Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Apr 11, 2013 | 22 comments

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Certification review!

The CSCS certification is regarded as the most advanced certification in the industry. This is a higher level you can achieve in the personal training industry. The information contained in the certification is more focused on advanced techniques for training athletes. Their main goal is peak athletic performance. People that try to obtain it usually have a goal of working with college athletes or professional athletes. The biggest difference between the CSCS program and other programs is that it requires a four-year degree. The earliest you can take this test is in your last semester. Other certifying agencies only require a high school diploma.

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist general information:

There are two options for taking the test. There is a paper/pencil exam as well as a computer-based exam. The pencil/paper exam is offered at hundreds of locations around the world. As long as the NSCA has approved your prerequisites your results will be mailed to you between six and eight weeks after the exam date. Their computer exams are located in various H&R Block offices. After registering for the exam you must take the test within 120 days. You can only take the test after they have approved your prerequisites. The good thing about the computer exam is that you get your scores upon completion. Just like the regular NSCA certification, there are two different prices for the test. If you are a NSCA member the paper exam costs $260. The retest fee is $210. For nonmembers the paper exam cost $395 with a $345 retest fee. The computer-based versions are a little bit more expensive.  Members pay $310 with a retest fee of $260. Nonmembers pay $445 with a retest fee of $395. These are the highest retest fees of any certification. You may take the test and an unlimited amount of times but you must wait 90 days between tests.

There are two difficult portions to the test. The first part is about ‘scientific foundations’. There are 90 questions in the scientific foundations section. You will have one and a half hours to complete it. The scientific foundations exam is approximately 70% exercise science-based and 30% nutrition based. The second part of the overall test is the practical and applied section. This is a longer test. You will have two and half hours to complete it. There are 110 multiple-choice questions. This test is broken down into four sections including: exercise technique (36%), program design (36%), organization/administration (10%) and fitness evaluation testing (18%).

It is hard to recommend the best strategy to prepare for the CSCS exam. Most other certification agencies offer a textbook that is tailored specifically to their certification exam. The CSCS is different because most people taking it are straight out of college with a degree in Exercise Science. These people are very familiar with anatomy, exercise physiology, biomechanics and have much hands-on experience with program design. There are a few textbooks that NSCA recommends studying on their website. One of the textbooks is ‘Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning’. This is actually one of the textbooks I used in my senior year at Sonoma State. This book is large and dense with information. If you don’t know where to start studying I recommend getting familiar with that textbook!

The NSCA is trying to weed out unqualified people from taking their CSCS exam by having a prerequisites of a four-year degree. The biggest problem I have about this prerequisite is that you no longer need a degree in a health-related field to be eligible for the CSCS. People coming from a business, economics or social science background will have as much experience as a high school graduate in regards to health and fitness. The NSCA used to require a kinesiology or health-related degree. I do not know why they changed that. Even though the CSCS is still one of the toughest and most impressive certifications, it still pales in comparison to the knowledge obtained through a degree in Exercise Science. Letting anybody with a college degree be eligible for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist waters down the value of it. As of 2014 I believe that NASM’s PES certification is just as good in terms of training athletes. But you will still have the potential to make more money by holding this cert or NASM’s PES compared to holding just one general certification. If you want to check out my list of certifications that do not require a four-year degree scope it out here! Some of the other great certifications include NASM, ACE and ACSM! Also make sure to check out my VS section where I compare each top cert head to head!  And please share this if it was helpful using the sharebar on the left :) Let me know what all of you beautiful people think in the comments, I’ll see you there!

photo credit: Kanaka Menehune via photopin cc

 

NASM Promo codes for August 2014
5% off all NASM cpt packages: AFFCPTAUG
5% off all NASM specializations (CES, PES, WLS etc): AFFSPECAUG
5% off all NASM workshops: AFFwkshpAUG
5% off all NASM CPT eteach classes: AFFeCPTAUG

22 Comments

  1. Can you get a CSCS cert from NSCA if you got your CPT from NASM? the NSCA-CPT is not a prerequisite for the NSCA-CSCS yes?

    • I believe that is correct. You can take NASM before and not take the NSCA CPT. I would double check with NSCA though. All you need to have is a 4 year degree to be up to take the CSCS.

  2. hello tyler,
    iam a graduate & having a sports diploma in cricket coaching & have level o trainer course in cricket. i am from dehradun city & i just want to know how i can i attand this course by online & what is the total cost of this course.

    • I am not sure if you can take this certification outside of the United States.You would have to contact NSCA to find out.

  3. Hello Sir,
    I am a physical therapist by profession,and now i am interested in perusing this particular course bt, i do not know that how do i start studying for it ? please help me in this regards .

    • It all depends on which certification in which package you choose. Different study bundles are available from most certifying agencies. It all depends on what type of learning style you have. If you are a kinetic learner you might want to take a live workshop. If you are really good at studying from a textbook, that might be all it you need to get. Being a physical therapist should give you a great head start in terms of knowing anatomy and biomechanics. I would pick up a textbook from your certifying agency of choice and start skimming through it.

  4. hello tyler. i am a current ACE-CPT and I am torn in between to take a CSCS exam and an ACE Sports conditioning specialty certification. I know that CSCS is a prestiged certification but do you think ACE’s Sports conditioning certification is just or almost the same with one another? hope you can shed light on this. thank you very much!

    • Hey Chris,
      The ACE sports conditioning certification is excellent. Although I have not reviewed on the site I know people that have taken it and speak highly of it. Over the years the CSCS has been becoming less prestigious in my opinion. This all started when they didn’t require their test takers to have a 4 year degree in a health related field. Now all you need is any college degree even if it has nothing to do with exercise science. I would say check out ace to see what they’re all about

  5. Hello, I’m looking to start a carrier in health and fitness. My ultimate gold is to become a physical therapist later on in my carrier. Which certification would be a good starting point for this mission?

    • Hey Rick,
      I was a kinesiology student with a Concentration in pre-physical therapy myself. I think that NASM offers the best solution for that scope. They have a strong focus on muscular imbalances, posture, biomechanics and much more.

  6. HI, I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE A COURSE OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING. I’M A PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER AND WHILE I WAS PLAYING IN ITALY, ONCE I HAD DONE A PERSONAL TRAINING COACH BUT UNFORTUNATELY I DON’T THINK IT WOULD BE ENOUGH.

    I FINISHED SCHOOL WHEN I WAS 16 YEARS OF AGE SO BASICALLY ALL THE KNOWLEDGE I HAVE REGARDING THIS AREA “NUTRITION & SPORTS” I GAINED ALL BY MYSELF THROUGHOUT MY 10 YEARS PLAYING ABROAD AND ALWAYS TRYING TO ENLARGE MY CURRICULUM AND MY KNOWLEDGE BY DOING SOME FREE COURSES LIKE COURSERA.COM FOR NUTRITION AND THE PERSONAL TRAINER THING THAT I ONCE DID IN ITALY.

    DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE FOR ME TO TAKE THE ISSA COURSE WITHOUT HAVING A DIPLOMA??? OR WOULD IT BE DIFFICULT ?? I’M PLANNING TO WORK IN THIS AREA WHEN I GET BACK TO MY HOME COUNTRY MALTA AND I ALREADY HAVE SOME CONTACTS WHO SUGGESTED ME TO START LOOKING FOR THIS BUT WHAT THEY SUGGESTED WAS A UK UNIVERSITY. MY PROBLEM WITH A UNIVERSITY COURSE IS THAT THEY WOULD ASK ME A DIPLOMA WHICH I DON’T HAVE SO PROBABLY I WONT EVEN BE ACCEPTED AT THE COURSE.

    I WOULD VERY MUCH APPRECIATE IF ANYBODY COULD ANSWER MY QUESTIONS AND HELP TO FIGURE OUT THE BEST SOLUTION!

    THANK YOU
    JOSEPHINE GRIMA

    • Hey Josephine,
      That is a great question. In my experience most certifications require you to have a high school diploma or GED. You might want to look into getting your GED. regarding the specific certifications and whether they require a high school level education are not, I’m not sure if any do not require it. Regarding being able to take college work without a diploma, I’m not sure about that either. I know that while I was in high school friends of mine were able to take courses at the local community college even before they graduated. You might want to look into that.

  7. Hello Tyler,

    I am looking into the NSCA regarding the CSCS program. I would like to use the certification primarily as an educative tool for myself and my 11 year old son who is involved in sports and for your average Joe’s as the previous individual posted. So, is a CSCS too much of a certification based on what I have just described. If so, who do you recommend.

    Thanks for your help.

    Happy New Year.

    • I think it is great that you are trying to help out your son with his athletic ability! CSCS should be a great certification for doing that. Another option for your particular situation would be the NASM coupled with the PES certification.

  8. Can issa help in getting team jobs as strength and conditioning coach

    • I can’t see why ISSA would not help. Although the best certification for that type of training is the CSCS certification from NSCA or the PES from NASM. Both are advanced certifications. You need a college degree in order to obtain your CSCS. Hope this helped!

  9. I want to know about the awarness of CSCS in India.

    • Hello, I am actually not that aware of how well known it is in India. Sorry :(

    • Bhupendra (and Tyler),

      I am a foreigner living in India and I’ve been learning about how sports training is done here. My understanding is that a lot of the very top organizations like the IPL may require a CSCS but they would also probably require some sort of cricket coaching certifications or experience. I think the CSCS is by and large the most popular well recognized cert worldwide for working with sportspeople. I plan to get CSCS this summer only for the credential and recognition of it but I prefer NASM-PES and CES as they have a better systematic, progressive, periodization plan that includes things like balance and stabilization, and corrective exercise training phases , which, as far as I can tell the Essential of Strength and Conditioning textbook almost doesn’t address. Also, the two power phases make more sense to me as presented by NASM rather than Essentials textbook. The negative to NASM is that they virtually leave out the olympic lifts as power exercises.
      So, CSCS is good for the credential but I think practically speaking the NASM specializations are better for the knowledge and practical expertise you get from them.

      Can anybody else that has both certs verify my claims or deny them? Like I said I have not gone through the CSCS certification fully yet but I plan to this summer when I go back to the States. I have the Essentials textbook and have had multiple interactions with CSCS people to figure out what actually is unique about it. So that’s what I’m drawing my conclusions on.

      -C

      • Hey Clark,
        The CSCS certification has great information. It was used as a textbook for one of my final classes in college. Over all the information is solid but I agree with you I do not like how it is laid out in a systematic form. I think NASM lays out the information much better. The CSCS has been around for much longer and that is mostly the reason it is so prestigious. I do think that NASM should include Olympic lifting in the material.

  10. I just got my CSCS certification recently. For continue education, what other certifications would you recommend? Since I am already CSCS certified, would it be redundant to take NSCA-CPT exam? I certainly enjoy training athletes but I also want to keep my doors open for average joes. I am planning to start my home business soon.

    • Hey Jon! Looks like you have a premium cert! You are right, the cscs is a great cert but it is geared more towards athletic performance. It is always a good idea to expand your knowledge by either getting another cert or just learning on your own. ACE is a very good cert for ‘average joes’ but so is NASM. NASM places great emphasis on corrective training for people with muscular imbalances. Most clients whether they are familiar with exercise or not have some sort of imbalance.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>