Honestly, I would highly recommend getting it through NSCA, ACSM, or NASM.
I chose NSCA because almost all of the academics are affiliated with this organization and it's been around the longest. The CSCS was established in 1985 and their CPT also has had accreditation the longest - since 1993. Plus, price-wise, I took the online version of the test so that I didn't have the travel expense or the wait (you must register for the sit-down exam 2-3 months in advance) for $285. The book cost me 60-70 bucks. ACSM is pretty similar. But, some of these others are far more expensive and in my eyes and less respected amongst those who actually know anything
Truthfully, all have their shortcomings. ACSM is a bit more clinical-based. NASM offers some good physical therapy-related stuff, but is also a bit limited in some respects. And, the NSCA is limited in some of its areas.
Like I said, as far as certifications go, I think that the CSCCA (college strength & conditioning association) is headed in the right direction by requiring an actual mentorship before you can sit for its exam.
Ultimately, to be a more legit profession, personal training needs to move towards licensing - just like a massage therapist, PT, physicians, etc. I think in the future we'll see that.
You don't need a degree for the NSCA-CPT - just be certified in CPR, 18, and a high school graduate. You are required to send a copy of your HS diploma to the NSCA national office.
Oh, and thanks to everyone for the congratulations! I appreciate it. I haven't actually done anything with it - I have to tie up a few other loose ends first. I need to get the CSCS and then I need to finish off my other master's thesis. Then, I have a few other educational things that I'd like to get under my belt to have a stronger knowledge base on general movement principles.
My approach to training is really modeled under the framework of developing strong movement patterns. People can look great, but move like sh**. All that does is predispose them to potential pain and injury down the road - whether in sport/activity or just activities of daily life. Many times, this is due to movement patterns or training habits that cause muscle imbalances, movement asymmetries, etc. A knowledgeable trainer can catch many of these things via a detailed assessment and correct them through sound training before they become an issue down the road. More efficient movement mechanics can help an individual to perform better in the weight room and on the athletic field. And, it can serve to help them with reducing their risk of injury.
None of these certifications really attack training under this model. The closest is NASM, but even it has some shortcomings in its approach. It presents its own model of training and it's too limited and narrow in scope. All training practices and approach have their place - it is dependent upon the goals of the person in addition to what their needs are on the way to reaching those goals.
Let me know if you need any study help. By the way, aren't you in SA? I now reside in Lubbock, but my cousin is in the SA area. I think he lives up near New Braunfels now and works in Seguin. So, I will probably making a trip over there sometime this summer. We'll have to meet up.
Take it easy!