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What is the difference between Cert 3 and 4 in Fitness

April 12, 2023
3 minute read

Certificate III and Certificate IV in Fitness (commonly referred to as “Cert 3 and Cert 4”) are both qualifications that can lead to employment in the fitness industry. While both courses focus on health and fitness, there are some key differences in their curriculum and outcomes. In this blog we will explain the difference between Cert 3 and 4 in Fitness.

Cert 3 (SIS30321) is a course that qualifies graduates to become either a Group Exercise Instructor or a Gym Fitness Instructor. 

A Gym Fitness Instructor is able to register with AUSactive as a “Gym Instructor” and 

  • Work within predictable settings such as a fitness facility, recreation or community facilities
  • Provide individually tailored client assessments, program development, program demonstration and client reviews
  • Provide supervision of a facility or service (i.e. observing client use of facilities, providing technique correction as needed, keeping equipment clean/tidy/well-maintained, being available for customer inquiries or assistance)
  • Not always be directly supervised during work duties

A Group Exercise Instructor is able to register with AUSactive as a “Group Exercise Instructor” and 

  • Deliver exercise sessions designed for participation by a group of clients with a mix of ages/fitness levels (not tailored to individuals)
  • Deliver exercise sessions that are freestyle, pre-choreographed or circuit style
  • Instruct and demonstrate complete exercise sessions to groups with limited individual interaction
  • Practice independently
  • Conduct sessions that are part of an overall regular timetable of sessions, provided by the employer organisation
  • Instruct sessions in predictable settings such as group exercise studios within fitness facilities

To achieve a Cert 3 qualification, students need to complete 11 core units and 4 elective units.

There are no pre requisites to start studying a Cert 3 in Fitness.

On the other hand, Cert 4 (SIS40421) is designed for those who want to work as Personal Trainers. On completion of a Cert 4, graduates can register with AUSactive as a Personal Trainer and

  • Work independently and support or lead other registered exercise professionals
  • Practice within a fitness facility but also in a wide variety of other environments (including unpredictable settings such as outdoor locations, client homes, community spaces, workplaces)
  • Provide individually tailored client assessments, program development, instruction and demonstration, supervised exercise sessions and client reviews.
  • Maintain consistent monitoring and support for clients (including between sessions)
  • Deliver exercise programs designed for participation by a group of clients with a mix of ages/fitness levels
  • Manage both business and client needs, e.g. promoting and selling services, as well as delivering services

To achieve a Cert 4 qualification, students need to complete 10 core units and 7 elective units. 

There are 9 pre requisites units that a student needs to complete before they can start studying a Cert 4 in Fitness. These units are taught in the Cert 3.

Cert 4 is like a more advanced version of Cert 3. It's like taking a higher-level math course after finishing an introductory one. For example, if you want to become a personal trainer, you first need to complete Cert 3, which teaches you the basics of group and gym fitness instruction. Once you've completed Cert 3, you can move on to Cert 4 to become a personal trainer. Think of it like climbing a ladder: each qualification prepares you for the next step.

In terms of cost and duration of the certifications – they vary depending on what training organisation you decide to study and what mode you choose, however there is usually little difference in the price / duration between the two certifications. 

So in summary, the major difference between Cert 3 and 4 in Fitness is that Cert 3 is tailored for people who want to work as a Group or Gym Instructor and Cert 4 is tailored for people who want to work as a Personal Trainer.


PS: At Fitness Education Online, we have one of the largest Facebook Groups in the world for Personal Trainers and Fitness Professionals. Everyone in there is super supportive and we all share tips and ideas. We would love to invite you into the Group - click here to join.

Related Blogs

What does a Cert 3 in Fitness allow you to do? 
How Long Does a Cert 4 in Fitness Take
Do you need a Cert III in Fitness before a Cert IV?
How long does a Cert 3 in Fitness take?

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About The Author: April Allyson Barcebal
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