The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is an accredited educational organization – it is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting System (DEAC), which puts it on the same level as some colleges and universities.
The ISSA offers two choices of nutrition certifications:
- ISSA Fitness Nutrition Certification
- ISSA Sports Nutrition Certification
The Fitness Nutrition Certification is the universal one, teaching the fundamentals of nutrition and the fundamentals of nutrition coaching (i.e. the day-to-day work you will be doing with clients). You’ll learn how to collect client information, how to design nutrition plans for a variety of individuals, how to coach in a way that gets results, and how to evaluate progress.
“Everything you need to know to deliver life-changing results for yourself and your clients by mastering the art and science of nutrition coaching.”
You can complete the entire course online, on your own schedule.
Course materials include:
- Hard copy textbook: Specialist in Fitness Nutrition
- Online version of the text
- Study guide and workbook
- Practice examination and section quizzes
The main course is provided online and in the form of a 479-page hard copy textbook. The text includes everything you need to know to earn an ISSA Fitness Nutrition Certification. The text is authored by Dr. John Berardi, PhD and Ryan Andrews, MS/MA, RD – two experts you may recognize from Precision Nutrition.
Part of the textbook covers the science of nutrition and the other part covers the art and science of coaching.
The study guide and other materials help to reinforce what you’re learning and begin preparing you for the exam.
There is also an online student forum for interacting with your peers and ISSA’s on-staff Master Trainers.
Upon completion, they even provide a free professional website! This site consists of five pages of professionally designed, easy to edit, fully hosted content.
The total price for all course materials and the exam is $799.
There may be a renewal fee and/or continuing education requirements every two years to maintain your certification status.
(How does it compare to other nutrition certifications? Compare them here.)
The exam can be taken at home in their secure online testing portal. You may also choose a paper-and-pencil exam.
How much time do you have to study before taking the exam? The top of the ISSA website says that you have up to 12 months to complete the course. However, further down the page, it says you have up to four months to complete the course.
If you do not pass on your first attempt, you receive one no-cost retest.
It is unclear if this coursework is eligible to be used toward continuing education requirements from other organizations. (It probably is, but you should check with your governing body to be sure.)
The ISSA program is best for someone who wants to 1) learn nutrition, 2) learn how to get results for clients (the programs covers both the art and science of coaching), and 3) earn the nationally-accredited ISSA credential.
If you’re mainly interested in the practical advice and resources to help you become successful in your coaching practice, consider the Precision Nutrition certification. It covers the same material but seems to cost less money in the long run.