How to Become a Strength & Conditioning Coach

In this guide we explore everything you’ll need to become a qualified strength and conditioning coach in the UK. We also share our top tips for finding your feet in the industry and gaining valuable experience.

Written by
Dan Chappell
Published on
January 31, 2024

Are you passionate about fitness and eager to guide others in achieving peak physical or sporting performance? Becoming a strength and conditioning coach in the UK might be the perfect career path for you!

S&C trainers are integral in sports teams, gyms and private fitness realms, combining scientific knowledge and practical experience to drive results. Below, we explain how you can embark on this exciting and rewarding career path.

What we'll cover:

What does a strength and conditioning coach do?

Strength and conditioning coaches are specialised professionals who work primarily with individuals or athletes to enhance their performance in sports. Their training programs are designed to improve specific athletic qualities like strength, power, speed, agility and endurance.

This form of training contributes to improved performance and can help to reduce and mitigate injuries.

What does the role involve?

S&C coaches play a pivotal role in enhancing an athlete's overall performance levels and fitness. The role of a strength and conditioning coach goes beyond just setting up training regimes. It involves a deep understanding of physiology, sports science, and the specific needs of each athlete.

Whether you're working with professional sports teams, student athletes or fitness enthusiasts, your goal is to improve their strength, endurance, and overall physical condition while reducing the risk of injury. You will, also, often be required to work closely with the sport specific coaches to ensure that the training loads and requirements are being well managed.

Some S&C coaches choose to specialise in just one sport, such as rugby for example.

How is a Strength and conditioning coach different from a personal trainer?

The main difference between the two is that strength and conditioning coaches are more specialised.

Personal trainers typically work with a broad clientele to improve overall health and fitness. They focus on individualised goals such as body composition, strength/power training, or improved lifestyle and longevity. They often operate in gyms or private settings and provide workouts, nutritional guidance, and motivational support.

Strength and conditioning coaches, on the other hand, tend to work with athletes whose aim is to improve their performance in a specific discipline or sport. While they may operate in gyms and private settings too, they’ll also often work within professional sports clubs, schools and universities.

To learn more about the path to becoming a PT, check out our guide: How to Become a Personal Trainer: Step by Step

What qualifications do you need to become a strength and conditioning coach?

A number of universities offer Strength and Conditioning Coaching degrees both as a BSc and a Masters, but this isn’t the only route that you can take. Lots of S&C coaches have a degree in a related field, such as sports science or kinesiology, and have specialised after graduating.

These degrees provide a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy, biomechanics and physiology – essential knowledge for a coach. Depending on which sports you are involved in, this will likely influence the focus of your further studies.

You can go down the non-academic route too, since you don’t need to have a degree to become a qualified strength and conditioning coach in the UK (though it can certainly help). There are vocational courses that you can get started with, such as a personal trainer diploma, after which you can pursue job opportunities that specialise in S&C coaching.

Recommended S&C courses and degrees:

If you do want to go down the university route here are some courses we recommend exploring more about:

  • BSc in Sports Science
  • BSc in Exercise physiology
  • BSc in Strength and conditioning
  • MSc in Strength and conditioning

S&C Professional Certifications

In the UK, certain professional certifications can set you apart and will be required for some positions. The UK Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) offers a respected accreditation that is highly regarded in the industry. Additionally, the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification is internationally recognised and can broaden your career prospects.

Whilst these aren’t essential, many organisations who aren’t as close to the profession (such as universities) will use them as a stamp of quality.

Steps to certification:

  • Complete Relevant Education: Most certifications require a degree in a related field.
  • Gain Practical Experience: This can be through internships, volunteering or paid work at a grassroots level to begin with.
  • Pass the Certification Exam: Study the relevant materials and pass the exam to get certified.

Gaining experience as a strength and conditioning coach

Practical experience is invaluable as a strength and conditioning coach.

If you're just starting out in the industry, look for internships or volunteer positions with sports teams or fitness centres. This hands-on experience is crucial for applying theoretical knowledge and developing coaching skills. You might need to start local, for example enquire with local sports teams or specialist training gyms.

However, we recommend setting a time limit on any unpaid work to ensure you leave yourself enough time to learn and apply your knowledge.

Building a strong network in the industry will also advance your career immensely, so look out for networking opportunities whether this is online, at industry events, training courses or within a work environment.

Career progression and opportunities

Strength and conditioning coaching isn't a static field. Opportunities abound in various sectors – from professional sports teams to private fitness clubs, and even in educational settings. With experience, you might move into more senior roles, such as head of athletic performance or even into related fields like sports science research.

By committing your time and resources into personal development, networking with industry professionals and gaining relevant experience, you'll open up countless opportunities for career progression as a strength and conditioning coach.

The world of sports science and strength and conditioning is ever-evolving. Stay on top of the latest research, trends, and techniques in strength and conditioning. Regularly attending workshops, conferences, seminars, and reading relevant journals are great ways to stay informed.

Social media can be great for this, too. Follow other professionals that you admire on different platforms, since it's likely they will be talking about and sharing the most up to date industry information.

In summary

Becoming a strength and conditioning coach in the UK is a journey of continuous learning and passion for sports and fitness. With the right education, certifications, and experience, you can make a significant impact in the lives of athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Start your journey today and step into a world where every day, you help others achieve their best physical selves.

Join the UNTIL community

Are you a health and wellness entrepreneur looking for flexible work space that lets you remain in control of your earnings? Apply now to become a member at UNTIL, where our members thrive on connection, growth, and shared success.

You’ll have flexible access to industry leading facilities such as gym spaces, physiotherapy rooms, massage rooms, consultation areas and much more. Access to these works on a credit based system, so you can scale your services as your business grows.

Apply Now to join UNTIL.