How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Career Path Guide

First, you need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for this field:


Those who become strength and conditioning coaches have a genuine interest in sports and fitness. They must have excellent observation and communication skills, and must be comfortable working closely with athletes and directing their fitness activities.


They are also excellent motivators, and they have the intellectual and emotional fortitude to complete the necessary educational requirements to enter this profession.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a strength and conditioning coach. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education You'll Need

To enter this field, you typically need at least a Bachelor of Science degree in an area such as Kinesiology or Exercise Science, although some employers may require strength and conditioning candidates to have a graduate degree in one of these areas. Some employers however, such as amateur sports teams, will accept those with lesser qualifications, or those who are still students, but having at least an undergraduate degree will broaden your propsects quite a bit.





What is a Strength & Conditioning Coach?

General job description


Working in close association with other coaches, strength and conditioning coaches develop systematic training programs for both teams and individual athletes in order to increase their athletic performance in specific sports. This is accomplished by improving attributes of the athletes such as their levels of strength, speed, flexibility or endurance, depending on the needs of the athlete or the requirements of the sport. 


These programs include teaching proper lifting techniques, supervising and motivating athletes as they work out, and assessing their performance before and after the program.



What Do They Do?

General job duties


• Liaise with team coaches, trainers, medical staff, nutritionists and general managers

• Maintain workout records for specific athletes and teams

• Provide expert advice in the area of strength and conditioning

• Provide athletes with guidance and proper training techniques with regards to the use of exercise equipment

• Schedule strength and conditioning workouts in cooperation with the head coach

• Be present for team workouts



Who Hires Them?

Strength and conditioning coaches are hired by sports and athletic organizations that are interested in increasing the strength, flexibility, speed or endurance of their athletes for high-level competition. Such organizations may include:


• Professional sports teams

• Amateur sports teams

• Colleges and universities

• Private fitness facilities and gyms

• Commercial sports performance enhancement centres

• Physiotherapy clinics

• High schools




Certification Needed for this Career Field

There are many certifying agencies for strength and conditioning coaches, although the most widely respected certification is CSCS certification (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Many employers, especially in the United States, require this certification for employment as a strength and conditioning coach. Among other requirements to qualify for certification, you must be either a university graduate, or in your senior year of school.


University coursework in Kinesiology or Exercise Science that is helpful to prepare for CSCS certification includes:


• Resistance Training

• Agility Quickness and Speed Training

• Fitness Programming

• Training Methods

• Exercise and Training Practicum



Typical Salary Level

The salary level of strength and conditioning coaches can vary widely depending on factors such as:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience

• The length of their contract

• Their past success

• The competition level of the athletes they coach (such as amateur, collegiate, professional)

• Where they work


There is no reliable salary data available for strength and conditioning coaches in Canada or the United States. We can however get an idea of what their earnings are by looking at the salary level of the general occupational group they fit within.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness occupational group earn an average wage of between $14.53 and $21.07 per hour.


Salary in Canada: According the Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness occupational group is $26,143 per year.


Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of American workers in the Fitness Trainers and Instructors occupational group is $31,720. The lowest 10 percent of salary figures in this group are less than $17,070, and the top 10 percent are more than $63,400 per year.



Experience Needed

Having practical, first-hand experience in strength and conditioning coaching is an invaluable asset for those that aspire to become successful in this field.


Finding a strength and conditioning coach that currently works in the field and asking for an opportunity to work as an assistant, an intern, or as a volunteer, is a great way to gain first-hand experience in strength and conditioning coaching while you are still a student. Working under the supervision, or mentoring, of a skilled strength and conditioning coach is a great way to apply what you are learning in the classroom, while simultaneously getting a taste for a career as a strength and conditioning coach.


Fortunately, many strength and conditioning coaches like to share their expertise with those who are enthusiastic about getting into this career. 



Traits and Skills You'll Need

In order to become effective in your job, you need to posses certain a certain skill set and personality traits. Possessing these skills and traits will ensure that you are able to produce athletes that are stronger, faster, and have higher level of fitness; results that will effectively be your resume. These traits will also help you endure the highs and lows of a career as a strength and conditioning coach. These skills and traits include:


• Excellent working knowledge of exercise techniques

• Proficiency in teaching exercise techniques, such as Olympic weightlifting

• Ability to recognize the potential for long-term injuries

• Treat coaches and players with respect

• An understanding of which strength and fitness drills convert to what sport

• Able to financially and emotionally endure career instability

• Must be willing to pursue continuing education and maintain certification

• Physical fitness

• Prepared to travel frequently at the beginning of your career



Strength & Conditioning Coach Jobs

Check our job board below to find postings in your area:

Similar Occupations

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Strength and Conditioning Coach, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Athletic Therapist

Fitness Coach


Personal Trainer

Sports Coach



References for this Guide

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a strength and conditioning coach.


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Coach.” (March 8, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Personal Care and Service:Fitness Trainers and Instructors.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Articles:So You Want My Job: NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach.” Brett & Kate McKay (November 25, 2017). Art of Manliness website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Certification:Become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).” (n.d.) National Strength and Conditioning Association website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.



Scholarships for Getting into this Field

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach can be found on our Exercise Science Scholarships and Kinesiology Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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