Special Population Certifications

As I have mentioned in the past, I field questions almost daily about what type of certifications I recommend. This is almost impossible to answer because it’s a very complicated decision.  What I haven’t spent much time talking about on my blog are the emerging options for gaining certification in order to prepare to work with special populations.

The term “special population” is very broad and is defined very differently depending on your work setting and clientele.  Some professional organizations are still working out their definition of what it means.  While a consensus may not be reached yet, one thing that is very evident is the growing population of people who have very complicated medical histories and needs.  These same people are being seen by a growing base of professionals to address chronic diseases and conditions, often times outside of a clinical setting.

Some professionals might warn you not to become too narrow in your training. While there is merit to that in certain cases, I would argue that gaining more specific or specialty knowledge about a patient or client population gets you that much closer to being the expert we all want to be in our chosen fields.

While I can’t cover all of the possibilities, I will share with you some organizations and types of specialty certifications that they are offering which are aimed at preparing professionals for working with special populations.  Each of these organizations require a general certification before you can take any of these specialty exams.  You can visit each specific website to look at the required pre-requisites, cost, and potential exams to consider.

American College of Sports Medicine


National Strength and Conditioning Association


American Council on Exercise


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