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How To Get Your Strength and Conditioning Certification

How To Get Your Strength and Conditioning Certification


a CSCS working with an athleteA certified strength and condition specialist (CSCS) works with athletes to help them improve their performance, fitness, and nutrition. They use their scientific knowledge to conduct strength and conditioning training sessions and guide athletes towards proper nutrition and injury prevention.

What are the requirements to get your strength and conditioning certification?

Becoming a CSCS involves several steps and requirements, including a rigorous two-section exam. The minimum educational requirement for an American or Canadian to become a CSCS is to have a bachelor’s degree or chiropractic medicine degree, or to be a current college senior. It is helpful to obtain a degree in a field that will make it easier to pass the exam and do the job of a CSCS, such as exercise science or physiology, strength training and conditioning, physical therapy, or athletic training. However, candidates who have unrelated bachelor’s degrees can still take the CSCS exam. The university they received the degree from must be accredited by one of the following associations:

  • Middle States Commission on High Education
  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

If a candidate does not live in the US or Canada, they much have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or be enrolled as a college senior in a university recognized by their country.

Another minimum requirement to be able to take the exam is to hold current CPR and AED certification, or get this certification within a year of taking the CSCS exam.

How do you register for the CSCS exam?

certified strength and conditioning specialistIn order to register for the CSCS exam, candidates must submit documentation of their fulfilled educational requirements to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Candidates with a bachelor’s degree or chiropractic medicine degree have to submit an official, original transcript mailed via their college’s d-Docs account. The NSCA will not accept transcripts that are mailed, faxed, or emailed. International candidates can submit photocopies of a final transcript or diploma.

For candidates who are still college seniors, they must submit proof of their enrolment. They will not become certified until they graduate and submit an official transcript – until then, they will receive a pass/fail notification in lieu of their exam scores.

What is the cost of the CSCS exam?

The strength and conditioning certification exam has separate fees for each format of the exam (pencil/paper or computer) and based on whether candidate is a member of the NSCA. The paper/pencil exam fees are:

  • NSCA members, early registration: $260
  • NSCA members, registration cutoff: $295
  • Non-members, early registration: $395
  • Non-members, registration cutoff: $430

The fees for computer exams are:

  • NSCA members: $310
  • Non-members: $445

There are separate, additional fees for candidates who wish to retake one or both sections of the exam.

CSCS CertificateOnce the exam is registered for and the candidate achieves a passing score, they are granted their CSCS certification. While the road to earning this certification may be long, it leads to a valuable and profitable career.



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