How To Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach in 8 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 November 2022

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people are interested in starting careers in sports and fitness, and one career option in this field is becoming a strength and conditioning coach. These coaches are responsible for helping athletes improve their fitness and performance in their sport. If you want to become this type of coach, there are several important qualifications to develop. In this article, we explain the role and responsibilities of a strength and conditioning coach and the steps you can take to enter this career.

What is a strength and conditioning coach?

A strength and conditioning coach is a fitness professional who helps clients, usually athletes, become better at a specific sport or skill. These coaches apply knowledge in exercise science to help their clients complete exercises and improve their skills. They can work in many settings, including colleges and fitness centres. Some typical responsibilities of these coaches include:

  • forming strong relationships with their clients

  • setting goals for their clients

  • creating strategies to achieve goals

  • designing custom training programs for each client

  • collaborating with medical professionals and other coaches

  • teaching clients how to perform exercises

  • helping clients avoid athletic injuries

  • providing clients with education and guidance

  • staying informed on changes in exercise science

Related: 20 Jobs Within Sports (Including Salaries and Duties)

How to become a strength and conditioning coach

You can follow these eight key steps to start a career as a strength and conditioning coach:

1. Get your bachelor's degree

The first step to starting your coaching career is to get your bachelor's degree. Many people pursuing this career choose to get degrees in exercise science. In these programs, students often take courses in anatomy and physiology, nutrition, kinesiology and athletic training. Depending on your university, you may also be able to pursue a concentration in strength and conditioning coaching.

Related: 28 Popular Sport Science Career Pathways (With Salaries)

2. Consider a graduate degree

You can also consider earning a graduate degree in exercise science or a related field. Your graduate program can help you learn additional skills and knowledge that you can apply to your coaching. This advanced degree can also expand your range of job opportunities and increase your salary potential.

3. Gain work experience

Another important step to becoming a coach is to gain relevant professional experience. You can gain valuable experience through internships, which allow you to work under the supervision of an experienced coach. You can also gain experience by working in other positions in the health and fitness industry. For example, you could work at a gym to develop your skills and knowledge.

4. Develop your skills

Developing your skills is an important step to gaining the qualifications for this career. Strength and conditioning coaches need a range of skills, including:

  • Communication: These coaches use communication skills to interact with their clients and other coaches effectively. They often work collaboratively with medical professionals and sports coaches.

  • Listening: It's also important for these coaches to use listening skills to connect with their clients and determine their needs.

  • Leadership: Coaches can use leadership skills, including confidence, to act as a strong example for their clients.

  • Customer service: Customer service skills can help coaches interact with their clients effectively. They often answer questions from their clients and educate them on health and fitness, and they can use these skills to help them do this.

  • Physical fitness and stamina: It's important for strength and conditioning coaches to have high levels of physical fitness and stamina, as they often complete the same exercises as their clients.

  • Goal-setting: These coaches use goal-setting skills to help their clients set fitness goals. They are responsible for setting clear and measurable goals to help their clients succeed.

  • Organisation: Organisation skills are also important for coaches. These skills can help them create plans to help their clients reach their fitness goals, and they can also help them organise their different clients' information.

  • Attention to detail: These coaches can also benefit from skills in attention to detail, as these skills can help them analyse their clients and teach them specific movements to improve their fitness.

  • Industry knowledge: Industry knowledge is another important quality for these coaches, as it can help them apply new innovations in exercise science to their work.

Related: Top In-Demand Skills in Australia and Skills Shortage

5. Get a professional membership

An essential step to starting this career is to get a membership with the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA). You can take accredited courses through ASCA to learn skills and knowledge. This can equip you with the qualifications you need to impress potential employers, which can help you get hired.

6. Explore additional certifications

You can also explore other certifications to increase your value as a job candidate. You can research certifications related to health, fitness, injury prevention and other relevant areas. If you want to specialise in a certain sport or training program, you can also explore certification options related to your specialty. Gaining additional certifications can help you show potential employers that you have a range of qualifications that make you a great coach.

7. Create a resume

Once you've developed the key qualifications for your career, you can create a resume to showcase them. Your strength and conditioning coach resume can include:

  • Personal information: Including your name and contact information at the top of your resume helps you ensure that potential employers know how to connect with you.

  • Professional summary statement: This brief statement gives you the opportunity to highlight your top qualifications and objectives as a coach.

  • Work history: Most coaching positions require relevant professional experience, so it's important to include this information in your resume. You can list past positions and your top accomplishments and responsibilities related to coaching.

  • Education: Like professional experience, most coaching positions also have educational requirements, so be sure to list your education on your resume, including your bachelor's degree and your master's degree.

  • Certifications: You can also include a section that contains your health and fitness certifications, as many employers require these.

  • Skills: Near the end of your resume document, you can also add a section that contains a bulleted list of your top skills related to coaching. You can also focus on skills related to your coaching specialty.

Related: How To Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

8. Apply for jobs

After creating your resume, you can start applying for coaching jobs. You can find jobs through job posting websites and submit applications online. You can also approach potential employers directly to inquire about coaching positions.

Try to tailor your resume to fit each coaching job you apply for. You can also prepare for job interviews by identifying the top skills and experiences you want to discuss and by practising your answers to common interview questions.

Strength and conditioning coach salary

The national average base salary for strength and conditioning coaches is $59,405 per year. This salary can vary for different athletic programs. Often, coaches with more experience can also earn higher salaries.

Related: 16 Highest-Paying Sports Jobs (With Education Requirements)

Strength and conditioning coach work environment

Strength and conditioning coaches can work in a variety of environments, including universities and fitness centers. They often work for a specific athletic program, which can contain multiple athletes. They work directly with their clients, usually in a one-on-one setting. Some coaches even work with their clients remotely by using online software.

Tips for becoming a strength and conditioning coach

Here are some additional tips for entering this career:

Pursue professional development

One important tip for becoming a successful strength and conditioning coach is to take advantage of professional development opportunities. Taking courses and completing additional training can help you learn more skills and stay up-to-date on industry news and changes. This can help you provide high-quality services to your clients.

Use your professional network

Another tip is to use your professional network. You can build your professional network by attending industry events and using networking websites. Try to connect with other coaches and people in your industry. You can use these connections to help you find jobs and professional opportunities.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

Choose a specialty

These types of coaches can also specialise in a certain sport or training program. Choosing a specialty can allow you to develop a narrow, specific set of qualifications that employers value. For example, if you specialise in strength and conditioning for football players, you can develop skills and training programs tailored to these athletes.

Explore more articles