Kelsey Graham
Office: ES 203-J


Personal Trainer Certificate Program

Personal trainer certificate program

Check out our feature in SD Voyager Magazine!

About the program

Students in this program are trained to be personal trainers and group exercise leaders. Students learn the principles of exercise and physical conditioning, techniques of conducting exercise classes and training sessions, appropriate methods of establishing healthy behavior and the designing of personalized exercise prescriptions. Students develop safe, effective exercise plans for a variety of clients.

This program gives students hands on application that cannot be obtained from reading a book and sitting for an exam. Students leave the program feeling confident and equipped to step into the fitness industry and be successful. Graduates of the Personal Trainer Certificate Program have an 86% average pass rate on the American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Certificate Exam, compared to the national average pass rate of 68%.

Please note that students enrolled in an occupational program must earn a grade of “C” or better in courses required for the major.

Job opportunities

The Personal Trainer certificate program trains students for positions, entry-level or higher, in the growing fitness industry.

Graduates are qualified to be personal trainers, exercise testing technicians, fitness instructors, strength training instructors and worksite wellness specialists.

The fitness industry continues to experience growth, with a 13% expected increase in employment between 2012-2022, and has an ongoing need for trained professionals in health clubs, fitness centers, sports medicine clinics and corporate wellness organizations.

Required Courses


  • EXSC 280 Applied Exercise Physiology (2 units)
  • EXSC 281 Applied Kinesiology (2 units)
  • EXSC 284 Fitness and Sports Nutrition (2 units)
  • EXSC 283 Exercise and Fitness Assessment (2 units)


  • EXSC 242B Care and Prevention of Injuries (3 units)*
  • EXSC 285 Exercise for Special Populations (2 units)
  • EXSC 282 Techniques of Weight Training (2 units)
  • EXSC 286 Techniques of Exercise Leadership (2 units)
  • EXSC 288 Fitness Specialist Internship Lecture (1 unit)
  • EXSC 270 Personal Trainer Internship/Work Experience (1-4 units)*
  • Total Units = 19-22
  • * = These courses are available to be taken in the fall or spring semester.

    For the current class schedule, please see:


What students are saying


All of my clients have benefitted from my involvement in this program, whether it be strategies for progression, exercise programming, exercise cueing, addressing behavior changes or being able to explain the rationale in my exercise selection. After feeling like I had been in the wilderness trying to stumble my way through learning effective strategies for improving client outcomes and never quite knowing if I am hitting the mark, I feel that I am better equipped to navigate a wider population of clients and their goals. I feel validated in the strategies I already utilized and learned ways to optimize and improve their efficacy. I have learned how to better help people implement change in their lives and help them achieve their goals. I feel confident and ready to move forward to the next step in my career as a fitness professional and I would not have gotten to this place without this program.
- David. R., Personal Trainer

The Personal Training Certificate Program at San Diego Mesa College has been giving me more than what I have ever expected. I always have had the desire to become  a Personal Trainer but I wanted to know how the body worked and the real purpose of every exercise,  every movement and how to implement all of that. I love that I have been learning it all and also I have become more confident to help people to achieve their health goals ( not in a superficial manner) but on a safe and efficient way based on their needs and capabilities. The professors and the program have  inspired me so much that I now see many more academic possibilities in the future.
- Jessica S.


"The Fitness Specialist Certification Program at Mesa College was a wonderful, life changing experience for me. I learned an immeasurable amount from incredible and inspiring educators. I made great connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. I would recommend the Fitness Specialist Certification Program at Mesa College to anyone interested joining the fitness industry.

Getting to design and teach group fitness classes and train students one on one during the internship portion inside the gym was one of the biggest highlights for me, learning things hands on and growing through constructive criticism. I gained knowledge and confidence in a real fitness industry setting.

Thanks to everything I learned at Mesa I was able to pass the ACE Personal Trainer Certification test with flying colors. Armed with the ACE certification along with my Fitness Specialist Certification I am ready and eager to join the fitness industry and start helping people reach their goals and get healthy." - Nicole G.


"I started the Exercise Science program at Mesa College with the hopes of becoming a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.  It has enhanced my personal training confidence and overall knowledge of movement and exercise programming. 

Knowledgeable staff and caring instructors make all the difference when you're investing in a career and that is a huge part of what makes Mesa College special.  I would recommend the exercise science program at Mesa College to anyone looking to start, grow, improve or better  themselves as a Personal Trainer of Fitness  instructor."
- Louis A., Personal Trainer

"After 2 years enrolled in the personal training program at San Diego Mesa College, I can honestly say that this institution only offers the best to its student. The instructors are caring, flexible, understanding, and passionate towards their students. They are generally interested to keep a good relationship with their students. In addition, they all have a deep passion towards exercise science. Not only will you get the information needed to be a high-quality fitness professional, but will able to participate in supervised practice which is optimal for the personal training career.

The classes are strategized to keep the student engaged into the material. From listening to the interesting content, to applying the material into a fitness setting. For instance, the classrooms are set next to a fitness lab. This program also encourages one to pursue higher degrees and certifications. This is especially important given that the fitness industry is continually growing towards health clubs, fitness centers, and even sport medicine clinics. This program is ideal for both the full-time and part-time student. If you have a passion and interest towards personal training, San Diego Mesa College is the best option to quench that thirst."
- Emmanuel P.