What is a CSCS?
When people see business cards or online trainer profiles that include post-nominals, they often ask, “What is a CSCS?”
“CSCS” is an acronym for “Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.” A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist is a professional, credentialed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, who trains athletes to improve their athletic performance through the use of current scientific knowledge, exercise techniques, and training methods.
A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist is different from a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) in that the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist professional generally works with competitive athletes for the purpose of improving athletic performance.
While a Certified Personal Trainer may work with people who happen to be athletes, they generally work with non-athletes. The CPT’s training and knowledge is not specialized in athletic performance, but is structured more towards general fitness (improving cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, mood, appearance, etc.).
In comparison, nearly everything that is prescribed by the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist is focused on improving physical ability that results in better athletic performance. For the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, effectiveness is based on their ability to improve competitive performance. For example, being stronger at the bench press is somewhat meaningless to a football player if that strength doesn’t translate to more wins, better in-game performance, or less injuries.
To become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, the National Strength and Conditioning Association requires candidates to:
- Have a bachelor’s degree (or higher) or be currently enrolled as a senior in an accredited college / university. This degree can be in any field of study until 2029. In 2030, the NSCA will require candidates to have a degree that focuses on strength and conditioning. Comparable education requirements include possessing a terminal degree in physical therapy or chiropractic medicine.
- Possess a current CPR / AED (cardiopulmonary resuscitation / automatic external defibrillator) certification.
- Pass the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist exam. Learn more about the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist exam here.