NCSF sports nutrition specialist review - Tyler Read holds the NCSF sport nutrition textbook.

This article is a complete review of the NCSF Sports Nutritition Specialist Certification.

I wrote this NCSF SNS review, based on my experience taking the Sports Nutrition Specialist course from the National Council on Strength and Fitness, studying for, and passing the NCSF exam.

I also have over a dozen different fitness certifications ranging from certified personal training to nutrition and group fitness. Additionally, my team at PT Pioneer has yoga instructors, group exercise trainers, and fitness specialists of all types with over two dozen different fitness certifications.

Today, I’ll go over the following topics surrounding the NCSF-SNS:

  • Topical information: NCSF-SNS pricing, program options, and requirements
  • Fundamentals taught in the NCSF-SNS curriculum
  • NCSF exam difficulty

After reading my article, you’ll have more insight into the NCSF-SNS certification and if it meshes with you and your ultimate career goals!

I also highly recommend that you take the quiz and find out which sports nutrition certification is best for your career goals.

What type of Certification are you looking to get?

What is the NCSF-SNS Certification?

The NCSF-SNS certification program is a sports nutrition certification that provides fitness professionals with access to cutting-edge nutrition practice strategies to attain optimal performance levels and overall health, with a focus on sports performance.

The business of helping people of all abilities reach their goals is a noble one, and with over two dozen different fitness certifications, NCSF specialists are well-equipped to provide the highest quality of service to their clients.

In this certificate program, you will gain more insight into nutrition’s critical roles in athletic performance, functionality, nutrients and general well-being from a world-renowned organization.

Since this is a sports nutrition specialist certification program, there is a much heavier emphasis on the nutritional strategies and behavior modifications surrounding sports performance.

The coursework is an important part of the NCSF certification process, as it provides an opportunity for individuals to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become certified, and is designed to ensure that those who receive the certification have the necessary understanding and experience to be successful in their chosen field.

NCSF-SNS General Information

NCSF-SNS General Information


  • Study program cost: $699+
  • Prerequisites: Current and valid NCCA-accredited fitness certification, license/certification in an Allied Health Profession, teacher-specific state-issued license/certification, enrollment in the CPT/SNS or Master Trainer program
  • Exam passing score: 70%
  • Average completion time: 2-4 months

NCSF Credibility and Reputation

For over two decades, the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) earned its spot as a leader in top-notch fitness education and advocacy for exercise professionals and individuals worldwide.

All NCSF certifications are globally recognized and accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Since NCCA-accredited programs are the gold standard in the fitness industry, you can be sure that getting certified through the NCSF certification offerings is a safe bet for your career.

Is the NCSF SNS Worth It?

is the NCSF SNS worth it? Tyler Read holding the Sports Nutrition Certification textbook and deciding if the NCSF is worth it

The NCSF is worth it for serious sports nutrition coaches who want a top-tier approach to sports nutrition. The NCSF offers a singular focus on sports performance in their certification offerings rather than an attempt to have a certification for any and every possible specialty.

With that said, I highly recommend checking out the NCSF if you plan to coach athletes for performance nutrition.

  • NCCA-Accredited
  • Perfect 5-star rating reviews on their website
  • Lower cost than other competing sport nutrition certifications
  • Covers the broad spectrum of sport nutrition in great depth
  • Multiple program options
  • Instructional videos exceed expectations
  • Easy registration procedure online
  • Option for recertification by taking the exam again after 2 years (as opposed to the CEUs)
  • Physical textbook only available in Home Study Plus program
  • Recertification is required every two years, as opposed to 3-4 years seen from other sport nutrition certifications
  • Less popular sport nutrition certification

NCSF SNS vs Other Top Sports Nutrition Certifications

The biggest competitors to the NCSF Sports Nutrition Certification are the NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist, the Precision Nutrition Certification, and the ISSA Nutritionist certification.

Compared to these certifications, the NCSF has a much heavier emphasis on improving performance in athletes as opposed to helping general fitness clients lose weight.

That being said, the NCSF certification still covers various approaches to weight loss, which is needed for various sports, especially weight-class sports.

Who is the NCSF SNS Certification meant for?

The NCSF SNS is meant for athletic performance professionals who want the best tools and resources for maximizing the performance of their athletes through effective, science-backed nutritional principles.

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I also find the NCSF SNS is a viable option for standard personal trainers who want to help coach nutrition, since many of the skills have solid crossover. That said, the certification does put much more emphasis on the performance element of nutrition coaching.

NCSF Certification Cost and Packages

NCSF SNS cost and course packages - NCSF Sports Nutrition Textbook with gold coins on table

You have two primary package choices when studying for the NCSF: the NCFS Home Study and the NCSF Home Study Plus.

NCSF-SNS Home Study

This first tier of the NCSF SNS program costs $349 and includes the following:

  • Digital textbook
  • Instructional videos
  • Lesson notes
  • Sample NCSF-SNS test questions and answers
  • NCSF-SNS review quizzes
  • Instructor support
  • NCSF membership (1 year) to get all of this information
  • The optional 8 NCSF continuing education credits (CEUs)
  • The NCSF Sport Nutrition Specialist certification exam

As mentioned, the base price for this program is $349, which is around the same price as most other sports nutrition programs.

Although this is surely a solid bundle, it lacks the physical textbook many people in this program opt not to use.

The digital version of the textbook and the accompanying portal is already much more useful and easy to use than flipping through a textbook.

NCSF-SNS Home Study Plus

For extra materials, the NCSF offers the Home Study Plus

This program includes everything in the previous Home Study program, but also includes the Sports Nutrition Specialist Practice Exam 2nd Edition.

This adds more practice for those who want to feel extra prepared for the exam when their time comes.

The base price for this plan is $399, so it’s only $50 more than then Home Study program, making it a worthwhile investment for the extra materials you get.

NCSF SNS - Sports Nutrition Specialist Review [year] 4
NCSF SNS - Sports Nutrition Specialist Review [year] 5

NCSF SNS Certification Review – Personal Trainer Content Coverage

NCSF SNS course contents - NCSF textbook open to table of contents

Unit 1 – Macronutrients

This first unit covers most of your basic introduction to sports nutrition areas of focus.

You’ll get a comprehensive breakdown of the major macronutrients, protein, fat, and carbohydrates and how each contributes to your overall nutritional status.

You’ll learn the role of each macronutrient in sports nutrition and how the body utilizes these as potential fuel sources for the following:

  • Muscle synthesis
  • Energy and endurance
  • Bodily functions

I think, when compared to other sports nutrition texts, that the NCSF-SNS course text doesn’t miss important topics in this area and makes understanding macronutrients pretty simple.

Unit 2 – Micronutrients

Most Unit 2 freshens up your knowledge of the importance of water and hydration and essential information on micronutrients and vitamins.

Hydration is key for everyone, especially athletes.

You learn the best strategies to ensure athletes are properly hydrated by balancing and prioritizing fluid intake timing.

Also, micronutrients and vitamins are touched upon, often different across individual athletes and specific sports.

Unit 3 – Dietary Supplements and Ergogenic Aids

As you may know, dietary supplements and ergogenic aids are very popular among athletes.

Dietary supplements and ergogenic aids have become increasingly popular among athletes as they seek to improve their performance through various physiological and psychological adaptations.

This is why the NCSF-SNS course text slightly emphasizes the following topics:

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  • Chapter 6: Dietary Supplements Regulations
  • Chapter 7: Ergogenic Aids
  • Chapter 8: Dietary Supplements and Weight Loss Drugs

When adding supplements to one’s diet, knowing how each affects the body and how it can help or hinder athletic performance is essential.

Most graduates of this program, especially those working with sports and fitness competitors, would agree that each athlete will have different nutrient and supplementation requirements.

The NCSF-SNS certification program certainly provides you with the proper tools to navigate the complexity of the supplement world and fuel athletes to be the best in their game!

Unit 4 – Nutritional Analysis and Weight Management

Finally, this last unit of the NCSF-SNS text covers important nutritional analysis and weight management information.

In the first chapter of this section, Chapter 9, Nutritional Evaluation, you’ll cover most of what other sports nutrition certification courses discuss first in these sections – nutritional evaluations.

To guide athletes into a nutrition plan that would benefit them most, you’ll need to know how to evaluate them and what to evaluate for.

You’ll also need to read and interpret these results to apply them to your athlete’s plan.

The NCSF-SNS program does very well in integrating this knowledge into evaluating athletes.

The subsequent chapter covers body composition.

I think this information is very helpful for athletes, especially those who strive for peak conditioning.

Lastly, the NCSF-SNS does cover weight management and its basic tenets as it applies to sports nutrition.

NCSF Sports Nutrition Specialist Exam Prep and Study Materials

NCSF SNS study materials and exam prep - Sports Nutrition textbook open with highlighter

All the SNS packages include a ton of great resources to help you pass your exam. I particularly like the instructional videos that make it very straightforward to get your needed study time. If you prefer a hard copy textbook, you will need to get the Home Study Plus program, but overall, the regular program gives you most of what you need.

The practice quizzes are incredible, as are the lesson notes. If you like getting instructor support, you are also in luck, as every program offered includes this resource.

NCSF Sport Nutrition Certification Requirements

Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to study for the NCSF SNS certification and sit for the exam.

NCSF Sports Nutrition Salary

According to, the average salary for a Sports Nutritionist is $57,070. While this is not NCSF-specific, you can estimate a ballpark in that range once you land a job as an NCSF Sports Nutritionist. Depending on your location and employment arrangement, this amount may go up or down.

Taking the Final NCSF SNS Exam

Taking the NCSF SNS exam - SNS textbook with scantron sheet to pass the NCSF exam

The NCSF exam is NCCA accredited, which means you need to take it in-person or through a live-proctored exam. I passed on my first try after studying for 3 months about 2 hours per day.

I recommend you plan 3 months of studying. If you take practice exams and find them easy, you can potentially study for a shorter period.

NCSF SNS Continuing Education and Recertification

The NCSF SNS does not require continuing education, however, it does provide 8 NCSF CEUs towards recertifing other certifications like the NCSF CPT.

Other NCSF Offerings

NCSF offers the following certification programs:

NCSF SNS Overall Rating

NCSF SNS overall rating - SNS textbook with question mark boxes
NCSF Sports Nutrition Specialist
NCSF SNS - Sports Nutrition Specialist Review [year] 6

After reading my article, you’ll surely have more insight into the NCSF-SNS certification, and if it meshes with you and your ultimate career goals!

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: $349

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:


  • NCCA-Accredited
  • Affordable
  • Broad information coverage


  • 2 year recertification
  • Less well-known than other nutrition certifications

NCSF Certification (Frequently Asked Questions) FAQs

Is NCSF certification worth it?

Yes! Every student I’ve spoken to can agree that NCSF provides one of the best online nutrition specialist certification programs! NCSF-SNS alumni have formed highly lucrative careers as nutrition experts.

How long does the NCSF-SNS certification program take to complete?

The NCSF-SNS course is designed as a self-paced program, so you are always in control of the timeline. While individual completion times vary, most candidates complete this program in approximately 2-4 months and are immediately awarded their NCSF Sport Nutrition credential.

Is there an NCSF-SNS online exam option?

To take the NCSF-SNS certification exam remotely, you will need to ensure your computer meets the following system requirements:
1. Operating System: Windows 7 or Higher, Mac OS 10.13 or Higher
2. Web Browser: Updated version of Google Chrome
3. Internet Connection Speed: 0.5 mbs+
4. Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768, at minimum

Does NCSF offer a military support plan?

NCSF certifications are US Department of Veterans Affairs approved for post-9/11 GI Bill reimbursement. If you are eligible for the NCSF military support plan, you’ll receive a $299 reimbursement for each program. This applies to the NCSF Personal Trainer Certification, Sport Nutrition Specialist, and Certified Strength Coach programs. Also, the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Scholarship provides up to $4,000 of tuition assistance to eligible military spouses.

What is the average sports nutrition salary?

According to the most recent statistics, the base salary for all sport nutrition specialists ranges from $48,813 to $58,931 annually, with an average of$53,627.

What is the job outlook for sport nutrition specialists?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the sports nutrition field prospects to grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than average.

Who can a sports nutrition specialist work with?

As a sports nutrition specialist, here are your employment options:
1. Private practice/personal consultants to professional athletes and others whose goal is to optimize their physical performance
2. Corporate wellness centers
3. Colleges and universities
4. Sports medical practices
5. Sports teams


Overall, I award the NCSF-SNS a review score of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

NCSF’s sports nutrition specialist course is great for those seeking a solid nutrition background and official certification.

The online study portal, NCSF-SNS study materials, and digital textbooks bring ease of use.

Also, the presence of NCSF-SNS practice exam questions and quizzes welcomes constant review and refreshers.

In other words, the user is guaranteed to do well on the actual NCSF-SNS exam questions!

A major plus is that this is the best low-cost nutrition certification in the industry, which speaks to the value you get here.

The NCSF-SNS Home Study program stands out the most for the trainers looking to go for this certification without any of the other NCSF certifications.

Briefly put, the NCSF-SNS certification’s many pros certainly work to outweigh its cons.

This is an excellent choice for anyone looking to enter the realm of sports nutrition and enhance their existing knowledge and experience of training.

But if you still can’t decide whether or not this sports nutrition specialist certification is for you, I recommend you take the quiz!

I hope my NCSF-SNS certification review article helped you on your quest to help athletes unleash their best!

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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