5 Best Strength & Conditioning Certifications [Updated 2023]

In this review, I’m going to compare the top five strength and conditioning certs that are the most sought-after in the fitness industry based on:

Study Materials
Certification Focus
Industry Recognition

I’ll unleash all my knowledge from 10+ years of experience in the industry to guide you.

Here are the 5 Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications!

5 Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications (CSCS, PES, SCCC) 5

Best Strength and Conditioning Certs (YouTube)

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Best Strength and Conditioning Certs (Podcast)


I highly recommend that you Take the quiz to get an estimate on which strength and conditioning certification is the best fit for you overall.

This is just an estimation, read the article to get the full understanding.

Make sure to check out Trainer Academy as well.

The team over there creates epic study materials for training, will dramatically reduce your overall study time, and boast a 99% exam pass rate.

They have study materials for the CSCS certification exams, as well as the PES certification.

I also have a completely free CSCS study guide and practice test and free NASM PES study materials here.

Here are the best 5 strength and conditioning certifications.



The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) is a certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

The certification is viewed by many to be the gold standard for strength and conditioning/sports performance training.

This is one of the harder strength and conditioning certifications that I have ever studied.

To be eligible to take the CSCS certification you need to:

In regards to the bachelor’s degree, it does not need to be in an exercise science related field. The CSCS certification is accredited by the NCCA.

If you discover that the CSCS is something you want to pursue, you will want to check out Trainer Academy and the helpful study materials that they have there.

Also, check out my free CSCS study materials here.



The ISSA Strength and Conditioning Coach (SSC) is a relatively new certification from the International Sports Sciences Association.

This is one of the only certifications that can be done entirely online which makes it very attractive to some.

The standards of how rigorous it is to get the certification are much more relaxed.

That being said, the information that you will learn from the strength and conditioning certification is legit.

To obtain the ISSA strength and conditioning certification you need to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Would be a high school graduate or equivalent
  • Have a valid CPR/AED certification

The ISSA SSC is DEAC accredited.

Check out the ISSA SSC here.



The NCSF CSC (certified strength coach) is one of the three pillars of the NCSF’s curriculum, with the other being Nutrition.

With the ever-increasing recognition and need for S&C methodology, even with the general public, it’s a cert to have when entering the industry.

The area of public health advocacy is the hill NCSF stands proudly on, so you might find that this is one of the best S&C certs relevant to a general population setting.

That’s because the NCSF is big on public health advocacy through the increased recognition of fitness practitioners.

It is their core mission t have fitness trainers regarded as medical practitioners through a legislative process.

Good strength and conditioning are the bedrock of fitness since you would need to have a robust biomechanical foundation to address problems and progress to new levels.

To be eligible for the NCSF CSC you will need:

  • To be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Hold a current NCCA accredited CPT certification.

If you haven’t qualified or recertified with an NCCA accredited personal trainer credential, the alternative is if you hold a higher learning certificate. 

This includes an undergrad or postgrad degree in the health and fitness field.



The Performance Enhancement Specialist certification (PES) from the National Academy of Sports Medicine is another gold standard in the strength and conditioning space.

It is created from NASM’s popular Optimum Performance Training model (OPT) that they use in their general personal training certification.

The OPT model is regarded as one of the best ways of progressing clients/athletes very efficiently and safely.

As of now, I consider the NASM PES to be equal to or better than the CSCS. Keep reading to find out why.

The suggested requirements for the NASM PES certification are:

Europe list of the requirements:

  • Must be CPR/AED certified (this is a requirement)
  • Must be 18 years old
  • Must have graduated high school or the equivalent

The NASM PES is accredited by the NCCA.

This is one of the best sports performance certifications for becoming a strength and conditioning specialist.

Check out the NASM PES here.

Also, make sure to check out my free NASM PES study guide and practice test here.

Trainer Academy also has excellent premium study materials. They also provide an example of guarantee and will reduce your study Time by 50% for the PES.



The Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified certification (SCCC) from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association is a very prestigious strength and conditioning certification.

This certification is by far the most difficult certification to obtain out of all four on this list.

In fact, they only have one test date every single year. Approximately 200 people sign up for and take the SCCC test every year.

The requirements for the SCCC are:

  • you must complete an internship with a CSCCa approved mentor for 640 hours.
  • You must be CPR/AED certified and valid
  • Must hold a bachelors degree
  • Must currently hold a general CPT certification.

The SCCC is an NCCA accredited certification.

The recognition of each strength and conditioning certification

Acceptance and popularity for each of the strength and conditioning certifications vary and depend on who the employer is.

If you are going to be working for a collegiate or professional sports team, the CSCS, PES, and SCCC are the three certifications they will be looking for.

This is because the ISSA certification is relatively new and unheard of.

In regards to personal training employment, all five certifications are accepted at any gym or training facility.

You can check out job boards to get more insight on where these training programs are relevant.

Here is a graph of the popularity of each for the certifications over the last 12 months according to Google trends.

Best strength and conditioning certifications

As you can see, the NSCA CSCS certification is the most sought after by people searching Google.

The NASM PES and SCCC certifications are tied for second.

If you can notice the flat green line at the bottom, that is the ISSA certification.

This makes sense because the certification was just released more or less.

Study materials and Test/Program info

In this section I’ll be giving a rundown of the study materials you will receive with each strength and conditioning program, as well as information on the certification exams.


There are a few study materials that can get you ready for the CSCS test.

The NSCA is expecting a lot of their candidates to be coming from an exercise science-related college degree.

That being said here are all of the exam prep study materials that they offer.

CSCS textbook
  • Live clinics ( to help people get hands-on experience)
  • The primary textbook: Essentials of strength training and conditioning
  • Online practice quizzes
  • Additional booklets such as (exam content description) and an exercise technique book

To be honest, CSCS study materials are not the best.

My students much prefer the study materials from Trainer Academy when studying for the gruelling CSCS exam.

Check out my free CSCS practice test and study guide here.

Overall, CSCS study materials are fundamental.

This is because they assume you are coming from an exercise science background already.

The CSCS test

The CSCS test is comprised of two different sections.

The scientific foundation’s portion, as well as a practical/applied part.

Let’s break down both of these to see what they are all about.

Scientific Foundations

The scientific foundation’s section consists of 95 multiple-choice questions.

You will receive 1.5 hours to complete this portion.

You will be tested on your knowledge of exercise physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, and nutrition.

The test is broken down like this.

  • 44 questions related to exercise science
  • 19 sports psychology questions
  • 17 questions related to nutrition
  • 15 questions that are non-scored (research purposes)

The practical and applied section will test your knowledge for program design, evaluation, organization, testing and exercise techniques.

Overall there are 125 multiple-choice questions and you are given 2.5 hours to complete this portion.

  • 40 questions of exercise technique
  • 38 questions of program design
  • 12 questions regarding organization and administration
  • 20 questions regarding testing and evaluation
  • 15 questions that are not scored

Both tests are graded on a scaled score from 1 to 99.

You need to score at least 70 in both sections to pass the CSCS.

The pass rate for 2017 was 53%.

Overall, this is one of the lowest pass rates in the entire industry.

If you fail to pass the test on your first try, the retest fee is $340 (basically the whole price) for members.

If you only failed one section, the retest fee for one part is $250.

Don’t risk failing this test, pick up a great study guide instead.


Similar to the NASM PES, the ISSA SSC certification provides sufficient study materials that are all particular to their program.

Here are all the study materials you will receive with the SSC.

ISSA SSC textbook
  • A hard copy of the primary textbook which is 615 pages
  • A guided study workbook to help you along with the book
  • 250 animated exercises online (3-D animation)
  • Access to an online student forum
  • Practice exams and section quizzes.
  • Access to SSC certified professionals for any questions you have

The ISSA SSC study materials are fantastic overall.

I like the online student forum and the ability to ask experts on concepts I was struggling with.

The ISSA SSC exam

The ISSA SSC test is done entirely online.

The test is also open book, and you have an unlimited amount of time to answer the questions.

You will be asked questions about the following areas.

  • Anatomy
  • Fitness assessment
  • Sport-specific training
  • Sport psychology
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Injury prevention for athletes

I could not find pass rates for the ISSA certification, but I am assuming it’s close to 90% similar to their general CPT.


The study materials offered by the NCSF are pretty good.

They have a robust offering of different materials to get you adequately prepared for the impending exam.

As is typically the case, a cert program will give you several options regarding study packages.

Each package has a varying amount of materials and is priced accordingly.

In many cases, the amount of material included in the bottom tier options won’t satisfy the first-time candidate’s needs, so you’re forced to buy a more expensive package anyway.

With NCSF, even the lowest tier package includes all essential materials, so that’s already a big win in my books.

The packages available include:

  • Home Study
  • Home Study +
  • Workshop
  • Workshop +

The all-inclusive Workshop + package includes:

5 Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications (CSCS, PES, SCCC) 6
  • Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning Textbook
  • Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning (Digital Edition)
  • Instructional Videos
  • Lesson Notes
  • Questions and Answers
  • Review Quizzes
  • Online Certified Strength Coach Practice Exam
  • Certified Strength Coach Reference Guide
  • 8 NCSF CEUs (Meets Ethics Requirement)
  • Payment Plan Option
  • 2-days of workshop instruction (16 hours)
  • Membership (One Year)
  • NCSF Certified Strength Coach Exam

The other lower-tier packages don’t deviate much from what’s offered here, and the price makes them more attractive, which I’ll get into later.


The NCSF CSC exam is administered either in a real-world proctored testing venue or online via a live remote proctor.

5 Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications (CSCS, PES, SCCC) 7

It is comprised of 150 multiple choice questions and runs for 3 hours.

The exam is broken down as follows, so you have an idea of where to focus:

  • Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics 15%
  • Sport Metabolism 10%
  • Performance Assessment and Evaluation 13%
  • Nutrition and Ergogenic Aids 8%
  • Training Techniques for Athletic Performance 20%
  • Advanced Programming for Sport 20%
  • Injury Prevention and Return to Competition 9%
  • Professionalism and Risk Management 5%

You will need a minimum score of 70% to certify successfully.

If you don’t pass the first time, you will have to consider retaking the exam.

To retake the NCSF CSC, a fee of $99 and a waiting period of at least 30 days are required. 

When it comes to recertification, you’re required to submit 10 CEUs every two years to keep your cert current and relevant.


The performance enhancement specialist certification, on the other hand, is packed with all kinds of study materials similar to their general CPT certification.

Here is what they offer regarding the guided study.

  • Their primary textbook
  • To online practice exams
  • A syllabus and study guide
  • Application videos
  • Video lectures (Basically the book in video form)
  • A complete exercise library
  • Mini-quizzes for each chapter
  • Sport specific lecture videos
  • In the option to attend a live workshop for their all-inclusive package

I like how the PES offers tons of interactive study materials. All of us learn in a different fashion.

Make sure to check out the PES study materials over at Trainer Academy that will cut your study time in half.

I also have a free PES study guide here.


The NASM PES exam will test you on five separate sections.

You will be tested on exercise assessment, applied and basic sciences, exercise technique, nutrition, and program design.

The test will be taken online and contains 100 multiple-choice questions. Similar to the CSCS certification, the PES is graded on a scale, and you need to score 70% to pass.

You will be given 90 minutes to complete all 100 questions.


5 Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications (CSCS, PES, SCCC) 8
The basic study materials you will need for the SCCC certification!

The SCCC exam is tough to prepare for.

This is because they do not have their specific study materials for the tests.

Most of your learning will come from the 640 required internship hours with a mentor.

This makes studying for the SCCC even harder.

Here is the list of recommended study materials that they recommend for you:

  • ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facilities Standards and Guidelines
  • Health Fitness Management, 2nd ed.
  • Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 5th ed.
  • Designing Resistance Training Programs, 4th ed.
  • Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4th ed.
  • Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance, 9th ed.
  • Principles and Practice of Resistance Training
  • Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 6th ed.

As you can see, they merely recommend other study materials to prepare for their test.

They even include (bolded above) the primary textbook for the CSCS as an approved study material.

The pure volume of books and pages that they recommend you study is overwhelming.

These are all complete textbooks for the most part.

They also have some recommended manuals, articles, and videos that can aid in your study process.

Here is the link to their full study resource suggestions.

The SCCC Test

There are two separate sections to the SCCC test.

There are a written examination and a practical exam.

Let’s talk about both of these.

SCCC Written exam

The written exam will test you on multiple areas of exercise science such as:

  • muscle physiology
  • cardiorespiratory system
  • biomechanics
  • adaptations to training
  • program design
  • exercise technique
  • speed/plyometric training
  • flexibility training, nutrition
  • weight management
  • goal setting and much more.
SCCC Practical exam

The practical exam for the SCCC is a very rigorous process.

Before taking the practical exam, one is required to submit a one-week training program for a particular sport as if they were handing this program over to an athletic.

The practical exam will be performed in front of the handle of SCCC certified professionals.

You will have to personally demonstrate:

  • Strength and conditioning techniques and skills
  • Orally demonstrate knowledge of strength and conditioning

Individuals will also have to defend the one week program they have designed for their imaginary athletic.

You need to pass both the written and practical exams to pass the SCCC certification.

You are only giving a pass or fail grade.

The overall passing rate for both sections is 61% as of 2017.

Strength and conditioning certification Prices

Let’s see how much each of these certifications cost.

The price point of certifications can be the make or break it for lots of personal trainers.


The CSCS certification depends on how many study materials you purchase as well as whether or not you are a member of the NSCA.

The flat rates for the exam are $340 for a member and $475 for a nonmember.

There are two popular membership prices.

The first price is $65 a year and is the student price.

The next is $120 a year, and that is the professional price.

Regarding the study materials, the cheapest route that you can do is to purchase their main textbook, the essentials of strength training and conditioning and conditioning.

This book costs approximately $70 or $80.

Overall it will cost you approximately $500 at the minimum to get certified with CSCS.

If you want to get all the study materials and not become a member, it will cost you around $900.

You also required to acquire 6.0 CEUs for NSCA CSCS recertification every three years.


The ISSA strength and conditioning coach certification vary between $499 and $799.

They usually have sales going on that bring it down to $499, or you get some gift card which is a debit card with a certain amount of money on it.

On average, each of the certifications is approximately $500.

Check out the current price for the ISSA SCC here.


As I mentioned previously, The CSC is quite a cost-effective program in strength and conditioning.

None of the packages will cost you more than $1000, which is uncommon for an accredited cert with this much content right out the box.

Pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Home Study $799
  • Home Study + $849
  • Workshop $899
  • Workshop + $949

As you can see, the NCSF CSC pricing is quite attractive, especially if you consider the value of the study materials.


The performance enhancement specialist has three separate packages that are available on the NASM website.

Here are the three prices for packages.

  • $699 for the self-study package
  • $849 for the premium self-study package
  • $999 for the all-inclusive option

Check out the current price here.

These certifications usually have about 20% to 30% off, and you can generally get the self-study package for as low as $489.


Similar to the CSCS certification, the SCCC certification depends on whether or not you are a member of the CSCCa.

The cost for the certification for members is $360 and for nonmembers is $470.

The yearly membership with the CSCCa has two options.

For students, it cost $55 a year, and for full-time coaches a costs $110 a year.

Whichever option you go with, it will cost approximately $500 to get the SCCC certification.

If you end up purchasing each of the recommended study textbooks that the SCCC recommends, you will be spending approximately another $500 on those books along.

Conclusion on the Top Strength and Conditioning Certifications

If you have not done so yet, Take the quiz to get a better overall idea of which strength and conditioning certification is the best match for you.

Well, that’s about it for my best strength and conditioning certification article everyone.

All five of these are legitimate options if you want to get into training athletes for peak performance.

The professional certificate programs maintain best practices needed to become a certified practitioner.

This certification overview shows the benefit of continuing education and online courses.

For collegiate or professional training, the CSCS, PES, and SCCC are the top three certifications.

I would personally select the NASM PES or CSCS certifications because you do not need to go through nearly as many hoops to get them.

Overall these are my top two choices.

Helping clients

For regular personal trainers that would like to start working with athletes on sports conditioning, any one of these five certifications will be sufficient.

However, I like the NCSF CSC for its excellent value proposition in cost vs. content.

The focus of the NCSF in public health might also mean this is an OK strength cert for a general population approach.

If you are outside the United States or would prefer to do a certification online, ISSA is the way to go. Check out ISSA SCC here.

Regarding study materials, I think that the PES and ISSA’s SCC certification stand out.

I don’t like how the SCCC does not have their study materials for their certification.

In regards to the examinations, the SCCC is by far the most rigorous.

On top of needing 640 hours of internship time, there is only one test time every single year, and you have to take the test in front of the panel of individuals.

The CSCS is also a problematic exam in regards to pure question difficulty.

When it comes to pricing, either way, you slice it, you will be spending around $500 minimum.

After that, it depends on what type of study materials you would like to prepare you for the strength and conditioning certification.

Let’s pass the torch to you guys.

Which certifications do you think are best for strength and conditioning coaches? Have you guys gone through any one of these five programs?

Let’s start a discussion down below so that we can further our knowledge on this topic!

Now get out into the real world and start working towards becoming a strength and conditioning specialist!

5 Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications FAQ

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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72 thoughts on “5 Best Strength and Conditioning Certifications (CSCS, PES, SCCC)”

  1. PTPioneer User
    Jose Carlos Castaneda

    Would you consider reviewing the certification for the NSPA: National Sports Performance Association?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Arun,

      I cannot speak to every country out there. All I know is that it is widely accepted within the United States. You are going to have to check with your individual country and the individual sports facility/club that you would like to work for to see which certifications they accept. This is the most important thing overall.

    2. PTPioneer User

      (1)What is the number one strength and conditioning certification in USA?
      (2) what is the number one master trainer certification in USA?
      (3) what is the number one sports nutritionist certification in USA?

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        To answer your first question, the article you’re on explains the best strength and conditioning certifications in the United States. If you have a degree, the CSCS certification is the best option.
        The ISSA and NASM organizations have the best master trainer packages. Master trainer is not one certification but actually a package of multiple different certifications. In terms of Sports Nutrition certifications, I wrote a whole article that you can check out here https://www.ptpioneer.com/sports-nutrition-certifications/

  2. PTPioneer User

    Hi there, i went through your information it was very helpful thanks. I got few questions, first i currently hold a fisaf international personal training certificate if i want to apply for nasm pes is it valid? Second, im currently staying in malaysia i wish to take the nasm pes strength and conditioning is It possible? Isn’t it possible since the course is online and doesn’t require partical? Correct me if wrong. Looking forward for your reply

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello, here are the suggested prerequisites for the PES:
      Suggested prerequisites:

      A current NASM-CPT certification, or
      A current health and fitness certification accredited by NCCA, NBFE or DETC, or
      REPs Level 3 or higher credential (candidates outside of the US only), or
      4-year collegiate degree or
      Be a current Licensed or Certified Massage Therapist

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      For this I would have to say that the performance enhancement specialist certification from the National Academy of sports medicine is probably the better option between these two in my opinion.

  3. PTPioneer User
    Nicholas Murphy

    I took the quiz it said beep boop bop and then it showed me nothing
    I even tried my Name in the name box 2 different emails of mine
    Could not see my results

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello Nicholas,
      That is super weird as you are the first person To inform me on this error. I will definitely check it out to make sure that the quiz is running properly and displaying the certifications on all browsers. Thanks again for pointing this out.

    2. PTPioneer User

      Same here. Looks like the floating form doesn’t allow me to scroll down and fill in my name and other info.

  4. PTPioneer User

    Please update information for the CSCS:
    1. The exam is offered internationally (and has been for over 10 years), not to just residents of the US.
    2. The CSCS is not a “personal training” certification and does not cover essential content found on a personal training certification such as health screening, client consultation, assessments for health and fitness, or working with general population as well as those with medical conditions. There is a “NSCA-CPT” – the personal training certification. The CSCS is specific to athletes.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Cathryne,
      I just made updates to those changes Thanks for pointing those out to me! The CSCS certification is one of the best strength and conditioning certifications and I’m glad you stopped by to leave a comment. Have a good day

  5. PTPioneer User

    Hello ,
    I d like to ask if CPR / FIRST AID Certificate is a MUST if one wants to take CSCS exam ????


    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello, yes you must have a CPR/AED certification that is current in order to take the CSCS exam. In fact for all legitimate and accredited certifications, you will need to have a current CPR/AED credential from a reputable provider.

    2. PTPioneer User

      I recently just took the CSCS on August 6, 2019.(and passed!!) My CPR/AED expired last year. I was able to sign up and take the exam without submitting my CPR cert, which I still haven’t updated. You have a year after you pass your test to submit the CPR certificate and your transcripts to become officially certified as a CSCS. Hope this helps!

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        Hey Catherine,
        Thanks for stopping by to drop off some knowledge about the certified strength and conditioning specialist certification. It is very interesting that you have a whole year to submit your CPR certificate. Great information and don’t hesitate to leave another comment if you’re browsing around my website!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Robert,
      I honestly do not know too much about these certifications. But thanks for pointing these strength and conditioning certifications out to me as I will do some more research and update my site with my findings. Thanks for leaving a comment!

      1. PTPioneer User
        Abhirup Bhowmick


  6. PTPioneer User

    Hello, I am ISSA CPT. And I want to join NASM PES, is it requried that i have nasm CPT? or not? can i still take the course or?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Amal,
      if I believe that the only requirement for the performance enhancement specialist from NASM that you are accredited through general personal training certification so by having the certification from international sports and sciences Association, you should be able to take the PES without any problem.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Steve,
      Yes I have heard of these training certifications before but have never really looked into them too much as most of my information is for residents of the United States. Obviously a lot of these certifications across borders and are widely accepted in other countries, but there are so many certifications to look into. Thanks for the recommendation and I will check these out and try to get a review up and running some point in the near future.

  7. PTPioneer User

    Hi there, I am thinking whether to take the ISSA SSC or NASM PES. I cannot decide which one will suit me better. My intentions are working with professional athletes mainly in the field of ice hockey, potentially football. I have completed a couple of EXOS courses plus am currently enrolled in a BSc Strength and Conditioning in Ireland. Am coming from Slovakia though. Could you please help me decide whether to go for ISSA or NASM.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Oskar,
      All of these are very good questions. If you are planning on doing training outside of the United States, I can’t be of as much help. The best options you have are to ask the potential employers or the places that you would like to work to see which certifications they accept and which ones they prefer. If you were planning on working here in the United States though, either one of these two certifications will be great for working with a wide variety of athletes such as football players as well as ice hockey players.

    2. PTPioneer User

      Hey Tyler
      Thanks so much for this very informative piece. Question 1: do you recommend having a degree in sports science/exercise science/exercise kinesiology before going for these SnC Certs?
      Question 2: I am a certified personal trainer with a passion for strength training and SnC (from playing pro rugby before). Would you recommend I go after these Certs or do the time towards a degree first?
      Question 3: I live in Fiji so my options are very limited. There are no exercise courses of any kind here. I had to go to Australia for PT certification. Is ISSA the way to go?

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        I recommend getting a kinesiology degree as well as one of these strength and conditioning certifications. In fact, most seniors in college start working towards their certification as they were finishing up college at least in the University of I went to. You can definitely get the certification from the international sports sciences Association online. Out of all of these though, the CSCS certification is definitely the most prestigious and you need to either be a college senior or have a bachelors degree already.

  8. PTPioneer User

    We are looking to get some of our coaches at our school certified in strength and conditioning. What is the typical cost and time to complete this process? Any pointers wld be greatly appreciated.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Misti,
      It depends on how much experience your coaches have with strength and conditioning. Do they have a background in kinesiology or exercise science? I would say between 3 and 6 months should be a good amount of time. It really depends on how much time per day they have to study.

  9. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler,

    I believe ISSA ssc has a level 2 certiciation option which requires a bachelor degree. This option is made in order to meet the regulations for NCAA. I also believe most professional sport teams will not accept strength coaches with just a NASM PES because it does not have the 4 year college degree reuqirement. Just my 2 cents. Thank you!

  10. PTPioneer User

    Hey Tyler,

    I don’t think you need to hold a general CPT to sit for the SCCC through the CSCCa (not SCCCa).


    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello Connor,
      this is a very good question if you do need a general personal training certification for this particular one. I will look into this for you and thanks for the comment.

  11. PTPioneer User

    Hi tyler,
    Actually i m from india so i want to get certification from NSCA CSCS and i have bachelor (not related any sports field) so,is it possible to me get the certification from nsca cscs becoz i have’nt saw any person from india who is certified strength and conditioning specialist from nsca cscs and also i want to know the scope and the career of cscs in this field..
    Can u please explain me..
    Thank you

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Jabbi,
      You do not need a four year degree in exercise science in order to take the CSCS certification. You only need a four year degree in any concentration so you should be okay in terms of the prerequisites. In terms of whether or not the CSCS is accepted or whether or not you can take the exam in India is another question that I cannot answer. You will have to contact NSCA for that information. I hope this helps.

  12. PTPioneer User
    Abhirup Bhowmick

    Please clarify me, which is better nasm pes or issa strength and conditioning certification . I am a certified personal trainer from NASM and fitness nutrition specialist from ACE.

  13. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler

    Thanks for the post Tyler. I was talking to one of the gym trainers who wants to become S&C certified and so I thought i would look up some info so this was quite helpful. Being from New Zealand I didn’t even know that all these were available.

    I completed the CSCS cert and also have to say that it was one of the hardest tests I have ever done. My brain was “fried” after finishing it.

    From my experience a few things I would recommend
    * buying mock exam papers – as I wasn’t prepared for the type of question in the assessment, I feel this made it more difficult for me. My experience helped me through the questions, though not being prepared contributed to my brain being fried.
    * Familiarising with the sports played in the Northern Hemisphere and measurements (such as lbs and Kg etc this measurement was not a real issue) and some questions referred to players positions e.g. American Football of which I don’t follow.
    * If you are fresh out of College/Uni or near completing a Sports/Exercise type degree and CSCS is not offered, do the assessment then, when the content is still fresh. It will help with all the extra info, the type of info that you don’t use daily and tend to forget once you are in the field.

    Just an aside, I did the assessment in New Zealand and you mention you have to be in the US to do it. You may be right as the ruling may have changed but it wasn’t so in 2014.

    Thanks again for the post

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Charlie,
      I definitely know what you are saying. The CSCS Is by far one of the hardest personal training certifications in the industry. And I definitely know what you were talking about when you were saying that your brain is fried from all the studying. That is how I felt as well after going through the material. Thanks for all the tips and tricks you have in terms of the exam papers, familiarizing yourself with the North American Sports and taking the test right after you complete your exercise science °. These are all valid points.

  14. PTPioneer User

    hi tyler, so I have some background in strength and conditioning and have done some internships. If I only wanna train athletes is issa the way to go

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Daniel,
      The international sports Sciences Association is definitely a good certifying agency. But, the most recognized strength and conditioning certification is the NSCA CSCS. The only thing is that you are required to have a four-year degree before you can even take the exam. If you do not have this, I highly suggest going with ISSA.

  15. PTPioneer User

    Prerequisites for the PES. Silly question: I have a bachelor in Business Administration, do I need to do any PT course first?

    Many thanks!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello Fernando, you do need a current personal training certification whether it be from the National Academy of sports medicine or any other ncca approve certification.

  16. PTPioneer User

    How respected is having a Master trainer certification which means one has to be certified as a; personal trainer, nutritionist, sport nutrition, bodybuilding, corrective exercise, exercise therapy and a strength and condition that is a level ll (must have a college degree in related field). This is issued through ISSA.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Kenneth,
      a lot of employers respect their personal trainers to have multiple personal training certifications such as those that are a master trainer. Also, on top of the recognition, you will simply have a lot more knowledge and be a lot more helpful to your clients when they are trying to reach their goals. You will be a much better trainer for this overall. Good luck with your personal training career.

  17. PTPioneer User

    I don’t see any indication that you have to live within the United States to obtain the NSCA-CSCS degree. I also checked their website and there is no indication that you have to live within the US.
    Could it be that your info is outdated?

  18. PTPioneer User
    Linlee I Richardson

    If I get my personal trainer cert through NASM can I take the CSCS for strength and conditioning or do I have to go to a 4-year college to test for the CSCS? I am currently enrolled in a university that had an AT program but they are now closing that degree down. I was supposed to graduate with my M.S. in AT with an emphasis on Strength and Conditioning but because of the program closing, I’m trying to figure out what would be best to do. Should I get my B.S. in S.C. or should I test for the NASM for Personal Trainer and Nutrition and then can I test for the CSCS? Any information would help. Thank you.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      In order to take the CSCS you do need to have a four-year degree. They used to be the case that you needed a degree in a health-related field, but currently, you do not. I have heard rumors that they are going to change back to needing a health-related degree in order to take it.

  19. PTPioneer User

    Hello Tyler,
    Thank you for the informative tips. I have been researching a SCC a lot with the down time lately and usually always find myself referencing back to your site as you have answered some questions I have had. Today’s question is this. As I stated before I currently only have an asosciates degree in communications. I spoke with NCSF and I can currently take their course/exam with my current degree. Can you recomend any other strength and conditioning coach cert to look into while only holding an AA?
    Thanks again, Ryan

  20. PTPioneer User

    I am a physical education instructor at a high school. I am looking to revamp the weight training curriculum and just want to make sure I am as knowledgeable as possible. Would the ISSA be suitable for this?

    I only ask as I like the idea of a lot of online materials to prepare for the examination.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      I definitely think that the international sports Sciences Association certification is good for what you were trying to do. Especially if you combine it with their strength and conditioning certification.

  21. PTPioneer User

    I appreciate this article comparing the certs! What are your thoughts on the CFSC (Certified Functional Strength Coach) from Mike Boyle???

  22. PTPioneer User

    I definitely think that you should Edit the ISSA SSC section cause now they have a new study book for this certification and they are accredited by the NCCA for 5 course i think

  23. PTPioneer User

    I wanted to ask, Are CSCS and PES certification are available in India? Or they only provide certification for United States.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      I know that on the National Academy of sports medicine website as well as the NSCA site they will list different testing locations. But for now the National Academy of sports medicine is allowing online test-taking. Something to look into.

  24. PTPioneer User

    Is the ISSA Strength and Cond exam simply an online test?
    I have seen various video posts from people referring to the video portion of their exam. Can you clarify this?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Yes you would take the final exam online, they do require though that you submit a video portion to show that you have learned the material. But the multiple choice section itself is online.

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