If you want to become a strength coach or personal trainer, getting a strength and conditioning certification is the most important step in your career. By getting your strength and conditioning certification, you’ll be able to land a job in a professional training facility and work with athletes full time. 

Getting your strength and conditioning certification can be a long, tedious process. Frequently, there are many prerequisites and conditions that you must meet before taking the exam. Furthermore, passing the exam and knowing how to study efficiently can be difficult. 

With all of that in mind, knowing exactly which strength and conditioning certification course offers the knowledge, classes, and exams you need can be essential. That’s why we did the research for you to find the best strength and conditioning certification. Read on to find the choice that fits your needs and get certified!

Best Strength and Conditioning Certification

Below are the nine best strength and conditioning certifications that make it easy for you to take the exam and get certified as a coach. Many of the certifications below offer a great price point, information about the industry, and the best practices for strength and conditioning. 

By participating in the certification programs below, you’ll be able to start training athletes in no time. 

1. NSCA CSCS 

NSCA CSCS Website

The National Strength and Conditioning Association allows its members to become certified strength and conditioning specialists. Once you register with NSCA, you’ll be able to take the strength and conditioning certification exam within a few business days. 

Although the typical fee is around $475, members get to take the exam for a lower $340. To take the exam, you must have a bachelor’s degree or be enrolled as a college senior. Unlike other programs, NSCA offers a wide variety of helpful study materials that will assist you in preparing for the exam before test day.  

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2. NASM PES

NASM PES Website

NASM offers Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) programs for:

  • Personal trainers
  • Athletic trainers
  • Strength & conditioning coaches 
  • Physical therapists
  • Coaches
  • Fitness enthusiasts 
  • Athletes 

Before getting the Performance Enhancement Specialization, you must have a fitness certification or a 4-year college degree in a similar field. Before taking the final exam, you must complete four sections that will teach you about anatomy, sports performance testing, injury prevention, and more.

Once you complete the 4-section course, you’ll be able to take the final exam. If you don’t score above 70%, you have three more attempts to pass. Once you pass, your specialization will never expire, and you’ll never have to retake the exam. 

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3. AFAA

AFAA Website

The Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) is a fitness education company that offers certification for fitness instructors. Whether you want to become an indoor cycling instructor or nutrition coach, AFAA is likely to have the perfect courses and certification option for you.

AFAA is one of the top strength and conditioning certification programs out there since they offer a wide variety of training, study materials, and online support. If you want to land a job quickly or connect with other coaches, AFAA is a great platform for you.

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4. CSCCa SCCC

CSCCa SCCC Website

The Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches assoc. (CSCCa) offers strength and conditioning coaching certification through a 3-pronged program that includes 640 hours of practice and an internship program. If you’re looking for an interactive certification program that helps you connect with others in the industry, CSCCa is the best strength and conditioning certification program for you.

At the end of the program, you’ll take a science-based certification exam. Before taking this exam and becoming certified, you must already be a full-time strength and conditioning coach. You must also never get certified through another program related to the conditioning industry. However, no Bachelor’s Degree or other training certifications are required before taking this coach exam.

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5. ACE

ACE Website

ACE Fitness offers sports performance certification programs that help trainers and coaches ensure peak performance for their athletes. Their most popular specialist programs include weight management, fitness nutrition, and sports performance.

If you want to become a certified strength and conditioning coach or participate in a specialist program, ACE has the perfect sports performance training options for you. By participating in each specialized course, you’ll be exposed to experts and strength coaches in that field.

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6. ISSA SSC

ISSA Website

ISSA offers a comprehensive course that allows students to become certified strength and conditioning coaches. For $33.29 per month over the course of 12 months, this course will help you:

  • Communicate exercise instruction to clients
  • Understand each athlete’s anatomy
  • Apply the principles of nutrition to each athlete
  • Prevent injuries and over-training
  • Understand the fundamentals of sports psychology 

If you want a program that lets you study at your own pace and become certified from your own home, ISSA SSC is the perfect option for you. 

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7. ACSM

ACSM Website

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has a membership program specially designed to help students get certified and land a job they love. With an ACSM membership, you’ll be able to connect with other professionals from all around the world, get certified, and explore over 70 possible jobs related to sports medicine and exercise science.

Unlike other programs that require many prerequisites, ACSM offers various membership programs that are fit for almost anyone, from undergraduate college students to long-time fitness professionals. 

If you’re looking for a certification program that helps you advance your career long after you’re certified, The American College of Sports Medicine is a great place to look. 

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8. NESTA

NESTA Website

NESTA offers personal trainer certification and fitness education that all take place online. If you’re looking for an online program that lets you study at your own pace and provides various, affordable options, NESTA is the perfect option for you.

At NESTA, popular training courses include their fitness nutrition coach training, sport yoga instructor training, and their kids’ nutrition specialist training. Most courses range from $200-$500 with many discounted options. 

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9. NCSF CSC

NCSF Website

The National Council on Strength and Fitness, also known as NCSF, has a strength coach certification program that lets you get certified from home. Made for those interested in personal training, strength coaching, and sport nutrition, the NCCA Accredited Certification program will introduce you to new training techniques and the best ways to assess each athlete like never before. 

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Final Thoughts: Getting Your Strength and Conditioning Certification

The strength and conditioning certifications above are perfect if you want to become a personal trainer, a sports coach, or an athletic trainer. These certification programs provide helpful study materials and online support that will help you pass the exam.

By participating in the programs above, you’ll gain access to top strength and conditioning coaches from all around the world. You’ll also learn more about sports psychology, optimum performance training, and much more.

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