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 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!