Top 11 Head Coach Certifications

This article will provide an overview of the top certifications available for head coaches, including their benefits and requirements.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are extremely important for a head coach in the job market because they demonstrate a level of professional competency and knowledge in their chosen field. Having a certification also shows that the coach has gone through an official program to gain the necessary skills and qualifications to become an effective leader. Certifications also give employers confidence that the coach can handle any situation that may arise, as well as having a deep understanding of their sport or activity. Additionally, certifications are often required by certain leagues or organizations, making them essential for any aspiring head coach looking to gain employment in their desired field.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Head Coachs and explains how they can help improve a head coach's career prospects.

What are Head Coach Certifications?

Head coach certification is a process by which coaches can demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to be an effective head coach. By obtaining certification, coaches can show that they have met certain standards of competency in areas such as leadership, communication, and sport-specific technical skills. Certification also provides coaches with recognition for their achievements and helps them stand out amongst other coaches who may not have taken the time to become certified. Additionally, having a head coach certification gives teams confidence in their leader's ability to lead them to success. The certification process also provides coaches with access to resources and continuing education opportunities that can help them stay up-to-date on the latest coaching techniques and strategies. Ultimately, head coach certification is an important tool for any coach looking to improve their performance on the field, as well as their overall standing within the coaching community.

Pro Tip: When considering head coach certification, be sure to research the organization offering the certification and make sure that their standards meet your own expectations for coaching excellence. Also, keep in mind that different levels of certification may offer different benefits, so make sure you understand what each level entails before committing to a particular program. Finally, don't forget to check with your local governing body to ensure that the certification is recognized and approved by them.

Related: What does a Head Coach do?

Top 11 Head Coach Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Head Coachs today.

1. National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP)

The National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) is a program designed to help coaches develop their coaching skills and knowledge. It is administered by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and provides coaches with the tools and resources they need to be successful in their sport.

The NCCP consists of three levels: Community, Competition, and High Performance. Each level has its own set of requirements that must be completed before a coach can move on to the next level. The Community level focuses on basic coaching principles, while the Competition and High Performance levels focus on more advanced topics such as sport psychology, nutrition, and athlete development.

The length of time it takes to complete each level varies depending on the individual coach's experience and commitment. For example, the Community level may take anywhere from two months to one year to complete, while the Competition level may take up to two years or more. The High Performance level typically requires three years or more of study.

To get started in the NCCP program, coaches must register with their provincial/territorial sport organization (PSO). They will then be provided with information about how to access online learning modules or attend workshops in order to complete their certification requirements.

The cost of completing each level varies depending on which PSO you are registered with and whether you choose online learning modules or workshops for your studies. Generally speaking, it can range from $200 - $1000 per level depending on your province/territory.

2. American Sport Education Program (ASEP)

The American Sport Education Program (ASEP) is a comprehensive program designed to help coaches, athletes, and parents better understand the fundamentals of sport. The program consists of four levels: Introduction to Coaching, Coaching Principles, Sport First Aid, and Advanced Coaching. Each level includes online courses, e-books, and webinars that provide up-to-date information on the latest coaching techniques and strategies.

Introduction to Coaching is the first level in the ASEP program. This course covers topics such as basic coaching philosophy, organization and administration of a team or program, safety considerations for athletes, communication skills for coaches and athletes, and teaching techniques. It takes approximately 8 hours to complete this online course.

Coaching Principles is the second level in the ASEP program. This course focuses on how to create an effective training plan for your team or individual athlete; how to develop practice plans; how to teach skills; how to motivate athletes; how to evaluate performance; and how to manage behavior issues. It takes approximately 10 hours to complete this online course.

Sport First Aid is the third level in the ASEP program. This course covers topics such as recognizing signs of injury or illness; providing emergency care; transporting injured athletes; understanding legal issues related to sport injuries; and recognizing heat-related illnesses. It takes approximately 8 hours to complete this online course.

Advanced Coaching is the fourth level in the ASEP program. This course covers topics such as advanced sports psychology principles, nutrition for athletes, strength training principles, periodization of training programs, tactical decision making in sport settings, and long term athlete development models. It takes approximately 12 hours to complete this online course.

To get started with ASEP you can register on their website at The cost varies depending on which courses you choose but typically ranges from $50-$100 per course or $200-$400 for all four levels combined if purchased together as a package deal.

3. Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA)

Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a national non-profit organization that provides training and resources to youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators, and student-athletes. PCA’s mission is to transform the culture of youth sports so that young athletes can have a positive, character-building experience.

PCA offers two levels of certification: the Double-Goal Coach® Certification Course and the Triple-Impact Competitor® Certification Course. The Double-Goal Coach® Certification Course teaches coaches how to strive for winning while also teaching life lessons through sports. The Triple-Impact Competitor® Certification Course teaches student-athletes how to improve themselves, their teammates, and the game as a whole.

The Double-Goal Coach® Certification Course takes approximately 8 hours to complete online. The cost of this course is $150 per person or $100 per person if registering three or more people at once.

The Triple-Impact Competitor® Certification Course takes approximately 4 hours to complete online. The cost of this course is $75 per person or $50 per person if registering three or more people at once.

To get certified in either course, you must first purchase the course from PCA’s website and then follow the instructions on how to access the course materials. Once you have completed all of the required modules, you will be able to print out your certificate of completion which will signify that you are now certified in either the Double-Goal Coach® or Triple Impact Competitor® courses.

4. United Soccer Coaches Association (USC)

The United Soccer Coaches Association (USC) is a professional organization for soccer coaches and administrators. It was founded in 1941 and is the largest national organization of its kind in the world. The USC provides members with educational resources, networking opportunities, and recognition for their achievements.

To become a member of the USC, you must first complete an application form and submit it along with the appropriate fee. The membership fee varies depending on your level of involvement in soccer coaching, but typically ranges from $50-$100 USD per year.

Once you have submitted your application and payment, it takes approximately two weeks to process your membership request. Once approved, you will receive a welcome letter containing your membership card and other information about the association.

In addition to annual fees, there are also additional costs associated with becoming a member of the USC such as certification courses and other educational materials. These fees vary depending on what type of certification or education you are pursuing.

Overall, joining the United Soccer Coaches Association is an excellent way to gain access to valuable resources that can help you improve as a coach or administrator in soccer.

5. National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is a non-profit organization that serves as the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. It is composed of 50 member state associations, three associate members, and one affiliate member. The NFHS was founded in 1920 and has been providing leadership to high school athletics and performing arts ever since.

It takes approximately 2-3 weeks to get NFHS membership. To become a member, you must first register with the NFHS by completing an application form. After submitting the application form, you will receive an email confirming your registration and providing instructions for payment of the membership fee. The current annual cost of membership is $75 USD per year.

Once your payment is received, you will be issued an official NFHS membership card which grants access to all NFHS programs and services including eligibility rules, sport regulations, educational resources, training materials, recognition programs, insurance coverage options, and more. Additionally, members are eligible to take part in voting on proposed amendments to existing rules or regulations at the annual meeting held each summer.

6. International Coaching Enrichment Certification Program (ICE-CP)

The International Coaching Enrichment Certification Program (ICE-CP) is a comprehensive certification program designed to give coaches the skills and knowledge they need to become successful in their field. The program is offered by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and consists of three levels: Associate, Professional, and Master.

At the Associate level, coaches learn the basics of coaching, including communication skills, goal setting techniques, and how to create an effective coaching plan. The Professional level focuses on more advanced topics such as developing a business plan for a coaching practice, working with clients from different backgrounds, and understanding ethical practices in coaching. The Master level covers topics such as executive coaching, team building strategies, and advanced leadership development.

It typically takes between 18 months to two years to complete all three levels of the ICE-CP. To get certified at each level, coaches must complete coursework and pass an exam. Courses are offered online or in person through ICF accredited training centers around the world.

The cost of the ICE-CP varies depending on which courses are taken and where they are taken. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 USD to complete all three levels of certification.

7. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is a professional organization that provides education, certification, and resources to strength and conditioning professionals. It was founded in 1978 and has since become the world’s leading authority on strength and conditioning.

To become an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), you must meet certain educational and experience requirements. You must have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or a related field, as well as at least one year of professional experience working with athletes or clients in the fitness industry. You also need to pass the CSCS exam administered by the NSCA.

The CSCS exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical skills assessment. The written portion consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as anatomy, biomechanics, nutrition, program design, exercise technique, testing protocols, injury prevention, and more. The practical skills assessment requires you to demonstrate your knowledge of safety procedures for weightlifting exercises.

It typically takes about six months to complete the process of becoming an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). This includes studying for the exam, registering for it, taking it, receiving your results from the NSCA office, submitting your application materials to be reviewed by their board of directors, and finally being notified when you are officially certified.

The cost to take the CSCS exam is $300 USD for members of the NSCA ($350 USD for non-members). There is also an additional fee of $50 USD if you need to retake either part of the exam.

8. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is a professional certification organization that offers certifications for health and fitness professionals. It is one of the most respected certifications in the industry, as it requires rigorous training, education, and testing to become certified.

To become certified through NASM, you must first complete an approved educational program. This can be done online or in-person at an accredited institution. Once you have completed the required courses, you will need to pass the NASM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Exam. The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions and covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, nutrition, exercise science and more.

Once you have passed the CPT Exam, you will receive your certification and be able to use the NASM logo on your business cards and website. The entire process typically takes between 6-12 months depending on how quickly you can complete your education requirements.

The cost of getting certified through NASM varies depending on which educational program you choose to take. Generally speaking, however, it costs around $500-$1,000 for the exam fee alone. Additional fees may apply if you choose to take an online or in-person course from an accredited institution.

9. USA Weightlifting Coach Certification Program

USA Weightlifting Coach Certification Program is a comprehensive program designed to help coaches become certified in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. The program consists of two parts: an online course and an in-person evaluation.

The online course covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, nutrition, biomechanics, technique and training theory. It also includes video tutorials on how to teach the Olympic lifts. The course takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete.

The in-person evaluation is conducted by a USA Weightlifting Certified Coach Evaluator (CCE). During this evaluation, the coach must demonstrate their knowledge of the Olympic lifts and their ability to teach them properly. This evaluation typically takes 2-3 hours to complete.

To get certified, coaches must first register for the USA Weightlifting Coach Certification Program at The cost for the program is $300 USD. Once registered, coaches will receive access to the online course and will be able to find a CCE near them for the in-person evaluation. Upon successful completion of both components, coaches will receive their certification from USA Weightlifting.

10. National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA)

The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) is a professional organization of head and assistant coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBCA was founded in 1976, and its mission is to support and protect the rights of NBA coaches. It provides a platform for coaches to voice their opinions on issues affecting the game, while also providing educational opportunities and resources to help them become better leaders.

It takes approximately two weeks to get an NBCA membership. To apply, you must fill out an online application form on the NBCA website. You will need to provide your name, contact information, current employment status, and other relevant information. Once your application is approved, you will receive an email with instructions on how to complete your membership process.

The cost of an NBCA membership depends on the type of membership you choose. There are three levels of membership: Professional ($150/year), Associate ($50/year), and Student ($25/year). All memberships include access to exclusive benefits such as discounts on travel expenses, access to educational materials, invitations to events, and more.

11. American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)

The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) is a professional organization for football coaches in the United States. It provides resources, networking opportunities, and professional development to its members. The AFCA was founded in 1922 and is headquartered in Waco, Texas.

To become a member of the AFCA, you must be a current or former football coach at any level (high school, college, or professional). Membership is open to all coaches regardless of gender or race.

The annual membership fee for the AFCA is $50. To join, you must complete an online application form and submit it along with payment to the AFCA office. Once your application has been accepted, you will receive an official membership card and access to exclusive benefits such as discounts on coaching clinics and publications.

It typically takes two to three weeks for your application to be processed and approved by the AFCA office. Once approved, you will be able to access all of the benefits that come with being an AFCA member.

Do You Really Need a Head Coach Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual's goals and plans for their career in coaching. For those who are looking to pursue a career in coaching, obtaining a Head Coach Certificate can be an important step in achieving success. The certification provides proof of knowledge in the principles of coaching, including leadership skills, communication techniques, and strategies for developing athletes. It is also beneficial for those who wish to apply for higher-level positions or gain recognition from peers within the industry.

For those just getting started in the field of coaching, having a Head Coach Certificate may not be necessary. Depending on the level of football or other sport one is interested in coaching at, there are likely other requirements that must be met before being hired as a head coach. However, if one is serious about taking their career to the next level, then having a Head Coach Certificate can be an effective way to demonstrate dedication and commitment to their craft. This can help them stand out among other applicants when applying for positions or promotions within the organization they work with.

In conclusion, while it is not always necessary to have a Head Coach Certificate in order to become a successful coach, it can certainly give individuals an edge over their competition when seeking higher-level positions or promotions within their organization. For those who are committed to advancing their careers as coaches and reaching new levels of success, obtaining this certification may be worth considering.

Related: Head Coach Resume Examples

FAQs About Head Coach Certifications

1. What qualifications do I need to become a head coach?

Answer: To become a head coach, you will typically need to have a bachelor's degree in an athletic-related field and at least three years of coaching experience. Depending on the sport, you may also need to complete additional certifications or obtain professional credentials from specific organizations.

2. How long does it take to get certified as a head coach?

Answer: The time it takes to get certified as a head coach depends on the organization providing the certification and the level of education or experience you have in the sport being coached. Generally, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to complete all of the necessary requirements for certification.

3. Are there any online courses available for head coach certification?

Answer: Yes, many organizations offer online courses that can help prepare you for head coach certification exams and provide resources to help better understand concepts related to coaching and sports administration.

4. What is included in a head coach certification program?

Answer: A typical head coach certification program includes coursework on topics such as sports management, team building, communication skills, ethics and risk management, as well as practical application opportunities through internships or other activities related to coaching.

5. How much does it cost to become a certified head coach?

Answer: The cost of becoming a certified head coach depends on which organization is providing the certification and what type of program is offered (e.g., online vs in-person). Generally speaking, expect costs ranging from $100-$500 depending on your needs and preferences.