Are you a health, fitness and sports minded person looking for a career where you can share this passion with others? Then you may want to consider a job as a Strength and Conditioning Specialists. It should be noted that the role of a Strength and Conditioning Trainer is different from that of an Athletic Trainer or even a Fitness Trainer. A Strength and Conditioning Specialist's primary job is to work with individuals or groups of individuals to improve overall skill and performance in a specific sport. This is accomplished through routines focused on improving speed, flexibility and strength to name a few. Conditioning routines are used to develop proper exercises and weight lift techniques as well as help to improve an individual's overall endurance. With sports athletes continuing to push new limits and set new records, there is a great opportunity for a career in the sport you love.
Strength and conditioning trainers will have other responsibilities too. They may work with athletes to make sure they get the proper nutrition for their training. They may work with athletes with new or existing injuries and have to coordinate exercises that match the athletes' recovery progress. A conditioning trainer may work closely with medical professionals so having strong interpersonal communication skills will be important. Likely there will also be some documentation and reporting requirements to keep track of an individual's progress. As a Strength and Conditioning Specialist you should expect to play many roles within the profession.
It will also take a commitment to achieving the necessary educational requirements, certifications and on the job training to secure a job as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. If you want to play in the big leagues (pun intended) then you'll need to start working towards a bachelor degree with a primary focus on exercise science and sports medicine related courses. Samples include biology, anatomy, musculoskeletal system, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, nutrition, injury prevention, first aid and other emergency service courses. You should expect that working at the high school, college or professional level that a master degree will likely be required.
You will also need to have the necessary certifications. If you are working with the general public or at a recreational level sports team, usually middle school ages, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council on Exercise Fitness (ACE) or National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) all offer certifications that may be adequate for these positions. Although to work with athletes at a higher level, high school and above, then options such as the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCCa) or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) are two of the top Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification programs and are both accredited by The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The organizations listed above are only a few of the certification options available. While there are other organizations that offer certification, it's extremely important you ensure your certification meet the requirements of the job you are seeking.
During your college courses you should also seek out internship programs and volunteer opportunities. Working with certified professionals will allow you to gain experience first-hand. Even a job as an assistant to a Strength and Conditioning Specialist can provide valuable training. In addition, these hands-on learning experiences are an excellent opportunity to network within the profession. You never know, someone you volunteered for may be able to help land the jobs you've been looking for.
Employment opportunities for a Strength and Conditioning Specialist are expected to grow in the years to come so now is a great time to enter the field. Salary will vary depending on the position you have. Recreational strength and conditioning trainers can earn on average $30,000 to $60,000 a year according to some sources. While working at the college or professional sports team level salaries can exceed $250,000 for the top Strength and Conditioning Specialist. These opportunities with sports teams, clinical facilities or even exercise studios offer many available job positions. There is also room for advancement, so don't expect to go to work as the lead strength trainer for a professional sports team right out of college. You'll need to work hard and earn that type of position. Although furthering your education and work experience will help make those opportunities possible.