So if you are thinking about how to get CSCS certified by the NSCA you will have to take the following steps and prepare yourself for this lengthy exam.  It is not an easy exam, but it can very well be passed if you take the time and effort to learn the material.   CSCS certification is considered the gold standard of certifications because it lets employers and others know that you have thorough knowledge of exercise safety, exercise technique, and exercise design/programming. If you are preparing to take the next step and boost your résumé and credentials, then taking the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Exam is the next step.  I have listed below some great information on pre-requisites to sit for the exam.  Good Luck!


    The NSCA will not just let anyone sit for the CSCS exam.  To boost the credibility of the degree you must have your bachelor's degree or be a standing senior and complete your degree within a year that you have taken the test.   While having an undergraduate program in the health field or exercise science does help tremendously, you can have your bachelor degree in any field.

    Another must have is your CPR and AED certification.  You can get your CPR/AED card at various locations.  Check out your local American Red Cross or colleges and universities in your area to see if they offer classes.  While many jobs in the health field require you to have these certifications already; you might not need to go but just make sure it is up to date.


   You must have all your transcripts and CPR/AED information in to the NSCA before they release any exam scores.  For seniors that have no finished their degree, you will only receive a pass/fail notification and not exact scores of your CSCS exam.  If everything is in on time you will receive your exam scores immediately at the testing site.


      If your more comfortable with pencil and paper type exams then you are offered that option as well as taking it on the computer.   The exam is offered all over the United States at certain AMP (Applied Measurement Professionals) sites which are typically at H&R Block.  They will sit you in a room at a desk in which you will take the test.  Sometimes there may be two or three other people in the room with you, not always taking the same exam.  Professionalism is a must and they expect you to stay quiet and not try to cheat.  They will allow you to get up at your own leisure if you need to use the bathroom or clear your head for a moment.  The proctor of the exam will also make you empty your pockets of everything and put them in a safe before you enter the exam room.


     Your best resource for the exam is going to be the Essentials of Strength and Conditioning Textbook.   The NSCA also offers practice exams as well to buy.   I also believe that buying the NSCA Exercise Technique video is a must because it helps you get familiar with the terminology they will be using when answer any of the 40 video questions that are on the CSCS exam.  In all, if you can memorize the textbook, watch the DVD 4 or 5 times close to the date of the test, and maybe take 1 or 2 practice quizzes you should be well prepared.  If you are still in college you might be taking a class that is using the Essentials of Strength and Conditioning Textbook so a lot of the material may be fresh in your mind.  If you have been out of school a while like I was you may need to take 2 or 3 months to review the book to become familiar with it once again.  

      Visit the NSCA website and look at the testing materials and study guides they have available.  The have many different packages at different costs to help you prepare for the CSCS exam.


Right now the computer-based exam is 15 dollars more expensive than the pencil and paper version.  The cost will also depend on if you are a member of the NSCA or not; which also costs money for you to join.  I highly recommend joining the NSCA if you plan on becoming CSCS certified.  

Computer based costs - 310 dollars for members of NSCA/445 dollars for non-members

Pencil/Paper costs - NSCA members (260 dollars early registration or 295 dollars after cutoff)

                                         Non-members (395 dollars for early registration or 430 dollars after cutoff)

**If you fail one of the sections you are allowed a retake of that certain section at a specific price.


      The CSCS exam is split into two sections:

1.)  You have 90 minutes to complete 90 questions on the Scientific Foundations section of the exam where you will see content on everything from anatomy, biomechanics, bioenergetics, exercise physiology and nutrition.  Take all 90 minutes and do not rush through it.

2.) The second half of the exam contains 120 questions (40 which are video) which focus on exercise technique, design, testing/evaluation, and organization and administration.  All this information pertains to the back half of your Essentials... textbook.



    While many professionals already have jobs within a field of their choice here are common opportunities you might want to pursue once you do achieve your CSCS certification.

-Personal trainer - whether it is training athletes or your ordinary out of shape average joe.  You can   train privately or work at a facility such as the YMCA or private health club.  Again, the CSCS is considered the gold standard of all certifications and your résumé would most likely be put at the top of an employers list.

-Strength and Conditioning Coach - If you want to be a strength coach at the high school or college level, it is almost always required to have your CSCS certification.  Some colleges won't let you intern for them (work for free!) without having it so you know how serious it is if you want to get that experience.

Other professionals that pursue a CSCS certification are doctors, physical therapists, chiropractor, corporate health, and anyone with a desire and bachelor's degree.