If helping athletes improve their performance is your passion, you’ve likely considered becoming a strength and conditioning coach. It’s a great opportunity to help athletes reach their sports and fitness goals. There are many ways to work in the industry and several certification options. Whatever path you choose, you can benefit from studying a CSCS study guide to help you reach your career goals.
Because the exam is accredited by the NCCA, the overall gold standard in the fitness industry is a CSCS certification. All the exam content was run by experts, so you can trust the material to be the best foundation to reach your own aspirations.
When applying for positions as a strength and conditioning coach, you must be able to demonstrate your competence in the field. There’s no better way to accomplish this than holding a professional certificate.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certificate
To show your qualifications, you may want to consider the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certificate (CSCS). If you hope to work with advanced athletes, from high school to professional levels, this will help you. With the highest level of criteria for education and recertification, this certification will show you can work with the best of athletes to bring out their A game.
To become a candidate for CSCS certification, the NSCA requires two things:
- You will need a CPR/AED certification that is current. While you can take the exam without this, you will be required to show proof of having attained it within a year of your exam date. However, it’s always better to have that in hand so you don’t forget.
- A four-year degree or higher. If you are a college senior at an approved institution (and yes, the proof will be required), you can begin the process before getting your formal degree.
The NSCA offers several different study packages and some options for customization.
Performance Enhancement Specialist Certification (PES)
A Performance Enhancement Specialist certification (PES) is offered by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. This certification never expires. Having been in the industry for around 30 years, they’ve developed a reputation for high standards.
If working with the general population or beginners is your passion, the PES shows you are ready to meet the highest standards. Of its competitors, it is the only one to require a bachelor’s degree.
To get your PES, the National Academy of Sports Medicine suggests you have, at minimum, one of the following:
- Massage Therapist Licence
- NASM-CPT certification
- REPs Level 3 (minimum)
- NBFE, NCCA, or DETC certification
PES certification is completed online, with no offline work required. And, it is not possible to take the exam alone; you must buy one of their courses first. Courses can usually be completed in as little as 8-10 weeks but you have up to a year to finish. They typically range in price between $699-$999.
Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified Certification
The Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association offers a strength and conditioning coach certified certification. But don’t worry, you won’t have to say it all that often. After being in the industry for 15 years, the SCCC is a well-known abbreviation.
The certification is a good choice if your goal is to work in a college setting. Requiring a bachelor’s degree and considerable internship experience, the SCCC will show your commitment to excellence.
Strength and Conditioning Coach (SSC) Certification
Offered by the International Sports Science Association, you may want to consider the ISSA strength and conditioning coach certification.
Of the certifications we’ve listed, the SSC has the most relaxed prerequisites. The International Sports Science Association only requires you to hold an active CPR/AED certification and be at least 18 years old.
While ISSA does offer a course to help you study for the exam, it is not required.
What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach?
In most cases, the completion of higher education programs will be required by potential employers. Bachelor programs related to exercise science include courses directly related to the field, such as the psychology of exercise, coaching, nutrition, and injury prevention.
However, it’s becoming more common in the industry to see advanced degrees. Many listings for opening positions state a preference for qualified applicants to hold a master’s degree.
Training for Your Future
As you move forward toward your goals, it will help your career to choose an area to focus on. Having expertise will allow you to command a higher salary. And, knowing what kind of athletes you want to work with will guide your decision on what certification will help you reach your goals.
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