The NASM Behavior Change Specialist certification (NASM BCS) is a fitness specialization that gives you the communication and psychological skills to guide clients toward the behavioral changes required to reach their fitness goals.

In this NASM Behavior Change Specialization review, I use my 12 years in the fitness industry and experience coaching clients with a variety of needs using the skills I learned when taking the NASM Behavior Change Specialist.

I also spoke with my team of professional fitness trainers and behavioral change experts to augment the coverage from my own experience.

I base my review on the following areas:

  • NASM BCS cost, value, and study materials
  • Content coverage in the NASM Behavior Change Specialization
  • Pros and cons of the NASM BCS
  • Is the NASM Behavior Change Specialist with it?

By the time you finish reading, you’ll know whether becoming a Behavioral Change Specialist makes sense for your career.

By the way, if you are not yet a certified personal trainer, I highly recommend taking my quiz to determine which certification makes the most sense for your career.

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What is the NASM behavior change specialist Certification?

True fitness and lifestyle transformations require a comprehensive and robust approach to changing a client’s behavior, and that is exactly what the NASM Behavior Change Specialist aims to do.

The NASM BCS is technically a fitness specialization, and provides continuing education credits towards renewing your personal training certification along with fortifying your knowledge from other certifications like nutrition and fitness coaching.

That said, it is technically a standalone certification, so you can take it absent any other certification if you so choose.

Their complete curriculum ensures you are well-equipped to deliver exceptional behavioral change results.

NASM Certified Wellness Coach

NASM Certified Wellness Coach

  • Exam cost: $347
  • Study material cost: Included with exam
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Exam passing score: 70%
  • Exam pass rate: Not known
  • Average completion time: 4-6 weeks

NASM credibility and reputation

The National Academy of Sports Medicine is a highly reputable fitness certification provider that offers a wide array of professional certifications for those entering or continuing careers in the fitness industry.

Their flagship NASM Personal Trainer Certification is probably the most well-known NASM offering, but they offer many more specializations than just the CPT.

The NASM CPT is an NCCA-accredited certification, meaning it has been vetted by experts in the field for credibility and value.

Is NASM behavior change specialist worth it?

The NASM Behavior Change certification is worth it if your clientele routinely includes folks who have trouble sticking with their programs, whether that be diet or exercise (or both).

If you tend to work with already motivated clients, such as athletes or strength and conditioning focused general clientele, the skills in the NASM BCS may not be as relevant.

That’s not to say it’s worthless if that’s your clientele, but you may be better served with a different specialization.

4.5out of 5

Credibility and Reputation4
Study Materials5
Exam Process5

NASM behavior change specialist vs Other Personal Trainer Specializations

When it comes to the different certifications available in the fitness industry, it can quickly become overwhelming due to the massive range of options.

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The NASM BCS falls into the psychological “soft skills” category of certification as opposed to the certifications focused on exercise technique or performance such as the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist.

That’s not to say the skills are not practical, far from it, in fact.

However, the art and science of working with people on a behavioral change level is just a different skillset from exercise technique and program design.

Both are key skills for success in the fitness industry, but it just boils down to which type of clientele you work with and what areas of fitness you like best.

In my opinion, the NASM BCS compliments the NASM CPT or the NASM Nutrition Certification very well, since both of those certifications give you the aforementioned practical skills that are greatly helped by having the behavior change coaching skillset.

It’s worth mentioning that there are other great options from different fitness providers you should consider as you mull over the direction of your fitness career.

As an example, the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is another industry-leading provider that offers many similar certifications as NASM.

The ISSA Certified Personal Trainer is a foundational ISSA offering that kickstarts many successful fitness careers. 

In terms of certifications comparable to the NASM BCS, the ISSA Transformation Specialist is the ISSA equivalent for behavioral coaching.

What’s really great about the ISSA certification is that you can get a killer deal with their ISSA Elite Trainer Program.

With this package, you can get the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification, a free Specialization Course (which could be the Transformation Specialist), free Nutritionist course, Strength & Conditioning, T3 HIIT course, CPR/AED certification, and a free CPT textbook.

The total cost of the course is about 1.5x the standard cost for a CPT certification, so this is, quite literally, the best deal in the industry.

You can check the ISSA website directly for deals on the ISSA Elite Trainer. If you can snag an extra discount, it’s tough to pass up.

Who is the NASM behavior change specialist meant for?

The NASM Behavior Change Specialist is meant for any fitness or nutrition coach looking for that extra skillset to guide change-resistant clients towards the habits and behaviors that make a big difference towards the consistency and dedication required to really result in dramatic transformations.

If you already work with motivated clientele, you should consider a different fitness specialization that may be more relevant to your specific fitness goals.

Great for
  • Personal trainers who coach clients resistance to train

  • NASM Trainers who need to recertify
Not Great for
  • Trainers who coach motivated clients

NASM behavior change specialist Cost

The cost for the NASM Behavioral Change certification is $374 as a one-time payment or 11 payments of $31/month + $25 down

There’s really no downside to going with the monthly option from a price perspective, and its a nice option to space out the payments and pay down your certification as your income and skills grow from the curriculum.

NASM behavior change specialist review – content coverage

The NASM Behavior Change curriculum is split into 9 chapters across 3 sections, followed by the final exam.

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Most Popular Cert
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A Good Option
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The section and chapter breakdown is as follows.

Section 1: Behavior Change Coaching

The first section covers chapters 1 through 3.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Behavior Change

Chapter 1 covers how you can identify and understand the newly emerging occupations, including behavioral coaching, that are emerging in the fitness industry. This is great to know since traditionally, “behavioral change coach” was not a job description or title that most would understand, but is newly becoming a possible career.

Chapter 2: Coaching and Communication

This chapter teaching you to define coaching as a helping professional and identify the scope of practice that dictates appropriate boundaries with regards to what you can and can’t do or suggest to clients lest you risk violating legal and professional guidelines.

You’ll also learn basic elements of coaching communication, including learning preferences and their role in client success.

Chapter 3: Client Screening and Assessment

In this chapter, you’ll learn a multimodal framework for assessing and understanding client functioning to determine the right techniques to apply in any specific client situation. You’ll learn how to identify the stage of change where your clients are at any given stage of intervention, which dictates the best strategy.

Section 2: Behavior Change Goals & Techniques

This next section is where the rubber meets the road in terms of actually implementing behavioral change.

Chapter 4: Effective Goal Setting

Here, you’ll learn to understand the key importance of goal setting, which is the foundation of identifying and measuring what successful outcomes look like for a given client.

Chapter 5: Behavioral Therapy Techniques

Here, you’ll learn the actual concepts you can employ to support lasting behavioral change and describe behavior therapy techniques. This includes concepts like contingency contracting, premacking, modeling, relaxation training, and stimulus control. Without these skills, you really don’t have the tools to implement all the theory covered in early chapters.

Chapter 6: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a science-backed methodology employed in a wide range of disciplines and fields that help you bring clients towards their behavioral change goal. You’ll also learn which self-help strategies and behavior change techniques should be used at each stage of change in the context of health and fitness.

Chapter 7: Effective Imagery

Here, you learn how to use imagery to bring about behavioral change in health and fitness alongside utilizing functions for imagery techniques.

Section 3: Other Considerations

This final section consists of just two chapters and covers the final areas you should look at to round off your behavioral coaching knowledge.

Chapter 8: Interpersonal and Social Influences on Behavior Change

This chapter covers the knowledge you need when it comes to adopting new behaviors and identifying social influences that could affect adherence to exercise and nutrition programs.

Chapter 9: Professional Practice and Ethics

Finally, you’ll round everything off in chapter 9 with an in-depth deep dive on how to ethically conduct yourself within the boundaries of a wellness professional without straying into the domain of licensed healthcare professionals.

You’ll learn how to identify situations where you need to refer to other professionals, and outline a system to maintain effective records of your client processes.

NASM behavior change specialist Exam Prep and Study Materials

The NASM Behavioral Change Coach program is delivered through a modern digital learning platform catered to multiple learning styles. The curriculum is consistently reviewed and updated with quality and up-to-date materials.

The study materials include text, video, and interactive resources that collectively deliver the entire curriculum within the same package.

NASM behavior change specialist Requirements

There are no requirements to start or complete the NASM Behavior Change Specialist beyond passing the final exam.

NASM behavior change specialist Salary

According to ZipRecruiter data, the average Behavior Change Specialist salary is $24/hour, or roughly $49,000 per year on a full-time schedule.

This data is not specific to NASM certifications, however, and also varies from state to state. 

Furthermore, if you have a successful practice, the potential to earn much more than this amount is there. It all just depends on your specific circumstances.

NASM behavior change specialist Final Exam

The final exam consists of 100 questions and has a time limit of 90 minutes. You need to score at least 70 percent on the exam to pass.

While the exam is open book, you don’t have that much time to complete the test, so you need to be fairly familiar with the material to be able to pass the exam.

NASM Behavior change specialist Continuing Education & Recertification

There is no recertification requirement for the NASM BCS certification.

You do however get 1.9 NASM CEUs towards your personal trainer certification recertification requirements if you do already have a NASM CPT.

Other NASM Offerings

NASM has a massive range of specializations you can use to bolster your career and dial-in the exact niche of clients you want to serve.

Top NASM specializations include the following:

NASM behavior change specialist Overall Rating

Overall, I rate the NASM Behavioral Change Specialist at 4.5 of 5. It’s an incredidible offering if you want to truly help clients who are otherwise resistant to changing habits despite their best intentions.

The biggest downside is that compared to the ISSA Elite Trainer bundle, you can’t get a great deal from NASM.

However, it is affordable enough that it’s still worth it despite this if you do want to opt for NASM.

NASM Behavior Change Specialist
NASM Behavior Change Specialist Review 4

The NASM Behavior Change Specialist is a great specialization for many fitness professionals. Find out if the NASM BCS makes sense for your career.

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 347

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:

NASM behavior change specialist FAQs

How can I market myself as a NASM Behavior Change Specialist?

The best bet for marketing yourself as a NASM certified behavior change specialist is to update your social media and either search for a job or go to local networking events and let everybody know what you do. You can also use NASM’s networking platform on their website and look for good mentorship.


  1. Behavior Change Specialist Salary. Zip Recruiter .
Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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