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Defining and Exploring Available Careers in the Performance Field

Ryan Wood
Aug 27, 2018

 This article is to provide some definitions to the common career options a strength and conditioning coach may pursue. 

The field of strength and conditioning has become inundated with candidates recently due to increased recognition and the number of positions available are not growing as rapid as the number of coaches entering the field. With that in mind, I want to make strength and conditioning trainers aware of other options to give back to the field and increase the demand for quality coaches that can be compensated for what they are worth, while providing work-life balance and job security. In my opinion, there are primary positions aspiring performance coaches can find themselves in:

  • Fresh out of grad school or degree program and looking for a breakthrough into the field
  • Looking for more stability, financial freedom or self-employment (Boss life)
  • The last option, we all hope to never face, but will mostly likely encounter at least once in our careers:  Resigned or Fired.

Unfortunately, I have been faced with the harsh reality of not being retained as the strength coach of a previous employer. It feels like you are slapped in the face by a freight train of unanswered questions, scenarios and where to go next. It is even more difficult when you are providing for a family. But that is a topic has been discussed in more depth elsewhere. 

Now let’s dive into the various strength and conditioning careers that are available in the industry of performance coaching, including their necessary qualifications as well as individual certified strength and conditioning specialist salaries.

Competitive Team Sports

      1. Companies/Organizations: UFC; Motor Cross; USA Rugby; High School; Collegiate 1,2,3, NAIA, Junior College; Professional Sports (MLB, NBA/G-LEAGUE, NFL, CFL, NHL, MLS, PGA, TENNIS, NASCAR). Job Description: To work cooperatively with the coaches and serve as a consultant to them to improve the performance of their athletes in the athletic arena while aiding in the prevention of injuries.
      2. Overview: Example High School S/C position entails Implementing a strength and conditioning program to teach youth athletes how to train properly and educating them on nutrition, sleep, etc. Lay the foundation and prepare for college. May have to teach a few classes or coach a sport or two. Monday-Friday, must be able to work weekends, holidays, and travel as necessary.
      3. Qualifications, Education and/or Certifications: Bachelor’s degree and Master’s Degree preferred from accredited university. Valid State teaching certificate with required endorsements or required training for subject and level. Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS, SCCC, USA-W, NASM, ATC) Special knowledge/Skills: CPR/AED/First Aid, Ability to instruct students and manage their behavior, Strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills. 
      4. Experience: At least one year student teaching or approved internship.
      5. Salary Range: Monthly Stipend or Salary - $30,000-$100,000 + {Depends on School district}  

Tactical Strength Conditioning Coach

      1. Companies providing these services: EXOS, Leading Solutions, Reef-Systems, General Dynamics, Quarterline, Planned Systems International. 
      2. Qualifications: requirements of the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist: at least two (2) years of experience, but five (5) years is preferred, working with large groups in the field of Strength and Conditioning or a related area. Military, collegiate, or professional/semi-professional sports organization experience is preferred. Preferred applicants will also have a Master’s degree in a related field.<
      3. Overview: Position is similar to a team setting at the collegiate or professional level. Only difference is training Military personnel for specific units in preparation for war. Shift: 6am - 3pm, Monday – Friday, No weekends, No Holidays, No Travel.
      4. Certifications: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS/NSCA) (SCCC/CSCCa). Must possess the Level 1 Sports Performance Coach Certification – (USAW). Must be First Aid/CPR/AED certified prior to beginning work. Attend and participate in the Division’s monthly Physical Resilience Working Group.
      5. Salary Range: $53,000 to $120,000 annually

Performance Coach

      1. Company/Organization: EXOS; YMCA; ALTIS; Nike, Recreation Centers, Crossfit Boxes.
      2. Overview: Supervise and monitor exercise participants. Perform fitness assessments, determine exercise prescriptions, and design workout programs for a diverse population, including a variety of high risk clientele. Provide one-on-one consulting, training and motivation. Design & Implement of incentive, health promotion, and other specialty programs. Instruct of group exercise classes. Perform administrative tasks associated with facility operations. Training youth, adult, elderly, weekend warriors, crossfitters, etc. Monday-Friday and Weekends as needed per clientele.
      3. Qualifications: Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology or Equivalent OR currently certified through one of the nationally accredited industry associations (NASM, ACSM, NSCA, ACE, etc.) Preferred Qualifications: CPR/AED certified; Experience teaching group exercise classes, Outgoing personality and excellent communication skills, Superior customer service skills.
      4. Salary Range: $30,000-$45,000+

Private Sector – Corporate / Medical

      1. Company/Organization: Apple, Amazon, Google, Progressive, Hospitals, Physical Therapy Clinics, Outpatient Rehab Clinics, etc.
      2. Qualifications: Exercise Specialist, you'll play a key role in promoting a healthy lifestyle to employees through fitness and wellness. You'll facilitate group exercise classes, coordinate one-on-one personal training sessions and develop individual exercise programs. Additionally, you'll encourage members to participate in various activities offered by our fitness center and provide live monthly seminars on health, wellness and nutrition. You'll also assist with the daily operations of the fitness center, ensuring it runs smoothly for members. Knowledge, Skills and Experience: Bachelor's degree in a health-related field 2-4 years of related work experience which includes teaching adult fitness classes strongly preferred CPR/AED and First Aid certification (NSCA/CSCS), and/or (ACSM/EP) preferred Good interpersonal and communication skills with ability to interact effectively with others Good organization skills with ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously TRX Suspension Training preferred Requires lifting of a minimum 45 lbs. Progressive employees also benefit from: Annual gain share bonus of up to 16% of your salary; Progressive rewards each of us with an annual bonus based on company performance 401k which includes dollar-for-dollar company match of up to 6%. Paid training, tuition assistance and career development. Diverse, welcoming culture with Employee Resource Groups and casual dress. Onsite gym and wellness programs with discounts & rewards Healthcare onsite and standard benefits (medical, dental, vision) Equal Opportunity Employer.
      3. Overview: Training sedentary populations to decrease overhead of companies yearly health insurance costs and assist in the increase of production by creating a healthier employee. Monday-Friday.
      4. Salary Range: $30,000+


      1. Companies/Organizations: Samson Equipment; Sorinex; Power-Lift; PLAE; ELEIKO; LifeFitness/Hammer Strength; Rogers Athletic; Keiser Corporation; Intek; Country-Ovens LLC; Good2Go Bars; ONNIT; Thorne Research; Garden of Life; Sparta Science; Catapult; TeamBuildr; Gymaware; Perform Better; Klean Athlete; Designs for Health
      2. Qualifications: Territory Sales Representative will be responsible for prospecting, developing relationships and selling to vertical market accounts in “STATE” area. Responsible for maintaining all account data within SFDC and managing accounts through SFDC to report account progress to Regional Manager Developing and maintaining in-depth knowledge of products, services, competitors, and company-wide marketing plans, strategies, programs, and promotions Managing assigned budget and maintain and submit all required sales and expense records and reports including but not limited to: weekly expense reports, open action listings (on line), forecasts, and monthly travel calendar Complete required training and development objectives within the assigned time frame Attend scheduled sales meetings and conferences Responsible for other duties as assigned. Bachelor’s Degree required 3+ years sales or business development experience required; B2B experience strongly preferred Reside in the “STATE” territory metropolitan Previous experience in the fitness industry or evident connection to our products A proven ability to think ahead and work independently with minimal supervision to develop and execute strategic sales plans to increase sales and revenue growth Strong focus on customer service Technically savvy - proficient in the use of Microsoft Suite (e.g. Excel, Word & PowerPoint) is required; prior and/or Oracle experience preferred. Strong written and verbal communication skills required Consultative sales approach. Proven sales ability.
      3. Overview: Selling products to universities, sport coaches, strength staffs, sports medicine, athletes, organizations, military, medical, and private sector. Travel required Monday – Friday and weekends as needed.
      4. Salary Range: Base salary + commission. Annual opportunities for accelerated commission. Monthly car allowance + gas reimbursement. Company credit card. Employer-provided health benefits. Company matched 401K Profit ($30,000 Plus Commission and increases with experience). 


      1. FCA located throughout the USA
      2. Qualifications: Various Full-time, Part-time, and Volunteer positions; The Area Representative, in collaboration with the local Area Director and Leadership Board, will prayerfully create and sustain the plan to grow the FCA ministry to and through coaches in the assigned area. The Area Representative is responsible for working with staff, volunteers and a team of advisors to fund and manage the finances of the ministry. As a spiritual leader, guided by God and devoted to Jesus Christ, the Area Representative will model the FCA values of Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence in dealing with staff. Recruiting, training and retaining of quality and diverse coaches and athlete leaders for campus sports, community sports, and at camps. Train: Provide the relationships and resources necessary to increase the coach or athlete leaders understanding and level of competency to effectively become a disciple making coach or athlete leader. Manages time effectively to assure responsibilities are met and S.M.A.R.T. goals are achieved. Is not overly reliant upon supervisor direction to get the job done. Can effectively communicate thoughts and ideas through verbal and written skills. Can speak publicly in a confident and compelling way, inspiring others to take action. Identifies and implements various methods of generating revenue.
      3. Overview: Ministry through the fellowship of athletes, coaches, and ministry. Coaching athletes for the greater good. Building lasting relationships with people. Monday-Friday. Some Weekends with travel and overnight camps.
      4. Salary Range: Hourly or Salary ($30,000 +) 


      1. Own your Business (Example: WOODSTRONG. LLC. - my personal coaching business)
      2. Qualifications include paying a state fee of a few hundred dollars with the possibility of one more fee around $90 to complete paperwork and get your ID number. Outfitting a space can run anywhere from $30,000 to several hundred thousand dollars. Renting can range from $1,000 to $5,000 per month or more.
      3. Salary Range: Venturing into a self-employed business can put an individual in debt but provides the upside of creating a very high income. The added benefits of an LLC is that everything is a tax write off. For example: operating the business out of your house according to the bylaws cable/internet, phone, equipment, clothes, travel expenses, etc. all included as tax write-offs.
      4. Overview: Business options up to individual. Schedule will vary but typically can come with long hours due to a variety of administrative tasks such as bookkeeping, paperwork and facilities maintenance.


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