What Is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist?

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Certified strength and conditioning specialists   use weights to help train clients.
Certified strength and conditioning specialists use weights to help train clients. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Certified strength and conditioning specialists help people improve their athletic performance and fitness. Approximately 11,000 individuals hold this certification, including personal trainers, doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists. However, a large portion of those with this credential are personal trainers. Certification requirements are stringent and signify achievement and expertise as a strength and conditioning specialist.

Requirements

To become a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a candidate must obtain at least a bachelor’s degree or chiropractic medicine degree, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Upon completion candidates can take the Certified Strength and Conditioning specialist exam. Seniors in college can take the exam as long as they are currently enrolled in classes at an accredited university. The second requirement for becoming a Certified Strength and Conditioning specialist is to hold Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and CPR certification. Some examples of AED and CPR certification courses accepted by the National Strength and Conditioning Association include the American Heart Association, Red Cross and National Safety Council courses.

Exam

The first section Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification exam is 90 minutes long and encompasses 80 multiple-choice questions on topics such as exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition and anatomy. The second section of the exam is 2 1/2 hours long and encompasses 110 multiple-choice questions. This section of the test focuses on exercise technique and how to design an exercise program. On the second section of the exam, candidates view videos of exercise techniques and are asked 40 multiple-choice questions about the techniques in the videos.

Salary & Responsibilities

Becoming a personal trainer is a common career path for a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. The top 10 percent of fitness trainers earned $60,760 annually as of May 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Successful self-employed personal trainers could have much higher incomes. Personal trainers are responsible for planning exercise routines for their clients and making sure their clients perform weight-training exercises safely. Many clients of a certified strength and conditioning specialist are athletes. Many customers hire personal trainers to help them practice proper form, which helps prevent injuries.

History

The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification program began in 1985 with the goal of identifying individuals who have sufficient knowledge to implement safe and effective strength and conditioning programs for sports teams and individual athletes.

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