One of Mt. Hood Community College’s newest certificate programs aims at helping students achieve good-paying careers in the health and fitness sector and at preparing them to earn an industry leading credential from a national certifying body.
Students can begin taking classes for the Fitness Technology Certification at MHCC this fall. The 40-credit, three-term (Fall, Winter, Spring) certificate program combines applied training and classroom-based study to prepare students to directly
enter the workforce as personal trainers, fitness trainers and instructors, health coaches, strength and conditioning coaches and group exercise instructors. As part of this program, MHCC’s Health, Physical Education, Athletics, Aquatics and Recreation
(HPEAAR) will offer three new courses: Structure and Function of the Human Body (HPE170), Exercise Science for Fitness Technology (HPE172) and Fitness Assessment and Programming (HPE174).
The Fitness Technology Certificate will also prepare students to earn the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Personal Training Certificate. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies-accredited NASM certificate is one of the most sought-after
designations for personal trainers. In the Portland metro area, employers in health and fitness fields generally seek candidates with certificates from either NASM, American College of Sports Medicine or American Council on Exercise. Personal
trainers do not require licensing.
According to Matt Hart, an instructor of Health and Physical Education at MHCC, certified students can gain a competitive edge in an industry with good earning and growth potential and multiple regional employers. In working with an advisory committee
made up of local gyms and health clubs, he identified a salary range of $40,000 to $60,000 a year for fitness and personal trainers in the area. Furthermore, advisory committee members, which include Cascade Athletic Clubs, Crunch Fitness, Mt.
Hood Athletic Club and other privately held and chain gyms, want to hire and provide internships to students from the program.
“Several of our local fitness clubs and gyms are excited about the opportunity of working with our college and students,” said Hart.
More importantly, current and potential students seem excited about the new program, said Hart.
“There’s a momentum here that students really want to get into this field,” he said. “There are a lot of students who, through fitness, changed their body composition, got off medications or accomplished a similar lifestyle change. They believe in
this type of work – in its power and importance – and want to pursue it, either as a full-time career or for part-time supplemental income.”
The Fitness Technology Certificate will satisfy several core requirements for the Associate of Science in physical education/exercise and sport science should students decide to pursue this two-year degree at MHCC. The college is also working with
Portland State University, Concordia University, Eastern Oregon University and other schools to establish transfer agreements with the graduates of this certificate program, said Hart.
Certificate earners could pursue four-year and graduate degrees in such fields as exercise physiology, exercise and sport science, strength and conditioning coaching and wellness coordination, among other areas.
Funding for the three new classes offered as part of this certificate will come from existing funds set aside from other physical education classes that were discontinued due to low enrollment and interest.