There are two ways to get certified as a Personal Trainer or Nutrition Specialist. One way is to get certified through an in-person course, and the other way is to get certified online. Today we’ll look at the pros and cons of both, and help you choose the best one for your needs.

There are a number of nutritional certification programs available to help professionals and laypeople learn more about food and nutrition. The ones below are some of the most popular, as well as the most respected. However, no certification program is perfect for everyone. If you already have a nutrition background, one of these programs may achieve your goals. If you want to learn more, you should find a program that most closely matches your personal and professional goals.

When it comes to nutrition certification programs, you have many choices. Some are well-known, others are not– and the ones that aren’t are just as good. A “certified” nutritionist, for example, is a nutritionist with no professional training or credentials. A nutrition consultant, on the other hand, is a nutrition professional with no formal training, but goes through a certification process. An NSO, for example, is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree and a doctorate. There are others, like the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Dietetic Technician (DietTech), who have similar training.. Read more about nutrition certification programs and let us know what you think.

Can you tell whether a nutrition certification program is credible, a suitable match, and can help you further your career before enrolling?

Absolutely! To accomplish so, you’ll need to perform the following:

This article will provide you with all of the necessary information.

They aren’t, however, solely dependent on our opinions. Because… well, we’re a bit skewed. (According to a third-party industry study, we provide the best nutrition certification in the world.)

That’s why we enlisted the assistance of five nutrition certification experts to help you evaluate the benefits and draw conclusions so you can confidently select the best nutrition certification program for you.

Perhaps you’re pondering the following:

What is a nutrition certified specialist, exactly? 

They’re health and fitness industry specialists with so much certification experience that they’ve earned the title of experts. A few of them have dozens of certificates under their belts.

One is the 2017 IDEA Health & Fitness Association Personal Trainer of the Year.

Three of them hold a Master’s degree. Two more people are registered dietitians, one of whom has taught at a university.

Simply put, other professionals seek guidance from these individuals while pursuing a nutrition certification.

You’ll get a call from…

Former professional baseball player Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, is the owner of The LAB in Fairfield, New Jersey. Piercy holds 34 advanced certifications from a range of health, fitness, and nutrition organizations, and was named IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year in 2017.
1625999074_180_How-to-Choose-the-Right-Nutrition-Certification-Program-for-YOUAfter completing her 1800+ hours of training for her dietetic internship, Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD, a Registered Dietitian and the founder and CEO of NutritionRx in London, Ontario, Canada, was certified as a nutrition coach. She has undergone low-FODMAP diet training at Monash University, as well as courses in eating disorders, food sensitivities, pregnancy, sports nutrition, nutrition supplements, and motivational interviewing.
How-to-Choose-the-Right-Nutrition-Certification-Program-for-YOUDeana Ng, a Pilates teacher in Sherman Oaks, California, has certifications from the National Pilates Certification Program (NPCP), TRX, Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Buff Bones, The MELT Method, and Osteo-Pilates, among others.
1625999076_994_How-to-Choose-the-Right-Nutrition-Certification-Program-for-YOUVivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT, a registered nurse, personal trainer, and lifestyle coach in Granite Bay, California, has more than a dozen certifications in everything from yoga to nutrition, including NASM, ACE, the Strozzi Institute, AFAA, Les Mills, and the Yoga Alliance.
1625999077_675_How-to-Choose-the-Right-Nutrition-Certification-Program-for-YOUKathleen Garcia-Benson, RDN, LD, an El Paso, Texas-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Iron MVMNT, studied nutrition at Texas A&M University, completed hundreds of hours of training for her RDN through Oakwood University, and began her career as a dietitian in a teaching hospital before shifting to an online practice.

This group of professionals has seen it all.

Many people said their certificates helped them grow their company by attracting more customers, increasing their success, and generating more recommendations and good reviews.

Have they ever felt that their nutrition certification was a waste of money? Yeah, I guess. They also offer three effective strategies in this post to assist you avoid making the same error.

You’ll discover what they look for in health, fitness, and nutrition certificates, how they determine whether credentials are worthwhile, and how they avoid unscrupulous businesses in this article.


Ask yourself these questions before deciding on a nutrition certification.

This should come as no surprise: no one qualification is appropriate for everyone.

So, how can you find the one that’s perfect for you right now?

You should carefully examine 8 questions, according to our team of nutrition certification specialists.

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1. What motivates you to get certification?

Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, had read every fitness book he could find in a shop in his local mall when he was 15 years old. Despite this, he was turned down by a local gym. They informed him, “We only employ qualified trainers.”

That would have been the end of his chances if it hadn’t been for his “never say no” mother, who contacted certification companies after certification companies looking for one that would enroll her 15-year-old. Piercy was finally accepted into a program.

He reapplied and was employed after receiving his new certification. (Aren’t mothers wonderful?)

Piercy’s “why” was clear at the time: it would help him get work.

However, obtaining a job is just one of many compelling reasons to get a certification.

Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD, earned a nutrition certification to learn more about behavior change science.

Vivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT, wants to grow her life coaching and personal training companies.

Kathleen Garcia-Benson, RDN, LD, wanted to get her nutrition coaching certification to improve her behavior change and motivational interviewing abilities.

What do you want to gain from your certification?

Here are some of the things that the proper nutrition certification may help you achieve:

Obtain new customers

Retain current customers

Obtain fresh methods to assist customers in their success.

Obtain employment with a company that needs a nutrition certification.

Educate yourself about nutrition

Feel confident in your ability to advise customers on nutrition.

Add nutrition as a service to your menu.

Make a name for yourself in the area of health, wellness, and fitness.

Take your career to the next level.

Boost your capacity to interact with customers.

Identify and resolve issues with tough or reluctant customers.

Boost your resume’s credibility.

Set yourself out from the crowd.

Boost your conversion rates

Boost reputation and/or trustworthiness

Fill in a knowledge void

Examine a particular area of nutrition in depth (for example, pregnancy nutrition)

Learn how to alter your behavior successfully.

Be more well-liked by your peers.

All of the aforementioned? They’re all good reasons to become certified, but not all certificates address all of them, which leads us to the next point to think about.

2. What are the values that you hold dear?

You may be tempted to skip over this issue, thinking to yourself, “What does THAT have to do with my nutrition certification?”

The answer is simple: everything.

This is why:

Which nutrition certificates seem like a good fit—and which ones don’t—depends on your strong views about nutrition, health, and exercise. 

For instance, suppose you:

  • Diets aren’t for you—or anybody else. Since the beginning of time.
  • For spiritual and ethical reasons, I follow a rigorous completely plant-based diet, and I only wish to work with people who do as well.
  • I really believe in the idea of holistic wellness.

For all individuals, none of those values are universally good or bad.

However, they may be completely correct or incorrect for you, and you’ll want your certification to reflect that. You’ll feel like an outsider if you don’t.

Take, for example, Gill. She’d observed throughout her nursing experience that comprehensive meal plans or sets of dietary restrictions didn’t work for patients who battled with wellness. There were just too many distractions for these individuals. As an example, stress. Insomnia, for example. As if it were fury eating. As though it were loneliness. As an example, a lack of assistance.

As a consequence, Gill was uninterested in the following:

  • One weight-loss diet that works. She just wanted a certification that allowed her to try a variety of foods.
  • Foods that are universally excellent and terrible.
  • There is a strong emphasis on nutrition research, but little attention is paid to stress, sleep, and other fundamental health issues that influence eating habits.

Broxterman, like Gill, desired an open-minded curriculum that taught nutrition in a nonjudgmental manner, without a strong prejudice towards certain diets or foods.

“Food advocates that delve deep down just one rabbit hole turn me off,” she adds.

It’s OK if your values vary from Gill’s or Broxterman’s.

The idea is that if you know your beliefs, you’ll be able to choose what you want your certification to cover. 

You may take our FREE Nutrition Coaching e-course to get a sense of what the Level 1 Certification is like.

3. What is the scope of the nutrition certification?

Question #3 will be followed by questions #1 and #2.

You may desire a nutrition certification that includes holistic health coaching, plant-based diets, intuitive and mindful eating, and/or any number of other close-to-your-soul subjects, depending on your why and values.

At the same time, a certification that focuses too much on one or more topics may not be right for you.

Our experts recommend that you consider three more things in addition to your why and values.

Examine your dietary knowledge.

If you have a basic knowledge of how digestion works, the function of vitamins and minerals, and the kinds of foods that contribute to good health, you’ll benefit from a course that covers the basics.

An overemphasis on basics, on the other hand, may put you to sleep if you’re the kind of person who enjoys reading nutrition journals.

For example, an instructor spent hours teaching how to perform squats, planks, and other fundamental exercises during one of Deana Ng’s fitness certification courses—all of which Ng already knew.

The information was neither incorrect nor incorrect. Others in the class benefitted from it as well. “Why did I spend my money on this?” Ng wondered as he stood there.

Consider how you can improve your abilities.

Could you, for example, better attract older customers if you learn about the neurological effects of aging? Would a certification in digestion-specific nutrition help you stand out from the crowd? Could you better assist current customers who are interested in plant-based diets if you expand your understanding of them?

Examine how self-assured you are.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who would ace Jeopardy’s nutrition category. But what about interpersonal skills? You come to a halt.

In such scenario, a certification that focuses more on behavior modification rather than the nuts and bolts of nutrition may be appropriate.

Many visitors to, for example, do not come just to learn about cuisine.

They come to us for our Level 1 and Level 2 certifications to learn how to assist customers alter their habits. Clients, after all, generally know what they’re meant to consume, according to Piercy. They just lack the necessary abilities.

This is particularly true right now, according to Gill, since clients are dealing with stress, sleep, and mental health issues, all of which exacerbate hunger and cravings.

4. What is the nutrition certification company’s track record?

When it comes to selecting a nutrition certification, this is one of the most common queries we get from our customers. Our experts recommend five steps for vetting nutrition certification businesses.

Learn more about the nutrition certification program and the people behind it.

Broxterman chose to pursue nutrition certification with since the founder, John Berardi, PhD, spoke regularly at a nutrition and fitness summit at Western University in Ontario, Canada.

“He was welcomed back year after year because of his qualifications, scientific background, leadership, and business expertise. I had the impression that I could put my faith in what he had created.”

Let’s suppose you haven’t got the chance to listen to a speech from one of the company’s executives. What else do you have to look at? To discover more about the business, its creator, and its curriculum team, our experts recommend doing a fast Google search. Make an effort to learn about:

  • Do the creator and curriculum team have degrees in the fields of nutrition, exercise, and/or health? Do those credentials correspond to the company’s claims of expertise?
  • Has the business or any of its workers published anything that may be seen on
  • Do big, respected organizations ask representatives of this business to speak to their students, customers, visitors, and/or workers as part of their presentations?
  • Where have high-level workers worked in the past, and how could such experiences have impacted them?
  • What do high-level business workers do in their spare time in terms of recreation and social activities? Is it true that they speak the talk and live the walk?
  • Company background: Do you find yourself mirrored in the biographies, pictures, and qualifications of the individuals who work for the company—race, age, class, interests, etc.? Is it common for the business to employ individuals with advanced degrees and training, such as Registered Dietitians or those with Master’s or Doctorate degrees?

Garcia-Benson adds, “I looked at a number of businesses.” “Having Registered Dietitians on staff made me feel more at ease with the certification business I selected. That was very significant to me. It was comforting to know that I would be accepted as a Registered Dietitian, and that the program will be science-based.”

Check to see whether the firm’s area of practice is mentioned.

For Garcia-Benson, the scope of practice was crucial. She’d witnessed individuals in the fitness business prescribing supplements to address complicated health issues, placing patients with diabetes on suspect diets, and continuing to work with orthorexia customers rather than sending them to medical nutrition therapy experts.

This was an ethical problem for her.

Garcia-Benson only wanted to study from a business that made it very clear what a certified nutrition coach could and couldn’t do in terms of both law and ethics.

Examine the company’s blog and social media accounts.

Look for businesses that place an equal emphasis on teaching people as they do on earning money.

Examine the materials’ quality as well, making sure they:

  • Include research to back up your nutrition claims, as well as footnotes and source links.
  • Include dietary advice from individuals who have earned their stripes.
  • Are straightforward and simple to comprehend.

Piercy seeks for businesses that make things as easy as possible.

He explains, “That way, I know I can convey that knowledge to the individuals I teach and coach.”

Look for individuals who have the certification.

Read testimonials from customers who have completed the company’s certification program. Also, talk to other experts in the area. Check out third-party industry studies that rate certificates and provide benefits and drawbacks when they’re available.

5. How much will it set you back?

Whether your certification is a few hundred dollars or several thousand dollars, the pricing must reflect the level of difficulty. 

A weekend course, for example, should cost no more than a couple of hundred dollars—certainly not a couple of thousand. On the other hand, how much would you pay for a year-long industry-recognized certification course? A few thousand dollars may seem to be a good deal.

“Any credential you acquire needs to pay for itself within the first six months,” Piercy says to the trainers who work for him.

Will earning more money with a recognized nutrition certification assist you?

In a nutshell, sure.

According to our study of 1000 nutrition coaches and further independent studies, coaches who:

  • Coaches with a nutrition certification make significantly more per hour than those who do not.
  • Coaches with two to three certificates make $12 per hour more on average than those with just one.
  • People with a certification earn 11% more than those without one.

Use this guidance to determine if a new nutrition certification is worthwhile.

Check to see if the same material is available at a lower price.

Could you learn all you need to know from the course’s publicly accessible videos? Alternatively, how about reading a book? Yes, many certificates bring all of the knowledge together in one location. Worthwhile certificates, on the other hand, should be more valuable. “It needs to be more than simply consuming information,” Piercy adds, “because you can absorb knowledge for a lot less money than you can obtain a certification.” It has to assist you in putting that information into practice.”

Calculate the cost-benefit ratio.

Examine your “why” and how obtaining a certification can benefit your life. If it does any of the following, you’ll be pleased with your investment:

  • It aids in the acquisition of new customers.
  • Enhances your ability to teach
  • Boosts your self-assurance
  • Allows you to reach out to a new clientele.
  • Makes you a more valuable part of the healthcare system

Investigate any hidden expenses.

Consider if the business will require you to pay extra to recertify and/or attend continuing education in the future.

Examine the quality of future professional development choices if the business needs re-testing, re-certification, and/or professional development. These recertifications may seem like a money-making scam if few, if any, of the future professional development courses will assist you enhance your coaching abilities, according to Ng.

Is it really worth it to get a nutrition certification? What you should know from the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year.

When individuals approach Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, for advise on whether or not to pursue a new certification, he shares a lesson he learned as a professional baseball player.

Piercy recognized he couldn’t fully absorb any one baseball player’s mindset while looking for hitting instruction since their talents and strengths weren’t necessarily the same as his. He typically gleaned one or two points at the same time, which let him contact with the ball more forcefully.

When it comes to certificates, each new nutrition course should teach you one or two things that you can use right now.

“Learning anything that alters the way you teach or train is a game-changer,” Piercy adds.

6. How long do you think it’ll take?

Shorter certification courses will not provide you with the same level of market credibility as lengthier ones.

Ng explains, “My schooling was a few of years of my life and hundreds of recorded hours.” That’s not the same as someone who teaches after just attending a weekend workshop—and customers notice, she adds.

7. How would you describe your online learning experience?

Consider four considerations when selecting an online experience: how you learn, the degree of difficulty, how you’ll be assessed, and the assistance you’ll get.

How do you study?

Consider if you’re the kind of person who needs a deadline to stay motivated or thrives in a self-paced program.

In a similar vein, do you learn more from reading than from viewing videos, or vice versa?

Also, think about how you feel when you’re in a virtual group. Do you look forward to making new friends? Or do you squirm whenever a teacher says, “All right, let’s pair up.” “Could you please locate a partner”?

There are no correct or incorrect responses in this situation. The idea is that your learning style will influence whether or not an online learning experience is a suitable match for you.

The difficulty level

The reality is that when standards increase, the proportion of successful graduates in a program decreases.

Why? Reputable businesses with high standards are more likely to provide certification possibilities that include the following:

  • Learning may take anything from a few weeks to many months.
  • There was a lot of reading to be done.
  • Students are forced to think carefully about their responses via interactive games, worksheets, and quizzes.

To put it another way, you’ll have to sift through a lot of information. There is no one pushing you to study. As a result, students who do not put in the necessary effort often suffer.

Finally, a qualification is only as valuable as the effort you put into it.

How you’ll be put to the test

What counts to customers, according to Ng, is what she learns rather than how she is assessed. They don’t care whether you can identify every bone in the body or provide a detailed description of the digestive system. She claims that they are interested in the fact that you know how to assist them in changing.

The assistance you’ll get

Consider adding value services to your online learning experience, such as:

  • Virtual communities for students and alumni that are exclusively accessible to members
  • Clients should have access to online resources and handouts.
  • If it suits you, you may emphasize tangible resources.

8. Is the curriculum experience of high quality?

Granted, you may not learn about the educational experience until after you’ve already given your credit card number, but these strategies may help you have a good idea of what to expect.

Take a look at what the business offers for free.

This investigation technique was discussed previously as a method to evaluate a company’s reputation. “I seek for businesses that educate generously,” Gill adds, “rather than giving a small little tidbit and then immediately shifting to a sales pitch.”

Furthermore, clear, simple-to-understand free resources are likely to indicate that the company’s curriculum materials will be similarly clear and easy to comprehend.

If you need some inspiration, here’s a selection of free sites that may help. (This is also where our prejudice comes into play, but we hope you find it useful.)

Take into account any additional resources provided by the business in conjunction with the certification.

You may not recall every aspect of your certification years later. That’s why, according to Ng, it’s beneficial if the certification firm provides lifelong access to materials so you can refresh your recollection.

“One of the reasons I chose to get certified at is because there is so much material available for free. That isn’t true of all certifications,” adds Ng. “You have a whole armory, a library of weapons. There are many tools available. It’s like having a superpower that enables you to perform at your best. It gives you the feeling of being a badass.”

Seek for credentials that can educate you how to confidently coach.

Some coaches study and study and study—but never take the leap and begin coaching. Advanced certificates that connect students with a mentor and provide time for role play, according to Gill, may help them gain confidence.

What to look for in a reputable nutrition training program

We’ve already told you quite a bit. It’s likely that you won’t recall everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a simple checklist with all of the important elements. Take a screenshot of it. It is recommended that you print it. Alternatively, you can just bookmark this page.

Use it to check out certification businesses and make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Checklist for Your Complete Nutrition Certification Program

Look for nutrition certifications that include the following:

Assist you in taking your career to the next level.

Cover the nutrition subjects that you’re most interested in.

Boost your self-assurance.

Ensure that your beliefs, degree of expertise, and learning style are all in sync.

Other health, fitness, and wellness experts hold you in high esteem.

Publish resources that are simple to comprehend and evidence-based.

Deconstruct the scope of practice.

Offer validation to their grads so that customers may verify that their certification is authentic and up to date.

Teach you one or two skills that you can apply right away.

Will be paid off in six months.

Avoid nutrition certifications that include the following:

Concentrate on a single “flavor of the month” talent that will soon become obsolete.

Are marketed by businesses that are only focused on “hard selling.”

Are much more expensive than comparable courses due to their difficulty and reputation.

Do not hire specialists with credentials.

Use social media to disseminate nutritional claims that have been shown to be false.

Whether you choose to get certified by or another business, we genuinely wish you the best of luck. (There aren’t enough excellent instructors in the world.)

If you are serious about your nutrition goals, then it’s time to make a choice. There are plenty of programs out there that claim to be the best. They claim to be 100% online, and 100% affiliated with accredited universities. They are all about the same, but the truth is that some are better than others. You want to make sure to find a program that is going to help you reach your specific goals.. Read more about best sports nutrition certification and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best nutrition certification to get?

The best nutrition certification to get is a Certification in Nutrition.

What certifications do you need to be a nutrition coach?

You will need a bachelors degree in nutrition, dietetics, or a related field. You will also need to have completed a certification program that is recognized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

Is AFPA certification credible?

The AFPA certification is a credible certification.

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