What is the CSCS Personal Trainer Certification?

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Sarah Williams

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For those who don’t know, CSCS stands for “Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist,” and is a pretty well-known certification in the world of health and fitness. It’s also one of the most respected and highly regarded specialist qualifications in the industry.

But what is the point of the certification? Who should consider getting certified through the CSCS examination? And what is the CSCS exam like, exactly? That’s a lot of information to figure out, but some of the answers may surprise you.

CSCS Personal Trainer Certification

What is CSCS?

The CSCS is not your typical personal trainer (PT) certification program, and that’s specifically because it’s aiming to get only top-tier trainers with specific knowledge and skills to take on some unique circumstances in the health and fitness world.

Most people who are CSCS certified will end up working with elite professional athletes or in other high-performance fields, which means that the program is not made for the weak of heart by any means. At least, this is according to Trainer Academy.

That also means that the prerequisites for the CSCS are harder to achieve than for other PT certifications, which will be discussed a little later.

Mainly, CSCSs will be responsible for making optimal sports performance more accessible to athletes, including designing programs and enhancing exercise techniques for clientele.

The CSCS certification program is generally provided by the NSCA, or the National Strength and Condition Association. The NSCA was established in 1978 and is a non-profit organization that aims to further research and education for those in the sports science, fitness, and health industries.

Now, the NSCA is highly regarded as the golden standard for PT certifications, as it’s well-qualified and has a great reputation.

How do I Get CSCS Certified?

As previously stated, the CSCS comes with some more difficult prerequisites in order to enroll in courses and the final exam. One of the hardest is attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Science or a related program. And that means becoming a CSCS will require a lot of dedication if you want to succeed.

It’s also a good idea to only get CSCS certified through a nationally recognized authority in PT, such as the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (the NCCA). This is probably going to be the best way to avoid dangerous scams or ineffective quick fixes in your PT career.

There’s also going to be some cost involved in getting certified, like paying for the test and study materials. While only paying for the exam once is generally much less expensive than other certification program exams, retaking the exam is going to be pretty expensive.

Because of the potential expenses, if you fail and need to retake the exam, it’s highly recommended that you prepare correctly the first time by using study guides, a CSCS practice test or two, and time managing your study hours properly.

How to Pass the CSCS Exam?

The amount of time you will generally have to prepare for an exam, from enrolling for a class to registering for the CSCS exam, is approximately four months or 120 days. In terms of what is common for most PT certification exam and preparation environments, this is pretty short. Most certifications will require anywhere from six to 12 months in order to prepare.

However, some websites claim that, with some good time management skills and dedication during your study hours, you could be well prepared for the CSCS exam in approximately three months. How do you maximize your study time?

One of the top tips is to take a CSCS practice test or two, along with other steady preparations. A CSCS practice test can help to get you to get better associated with the format of the exam. Additionally, a CSCS practice test has the ability to get you familiar with how much time you will have to spend on each question, as long as you’re practicing properly.

A CSCS practice test, if you didn’t know previously, would also be able to acquaint you with the fact that the exam has two separate tests that comprise the singular exam. In order to pass the CSCS exam, you need to pass each of the tests individually. So if you pass one section but fail the other, you will need to pay to retake the portion of the exam that you failed.

It’s also important to get access to as many study materials as is ostensibly possible, including study guides, textbooks, and technique manuals. The more resources you give yourself, the more likely you are to be properly prepared for the exam.

Luckily, the exam is also easier to pass now than it used to be. Previously, the pass rate was above 50%, but there is now a pass rate of 63%. That means that the exam is a bit difficult for some people to pass in just one try, but it does also mean that it’s certainly possible to pass on your first attempt if you put in the proper preparation.

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