Licensure
Menu

In This Section:

 

ACSM Exercise Professional Licensure Statement

Exercise is recognized as an important element in the prevention and treatment of disease, making it a key component of health care and bringing the role of exercise professionals to the forefront. Given the emerging implications for the profession as a part of the evolving health care system, the American College of Sports Medicine has undertaken a strategic effort to provide employers of exercise professionals with a system to evaluate their qualifications. This statement outlines ACSM's initial steps and long-term goals for evaluating the qualifications of the exercise professional working with patients and clients with medical conditions that require minimal to advanced clinical support.

The ACSM has identified the most urgent goals for advancing the profession given the new landscape of exercise as a component of health care.

Short-term goals include:

  • Articulate and promote the value of an academic degree in exercise science for those working with patients and clients with medical conditions that require minimal to advanced clinical support.

  • Clearly delineate the scope of practice for degreed exercise professionals vs. non-degreed professionals.

Longer-term goals include:

  • Promote the need for accreditation of standardized academic curriculum

  • Promote the importance of accredited certifications for exercise professionals

  • Educate employers about their options for hiring exercise professionals, and ultimately establish licensure best practices only for degreed exercise professionals working with clients and patients with medical conditions that require minimal to advanced clinical support.

 

The Value of a Degree in Exercise Science

Exercise professionals holding an exercise science-based degree have specific knowledge that is not duplicated in other health-related professions. A degreed exercise professional has the in-depth background and appropriate training for proper patient/client interventions, including:

  • Pre-participation health screening

  • Health, clinical and performance-related fitness assessments

  • Fitness assessment interpretation and related exercise prescription for clients and patients with medical conditions that require minimal to advanced clinical support

  • Development of recommendations for behavioral and motivational strategies

It is critically important to educate health care professionals, policymakers and the general public about the difference between a degreed exercise professional and a nondegreed exercise professional, and the value that degreed exercise professionals bring to patient populations with medical conditions that require minimal to advanced clinical support.

 

Specific Licensure Related Statement

ACSM's goal is to optimally support the health care industry in determining qualifications for exercise professionals working with patients of varied levels of medical conditions. At the same time, ACSM will not limit access for healthy exercisers taking part in nonclinical settings such as exercise facilities and clubs. To accomplish both objectives, ACSM's positon on the licensure of exercise professionals is as follows:

  • ACSM supports and advocates licensure only for those exercise professionals with at least a bachelor's degree in exercise science and a related, accredited certification, assuming these professionals are working with patients and clients with medical conditions that require clinical support.

  • ACSM supports non-degreed personal trainers working in nonclinical/community settings with apparently healthy clients and does not support the need for them to be licensed.

  • ACSM also supports fitness centers, wellness centers, worksite health promotion programs and hospitals in determining their own hiring criteria for the various exercise professional positions that they have available.

<H2> Conclusion

ACSM has never promoted or advocated for the licensure of all exercise professionals. The focus and aspiration of ACSM is two-fold:

  1. ensure that exercise professionals working with patients and clients with medical conditions that require minimal to advanced clinical support are appropriately qualified and

  2. provide employers with an effective system for determining appropriate staffing of exercise professionals given the needs of patients/clients and members within exercise service settings.

ACSM will avoid creating barriers to access for exercisers that do not need advanced exercise services. By helping move the field in this direction, ACSM will advance the quality of care and improve effectiveness in the delivery of exercise services for all clients and patients based on their health status and clinical needs.