Hey guys and gals and welcome to my ultimate guide on how to become a strength and conditioning coach.
The sports performance industry has been a very booming field recently. From the professional level all the way down to commercial gyms offering sports enhancement classes to their customers.
Sports teams have now realized the importance that qualified strength and conditioning coaches to bring to their teams. Now, more than ever, strength and conditioning coaches are in high demand.
So, how do you become a strength and conditioning coach?
In this article, you will learn all about the background, education, certifications, and experience that are needed or recommended to become a strength and conditioning coach. After the article, I suggest checking out some popular Strength and conditioning certs such as the NASM PES or the ISSA SCC certifications. Also, make sure to read my article on the best strength and conditioning certs or my article on the top corrective exercise certifications.
Let’s stop lollygagging around and get right into it.
At what level do you want to do S and C coaching?
The first thing that you need to decide is on what level do you want to be doing strength and conditioning coach.
Usually, high school strength and conditioning coaches only need to be certified as a strength and conditioning coach through a reputable organization.
On the other hand, if you are planning on working as a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate or professional level, you will surely need a bachelors degree in the exercise science field.
If you want to train at this high level, I recommend reading the whole article, including the required education section.
If you would like to do strength and conditioning coaches at the high school level or with personal training clients with the goal of improving performance, move on to the certification section.
Strength and conditioning coaches the hold a bachelors degree and on average earn a higher strength and conditioning coach salary.
For those of you who would like to be a strength and conditioning coach at the professional or collegiate level, you will need to receive a minimum of a bachelors degree in an exercise science related field.
Popular bachelor degrees include exercise science, kinesiology, athletic training, physical education and exercise physiology.
Here is an excellent resource if you are in the United States to find one of the thousands of universities that offer an exercise science degree.
Choose a certification
Various reputable strength and conditioning certifications are available. Let’s talk about the five most popular certifications.
If you want to earn a decent strength and conditioning coach salary, one of these certifications is necessary.
CSCS from the NSCA (certified strength and conditioning specialist)
The CSCS certification is seen as the gold standard for strength and conditioning coaches.
The only requirement for the certification is that you have a bachelors degree.
You do not need a bachelors degree in an exercise science related field though. Any bachelors degree is sufficient. The CSCS salary for coaches is usually slightly higher.
NASM PES (performance enhancement specialist)
The NASM PES certification has been slowly growing in popularity over the last ten years.
The base a lot of their training on their OPT (optimum performance training) model. In my opinion, this is the most advanced progressive for training any athlete or clients of personal training.
This is a very well recognized certification and in my opinion is on par with the CSCS certification from NSCA.
Another beneficial certification for strength and conditioning coaches is the NASM CES (corrective exercise specialist).
This certification can help make athletes more efficient and prevent injuries which is just as essential as the athletic training itself. See my full article on various corrective exercise certifications.
SCCC (strength and conditioning coach certified)
For the SCCC certification, similar to the CSCS certification, you are required to hold a bachelors degree.
In addition to the bachelor’s degree, you also need to have completed an internship program the need an approved mentor.
After all of this, you are eligible to take the SCCC exam.
USAW (USA Weightlifting)
Since Olympic weightlifting is a big part of program design for athletic performance, a lot of strength and conditioning coaches obtain a USAW certification.
The USA weightlifting certification is the best way to learn proper form on these Olympic lifts and how to coach them effectively.
ISSA Strength and Conditioning Specialist
The strength and conditioning specialist certification from ISSA is a relatively new certification from the international sports sciences Association.
That being said, I was very impressed with the curriculum and study material provided.
Once you have decided which strength and conditioning certification you would like to go for, the next step is to study for and take the certification exam.
Purchase a strength and conditioning certification
Each of the five certifications listed above range between $350 and $800 approximately. Check out my article on the top strength and conditioning certifications to see all the prices.
Study for the exam
Depending on how much previous knowledge you have about exercise science, will determine how long you need to study for the certification.
Without any prior knowledge of strength and conditioning, I recommend studying for approximately 4 to 6 months.
On the other hand, if you are coming out of a bachelors degree in exercise science, you can probably get away with less than one month of study time.
Depending on which certification you choose, you will receive various forms of study materials. Every strength and conditioning coach certification has at least a primary textbook.
This should be your bread and butter in preparing for the exam.
You should prepare for the type of examination that you will receive. Some certifications have only multiple-choice while others contain a full essay section that you will need to complete.
I suggest brushing up on your writing skills if this is the case for your certification.
Take the test
Once you are sure you have the information down, set a test date and take the test. Most of the exams for strength and conditioning coaches last between two and three hours and contain approximately 150 questions.
Don’t worry, if you don’t pass the test on the first time, you can always retake the test usually for a small retake fee.
Once the test is done, hooray, you’re officially certified as a strength and conditioning coach! But now what should you do? Keep reading to find out the next steps!
Experience from an Internship or Volunteer Work
It’s tough to find a strength and conditioning coach that has not done some volunteer work or had an internship.
Doing one, or both of these options will give you excellent hands-on experience with coaches that have experience.
Internships also help you to build your network with other coaches and athletes. In the end, this will help you to get hired as a strength and conditioning coach.
The biggest downfall about volunteer and internship work is that they are usually unpaid. The only thing that you get paid with his experience in the work field, which you should see as invaluable.
If you are currently in college, the best way to get an internship is through an internship program with your university. Most colleges have lots of contacts with strength and conditioning coaches in can usually set up internships or volunteer work for you.
If you are not going through school, the best way is to directly contact strength and conditioning coaches to see if they have available internship programs.
There are a few ways you can go about getting contact information for strength and conditioning coaches. The first is to go in person. You can show up at the place of their work to inquire for volunteer or internship experience.
Most gymnasiums or sports teams have some website that you can find e-mail addresses from to contact the coaches. Send a thoughtful e-mail merely asking if an internship is available.
The last option is through LinkedIn. Almost every professional coach has a linked in account. You can send them a friend request and then message them directly afterward.
Personal experience with strength and conditioning
Having an athletic background is extremely helpful when it comes to strength and conditioning coaching.
Education and certifications aside, if you have never put in the hard work yourself, it’s usually harsh to coach others to do what you have never done.
If you are or used to be a recognizable athlete in your area, it will be much easier to land the job as a strength and conditioning coach.
This is especially true if you don’t have a bachelors degree and only hold a certification. Real life experience is precious to employers. If you played at the collegiate or high school level, you would have a leg up on the competition.
You should also still personally be training. Practicing what you preach is possibly more important than any education in the realm of personal training and coaching for strength and conditioning.
Nobody wants to listen to somebody that is completely out of shape and has not lifted a weight in years. So you better be getting under the bar frequently and continually striving to better yourself as an athlete/fitness professional.
Work on your communication and motivational skills
As a strength and conditioning coach, you will be teaching large groups of people as well as individual athletes one-on-one.
Your communication skills for both of those scenarios need to be spot on. You need to be able to communicate in a manner that is authoritative yet easy to understand.
Is also the job of the coach to be motivating. Some people have motivational skills ingrained in their blood.
Other people need to work on it to be effective. Either way, this is a skill you need to bring to your coaching to be get hired.
The athletes they will be training are going to be put through rigorous training regimens that can last up to a few hours long.
Without the additional push from their coach, they won’t see the results that they need to be competitive and thrive in their sport.
In addition to being motivating and having excellent communication skills, you need to be fiercely competitive. If you played a sport at the collegiate or high school level, you would know exactly what it takes to be competitive.
You need to maintain that competitive fire and be able to transfer that over to your athletes that your coaching.
Apply for a strength and conditioning job
After you have met the above requirements for education, certifications, and internships, is now time to apply for a strength and conditioning job.
Applying for a job as a string conditioning coach can be intimidating at first. But by this point, you should be very confident in the skills that you possess.
The first step towards applying for the job is to create a kick-ass resume. Without a good resume highlighting your credentials and experience, nobody is going to hire you.
With your badass resume in your hand, go around to every single sports and conditioning gym and team in your area and handed out.
If you don’t hear back from anybody within a couple of days, you should follow up with each place that you submitted your resume.
The key is to keep on bugging people and to keep on contacting people so that they know you are passionate about the job.
Eventually, you will hear back from somebody and get the job! Wow, look at that you are now a strength and conditioning coach!
How to become a strength and conditioning coach conclusion
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s about it for my article on becoming a strength and conditioning coach.
Although becoming a strength and conditioning coach is demanding, it is ten times more rewarding. Working with athletes and watching them thrive in their particular sport is a fantastic process to experience.
It is a gratifying job overall, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.
I hope this article helps people understand the process, education, and certifications required to become a coach.
This is the complete 0 to 60 guide on the topic. Most likely, most of you will have some experience or education in the field.
If you are currently a personal trainer and would like to switch gears toward strength and conditioning coaching, I recommend getting one of the five certifications above.
Leave me a comment down below and tell me all about your experience with strength and conditioning coaching or the process of becoming one.
What hiccups did you run into? Why do you like strength and conditioning coaching?
Tyler Read has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Tyler is also a certified personal trainer with NASM, ACE and CSCS. Tyler’s main goal is to help people get started in the personal training industry and to become successful personal trainers. Tyler is the owner of Personal Training Pioneer which helps people get started in the personal training industry and become successful.