The Cooper Personal Trainer Exam is a certification exam for personal trainers offered by the Cooper Institute. The Cooper Institute is a non-profit research and education institution based on the premise of promoting healthy living physically, emotionally, and mentally. Some gyms and health clubs will require personal trainers to obtain certification before they are hired. Others will hire personal trainers with or without certification, but even so, becoming certified as a personal trainer verifies your expertise in the field and makes you more marketable in the job market. Sometimes personal trainers who are certified also are able to earn higher salaries than those who are not certified. Other personal trainers who are certified pay lower rates for liability insurance than personal trainers who have not yet obtained certification.
The Cooper Personal Trainer Exam is a credentialing certification program rather than a knowledge-based (or curriculum-based) certification program. This means that the exam stresses the application of knowledge in real-world personal training scenarios rather than assessing comprehension of personal-training related coursework. The content is designed to be appropriate for an entry level personal trainer. The Cooper Institute offers educational opportunities for personal trainers that can help you prepare for the exam. However, the content of the Cooper Institute’s personal trainer certification exam is not specific to classes offered exclusively by the Cooper Institute. If you have received your personal trainer training elsewhere, you should still be prepared to take the Cooper Institute’s exam. Questions on the exam will emphasize both your knowledge of fitness and health content as well as how you can apply this knowledge to help your clients achieve their fitness and health goals as a personal trainer. After you pass the Cooper Personal Trainer Exam, you can add the initials CI-CPT, which stand for “Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer” after your name.
Earning certification as a personal trainer through the Cooper Institute demonstrates to your employer, colleagues, and clients that you embody a set of job-specific ideals established in the Cooper Institute personal trainer certification program. The ideals include both your outlook on the personal training profession as well as your knowledge base. Becoming certified through the Cooper Institute shows that you understand the positive implications personal training can have on your clients’ lives.
The Cooper Institute’s ideals maintain that personal trainers must stay up to date on current techniques and training methods. In turn, they should use these methods to enhance their client’s training sessions and tailor them to each client’s specific needs. Certified personal trainers should also be trained in CPR and first aid techniques, should these be necessary to perform on the job.
Certified personal trainers should also lead by example. This means maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to encourage your clients to do the same. Trainers should also work with their clients to develop the best possible health and wellness program to fit their needs, and be available to celebrate successes and met goals with clients. Personal trainers also need to ensure that they can commit an ample amount of time to each client in order to accurately serve the client’s fitness needs. Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainers should treat all clients equally and respect each client’s confidentiality and privacy. The certified personal trainer’s job is to work with the client in order to help the client make well-informed choices rather than simply dictating a course of action to each client. In that way, the personal trainer helps the client learn how to control his or her own wellness so that the benefits of working with a trainer can extend beyond each training session. Certified personal trainers should also honor all contracts with clients.
While many personal trainers possess all of the above characteristics and maintain these ideals with respect to their work, becoming certified through the Cooper Institute is way to quickly and succinctly display your adherence to these ideals to others.
Physical Fitness Specialists and the Cooper Personal Trainer Exam
Before the Cooper Institute certified personal trainers through the Cooper personal trainer exam, it offered a physical fitness specialist certificate. The physical fitness specialist certification was different than obtaining certification in several ways. The certificate was awarded to individuals after they completed a set of coursework and passed an exam based specifically on the coursework. The Cooper personal trainer exam, however, is not based on coursework but rather based on competencies necessary to succeed in the working world as a personal trainer. Therefore, you do not need to complete a class through the Cooper Institute in order to pass the certification exam (although seminars, publications, and other trainings are available if you wish to utilize them).
The Cooper personal trainer exam is more in line with current industry standards than the physical fitness specialist exam. Many employers in the personal training industry now either prefer or require their personal trainers to be certified, through the Cooper Institute or another organization. Because personal training qualifications are unregulated by the government, many employers and prospective clients prefer to hire a trainer who has obtained accreditation through a third party to verify their skill level. Some will still accept a physical fitness specialist certificate from their prospective employees, but gaining certification makes you more marketable as a personal trainer, because it shows that you have put out the effort to stay current with your field.
Personal training certification also requires renewal, while having earned a physical fitness specialist certificate does not. A physical fitness specialist certificate demonstrates that you have passed a curriculum-based exam at the beginning of your career, while personal training certification shows that you have continuously taken steps to better your career and enhance your knowledge as a personal trainer, since continuing education contact hours are necessary in order to renew your certification. Every three years, you must earn thirty contact hours to maintain your certification as a personal trainer. Contact hours are earned by participating in educational programs that enhance your knowledge of the field. For example, a program that merely repeated information necessary to pass the Cooper personal trainer exam would not count; the point of earning contact hours is to expand your knowledge of your field in a way that will be meaningful to you and your clients.
Whether or not you choose to earn certification if you have already obtained a physical fitness specialist certificate is up to you. Obtaining certification is certainly not required to work as a personal trainer, but it will likely enhance your career opportunities. Furthermore, the knowledge you gained in order to pass the physical fitness specialist test will still be important for passing the Cooper personal trainer exam. However, you will be applying this knowledge in a new light, as the questions on the Cooper personal trainer exam will be more job-related than content-related, and you will be applying your knowledge more than simply recalling facts.
The Cooper personal trainer exam is divided into four domains that each represent an intrinsic part of working as a personal trainer. These domains are Screening and Assessment, Goal Setting and Programming, Exercise Science, and Professional Responsibilities. Although these domains are not all directly related to health and fitness, they all inform your job performance. For example, even if you have strong scientific knowledge of the body’s structure and functions and are able to design great exercise routines for your clients, you will still need to be able to communicate these ideas to your clients in a way that they can understand. You need to be able to work with your clients in order to define their fitness goals, and will need to use communication skills as well as your knowledge of fitness. Furthermore, you will need business skills to recruit new clients in the first place.
Registration and Composition of the Cooper Personal Trainer Exam
Once you decide to get certified as a personal trainer through the Cooper Institute, you need to register to take the Cooper personal trainer exam. You can register either online or over the phone. The exam is offered at Pearson VUE testing sites, which have hundreds of locations throughout the United States. The exam is available most days, and you can choose the date you want to take the test. So if you think you will be ready to pass the exam in only a few months, you can take the test as soon as you like, but if you need more time to study, you can schedule a test date farther in advance. Once you have registered to take the Cooper personal trainer exam, you will receive an email confirmation shortly thereafter.
You must be at least eighteen years old and be trained in CPR in order to take the Cooper personal trainer exam. Your CPR training must be hands on training; an online CPR course will not be sufficient to take the Cooper personal trainer exam. On the day you take the exam, you must bring a current, government issued piece of identification that includes a photograph, such as your driverÕs license or passport. You will also need to bring documents confirming your CPR training. All of the materials you will need to take the exam, such as writing utensils and scratch paper, will be provided at the testing facility. You cannot have any personal items, such as cellular phones, with you when you take the test. You may wish to leave these things at home, as not all testing facilities may be able to guarantee secured storage for items that are not allowed in the exam room.
Taking the Cooper personal trainer exam costs $350. If you need to take the test a second time because you did not pass the exam on your first attempt, you may be able to re-register for only $195 with a discount voucher.
The Cooper personal trainer exam is administered on a computer. Because of this, you will be able to receive your test results immediately after you complete the exam. You will also receive feedback on which content areas of the exam you performed well and on which content areas of the exam you need to study more. A confirmation of your results will be mailed to you two weeks later. You cannot obtain confirmation of your test results via phone.
If you feel that there is an error in your score, you may appeal your score within one month of the day you take the exam. You must appeal your score via mail, e-mail, or fax, giving a detailed description of what you think the error could have been. You will receive a response to your appeal within ten business days.
You will need to answer 125 questions on the Cooper personal trainer exam, and you will have three hours to do so. Keep timing in mind with regard to your pacing. All of the questions are multiple choice and have four possible answers. Some questions may appear to have more than one conceivably correct answer, but there is only one best answer choice that will be counted as correct for each question.
To pass the Cooper personal trainer exam, you need to answer at least 70% of the questions correctly. Of all the people who take the Cooper personal trainer exam, the average score is 71.88% correct, which is just above a passing score. Only about sixty-four out of every one hundred people who take the exam pass the test.
However, since the Cooper personal trainer exam is a content-based exam, the more you study and prepare for the test, the greater the likelihood that you will pass. The questions are not weighted.