Editor's Note: This post was originally published November 2016 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
When turning your passion for nutrition and wellness into a career track, it’s likely that you’ll consider a certification program. Not only does this type of program give you the in-depth educational resources that help you master the topic, but it also communicates a level of credibility and confidence to your clients.
A certification lets them—and potential employers—know that you’ve undertaken a rigorous and research-centered approach to learning about nutrition, which gives you the insights you need to help others.
But keep in mind that not all certification programs are the same. When considering your options, it’s worth taking the time to compare what’s being offered, to make sure you choose the right program for your interests and needs.
Two of the most well-known program providers in the industry are American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA) and Precision Nutrition (PN). Thousands of nutrition professionals have been through one of these programs and are now working in a wide variety of settings, including fitness facilities, spas, hospitals, senior centers, and as independent consultants.
Although each both AFPA and PN deliver an in-depth education on nutrition, they’re not identical. Here are some of the similarities and differences to keep in mind as you consider your choices:
One significant difference between the two programs is in the specialization of the programs. This is particularly important, since comparing what each program offers will help you decide which path to take.
AFPA has a number of certification programs. If you want a more general education, you can choose theNutrition and Wellness Consultant Certification, or you can group several top-level programs together with a Nutrition Consultant Master Level Certification. To learn about issues geared toward certain populations, you can choose from a variety of our certification courses to become a Holistic Nutritionist, Weight Management Specialist, Sports Nutritionist, or Youth Nutrition Specialist.
By contrast, PN only has a nutrition certification track, geared toward fitness professionals, with Level 1 and Level 2 options that combine fitness and education. PN does offer two coaching programs—one focused on women and one on men—but these aren’t certification courses, they're for consumers.
If you’re looking to bring together fitness, nutrition, and overall wellness into a program that also includes a certification, AFPA has a Health and Wellness Coach Consultant Certification. The AFPA certification programs have been recognized by 3rd-party accreditation organizations, which ensure a high standard of instruction and educational rigor.
Cost and Availability
As of January 2019, the AFPA Nutrition and Wellness Consultant Certification course costs $849, and specialized certifications range in price from $449 to $799. The Nutrition Consultant Master Level Certification program costs $2,199 and includes four certification programs in one, including:
AFPA’s Master Level Certification is considered a top-tier educational experience on par with a college-level program, as well.
PN doesn’t offer classes on the same flexible basis that AFPA does, instead offering enrollment just twice per year. PN asks potential students to join an email list to get notifications for the next enrollment date, and once pre-enrollment opens up, those who’ve signed up can register at a discounted rate 24 hours prior to those who didn’t sign up. The pricing for PN’s programs is unclear most of the year, and it seems that once registration has closed the pricing is removed from the website. The most recent pricing listed on the site was as follows:
Level 1 Nutrition Certification: $1,188 full price or $799 pre-sale price
Level 2 Nutrition Certification: $4,188 full price or $2,625 pre-sale price
Making the Choice
Be sure to consider the details of each program so you can make a choice that’s right for you. So, at a glance:
|Greater variety of courses||Fewer certifications (two nutrition, two coaching)|
|Designed for fitness and nutrition professionals alike||Mainly geared toward fitness professionals|
|Ultimate flexibility with rolling enrollment dates||Fixed enrollment dates of just twice per year|
Both AFPA and PN are committed to the success of the nutrition field and to the professionals who rely on their educational expertise. That means choosing one over the other often comes down to personal preference, affordability, flexibility, and other factors.
Learn more about AFPA certifications, including coursework specifics, on our Nutrition Certifications page. Our accredited certification programs are centered on what you need to know to succeed and are designed to meet the evolving needs of the nutrition field.