A Guide To Becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach

If you’re looking to work with athletes and clients who are truly committed to refining their fitness plan and toning their bodies, you may find fulfillment in becoming a strength and conditioning coach. 

There are a number of routes you can take if you’re pursuing a career in the fitness industry, from personal training to nutrition to teaching a specific type of fitness class. But if you’re looking to work with athletes and clients who are truly committed to refining their fitness plan and toning their bodies, you may find fulfillment in becoming a strength and conditioning coach. 

But before you spend too much time looking for the right CSCS study guide and hitting the books, it’s important to understand exactly what a strength and conditioning coach does and what you’ll need in order to become a good one. 

What Does a Strength and Conditioning Coach Do?

Simply put, most strength and conditioning coaches have two goals – the first is to help people improve their athletic performance, stamina and overall strength. The second is to help people reduce athletic injuries by conditioning their muscles and bodies to a point that they are better equipped to withstand strenuous activity and repeated movements. 

Within this field, you can either work with individuals through a gym or LLC or work with entire teams if you’re able to find an open position with a local sports team. 

Like all other fitness-related careers, strength and conditioning coaching requires extensive training and careful consideration. Generally speaking, here are the steps you need to take in order to finally become a strength and conditioning coach.

Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Because of the intensive and risky nature of helping people train their bodies, strength and conditioning coaches are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. You’ll find that most coaches have received a degree in exercise science, kinesiology or a similar field. 

While it may be possible to find a company or organization that doesn’t require you to have a degree, these positions are few and far between, as many places want to ensure you have a strong foundational knowledge of the human body that goes beyond what you’ll learn during the accreditation or certification process.

Get the Right Credentials

If you do have a Bachelor’s degree, you may be able to find organizations that will hire you without special credentials – however, it’s highly recommended to pursue a certification like a PES, SCCC or CSCS accreditation. 

In order to become officially certified, you’ll need to study diligently and pass an exam. If you’re looking to go into a subspecialty of strength and conditioning coaching, like Olympic weightlifting or personal training, you’ll need to pursue an additional certification. 

Get the Right Experience

Like any other career path, it’s not highly likely that your absolute dream job will be waiting for you as soon as you finish your certification. If you did get a degree in a related field (or are planning on doing so), it’s a good idea to pursue jobs and internships in strength and conditioning coaching before applying to a major organization or starting to branch off on your own. Even if you decide to operate independently, your potential clients will likely want to know that you’ve had experience training people like them in the past. 

If possible, it’s a good idea to find an internship, volunteer opportunity or part-time gig that will allow you to work with the demographic you’d like to make a career out of. For example, if you’re hoping to work with college athletes, pursue an internship with your university. College strength and conditioning coaching opportunities are coveted positions, so you’ll need a nice resume to back you up. 

Network In Your Desired Field

This is the same advice you’d receive regardless of your career path, but it’s worth restating – networking is truly everything when it comes to landing your dream job. Set an intention to make contacts who already work in strength and conditioning or who are hoping to pursue that path as well. Knowing people who will walk alongside you and lead you in your journey is key to succeeding and finding the right opportunities. 

Plus, getting close with people in your field gives you excellent opportunities to learn and get inspired in your own coaching journey. It’s especially helpful if you can make aspirational connections who will help you get connected with people in your desired organization (pro tip: this is especially critical if you’re looking to work with a high-demand audience, like college or professional sports teams). 

Be Confident In Your Unique Talent and Ability

Like any other coach or teacher, you have the potential to have a significant impact in not only your clients’ performances, but their lives as a whole. From the client’s perspective, working with a strength and conditioning coach is a commitment to growing stronger physically and mentally, and that can be a very transformative relationship that impacts their approach to not only their sports career, but their entire life. 

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