HomeProgrammesExercise & Sport ScienceNew Zealand Certificate in Exercise

New Zealand Certificate in Exercise

Level 4

Gain the skills for a career in physical wellness, exercise and sport science with the UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Exercise.

A UCOL learner training another learner in UCOL gym
Quick info

Level: 4

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 19 weeks full-time
(See Course Hours & Duration for details)

S1: 19 Feb 2024 – 28 June 2024
S2: 29 Jul 2024 – 06 Dec 2024

Domestic Fees: *

Scholarship info

International Fees:*
$12,500 + Student Services Levy $295.50

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one semester of study.

The UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Exercise provides learners with the knowledge to deliver and adapt fitness programmes for the general population, including people at-risk of common health issues.

Your studies include practicum hours working with a client on their health goals. 

 Course Hours & Duration

This programme runs for 19 weeks, including 2 holiday weeks.

Per week, your learning will include approximately:

Class Time
15 hrs

In-person, online and in-work learning.
Industry Experience
1-2 hrs

Supervised practicum.
Study Time
23 hrs

Study in your own time.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of the UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Exercise will be able to deliver safe and effective exercise programmes to clients. Employment opportunities include:

  • Personal trainer
  • Exercise consultant
  • Community exercise instructor

Graduates will be eligible to register with the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals for Personal Trainer Contractor Registration Level.

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries for Sports and Fitness Professionals, see careers.govt.nz

Education pathway

Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Wellness) - with majors in Physical Health and Wellness, Strength and Conditioning, and Sport and Recreation Management.

 Course Information

Note: As a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, UCOL Te Pūkenga is committed to providing the best learning outcome for you. As part of this, all programmes are currently being reviewed to make them portable, consistent, and closely aligned with the needs of the industry. When published, this course information is correct, but the courses offered may change over time. If you have any questions call an Enrolment Advisor on 0800 468 265.

This unified programme is 60 credits, consisting of the following four credits courses:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Exercise Programming
  • Nutrition and Lifestyle
  • Exercise Professional Practise

Previous Related Programmes

The New Zealand Certificate in Exercise supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:

  • Certificate in Exercise and Sports Performance (Level 4)

 Domestic Entry Requirements

40 credits of NCEA Level 1 or above (including 10 Literacy and Numeracy credits)


Equivalent academic achievement


On a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Dean.

All applicants must complete a Health Declaration Form (fill out Section A only). 

All applicants are required to declare any previous criminal convictions prior to admission being confirmed; and authorise UCOL to undertake a background check on the applicant with the Police Licensing and Vetting Agency.  UCOL may undertake a safety check of all students to ensure UCOL meets the legislative requirements of the Children’s Act, 2014.  The safety check involves confirming the student’s work history, verifying their suitability to work with children with a trusted referee, and completing New Zealand Police vetting.  

Conviction of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Academic Portfolio Manager.

English language proficiency
If English or Te Reo Māori is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5 with no band score less than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible) taken within the preceding two years.


For more information about NCEA Credits see the UCOL Te Pūkenga NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international learner applicants.

English language proficiency
International learner applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible) taken within the preceding two years.

Under 20 years of age
In addition to this, international applicants under 20 years of age must have NCEA equivalency.

 Advice & Guidance

Learners will be working with clients when delivering exercise programmes and will be expected to wear appropriate exercise clothing suitable for a gymnasium environment.

Working with young people
UCOL will undertake a safety check of all learners working with children under the age of 16 years old to ensure legislative requirements of the Children's Act are met. The safety check involves confirming the learner's work history, verifying their suitability to work with children with a trusted referee, and the completion of New Zealand Police vetting.

Once admitted to the programme, learners are required to inform UCOL of any pending charges or changes to their conviction status. A change of status may not necessarily result in exclusion from the programme, but it may impact the availability of learner practica or placements.

Practicum hours in this programme refer to student time with their clients. Learners complete time logs for all practicum activity and complete reflective journals on their client management. Learners are required to participate in group discussion on their journal entries and client interaction experiences.

Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and typically comprise a commitment of:

  • 240 hours of lecturer supported learning  (Tuesday-Thursday tutorials, workshops and practical sessions)
  • 25 hours practicum (approximately)
  • 335 hours of self-directed learning (your own time spent on research and study to complete your written assignments)

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Te Pūkenga Academic Statute and other relevant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • A completed police declaration form
  • A completed Health Declaration Form (fill out Section A only)
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

 Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) as follows:
  • Sport shoes for wearing in the gym


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020, and Universal College of Learning, a business division of Te Pūkenga is accredited to teach it.