loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

ESSA, ASCA, Cert3, Cert4? Messy.

I went on the Australian Government job outlook website and 2 categories they mentioned were fitness instructors and sports coaches. Job Outlooks for other professions seemed meshed together with allied health. Maybe they don’t want to tell people there is not a huge amount of work for graduate Sports Scientists or Strength & Conditioning specialists.




A while ago a good friend of mine who has an exercise science degree snared a job as coordinating Personal Trainers for a large commercial gymnasium. The Personal Trainers paid approximately $200 a week and signed a contract to be able to access members. They had approximately 35 trainers signed up. Work out the numbers! As long as the trainers had their Certificate 3 and 4 plus first aid/CPR and insurance they were good to go. He had a smattering of exercise science graduates and simply people who pursued PT part time or as a career change. His best trainers (made most $ and most popular) were the ones who had an adequate exercise toolkit but more so had an ability to communicate , get buy in or for simplicity good soft skills. They could sell! And usually these were not the graduates, who were younger, inexperienced and often just not good at talking the talk (& even sometimes walking the walk).




I continued to look through the Government website and could only find sports coaches specified. Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists seemed to be merged into other categories and the filter for Strength and Conditioning came up with nada/zilch.

Late last year it was trumpeted that there would be national standards put into place for Sports Science.


“As a condition of the ASC’s Sport Investment Agreements, national sporting organisations will require all sport science and strength and conditioning staff to have the relevant accreditation with ESSA and ASCA by the end of 2018.”

Now a gymnasium franchise has zero commitment to needing to follow ESSA/ASCA guidelines. From a commercial perspective they can simply employ staff with Certificate 3 and 4 and updated with First Aid. And their KPI’s are results. Member retention and satisfaction. Given the Social media boom in information, sensible people can get a good toolkit and as long as they don’t get their ambition mixed with ability can actually do a good job. Certainly a negative with the plethora of information is that if someone does not have a good theoretical background they cannot decipher the forest from the trees. But the Australian Government is OK with this level of accreditation. And reality is there are some amazing people working in the space. And some crap salespeople with ability to get buy in. Another article spinning off this one is the confusion with the “Soft Skills” bandwagon that everyone is jumping on to get LIKES on Social Media with!

So we get to the dilemma of what to do if you are an Exercise Science Graduate. Career prospects are tight at best in the elite sports area. And I leave out those opting for Exercise Physiology accreditation. But even there courses are appearing before you can blink. One looks at the Ausport article and my opinion is I would be compelled to get accreditation with all organisations. Even to get Certificate 3 and 4! I am not going to discuss the merits of Exercise Science Courses, practical development of students in this article.

Many are opting for Masters as Exercise Physiologists with ESSA and many of the High Performance Masters courses appearing everywhere as they gather work experience. Not a bad thing but the funnel again will get very tight at pointy end. IE Jobs!

ESSA has authority to accredit certain “tasks” in the Sports Science/S&C area. ASCA others. From my understanding ESSA demands graduate status whilst ASCA will allow anyone to do their courses as long as they pay and of course pass the rigorous standards as they move through the levels. So there has to be a question raised there.

Now the Australian Government Job Outlook website says Sports Coaches need a skill level of Certificate 3 and 4. Who is doing these websites! Seriously I thought appropriate levels in sports and working with children were what the requirement? But if a Sports Coach is employed part time in the NIN network or with an NSO or even is simply part of the system, who will accredit them? They cannot come under umbrella of S&C? Of course the public don’t care. If their kids are being coached by a competent person whose number one aim is to help athletes and puts in that’s the big tick. But Australian Government put down Sports Coach as a career and not S&C? My brother in law Gus Puopolo is a sports coach who has assisted hundreds of young athletes and many to International Standards. He earns ZERO.

So the summary is.

Confusion reigns. Graduates are forking out dollars. Certainly with Exercise Physiology (Hicaps) and Sports Science in the elite professional environment there is but then it becomes murky. Many people work in other professions and coach and do S&C part time and/or as an adjunct for their Coaching and so ASCA has a valuable role there.

But I wrote this article because I had to make a decision myself to pay for my ESSA Exercise Scientist, Sports Scientist, Exercise Physiology and HPM accreditation so simply from an economic perspective I am going to forego my ASCA which is a pity because I really enjoyed conference in Singapore last year and also would love to be involved more. I know an Exercise Physiologist who trains UFC fighters plus works in the classical Exercise Physiology space with healthcare! Who classifies her because she is doing S&C with fighters? Does she pay double?



March 24, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment