Breaking [In] and Entering

Breaking [In] and Entering

Joe Kenn

Big House Power LLC


Darius D., is completing his master’s degree, and asks the question, How do I land a job in the field?  This is a tough question to answer because many will beat around the bush. Darius is already behind the “eight ball”. He is at the end of his graduate studies and is just now wanting to “BREAK IN”.  The truth is choosing a career as a college strength and conditioning coach lies more in your lineage or network than how much experience you may or may not have.  Most individuals in this case believe because they have the classroom smarts and the degrees that they have credentials to be a “strength coach”. How wrong you are!  You need practical experience in the trenches and the right people in your corner to land you a job.

Your Lineage or Network usually starts by being a competitive collegiate athlete or beginning your coaching career as an unpaid undergraduate intern for your institution’s athletic program.  If your school’s strength coach is a veteran with a respectable following, bonus for you!  This starts the process of getting “quality” individuals in your corner, calling on your behalf and recommending you for your next position.  Let’s face it, as in many cases, who you know gets you in the door and what you know keeps you in the building.  I will say this, in this era, if you are fortunate to work with a quality individual in the private sector (a former collegiate or professional coach) they most likely will have the network to help you break in also.

Your first job out of undergrad most likely will be a graduate assistant strength coach.  This begins the long and tedious journey of climbing the ladder until you reach your ultimate destination; becoming the leader of your own program.  Perseverance will be your ultimate challenge as many bow out and chose to go in a different direction.  Don’t get me wrong, being able to communicate, teach, and your academic background are extremely important.  Those are traits we all want in our candidates.  If your are crazy enough to jump in GOOD LUCK!


Here is my Real World Breaking [In] and Entering List

1 – Participate as a competitive collegiate athlete
1a – intern for your institution’s strength and conditioning program (academic credit may              be available)

1b – intern or work for a credible private facility

(Parisi Speed School, Athlete’s Performance Institute, Mike Boyle Strength and                   Conditioning)

2 – Build a quality relationship with all coaches, athletes, and administrators

2a – attend practices and competitions

3 – Learn how to train …… Athletically

3a – learn the Olympic Movements

3b – learn the Powerlifting Movements

3c – learn running mechanics

3d – learn everything that encompasses training athletes

3e – perform the actual work out that the head strength coach administers to understand        the demands of the work out

4 – Chose a related academic major (exercise science, physical education,                                 kinesiology, education, etc.)

5 – You must be willing to WORK

6 – You must be willing to do the anything

6a – arrange meeting and visit other strength coaches around the country

7 – When eligible sit for the CSCS [NSCA] and CSCC [CSCCa] certification exams

7a – join the NSCA and/or CSCCa

7b – attend annual or regional conferences

8 – I recommend the USAWL Sports Performance Course (any other certifications are a           bonus)

9 – Find your niche! What will separate you from your peers.  What will give you the upper         hand in the candidate pool.  Examples, nutrition background, corrective                                   measures, screening process, excel/computer literate

10 – FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!  This is a tough endeavor.  Patience, Sacrifice, Fighting            Adversity, will be values you must embrace.


The goal of this answer was to tell the facts and truth as I see it.  I reserve the right to be wrong.  Twenty years of experience tells me I am right.  It is never too late to start.  You just need people to be honest and give you a true understanding of the challenges that lie ahead.  It is a great career choice.  I have never worked a day in my life.  With that said sometimes the business sucks.  That is in all job markets I guess.  The relationships you will make with athletes and colleagues will last a lifetime.