ACSM to Develop a Common Clinical Exercise Physiologist Certification Examination

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ACSM to Develop a Common Clinical Exercise Physiologist Certification Examination

Francis Neric |  Feb. 13, 2018

The ACSM Committee on Certification and Registry Boards (CCRB) investigated the potential of developing a single clinical exercise physiologist certification exam in 2016 and 2017. This yielded two major takeaways: (1) employers have difficulty differentiating between CEPs and RCEPs in job descriptions or performance goals and (2) a single clinical certification would substantially clarify and strengthen matters for exam candidates, university programs, employers, and the clinical exercise professionals.

Based on this information, the ACSM CCRB will develop and maintain a single clinical exercise physiologist examination - ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist® (ACSM-CEP®). The ACSM-CEP® content domains will include:

  • Domain I. Patient Assessment
  • Domain II. Exercise Testing
  • Domain III. Exercise Prescription
  • Domain IV. Exercise Training and Leadership
  • Domain V. Education and Behavior Change
  • Domain VI. Legal and Professional Responsibilities

ACSM will provide additional details which include content weighting, specific job tasks, and levels of cognitive complexity on the ACSM Certification website ( The goal is to launch an operational beta form of the ACSM-CEP® exam in December 2018.

The minimum requirements for the ACSM-CEP® will be the following:

  • Master's degree in Exercise Physiology or equivalent and 600 hours of hands-on, clinical experience.


  • Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, or equivalent and 1,200 hours of hands-on, clinical experience.

In addition, ACSM and the new Clinical Exercise Physiology Association (CEPA) will co-develop a formal and widely promoted Registry of Clinical Exercise Physiologists. The aim of the Registry is to not only emphasize the value ACSM-CEPs bring to health care teams, but to highlight those individuals in the registry who have achieved a standard of excellence beyond entry level certification. All current RCEPs will automatically qualify for the Registry, and additional details and progress reports about the new registry will be released later this year.

So, what does this mean to currently practicing CEPs and RCEPs, beyond greater visibility and clarity to all? Clinical certificants in good standing will not need to retake their clinical exams or provide additional documentation. Certificants will be automatically migrated to the ACSM-CEP program, and certification numbers, login information, and CEC history will remain intact. In addition, ACSM will reissue and mail hard-copy credentials to the address we have on file for you.

Clinical Exercise Physiologists will unquestionably remain the gold standard for the exercise profession. ACSM and CEPA will be strategically focused on boosting the prominence of the clinical exercise professional to current and future employers, refining and clarifying the important role they play in preventing, managing, and treating chronic diseases and conditions in health care and throughout society, and improving the quality of care for patients. Please contact us via if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.

In health,

Francis B. Neric, M.S., M.B.A.
ACSM National Director of Certification

Meir Magal, Ph.D., FACSM, ACSM-CEP®
ACSM Certification Board (CCRB), Chair 

Brad Roy, Ph.D., FACSM, ACSM-CEP®
ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiology, Credentialing Chair

Michael Lynch, M.S., ACSM-RCEP®, RD
ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiology, Committee Chair