The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is an organization that provides certification for professionals within the strength and conditioning industry. Professional certification is useful in this industry because it helps to ensure that individuals who are claiming to be qualified in strength training, personal training, etc. are actually qualified and knowledgeable in the area.
By obtaining a strength and conditioning certification credential, individuals are demonstrating that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to do a job effectively and safely. NSCA certification provides potential employers (gyms, universities, sports teams, etc.) with a way to verify the qualifications of job candidates. By ensuring that their employees have a professional certification, employers can be assured that they are hiring individuals who are adequately qualified to do the job.
Professional certification can also serve as a way for strength and conditioning professionals to differentiate themselves from the competition. By having a NSCA certification, coaches can demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to do the job. This can be beneficial when looking for new job opportunities or when trying to advance in the strength and conditioning industry.
NSCA certification can also be used as a way to ensure that professionals are up to date with the latest developments and best practices in strength and conditioning. In order to maintain certification, the NSCA requires professionals to continue their education and stay current with the latest developments. As knowledge and research expands over time, periodic credentialing helps to ensure that strength and conditioning professionals have the necessary knowledge and skills to do their jobs effectively and safely.
While the NSCA provides a useful service to the strength and conditioning field by offering certification exams and requiring professional education standards, it is also undercutting the credibility of its own professional certifications by selling preparation materials and exam preparation live clinics to professionals and students. The NSCA selling preparation classes for their own exams is unethical for several reasons. It creates an unfair advantage to those who can afford to pay for the clinics and materials. These CSCS exam prep live clinics can cost hundreds of dollars and provide those who can afford them with an edge over those who cannot. This may give those who can pay a higher chance of passing the exam, while those who cannot afford the clinics may struggle or fail. This creates an unequal playing field and can create a barrier to those who are unable to afford the classes.
This practice also undermines the credibility of the NSCA‘s exams and certifications. The NSCA is responsible for certifying strength and conditioning professionals and the exams are meant to make sure that those who pass the exams have the necessary knowledge and skills to do the job. By offering preparation clinics and study materials (for a price), the NSCA is suggesting that passing the exam is more about taking their classes than about the actual knowledge and skills required to pass the exam. This implies that the exam is not a reliable indicator of the knowledge and skills needed to be a strength and conditioning professional. For anyone with a CSCS certification, whether they attended the NSCA’s test prep clinic or not, this damages their credibility.
Finally, by offering preparation classes, the NSCA is essentially profiting from their own exams. This is a conflict of interest, as the NSCA is responsible for creating and administering the exams. They should not be in the business of profiting from their own exams, as this can lead to bias in the exam content and can potentially lead to the exams being crafted in such a way that would increase the chances of those taking the preparation classes to pass.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association selling preparation classes for their own exams is unethical and short-sighted. It creates an unfair advantage for those who can afford to pay for the classes, it undermines the credibility of the exams, and jeopardizes the credibility of those that hold NSCA certifications. For these reasons, it is critical that the NSCA stop its practice of directly selling its own study materials and CSCS Exam Prep Live Clinics. The lure of quick and easy profits is detracting from the credibility and prestige that NSCA certifications once held.