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Why NCCA?

The Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals®(CREP®) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) corporation composed of organizations that offer NCCA-accredited exercise certifications. Coalition members are committed to advancing the fitness profession and earning recognition as a​ health provider for practitioners that have passed a competency-based exercise certification exam that has been accredited by the NCCA.  CREP® advances its mission by maintaining the United States Registry of Exercise Professionals® (USREPS®), an internationally recognized Registry of exercise professionals in the United States.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) which was originally established in 1977 as the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies (NCHCA), in partnership with the federal government, to develop standards of excellence for voluntary certification programs. In 1989, the scope of those standards was broadened to include certifications for individuals in all professions and occupations. Accreditation of certification programs through the NCCA serves as the standard for many allied health and medical professions in the United States and an NCCA-accredited certification often serves as the foundational credential in professions regulated by individual states. For these important reasons, NCCA accreditation is the third-party standard by which CREP® set membership eligibility and inclusion within USREPS®.

As a result, CREP® adopted the NCCA accreditation as the national standard providing the best opportunity to accommodate the diversity of exercise roles against a uniform accreditation standard and prepare for regulation of the profession in a manner that follows current best practices for other health professions and be the least disruptive to all stakeholders.

The NCCA accreditation process thoroughly assesses the validity of an organization’s certification processes and examination systems by applying a comprehensive, peer-reviewed standard. NCCA asks questions such as: Is the examination process unbiased? Does the exam assess professional competence? Is the public protected from unqualified practitioners? How does the organization provide support to their professionals?

The NCCA application systematically examines the processes and procedures used by a certification board to develop, implement, score, maintain, and govern the exam. This review ensures that the program meets industry standards. For compliance, certification programs must meet the following standards:

  • Conducts certification activities in a manner that upholds standards for competent practice in a profession.
  • Includes individuals from the certified population on the certification board of the certification program.
  • Establishes and periodically reviews key certification policies and procedures concerning existing and prospective certificants.
  • Employs assessment instruments that are derived from the practice analysis and that are consistent with generally accepted psychometric principles.
  • Develops and adheres to appropriate, standardized, and secure procedures for the development and administration of the assessment instruments.
  • Sets the cut score (passing point) consistent with the purpose of the credential and the established standard of competence for the profession.
  • Awards certification only after the knowledge of individual applicants has been evaluated and determined to be acceptable.
  • Establishes and applies policies and procedures for secure retention of assessment results and scores of all candidates.
  • Demonstrates that its recertification requirements measure or enhance the continued competence of certificants. [1]

A complete list of currently NCCA-accredited certification programs can be found here. Also, please see the following video designed to answer the question, "What is credentialing and why is it important?"

Membership in CREP® and inclusion on the USREPS® is available to all organizations that have earned NCCA accreditation for at least one certification for a recognized* exercise professional role. Only those individuals who earn the NCCA-accredited credential from a member organization can be listed on the USREPS®. In order to be eligible for membership in CREP®, a certification organization must meet the following criteria:

  • Be engaged in the fitness business
  • Offer no less than one current certification program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (“NCCA”) for an exercise professional role defined by the U.S. Department of Labor*
  • Provide certifications or credentials (A) which are NCCA accredited, (B) are in the process of receiving NCCA accreditation or (C) for which an NCCA-accredited certification serves as a prerequisite.

The organization members of CREP® are considered amongst the most respected health fitness organizations in the United States. Many of the organizations are intimately tied to other not-for-profits including the committees, associations, and organizations that serve secondary education and facility standards, credential standard-setting and public engagement in physical activity.

CREP® strongly believes selected NCCA Accreditation standard for membership will help protect the public and promote the ongoing growth and development of the profession and it’s more than 267,000 “exercise instructors.”[2]

Are you interested in earning NCCA accreditation for your exercise certification program?

The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) offers accreditation to professional certification programs through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). ICE and the NCCA offer extensive resources, information, application assistance, and consulting services to help organizations achieve accreditation. Contact them and read more here on their website.

As certification organizations prepare and go through the accreditation process, CREP® is available to help determine which resources from NCCA may be need and helpful. To contact CREP®, please email executivedirector@usreps.org.


[1] National Commission For Certifying Agencies. "Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs." (September 2004): 1-29. [2] 267,000 “exercise instructors” in 2012 according to the US Department of Labor Statistics. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and- instructors.htm.​​​​​​