In order to become a Certified Personal Trainer, you must first pass an exam from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The requirements to take the exam include being at least 18 years old, CPR and AED certification and a high school diploma. If you meet the requirements, you can take the NSCA-CPT exam, which can be taken as a pencil and paper exam or a computer-based exam. Preparing for the exam enhances your chances of success.
Read the NSCA's "Essentials of Personal Training" textbook. The NSCA suggests that if you have a degree in exercise science, then it is likely not necessary to study this textbook, so the book is most recommended for those wishing to obtain a CPT certification without a degree in exercise science. The ISBN number for the textbook is 978-0736000154, and the book costs between $50 and $100 (as of 2013), depending on whether you purchase a new or used copy.
Study the NSCA "Exam Content Description Booklet," which explains the general format of the exam, descriptions of the tasks of a personal trainer, the weighting of the content and other important exam information. The ISBN number for this book is 0990024601, and it costs between $18 and $30 (as of 2013).
Read the "Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance and Training" and watch the included DVDs, which include detailed descriptions on performing resistance training exercises and is a recommended resource for those who train others on exercises. The book and DVDs cost between $39 and $53 (as of 2013).
Listen to the "NSCA Essentials of Personal Training Multimedia Symposium" CDs, which include speakers on various topics in the field, slide shows and videos. The product is available on the NSCA website and costs between $134 and $199 (as of 2013).
Take an NSCA-CPT practice exam, which will help you to see how you are doing in the learning process and gain an understanding of how well you may do on the actual assessment. There are three practice exam volumes, but it does not matter where you start. All are available on the NSCA website for between $31 and $47 each (as of 2013).
Determine your score on the practice exams using the answer key guide in the back of the exam book. If you did not do as well as you had expected on the exam, refer back to the reference materials you studied and take another practice exam. Once you feel confident in your knowledge of the exam, register for the actual NSCA-CPT exam.