What does CISSN stand for? Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The CISSN is a prestigious credential in the field of sports nutrition and supplementation, and certification is not easy to achieve.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (I.S.S.N.) is the world’s leader in providing science-based sports nutrition and supplement information. They operate conferences and publish a peer-reviewed journal – the JISSN. Needless to say, earning your CISSN certification puts you in with esteemed colleagues.
Despite all that, earning your CISSN is only useful in a small number of situations, and it is not advised for someone just entering the field of nutrition coaching.
This is NOT a course and there is no official coursework or training included when you sign up. You earn the CISSN by fulfilling prerequisites and passing an exam.
There are a number of suggested textbooks and other materials, as well as study guides, to help you prepare for the exam.
Read these two textbooks:
- Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Antonio J et al. (Editors). 2008. ISBN: 978-1-58829-611-5
- Sports Nutrition and Performance Enhancing Supplements
Read all of the latest articles (within the last 2 years) published in the JISSN.
Read all of the ISSN Position Stands and memorize all of the salient facts and concepts. Those can found online here.
That is a lot of detailed, in-depth scientific reading. No one said preparing for the CISSN exam would be easy!
First, join the ISSN as a Professional Member for $169. As a member, your cost for the CISSN exam will be $621. That is a total cost of $790.
You can take the exam as a non-member, but that costs $998, and you’d have to purchase an ISSN membership afterward, anyway (it is mandatory that you are an ISSN member in order to maintain your CISSN credential). So you save over $350 by becoming a member prior to taking the exam.
The books are purchased on your own, at your discretion. (Each textbook is $100+)
To maintain your certification, you need to maintain an active ISSN membership ($149 per year) and fulfill continuing education requirements. You need to earn six CEUs per year (or 30 CEUs every five years). They suggest earning the CEUs by attending the ISSN national conference every other year. If that’s not an option, you can fulfill some of your requirements by completing their online quizzes here.
(How does it compare to other nutrition certifications? Compare them here.)
The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions, and you will have 135 minutes to complete the exam. A passing score is 70%.
You can take the exam online, but it’s not a simple process as with many other certifications. It requires advance registration and completion at a specific time. It is not an open book or open note exam.
Should you fail, you will have the option of re-taking the exam at 50% off the regular price. (That is still $300+ so it’s in your best interest to pass the first time.)
Upon successful completion, they will email you your certificate. They do not mail printed certificates. (In their words, “we no longer send any out via snail mail.”)
Because the CISSN is an exam rather than an instructional course, it is unlikely that this will qualify as continuing education for another institution.
What Sets This Certification Apart
The CISSN holds a high pedigree; it is a collaborative effort from dozens of research scientists who have both research and practical experience in the field of sports nutrition.
If sports nutrition is your chosen focus, and you want to become a well-known, respected professional in the academic and scientific areas of the industry, joining the ISSN and earning your CISSN is probably a good choice.
However, if you’re looking to become a sports nutrition coach, this is not a good way to get started.
To be eligible to take the CISSN examination, you must have a 4-year undergraduate college degree. Your degree does not have to be related to exercise, nutrition, or physiology, but if it isn’t, you’ll probably need to take some basic courses in nutrition to prepare yourself for the content on the exam.
There are some ways around that requirement, but none of them are easy or cheap.
How to Get Started
The first thing I would do is read through the free study guide and some of the journal articles that you’re able to access. If you’re comfortable with that, purchase the textbook and study it.
If you still want to pursue the CISSN, learn more here.