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The difference between qualifications

Many of the people who contact us are unclear about the difference between various fitness instructor-personal trainer qualifications. There are a variety of courses on offer but unfortunately there is a lot of confusion about the qualifications offered and how the courses are accredited. Here are some of the key questions you need to ask a course provider when you are considering doing a course:

Who accredits the course and awards the qualification?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Just because the title of a course sounds good does not mean it is well regarded. Anybody can award a certificate or diploma but for a qualification to have recognition it needs to be awarded by a recognised body. The most recognisable bodies awarding qualifications are Universities, other Third Level institutions and established education organisations.

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) provides a way to compare qualifications, and to ensure that they are quality assured and recognised at home and abroad.
The NFQ provides a structure (a framework) to compare and contrast the level and standard of different qualifications.  This helps you to make informed decisions about your qualification choices and to consider progression opportunities available to you. The NFQ also makes it easier for you to explain to others what qualifications you hold, or are studying for. This becomes very important when you are considering further learning or when you are applying for a job – at home or abroad.
Both of the courses offered by Motions are on the National Framework of Qualifications.

  • The Certificate in Exercise & Health Fitness (UL) is a Level 6 Award
  • The Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy (ITEC) is a Level 5 Award

The Certificate in Exercise & Health Fitness is the only University accredited fitness instructor qualification awarded in Ireland and it is the highest level on the NFQ. There are other fitness qualifications on the Framework but they are at lower levels. Some organisations say that their qualifications are aligned to a particular level on the Framework. That does not mean they are part of the Framework. They have not been approved on the NFQ.

Some courses take place in University sports facilities and prospective students may think that they are associated or accredited by the University. This is not the case. The only course accredited by a University is the Certificate in Exercise & Health Fitness. It is accredited by University of Limerick. The course is run in a variety of venues and Motions is the main provider of the course in Dublin. The course is a vocational course and that is why it takes place in commercial fitness centres so that students train in an environment where they are likely to work. All students on this course however are registered students of U.L. and graduate in U.L. on successful completion of the course.

How do you assess the quality of a course

If a course is on the National Framework of Qualifications is has been rigorously evaluated to ensure that it meets the standards of the award it is being allocated. The body that accredits the award should have strong quality standards. A course that is approved by a University has been through a thorough process to ensure that the standards are consistent  with the qualification and the course is constantly monitored to ensure that it is adhering to the standards.  A large number of courses offered are not subject to external quality control.

Check out the organisation offering the course. How long has it been established? Who are the tutors and what are their qualifications and experience? Are there any guarantees that your course fees is secured?

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