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How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

With the fitness industry becoming stronger and more varied than it has ever been, more people are asking how to become a strength and conditioning coach. In this ultimate guide, we’ll take you step-by-step through everything you need to know when asking how to become a strength and conditioning coach.

We’ll cover: 

Before we start, aside from taking a CPD Strength and Conditioning Course, why not also expand your coaching skills by becoming a Level 3 Personal Trainer? Otherwise, take a look at some of OriGym’s other personal trainer courses to make yourself more desirable in the industry! 

What Does a Strength and Conditioning Coach Do?

how to become a strength and conditioning coach

Think of a strength and conditioning coach as a more specialised version of a personal trainer. 
Where a personal trainer or gym instructor might take a more rounded approach to their client’s health goals, a strength and conditioning coach offers a focused, intensive service.

Because the remit of a strength and conditioning coach is more specialised, they often end up working with athletes and clients whose passion for fitness extends beyond a passing interest. 

The duties of a strength and conditioning coach cover a range of areas, from monitoring an athlete’s progress and taking inventory of exercise equipment, to improving an athlete’s performance by applying scientific principles.

Important roles and responsibilities for strength and conditioning coaches also include:

  • Developing periodised workout schedules
  • Instructing athletes on the ideal use of equipment
  • Tailoring programmes to individual athletes
  • Leading team training and 1-to-1 sessions
  • Closely monitoring the physical and mental wellbeing of athletes
  • Coordinating with medical staff to ensure efficient and safe rehabilitation

This kind of training can be used to:

  • Provide effective routines to rebuild strength
  • Incrementally increase athletic endurance
  • Mitigate against injury and muscle strain
  • Augment psychological rehabilitation as well as physical
  • Improve running and movement techniques

Roles may vary depending on where a strength and conditioning coach is employed as they can work with:

  • Professional sports teams
  • Private sports organisations
  • High school programmes
  • College sports teams

A strength and conditioning coach may also take on a leadership role by overseeing and managing other strength and conditioning coaching staff.

Qualifications Required to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

how to become a strength and conditioning coach

You shouldn’t view qualifications as a hurdle for those looking to break into the fitness industry.  While experience is crucial, without proper training and instruction from a trusted training provider, you won’t know how to correctly apply your knowledge to coaching a client.

Asking ‘how to become a strength and conditioning coach’ can be a difficult question as there isn’t one set route to career success. 

There are two main approaches to becoming a strength and conditioning coach - academically, through a degree, or via vocational training with a Level 4 qualification. 

Let’s break both of these down.

#1 - Degree

One way to achieve an academic qualification in strength and conditioning is to enrol on a univeristy course and study it at degree level.

While universities offering this course as an undergraduate degree are limited, here is an example from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) of what you might expect:

strength and conditioning coach degree

Completing a degree in sports science or strength and conditioning can take 3 years or more to complete. You may also need to do an extra year if you're completing a S&C postgraduate degree after finishing your undergrad in a related subject.

It's crucial to decide if this is the right degree for you as tuition fees are also a major factor in deciding what route to take. As highlighted below, to study this degree at UCLan costs £9250 a year for the 2022/23 academic year.

As undergraduate degrees typically take three years to complete, this means you'll be expected to pay back £27,750! This is a lot of debt to consider when you can achieve the same outcome with a more vocational route.

s&c degree

For these reasons, many fitness professionals are seek alternative routes that are quicker and much more cost effective in the long run.

#2 - Level 4 in Strength and Conditioning

There's often a misconception that having a vocational qualification is worth less than studying it in an academic way, such as in a university setting. However, this certainly isn't the case!

Vocational training is becoming increasingly popular as a way to achieve certain qualifications and become employed. As highlighted below, a degree isn't a requirement for employment.

s and c jobs

This is largely because it is often much cheaper and can often be completed much faster than alternative ways which result in largely the same outcome. It can also be more flexible, ideal for those with work or family commitments who may not be able to dedicate all their time to studying.

Studying a Level 4 Strength and Conditioning Course will provide you with the knowledge to go on and train professional athletes, coach sports teams, and deliver results for clients to help them achieve thier full potential.

You’ll learn the skills necessary to provide effective S&C training, including:

  • Providing periodised training regimes and learning how exactly to periodise workouts, breaking down time effectively to maximise results for athletes
  • Building programmes designed to improve performance 
  • Understanding key terminology 
  • Recognising the relationship between endurance and performance 
  • Developing knowledge of advanced training methods 

You’ll then be assessed, before being provided with official accreditation as a strength and conditioning coach upon completion.

Choosing a Course Provider

become a strength and conditioning coach

If you're unfamiliar with the industry, choosing the right course provider can be intimidating. To help you with this process, here's some things you should look out for.

The first thing you should check when deciding on a strength and conditioning course is that it's regulated by an Ofqual approved awarding body such as Active IQ or Focus Awards. This regulation means the course has met industry standards, crucial if you want to find employment.

how to become a strength and conditioning

Another thing you must ensure is that your course is accredited by CIMSPA - the UK's professional body for health and fitness. This 'stamp of approval' assures you the course you're taking is reliable and meets the standards of the fitness industry.

For example, all of our personal trainer and CPD courses here at OriGym are recognised by CIMSPA and regulated by Ofqual.

You should also consider how you're going to study - full time, part time, or online? While many CPD Courses can be completed in a day, if you're considering expanding into a Level 3 Personal Trainer Course, this can take an average of 2 weeks to complete for full-time students.

Location is also an important factor when deciding on a course provider. While OriGym's Strength and Conditioning CPD can be completed in a day, it's a face-to-face workshop, meaning you must ensure you can realistically attend the session. 

It's crucial you check the locations of course providers before signing up for something, rather than committing to a face-to-face course, only to find there are no centres close enough for you to attend.

Strength and Conditioning Coach Salary

what does a strength and conditioning coach do

Similar to personal trainers, the salary for a strength and conditioning coach can be fairly broad.This means there are different factors which influence how much you can potentially make in this industry.

According to Payscale, the average salary of a strength and conditioning coach is £24,552. As you can see below, the higher end of the price spectrum is £33,000.

strength and conditioning coach

Of course, a strength and conditioning coach working for an elite team in a full time position is going to be earning more than a freelance strength and conditioning coach recruiting their own clients in a gym.

Location also determines the salary of a strength and conditioning coach. For those working in cities such as London, their salary will be higher than those in more rural places. 

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a London-based strength and conditioning coach is £29,224.

strength and conditioning coach

It’s also worth noting that there are far more mid-career strength and conditioning coaches than there are newbies as most of those in the industry don’t begin their journey as strength and conditioning coaches. 

As we mentioned earlier, many prospective strength and conditioning coaches choose to enter the profession after gaining a few years of experience as a personal trainer or fitness instructor.

It might also be worth checking out our ultimate guide to personal trainer salaries, for a full breakdown of average earnings in the fitness industry.

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If you’re still interested in becoming a strength and conditioning coach, you’ll enjoy these articles:

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer

Start a new and exciting career as a Personal Trainer today!

Career Prospects for a Strength and Conditioning Coach

strength and conditioning coach

If you’re researching how to become a strength and conditioning coach, you’ll want to know what your career options are!

Organisations hiring strength and conditioning coaches include:

  • Schools
  • Semi-professional sports teams
  • Universities
  • Gyms
  • Professional sports teams
  • Leisure Centres

Professional Sports Teams & Athletes

how to become a strength and conditioning coach

For many aspiring strength and conditioning coaches, the ultimate goal is to work with elite athletes or a professional team.  This is mainly because it is the most rewarding and lucrative area for a strength and conditioning coach. 

As highlighted by the salaries posted on Payscale and Glassdoor above, you could be earning on the higher end of the spectrum, leaning towards £33,000, or £43,000 if you’re living in London!

Here’s a great example of a lead S&C coach working at the Imperial College London, earning upwards of £31,000 with additional benefits.

how to become a strength and conditioning coach

As there are athletes and sports teams in so many locations around the world, there may also be the opportunity to travel, perhaps more than in most other areas of fitness.

If you’re interested in the idea of travelling for your strength and conditioning role, we’ve produced a full guide on becoming a PT in Australia.

However, this doesn’t have to be your only option.

Gyms & Fitness Clubs

what does a strength and conditioning coach do

Strength and conditioning coaches are no longer just reserved for elite athletes and professional teams. 

They have become increasingly popular in more casual settings such as gyms and fitness centres.

If you are a newly qualified strength and conditioning coach, this is a great niche to break into. It’s also an ideal progression route if you need some career change ideas

The reason for this is because if you work as a personal trainer in a fitness club or gym, you will have connections and clients to offer your services to, while also having already gained experience in this area.

We’ve already highlighted one or two examples of gyms and fitness centres that prioritise personal trainers with an additional S&C qualification, but even smaller venues (like this women’s only gym in Northern Ireland) are on the lookout for those with strength and conditioning experience.

how to become a strength and conditioning coach

Owning Your Own Strength and Conditioning Business

what does a strength and conditioning coach do

If you’re an experienced strength and conditioning coach, you may decide to start your own strength and conditioning business.

This means you can increase your earning potential by taking on as many clients as you want and setting your own prices. However, you must be prepared to put in a lot of work if you want to run a successful business.

Some of these tasks include:

  • Attracting a range of clients
  • Marketing yourself and your business
  • Building your brand
  • Managing finances

While this isn’t an easy route to go down, if you’re willing to put in the hard work, it can lead to a highly rewarding and lucrative career.

The salary for an independent S&C coach is difficult to full pin down, but with high end celebrity trainers like Gunnar Peterson charging upwards of £500 per session, it can be an incredibly lucrative opportunity.

To help you with developing your strength and conditioning business, OriGym’s CPD Course is here to do that! 

If you’d like to learn more about starting your own business, check out our articles on creating a personal trainer business plan and starting a personal training business checklist.

University

strength and conditioning coach

If you have an interest in training the next generation of fitness enthusiasts, maybe a career in education is ideal for you? 

Typical responsibilities in this role include:

  • Delivering lectures, tutorials, and seminars
  • Assess students coursework
  • Prepare and develop courses, modules, and teaching materials
  • Mark and moderate examinations and assessments
  • Write up research and prepare it for publication
  • Supervise your own research group

Teaching students a subject your passionate about can make for a very rewarding career. Depending on experience and the university you're employed at, it can also be very lucrative. According to Prospects, higher education lecturer salaries can range anywhere between £33,797 and £49,553.

strength and conditioning coach jobs

However, it's worth mentioning many university lecturers often have previous teaching experience. If your ambition is to be a full time lecturer, you'll need to have a PhD.

Developing Your Business As a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Although being a strength and conditioning coach already separates you from the crowd, you can continue expanding your skills and client base by taking additional qualifications.

Personal Trainer

strength and conditioning coach degree

By achieving a Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification or a Personal Trainer Diploma, you can develop your strength and conditioning business by attracting a range of clients. This allows you to work 1-on-1 with clients who aren't necessarily looking for just S&C.

Expanding your business by marketing it to clients who are seeking a strength and conditioning coach, a personal trainer or both means you will appeal to more clients and will earn more money.

Having both of these qualifications also increases your employment opportunities. For example, take a look at this job advertisement below for a personal trainer.

what does a strength and conditioning coach do

As it specifies they're seeking someone who has experience working as a strength and conditioning coach or personal trainer, being qualified in both would certainly increase your opportunities of employment compared to someone who is only qualified in one area. 

If you've completed a Strength and Conditioning CPD, you'll have already gained some insight into what is involved in a Level 3 Personal Training Course.

By learning about the personal and technical qualities required to be an effective strength and conditioning coach, as well as planning sessions and conducting assessments, you'll already be equipped with a foundation of knowledge to build upon.

Nutritionist

what does a strength and conditioning coach do

An important qualification you can take as a strength and conditioning coach is a Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course

While often overlooked, this is a great way to complement your strength and conditioning coaching by developing additional expertise to build S&C routines.

While athletes will likely have dedicated nutritionists who will help them in this area, it’s still important to have this knowledge and understand how it can affect a client’s performance. 

If anything else, it’s a way to further expand your knowledge of the fitness industry, allowing you to offer more to clients by supplementing S&C workouts with accredited nutritional advice.

Sports Massage Therapist

strength and conditioning coach jobs

This is a good rehabilitative skill to combine with strength and conditioning!

Completing a Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course equips you with the knowledge of decreasing muscle soreness, including aches and pains, and aid injury management and rehabilitation in addition to enhancing sports performance.

It also provides you with a better understanding of the links between injury, recovery, and exercise. This means you can prevent injury and will know how to treat them when they occur.

Working with clients both with strength and conditioning training and treating them with sports massage therapy means you have a deeper understanding of your clients needs and will be able to monitor their training and recovery at a greater level.

FAQ

Who Needs a Strength & Conditioning Coach? 

what does a strength and conditioning coach do

If someone was looking for an answer to the question ‘how to become a strength and conditioning coach’, you could guarantee they have ambitions to work with professional sports outfits or elite teams.

However, this is no longer the case! 

Where strength and conditioning advice was once reserved for professional sportsmen and women, you’ll now find coaches have made this area of fitness more accessible. 

This has been done by providing classes, drop-in sessions, and services for those who want or need them, including:

#1 - Top Level Athletes

strength and conditioning coach

You may consider these people to be the traditional clients of strength and conditioning coaches. 

Top level coaches often recruit high profile clients, ranging from semi-professionals, to Olympic level competitors.

In this role, there will be more emphasis on analysis and measurement, ensuring every aspect of the client’s performance is improved in an efficient and controlled manner.

#2 - Professional and University Level Sports Teams

strength and conditioning coach

Strength and conditioning coaches have been staple members of college sports teams in America for some years now. Increasingly, this trend is picking up in the UK, with top sports institutions like Loughborough University investing in their strength and conditioning provisions.

In this context, you might be expected to work with a number of different athletes, providing advice across a range of different sports.

However, there are also limited positions in university settings, meaning you need a track record of success to secure one of these jobs.

#3 - Dedicated Fitness Enthusiasts & Competition Clients

strength and conditioning coach

If you’re an experienced personal trainer and you’re looking at how to become a strength and conditioning coach, you might want to think about what services you can offer your existing clients.

Maybe some of your clients compete in bodybuilding or fitness-style competitions, or maybe you’re seeing signs that a client could potentially compete in the future. Either way, specialised strength and conditioning training is going to boost their gains in the gym!

For you, it provides a gateway to more specialised strength and conditioning positions at a later date.

#4 - Casual Fitness Enthusiasts & Group Class Clients

strength and conditioning coach

We all have to start somewhere, and for many new strength and conditioning coaches, this may come in the form of group classes at a local gym or leisure centre. 

While not strictly what you’d call strength and conditioning ‘coaching’, group classes do use many of the exercises and precepts a strength and conditioning coach would use with their clients.

In these instances, scientific measurement and accuracy can give way to an increased focus accessibility, and distilling your training methods to make them approachable for more casual fitness enthusiasts. 

However, a new trainer may find group classes offer a way to recruit one-to-one clients and are one of the top marketing strategies for new personal trainers and fitness instructors. 

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer

Start a new and exciting career as a Personal Trainer today!

What Skills Does a Strength & Conditioning Coach Need?

what does a strength and conditioning coach do

If you’ve been asking how to become a strength and conditioning coach, it’s likely you already have some of the skills required to become one. 

The most important thing in any area of the fitness industry is motivation! This skill is pretty self-explanatory because any coach or trainer needs to have the ability to motivate not just their clients but also themselves.

If you’re deciding whether to become a strength and condition coach, consider your strengths and weaknesses related to this career.


#1 - Meticulous

strength and conditioning coach

You’d be shocked as to the number of personal trainers, fitness instructors, and strength and conditioning coaches who overlook this skill.

Now, this simply means showing great attention to detail. Strength and conditioning, perhaps more than any other area of fitness training, is based on analysis and precise measurements.

This means to succeed in this industry and train at the highest level, you need to pay attention to the intricate details of your clients.You should constantly ask yourself questions such as:

  • What gains are my clients making?
  • Where are the areas for improvement?
  • How can I quantify success?

Everything, down to the finest detail needs to be measured so you can record their progress and ensure they’re on the right path to meeting their goals.

#2 - Knowledge of Anatomy 

what do strength and conditioning coach do

Those who have completed a Level 2 Gym Instructor Course or a Level 3 Personal Trainer course should have a basic understanding of anatomy. For example, OriGym’s Level 2 and 3 personal trainer courses dedicate a module to Human Anatomy and Physiology.

This in depth knowledge of anatomy that you should have gained during your studies is a vital skill for becoming a strength and conditioning coach.  It will help you understand key areas, such as:

  • How to apply fitness practices
  • Incorporating strength training and resistance training into routines
  • Recognising specific changes to body composition and fitness
  • Understanding the link between rest periods and intensive training
  • How the body reacts to strain and movement

For example, as a strength and conditioning coach your client may be a gymnast who wants to make improvements in a very specific area of strength.  This means it’s up to you to have the experience and knowledge to design a realistic programme for this specific client and their needs.

#3 - Effective Communicator

how to become strength and conditioning coach

It’s vitally important to recognise that effective communication isn’t about shouting at clients to make them do what you want. This takes more effort as you need to be both heard, yet willing to receive feedback in a respectful way.

It’s also important to be effective in non-verbal communication, including:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Using facial expressions
  • Making hand gestures
  • Open body language
  • Demonstrating exercises

While this may seem small, it’s crucial to making clients comfortable around you and communicating clearly.

Modern strength and conditioning is a more collaborative process. You must build a programme that suits your client. The only way to do this is by getting to know how they train, and what exercises suit them best to help them reach their goals.

#4 - Accountability 

strength and conditioning coach

Something you have to do as a strength and conditioning coach is ‘own it!’ This means taking pride in your work and making an effort to help your clients in any way you can. 

At the end of the day, it’s your session, your work, and your programmes! You should be making an effort to engage with clients, not just going through the motions as a result of poor communication or carelessness.

Clients deserve more than this. You’re representing yourself and your service so be prepared and organised for sessions by creating thoughtful programmes and workouts.

If your client has any issues or suffers injury as a result of your sessions, recognise this and take responsibility for it.


#5 - Adaptability

how to become strength and conditioning coach

As with everything – careers, education, life – sometimes, things don’t go to plan.

Being creative with your programmes and not always committing yourself to any one plan is crucial in this fast-paced and ever-changing industry. 

As well as being able to hold your own when clients question you, you also need to be able to spot when a client has plateaued and is no longer pushing themselves.

Taking initiative is a huge part of becoming a successful strength and conditioning coach. Developing this skill will give you the confidence to push clients, and in doing so will mean that they place their trust in you. 

Nothing creates respect like results! So don’t be afraid to push people to the next level, even if they doubt themselves.

Before You Go!

And with that, we’ve answered your questions about how to become a strength and conditioning coach! 

The first step to consider, though, is how you’re going to get started in the industry. With OriGym’s Personal Training Diploma, you can go from no prior experience to a fully qualified PT in as little as 4 weeks! 

You’ll then be able to undertake the necessary CPD in Strength and Conditioning, before undertaking one of the varied, exciting roles you can experience as an S&C coach.

Written by George Aird

Fitness Professional & Marketer

Join George on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

George Aird is a content writer and marketer with specialist knowledge of health and fitness, online marketing, and start-up businesses. In his spare time, he is a keen climber, and a (reluctant) runner. 

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