State Licensing of Personal Trainers
UPDATE - December 2008
|New Jersey Bill, 2008
|Maryland House Bill, 2008
|Georgia Senate Bill, 2008
Note: NBFE references are highlighted in yellow
Recently, the state of New Jersey proposed legislation to license
personal trainers. The bill includes use of the National Board of
Fitness Examiner's (NBFE) Personal Fitness Trainer examination. New
Jersey is one of a growing number of states that is considering
licensing for personal fitness trainers in the past couple of years.
While the NBFE retains a neutral position on licensing, we applaud the
fact that New Jersey and other states recognize the importance of
utilizing a National Board examination rather than developing one of
possibly 50 different state board exams.
A Brief History Of The NBFE
In late 2003, the NBFE was founded with an invitation to virtually every
facet of the fitness industry to participate in the creation of series
of industry standards. In early 2004, board members of AFAA, IHRSA,
ACSM, AFPA, NSCA, NASM, IDEA, ACE, and dozens of executives or
representatives from virtually every other certification organization in
the US met in Las Vegas. Each attendee was invited to participate in the
development of a National Board of Fitness, adopt standards of practice
and create a series of examinations based on these standards. This model
was derived from dozens of other professions, specifically in Medicine
and allied health. This discussion included the probability that state
licensing could occur, primarily because there were (and still are) no
regulations or requirements to become a personal trainer.
The NBFE openly presented objective information supporting its position
why it was in the best interest of personal trainers to have a
nationally standardized written and practical exam in place, rather than
ending up with 50 different state board exams.
It was the first of many industry meetings, conferences and calls that
were held in 2004 over the course of nearly one year that openly
discussed the current the lack of regulations within the profession,
pending legislative proposals and the probability of state licensure.
Many organizations agreed and participated. Some sat back, waited and
Hundreds of personal trainers from around the United States with a variety
of academic degrees who held not one, but multiple valid certifications from
virtually every personal training certifying organization in the country
including ACSM, AFAA, ACE, AFPA, ISSA, NSCA, NFPT, NCSF, NASM, WITS to name
a few, offered their overwhelming support. It was from that diversified,
unbiased group that the first representatives of the personal training
profession, who eventually became the first NBFE Fellows was culled. This
was the first time in the history of the fitness profession that an all
inclusive group of subject matter experts came together with one common
goal, to develop a standardized National Board Examination.
Unlike any other organization in the fitness industry, the NBFE was also
founded to support the best interests of personal fitness professionals
based on objective, unbiased industry analysis. As a non profit
organization, the NBFE will continue to provide the results of its
independent surveys to the public, fitness professionals, and medical /
allied health professionals as they become available.
The NBFE feels strongly that if states pass laws that require licensure
of personal trainers, based on the results of industry surveys, it is in
their best interest to have one nationally standardized examination
process in lieu of 50 different state board exams. This model has proven
successful in many allied heath professions and allows trainers to move
from state to state without the stress and financial burden associated
with 50 different state board examinations or different requirements for
their education or continuing education.
While we can't control which states will require licensing, we do
support using the National Board examination process as a terminal
licensure exam should states elect to license personal trainers.
A single national board examination is much less expensive for the state
proposing licensure. In addition, the NBFE Registry is in place and stands
ready to serve as a single national source that can be used by the state,
the public, employers or medical and health professionals to validate the
status of fitness professionals. As for the trainers, the financial burden
and inconvenience of taking different state board exams, not to
mention the possibility that the exams could be developed by people
outside the profession, support the need for utilizing the National
As with most medical and allied health professions, standardized national
board examinations helps assure the public as well as medical professionals
that an independent examination process is in place for personal trainers,
which in turn can help legitimize the profession. At a time when the
services of personal trainers is needed more than ever, physicians,
chiropractors and allied health professionals should feel confident
referring to competent, qualified personal trainers.
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