The CSEP Professional Standards Program® sets the highest standards for qualified exercise professionals through certification and evidence-informed practice. There are two CSEP certifications: CSEP Certified Personal Trainers® (CSEP-CPT) and CSEP Clinical Exercise Physiologists™ (CSEP-CEP).
CSEP-CPTs and CSEP-CEPs bring science to practice through their knowledge and skills, to provide clients with evidence-informed programming that support meaningful lasting lifestyle changes.
The CSEP High Performance Specialization™ is offered as an add-on to existing CSEP certifications. Specializations provide members with the necessary in-depth knowledge to work with unique populations through cutting-edge, evidence-informed learning modules, and assessments.
CSEP Specializations provide Qualified Exercise Professionals advanced knowledge and practical considerations for working with specific client groups. CSEP specializations are open to both CSEP Certified Members and non-member who met the eligibility requirements.
The CSEP High Performance Specialization™ focuses on performance and occupational testing and training for qualified exercise professionals working with elite athletes, emergency services personnel, armed forces, and high performance clients.
The CSEP Pre & Postnatal Exercise Specialization™ provides Qualified Exercise Professionals with the background knowledge to actively encourage a physically active lifestyle in their clients prior to conception, throughout pregnancy, and into the postpartum period.
The scope of practice differs between CSEP-CPTs and CSEP-CEPs and each have their own requirements to become certified. A CSEP-CEP has a broader scope of practice.
A CSEP-CPT works with individuals to meet their healthy lifestyle goals using an evidence-informed approach acquired through education. A CSEP-CEP works with individuals from diverse populations to meet their healthy lifestyle, performance and occupational goals by applying advanced education, skills, and experience.
CSEP certified exercise professionals are the most highly qualified exercise practitioners in Canada who follow the highest standards to ensure the best and safest care. Reasons to choose CSEP for your certification:
You believe it is important that qualified exercise professionals follow a client-centered process to help clients adopt and maintain a physically active lifestyle at all ages.
You know that evidence-based practice provides long-term benefits to improving the health outcomes of Canadians.
Being CSEP-certified reflects your dedication to your profession to clients and employers.
Salaries vary depending on your place of employment (e.g., community centre, health club, government, hospital, clinic or private facility). The hourly rate ranges across Canada and is generally $25-75/hour.
CSEP-CEPs may have more supervisory or management positions compared to CSEP-CPTs with corresponding market value compensation.
In order to become a CSEP-CPT or CSEP-CEP, you must follow the 5 Steps to Becoming Certified as part of the certification process. As well, each certification has a set of requirements that applicants must meet in order to be eligible to challenge the exams.
After you apply you will be sent regular communication at each step to assist you.
Submit and pay for your application online to begin the CSEP-CPT or CSEP-CEP certification process
Wait for CSEP to approve your application (2 to 3 weeks). While you’re waiting follow @CSEPdotCA on Twitter to stay informed.
Step 3: PREPARE FOR EXAMS
It is recommended that you take a Practical Skills Review Session to help prepare for your exams. Choose the Practical Skills Review Session that is best for you. Please note: Practical Skills Review Sessions are schedule on an as-needed basis based on demand from applications.
You have six months from the date you pass your first exam to pass your second exam and register!
Wait for final results on your exams. While you await make sure you have First Aid & that your CPR-C has been updated in the last 12 months.
Step 5: REGISTER
Register to be a CSEP Certified Member and begin enjoying all the member benefits including CSEP Professional Liability Insurance. (Note: you will receive the form to link directly from the CSEP certifications team).
It can take up to three weeks to process your registration and receive your member package in the mail.
Your first step is to consult the CSEP Recommended Course Map for the educational institution(s) you attended to see how the courses you took align with the CSEP Core Competencies require for certification.
If you are still unsure, when you submit an application our Certifications team will work with you to determine the best path forward. CSEP is unable to assess your eligibility until you submit an application.
CSEP Recommended Course Maps (RCM) are a tool to help you plan and align courses from the school(s) you attend with the Core competencies. These are a tool for guidance and additional courses could fit the Core Competency criteria.
CPR certification is not required to participate in a Skills Review session or Practical Exam. You will be required to submit documentation of CPR-C (or equivalent) certification when you register as a CSEP certified member after you pass both exams.
CSEP practical skill reviews and practical exams are delivered by CSEP Instructor Examiners (CSEP-IEs) from across the country. CSEP-IEs are CSEP certified members who met all the requirements to deliver CSEP skills review sessions and practical exams to candidates while ensuring they maintain the highest standards.
All exams and practical review sessions are posted on the Exam & Practical Skills Review page and candidates receive a monthly newsletter featuring upcoming certification events.
Certification events are scheduled based on demand and the availability of CSEP Instructor Examiners. This means that there may not be practical review sessions or practical exams scheduled on a regular basis in your area or you may have to travel to take one.
Important: CSEP’s policy states that a candidate has six months from the time they successfully complete the first exam (theory or practical) to successfully complete the remaining exam and register with CSEP as a new member. Therefore, in the instance that there is no practical exam opportunity available in their region, it is not recommended that candidates proceed to challenge the theory exam without first confirming that the date that they will be able to challenge their practical exam.
Approved candidates can complete their Theory Exam at a Pearson VUE Testing Centre, or through Pearson VUE’s secure online proctoring platform. There are Pearson VUE testing centres available year-round across Canada. Approved candidates will receive email communication with instructions to purchase and book their exams.
CSEP-CPT candidates require a CSEP-PATH manual unique registration code in order to purchase the CSEP-CPT Theory Exam.
Yes, you have the opportunity to challenge the Theory Exam from the comfort of your home or office.
Before booking you will be required to run a system test to ensure you are able to complete an Online Proctored exam on your computer. Read about the system requirements.
There is no set time. If you fail either exam on your first attempt you should allow time between exams for further study (minimum one month recommended) to ensure your success on your next attempt. For more information, see the CSEP Certification Exam Attempts Policy.
Within the certification period a CSEP certification candidate is allowed a maximum of two attempts at each of the CSEP Theory and Practical Exams. An individual who is not successful after their second exam attempt, of either exam, must apply for an extension in order to receive a third attempt, regardless of where they are in the certification period, i.e. if their 6 month deadline has started or not. If at the end of the 6 month extension period and third exam attempt the individual was still unsuccessful they are required to undergo a 6 month waiting period.
A candidate has two attempts, at each exam, to successfully pass both
If unsuccessful at second attempt, candidate can apply for a third attempt
If unsuccessful at third attempt, a waiting period is imposed and the candidate can apply to keep their file open
Note that once a candidate has already successfully completed one exam they are also still bound by the six month deadline in which to complete both exams successfully and register with CSEP as a certified member.
When applying, you do not need to submit official transcripts but before you officially register as a Certified member you will have to submit official transcripts. Official transcripts are from your registrar’s office (official stamp and from your institution). They will not be returned to you. They can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to 495 Richmond Road, Suite 101, Ottawa ON, K2A 4B1, Canada.
From the time you successfully pass your first exam you have six-months to successfully pass your second exam and register as a CSEP certified member. If you exceed the six-month deadline your exam results will no longer be valid and you will have to successfully challenge the exams again.
Once you are an approved CSEP Certification Candidate you have one year to start the exam process before you will be contacted to confirm you would like to keep your file active.
When you have successfully completed both your Theory Exam and Practical Exam you will receive a confirmation email from CSEP with directions and a link to the registration form. It can take up to four business days to receive and process your exam results and contact you about the next steps.
After you register and submit all required documents you will receive email confirmation from CSEP and a member package with all of your information.
Current CSEP-CPTs can earn the CSEP High Performance Specialization™ by successfully completing a 60 question, multiple-choice theory exam.
Once a CSEP-CPT has obtained the CSEP High Performance Specialization designation, they may utilize assessment protocols or design exercise programs that require maximal aerobic or anaerobic effort. They may also assess muscular strength using maximal 1-RM assessment protocols or design programs based on resistance loads exceeding 90% of the predicted 1-RM.
CSEP High Performance Specialization™ renews annually with your CSEP Certified membership. There are no additional fees or professional development required to renew the Specialization. CSEP members’ comprehensive CSEP Professional and General Liability insurance remains unchanged.
A CSEP Certified Personal Trainer® can only work with clients who have been cleared for physical activity. Individuals who have not been cleared for physical activity can be cleared by a CSEP-CEP or by a physician completing a Physicians Clearance Form (from the CSEP-PATH e-Toolkit).
Remember that a CSEP-CPT cannot conduct maximal effort exercise tests, nor can a CSEP-CPT prescribe maximal effort training sessions such as maximal effort interval training.
It is strongly recommended that a CSEP-CPT has additional training and experience with specific conditions; for example, a CSEP-CPT should have a solid understanding of the normal physiology involved with pregnancy and the effects that various forms of exercise can have in each trimester. The best rule of thumb is if you don’t know, then refer the client to someone who does (e.g., a CSEP Clinical Exercise Physiologist).
A CSEP Clinical Exercise Physiologist™ can work with clients who have been cleared for physical activity and can provide physical activity participation clearance and recommend tailored, progressive physical activity for clients who do not respond positively to pre-screening.
No. If you decide to use any appraisal protocols other than those specified in the CSEP-CPT Scope of Practice or within the CSEP-PATH manual, you are not covered by professional liability insurance should something untoward occur (e.g. if you run the beep test as part of a training session for ice hockey players and a player is injured or had a medical complication, then you are not covered by the CSEP-CPT insurance policy because you exceeded your scope of practice).
A CSEP-CEP may administer appropriate submaximal and maximal assessment protocols for the evaluation of physical fitness while staying within the CSEP-CEP Scope of Practice.
Yes. A CSEP-CPT is an expert in exercise prescription, lifestyle counselling, and fitness appraisal. CSEP-CPTs are not professionals in nutrition and should therefore refer their clients to an expert in this area, such as a registered dietician.
No. A CSEP-CEP is required to take a nutrition and weight management course and may suggest healthy dietary practices in concert with physical activity/exercise programs for healthy weight management, dietary practices for health-related nutrition and performance-related nutrition. CSEP-CEPs are not professionals in nutrition and should refer their clients to an expert in this area for any advice beyond their knowledge.
As a CSEP-CPT, you can only work within your competency level, and can only oversee submaximal exercise. Therefore a CSEP-CPT can perform FAEs using specialized equipment if they have the appropriate training/certification. Those members who do NOT obtain the appropriate training, certification and renewal will not be permitted to carry out this service, nor will they have any insurance coverage for this service.