Merrimack College

Strength and Conditioning Careers

How Can I Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach?

Get to the top of the hiring pool with an exercise and sport science master’s degree from Merrimack College.

“I’ve always been drawn to being a leader and an educator,” says Sebastian Brandon, a strength and conditioning coach at Grand Canyon University. “I think knowledge is the most important gift you can help someone attain.”

Brandon is explaining why he chose to become a strength and conditioning coach—and how Merrimack College’s exercise and sports science master’s degree helped him achieve his goal.

“When you allow athletes to express themselves in an environment that is physically and mentally challenging, you see them do things they never thought they could do,” notes Brandon, who completed his MS in Exercise and Sports Science at Merrimack in 2016. “That’s the best part—knowing you had a part in their journey of becoming better competitors and better people.”

Brandon’s philosophy reflects the core values of Merrimack’s strength and conditioning program: It’s about personal excellence, not just athletic excellence. Being a strength and conditioning coach requires a wide range of skills that includes not only technical expertise but also outstanding communication, psychological insight and the ability to motivate.

“The skills we teach are based on what employers are asking for,” says Merrimack health sciences professor Mike Corcoran. That’s a big reason so many Merrimack graduates have gone on to become successful strength and conditioning coaches in college athletics, fitness centers, medical facilities and other venues.

Want to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach? Here’s a Career Checklist.

“We really focus on hard skills in our exercise and sport science master’s degree,” Corcoran says. “I don’t even use a textbook in my classes. Our students get hands-on training and experience. They work with up-to-date technology. They learn to write detailed protocols. They get everything they need so that when they’re on their own, they can become successful strength and conditioning coaches.”

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the key skills that you need to become a strength and conditioning coach include:

  • Communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Hands-on experience
  • Leadership ability
  • Initiative and curiosity

“The business leadership class was one of the most important ones I took at Merrimack,” says Will Franco, a 2016 graduate of the exercise and sport science master’s program. “No matter what setting you’re in—whether it’s athletics, business or whatever—you’re always going to be working with a team. So understanding how to stay organized, how to identify roles, how to delegate authority and how to collaborate are all necessary in any career as a strength and conditioning coach.”

“I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I enrolled at Merrimack,” Franco adds. “I wanted to become a strength and conditioning coach. And the exercise and sport science master’s program was a perfect fit.”

The Time Is Right to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Franco didn’t take long to find a job after completing his exercise and sports science master’s degree. Almost immediately after he graduated, he became a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Maryland.

That’s a typical experience for graduates of the health sciences master’s degree programs at Merrimack College. With an aging population and an evolving health care industry, Americans are more focused than ever on overall fitness—and that means a robust job market for strength and conditioning coaches.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities in health and fitness coaching will grow twice as fast as the overall work force between now and 2028. Demand is particularly high for students coming out of Merrimack’s exercise and sports science master’s program. Our recent graduates have become strength and conditioning coaches for university athletic programs across the country, including:

  • University of Maryland
  • Villanova University
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • University of Maine
  • University of Denver
  • Firestone College
  • Saint Anselm College
  • Western Carolina University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Nichols College

Other Merrimack graduates have become strength and conditioning coaches at medical centers, corporate fitness programs and other types of settings. Those employers include companies such as:

  • EXOS at Google
  • Athletic Evolution
  • Seacoast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Project Walk Paralysis Recovery Center

“Our students have a great track record of getting jobs,” says Corcoran. “When it comes to strength and conditioning, there are always going to be positions available.”

“I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to become a strength and conditioning coach. And the exercise and sport science master’s program was a perfect fit.”

― Will Franco, MS Exercise and Sport Science ’16

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To talk to someone about the Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Science, contact the Merrimack College Office of Graduate Admission.

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