The Pilates Method Alliance (PMA), the professional certifying agency for Pilates instructors, recently announced that beginning in 2014 they will no longer offer 720 hours of comprehensive Pilates employment within the preceding 12 months as an eligibility credential for taking the Pilates certification exam. Completion of a 450 hour Pilates teacher training program will be the only criteria by which an applicant will be eligible to take the exam.
It may seem ironic that an exam which has been criticized for lacking a physical demonstration component -- proficiency in the exercises or teaching the exercises -- would remove criteria that might actually indicate that the applicant had professional experience. On the other hand, teaching for one year, or more, is not necessarily an indication of an instructors knowledge or talent either, as Pilates is an unregulated industry. It seems the PMA is hedging its bets on those who have gone through a significant teacher training program.
There are excellent long-time Pilates instructors who did not go through a formal 450 hour training program. Not too long ago, mentoring with a Pilates Elder or one of their direct students was a common way to train as a Pilates instructor. Part of me hates to see that style of training lose its place, but if ones goal is standardization, as it is in professional certification arenas, that's the way it goes. I assume, and the PMA may be thinking this way too, that those instructors with long-term experience who wanted to take the PMA exam (it is not required to teach Pilates) have probably already done so.
In any case, whether you are an experienced instructor or a newbie, if you have been contemplating taking the PMA exam and are planning to come in under the 720 hrs. of teaching credential rather than the 450 hr. formal training credential, you will need to study for and complete the exam before 2014.
Here are some resources that will give you insight into the PMA, the difference between educational and professional certification, and preparing for the exam:
What is the Pilates Method Alliance?
image: the PMA Exam Study Guide, from the About.com video on preparing for the PMA exam