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The importance of regulated qualifications


Posted on 26 June 2024

By Lee Buck, Head of Product Development, Active IQ

Lee BuckRegulated qualifications are essential as they ensure a standardised level of knowledge, skills, and competence across various fields, fostering trust in educational and professional credentials.

These qualifications are developed and maintained by recognised regulatory bodies, which establish and enforce rigorous criteria to uphold quality and consistency. This regulation helps protect students, employers, and the public by guaranteeing that individuals meet the necessary benchmarks to perform competently in their respective roles.

Additionally, regulated qualifications facilitate mobility and progression within careers and education systems, as they are widely recognised and respected, providing a clear and reliable measurement of an individual's capabilities. It’s integral that learners receive a high-quality education that prepares them for a career in the fitness industry.

So, how can prospective fitness professionals ensure they’re getting a qualification that is credible and recognised by future employers? And what should training providers look for when offering health and fitness certifications? The answer is regulated qualifications.

What is a regulated qualification?

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is the independent qualifications regulator for England. The role of Ofqual is to ensure that qualifications are reliable, valid and trusted. Ofqual sets out the rules that awarding organisations like Active IQ must comply with when designing, delivering and awarding qualifications.

We are proud to be recognised and regulated by Ofqual, as well as Qualifications Wales and CCEA. As a result, our training partners can be assured they are offering the best possible qualifications to their learners. When learners see the Active IQ logo on their course material, they know that they’re working toward a qualification that will provide them with the skills, confidence, and credibility they need to work in the fitness industry.

Why are regulated qualifications important?

Put simply, regulated qualifications stand for credibility.

Courses claiming to provide certified personal trainer qualifications overnight have been around for a long time and unfortunately, post-pandemic, there has been a rise in low-cost, low-quality training options. This is a major issue for the fitness industry and unfortunately, a lot of people get fooled and waste their money on courses that are no more valuable than the paper they’re printed on. This means that despite having a “qualification,” it may not be recognised by future employers and worse still, many of these cheap, quick fix options have no requirement to ever interact with a real client.

Inexperienced people with low quality personal training “certificates” are then faced with a diverse range of clients who they are ill-equipped to help and coach.

Low quality education erodes the credibility of the entire industry and is also a health risk for people who have limited experience to train people with a broad range of needs. Choosing a regulated qualification ensures this doesn’t happen.

Recently the annual ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal published their worldwide survey to determine the top fitness industry trends. More than 3,700 health and fitness professionals ranked 42 possible trends on a scale of 1-10 and interestingly, employing certified fitness professionals came in at #9. This trend was #13 for both 2021 and 2022 so its rise in the rankings is a clear indication of the importance operators are placing on hiring people who have completed fully accredited health and fitness certifications.

Are online-only qualifications a waste of money?  

Not necessarily. It’s important to know what to look for. Many digital tools and resources, when they are part of a well-constructed quality education provision, are very credible and beneficial to the learner. What’s important is choosing regulated qualifications with a training provider that works with a well-recognised and trusted awarding organisation. This is what will give aspiring fitness professionals a quality qualification and in turn, the skills needed to be job-ready for the industry and to excel in their new career. 

Active IQ invests significantly in educational resources that support the quality provision of training providers, to ensure the best possible experience for the learner. This is the reason we exist. When learners get world-class education from high quality training providers, everyone benefits. Providers get more business. Personal trainers get more clients and ultimately, more people get fit and healthy.

What can learners look for to ensure a wise investment?

The key is to look for a regulated training programme with Active IQ accredited training providers. We only work with training providers who can demonstrate high levels of competence and quality. We ensure that all staff members associated with delivery and assessment hold appropriate qualifications to do so and we don’t work with anyone who doesn’t meet our minimum standards.

Once a centre is approved, they get a wide range of support from Active IQ, including continuing quality assurance visits and guidance, business strategy support, customer service support and high-quality resources for the centre and their learners.

How can you tell the difference between regulated and non-regulated?

There are multiple ways to find a regulated qualification. The Ofqual Register of Regulated Qualifications has an index of every regulated qualification available in England. From here, you can search for your qualifications and find an awarding organisation that offers them.

If you are a training provider and want to deliver qualifications from a regulated awarding organisation like Active IQ, you can follow the same process. You can also learn more about Active IQ's resources here.