When attempting to learn about a new field of work or learn more about the one you are currently in, it’s best to talk to the experts in the field. For this reason, this section begins with a question and answer session with well-known and respected strength and conditioning coach, Robert Dos Remedios.
Dos Remedios was a junior college football All-American at Glendale College in California and an All-Pac 10 center at The University of California, Berkeley (CAL). He presently serves as the Director of Speed Strength and Conditioning and Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California.
You’ve found a great career in sports. What is a normal day of work like for you?
Sort of hectic…..different teams at different times, etc. A typical day in the fall might be get my workout in from 5:30-6:30am, soccer from 6:30-7:30am, teach a group exercise class to general PE students from 8-9am, eat a snack and answer some emails from 9-11am, softball from 11-12, football from 12:30-1:45, women’s volleyball from 1:45 -2:30, run the men’s basketball team from 2:30-3:15, eat lunch, women’s basketball from 4-5pm.
Is it different from the normal day of people working personal trainer jobs, as athletic trainers or physical therapists? If so, how?
Yes, I would say very different. The biggest difference is the sheer amount of athletes I will actually train each day. Many days, I will have hands-on training with upward of 300 athletes! Some days, I have the same team twice — once for weights, then after practice for conditioning, etc.
How does someone break into the field?
These days you really need to get involved through volunteering, internships, and so on. There are so many qualified individuals with great academic and practical experience that the thing that separates two people is usually specific experience with a certain level.
What education/certifications are needed and/or most useful?
A bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology or a Physical education related field is bare minimum if I am looking for an assistant. A master’s degree in this field is preferred along with a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification. If you are serious about getting in to this field, the CSCS is going to be the first thing that most people will look for.
Are there certain qualifications that help separate the best from the rest?
You can’t beat actual hands-on experience. Someone who has had experience teaching athletes how to perform the Olympic-style lifts – clean and jerk, snatch, etc. – working with large groups of athletes, working with both men and women are good to find. There are many people who come in with great academic backgrounds but don’t have a clue what to do in the real world.
What are some downsides to the job?
Work can get very busy at times. I work all through winter break since both of our basketball teams are competing during this time. I also work all summer as our fall and winter sports go hard and heavy during this time. This is just part of the job though…I don’t mind it.
Any specific tips for finding work as a beginner or with some experience?
You need to get in the field and try to shadow, network, volunteer, go to local clinics and workshops. I found my current assistant this way. He was thirsting for knowledge, had his B.S. and CSCS certification and wanted to shadow me at the college. A few years later, I hired him over a ton of division one graduate assistants simply because he knew exactly what we were dealing with at COC.
Are there strength coach internships available? Where? How do you get them?
I am pretty picky with interns. I have had some bad experiences with them in the past. It is difficult to do my job AND teach the intern at the same time so I end up with individuals who are pretty knowledgeable yet are only a few steps ahead of most of my athletes, if at all, in terms of being able to perform and teach proper lifting fundamentals, and so on. The interns I have also had in the past tend to treat their positions as such – unpaid volunteer work – so the quality of performance is not nearly what I would want. Intern positions are so competitive these days that most of the individuals who get them have already had previous PAID division 1 experience.
Are there good online resources for both finding work as well as just learning about the field?
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is the best resource for finding intern positions, graduate assistantships, paid positions: http://www.nsca-lift.org/
Are there differences in working with High School / College / Pro athletes? What are they?
The biggest differences come in athletic ability. You also have difference in motivation. Pro athletes will tend to either be more motivated or not as motivated to train simply because he or she is already at the highest level. I find that college athletes are the most motivated since they are still trying to get the next level. This is especially true of our junior college athletes.
What are some fitness jobs that are closely related to Strength and Conditioning coach that interested people can look into?
Athletic training is a good area to look into if sports medicine interests you and you still want to work hands-on with athletes. A sport-specific physical therapy is also closely related to strength and conditioning. Looking into positions as a sport specific dietician is another closely related field.
How much does each of these jobs pay at each level? Are some hourly and others salary?
Some are hourly depending on the institution. A full-time, tenured community college professor position – which is what mine is – has the potential to earn more money than most Division 1 strength coach jobs. I would say you are looking at something in the $60,000-$100,000-plus range. Athletic trainers are probably in the $25,000-$50,000 range.
Do most jobs include benefits such as medical and dental, etc.?
Yes, if it is a full-time position it will surely have solid health benefits. Personal training is the only fitness job that tends to not offer benefits for lower level employees.
How much vacation do these jobs usually have?
Well, if you are in an educational setting you will normally have the luxury of weekends, holidays, lots of summer vacation, etc. The only thing that cuts into this is if you work with sports that participate on weekends, over winter break, etc.