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