T Nation

Job Seeker in S & C

I’d like to post an employment ad for myself. I recently completed graduate school at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse (MS is Exercise Science) and I am pursuing a job as a strength and conditioning coach, a job at a university would be great, but not necessary, I just want to work with athletes and/or other highly motivated individuals.

I have always been told that it is “who you know, not what you know in this business”, and this could not be more true. Many jobs that are posted on various websites are already actually filled or you can’t get an interview unless you know someone that works there. Many jobs list extensive experience as a qualification, but an individual cannot get experience if they can’t get a job! It’s been very frustrating.

So I am looking for any leads on jobs in the field of strength and conditioning. My wife and I would love to stay in the upper Midwest, WI, MI, MN, IL, as we are from Wisconsin but I love my job and I am willing to travel.

Some background:

As most in this field I have always been into athletics. I played high school sports (basketball, couple of early years of cross country). I was limited by being tall and very thin and a lack a quickness, but I’m coordinated. I always regretted not hitting our h.s. weight room and playing football.

Fell in love with training in college, but like most was mislead by the bodybuilding industry (Weider Mags). Since the end of my time as an undergraduate and my two years of grad school I have shifted to more intelligent training.

I am currently 6’2", 186#, about 8% bodyfat (have always been lean). I can Olympic clean 200#, high bar squat “hamstrings to calves” 280, Deadlift 305, and bench 215#. Solid progress for someone who was once 6’2" and as low as 135 lbs., and I am continually striving to improve.

As stated earlier I just completed my MS in Exercise Science with an emphasis in strength and conditioning at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, I have my CSCS certification. I consider myself well read in the field, my two favorite texts are Science and Practice (by Zatsiorsky), and Supertraining (by Siff), and of course T-Mag. I have work experience in a University Exercise Physiology lab, 2 years in a PT clinic/gym as an undergrad and jobs working as a strength coach with high school and collegiate athletes in a variety of sports. I am open minded and I am continually learning. I would summarize my philosophy with the following:

“Any athletic effort could be compared to a solving a puzzle, and in training I want to give my clients/athletes all the pieces they need to solve that puzzle. Meaning that an athlete may need maximal strength, speed strength, strength speed, reactive ability, flexibility, etc. while someone seeking a better physique may need changes in exercises, set/rep schemes, tempos, dietary changes, etc. A good strength coach can properly identify these needs and sequentially apply means and methods to help the athlete reach their goals.”

So that’s me professionally. I’ve worked on assembly lines making car parts, in shipping departments, and gas stations to make the money to allow me to go to school and chase this dream. I love working with people, I just need a shot. I’m not looking to make a million dollars, I just want to do what I love. So if you have leads on any jobs I would really appreciate it. Internships are acceptable as well, and I understand they can be great experience, but I’ve done two and I can’t afford to move and work full-time for FREE without the guarantee of a job. Reply to the thread, hit me with a PM.

Thank You,
Jason Roe
La Crosse, WI

You need to get a job as a graduate assistant or intern somewhere.

A lot of schools will take unpaid interns.

Without any experience in any professional environment, you will be very hard pressed to get a job.

I would not hire anyone who was not at least an intern somewhere.

Thanks for the tip, but again it’s frustrating because I have experience. As an undergraduate I worked at a PT clinic/gym for 2 years working with individuals of a wide range of ages and with a wide range of goals (post-surgery/rehab, healthy fitness minded individuals, athletes). I have also performed two low or no pay internships working S & C at a High School and a University.

I am VERY eager to continue to learn and gain experience but unpaid internships won’t pay my bills or put food on my table.

A big part of strength and conditioning is getting the athletes to buy in, show up, and also having a structured organized workout.

Have you been in a position where you have been the guy in charge of 100 athletes at one time? When you get into that situation, how will you handle it? What happens when you have 20 football kids, 10 volleyball, and 5 cross country kids all working out at the same time (this is more of a high school situation)? What about 5 athletes who just won’t do what you tell them and they start recruiting other athletes with them? How are you going to teach 50 kids to powerclean at the same time?

These are all things that reading articles on the internet don’t teach you.

I’m not trying to lecture at all, just pointing out where you may need experience and be able to answer questions when you are talking with coaches.

I would seriously look for a paid internship (it will be low) or another grad assistantship. Strength jobs do not pay much even if you get a full-time job.

Let me begin by saying that I am a college strength coach. Hopefully that will give me a little bit of credibility to comment.

I totally agree with Cowboy. When you say that you are frustrated ‘because you have experience,’ you are wrong. You don’t have any experience that is attractive to a college strength coach. The last thing I ever want to read on a resume is either ‘personal trainer’ or ‘clinic.’ A collegiate weight room couldn’t be farther from either.

It takes experience to get your foot in the door, not the other way around. You’ve got to start as a volunteer and progress from there. Then go volunteer some more. Gradually move up within the organization you began in and become a GA. The number one thing you need from your experience in these positions is a positive recommendation from the head coach. No recommendation, no future employment.

Everyone in the field has a story about how they got there and the hard times they went through. If you just got your MS (good start), you don’t have a story yet. Only the fully committed get anywhere in this field.

At the risk of getting blasted on this board for telling my own story, here it goes. After I got my MS, it took me almost 2 years to get my first full time job. I’ve done 6 unpaid internships and was a GA for a total of 3 years at 2 different universities. At one time I shared a 1 bedroom apartment with 2 other people. I didn’t get paid for over 6 months once. I earned a bi-weekly paycheck of $263 for about 10 months.

I’m not trying to tell a sob story here. My story is not unique.

PM me and I will give you all of the advice/help that I can. I truly enjoy helping people in your situation because I know what it is like to he there, thinking you are ready but no one else realizes it.

Best of luck.

Hopefully the COllege strength coaches can help me with my situation. Right now I’m a personal trainer, studying for CSCS, read all day(when not training) about exercise science. I love the field. Problem is I have a marketing degree. intially I know that sa hurdle but I know my stuff. Through some friends, I recieved news about a grad assistant strength coach job opening at a local D3 schoo. The head coach is interested in me so it seems all good right?

Wrong, right now I’m making decent money for where I am (i’m 22) I now have car payments and the such to make. being a grad assitant, i’d get a few thousand dollar stipend and natural have to take a master program. Now if it was biomechanics or exercise sciene I’d be all for it but the closet think that school offers is Physical Education. So now not only would I be giving up good money and have to take classes and do that work again not to mention my S&C work but I’d also have to be getting a masters degree in something I’m not interested in

If I didn’t do the phys Ed it would just make things harder with the workout. But knowing that this is a great oppurtunity for me I’m stuck

Wow, talk about a coincidence. Jroe, I am heading down (from Canada) to UW-Lax for the fall semester to complete my masters and do a GA as a strength coach. How was your masters degree experience? Do you feel that you actually pulled alot of useful information out of the classwork? From my experiences, almost all of my personal knowledge and philosophy has been developed through reading on my own and experimenting with many different training ideas. Just wanted to get the opinion from someone who has been through it already. Cheers.

In response to Cowboy92 and Jsmiths posts I will say that I totally did not want to come off that way.

I know I need more hands on experience and I desperately want to continue to learn. Everyone has to pay their dues.

I completely respect their comments and advice

If anything it just feels like S & C coaches are often undervalued and underappreciated, its dissapointing that someone like Jsmith and many others have to put in so many thankless hours for free or for next to nothing when strength coaches play an important role in the health and performance of athletes.

Thanks to those who have replied, your continued advice is certainly appreciated.

Jimmy, I’ll PM you with as much info as possible.

can anyone hook me up with advice


I think you need to evaluate your long term goals. Do you see yourself as a strength coach in a University? If so, if they have an athletic administation program, it could be useful. Do you want to own your own private business? Maybe a business degree.

The best advice I ever got about grad school was given to me on the first day, by the hardest professor I have ever had. He said, “I hope none of you are here because you had nothing better to do.”

His point was that grad school will just about bury you- mentally, financially, emotionally, and even physically sometimes. If you are going to do it for 2 years ago, you better be damn sure that you know what the hell you want to do.

You go to grad school after you know what you want to do. You do not go to grad school to find out what it is that you want to do.

Having said that, some GA positions put very little emphasis on academics. You are there to work in the weight room first, and school is a distant second. Your academics are scheduled around your work schedule, and work wins any ties between the two.

I started out in a D3 school and went back as a GA there too. I will tell you from experience that it is VERY hard to move onto a bigger (but not always better) division I job. Out of my grad class of 13, I’m the only one in DI, one is in the NFL, and we are the only two who are in the field full-time still. And this is less than 5 years ago!

It’s tough to get in, but it’s tough to stay in too. Long hours, low pay, and underappreciation will beat you down in the long run. You’ve got to be lucky enough to be in a situation that makes you happy, and most of all, you’ve got to love it.

I suggest you really take some time to think about what it is you want to do.

[quote]JSmith6539 wrote:
The best advice I ever got about grad school was given to me on the first day, by the hardest professor I have ever had. He said, “I hope none of you are here because you had nothing better to do.”

His point was that grad school will just about bury you- mentally, financially, emotionally, and even physically sometimes. If you are going to do it for 2 years ago, you better be damn sure that you know what the hell you want to do.

Very well said!