TSAC-F® Certification

  • Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator® (TSAC-F®)

    Firefighter wearing full gear holding a fire hose

    Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitators (TSAC-F®) apply scientific knowledge to physically train military, fire and rescue, law enforcement, protective services, and other emergency personnel to improve performance, promote wellness, and decrease injury risk.

    They conduct needs analyses and physical testing sessions, design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs, and provide general information regarding nutrition.

    Recognizing their area of expertise is separate and distinct, TSAC Facilitators consult with and refer those they train to other professionals when appropriate.

    TSAC-F® Exam Format

    All NSCA English language exams, within the United States and internationally, are administered by Pearson VUE.  After you have registered to take an exam you will receive an email from Pearson VUE, within 2-3 business days, with instructions on how to schedule your exam. At that time, you will select the date, time and location you wish to take your exam. Exams must be taken within 120 days of registering. For more information on Pearson VUE or to locate the testing locations nearest to you, click the link below.

    Pearson VUE

    TSAC-F® Exam Registration Fees

    Member Rate*
    Non-member Rate
    Registration Fee         $300     $435

    *Student and Professional Members Only


    To earn the TSAC-F® certification, candidates are required to pass a challenging 3-hour written examination that includes five sections. The test consists of 130 scored and 20 non-scored multiple-choice items. 

    The exam consists of five sections:  

    Domain Percent of Exam  Number of Questions
    Exercise Sciences 20% 26
    Nutrition 10% 13
    Exercise Technique 20% 26
    Program Design 35% 46
    Organization, Administration, Testing, Evaluation 15% 19
    Non-scored Questions*      - 20
    Total   150
    Length of exam   3 hours

    Exercise Sciences

    Apply: general concepts of anatomy and physiology,  neuromuscular anatomy and physiology,  basic principles of biomechanics regarding exercise selection, execution, and operation/mission performance; DESCRIBE: bioenergetics and metabolism, physiological adaptations to exercise design, detraining and retraining, expected differences of trainees; CORRELATE: phases of rehabilitation, and identify environmental concerns  for trainees 


    Explain: factors affecting health and performance, strategies for optimizing body composition and maximizing physical performance and recovery, effects, risks, and alternative of common performance-enhancing substances, supplements, and their methods of use; DESCRIBE: signs, symptoms, behaviors, and performance variations associated with obesity, and altered eating habits and disorders 

    Exercise Technique

    Teach: safe and effective techniques including preparatory body and limb position, execution of technique, correction of improper exercise technique, and spotting for warm-up, resistance training, plyometric exercise, speed/sprint technique, general agility, aerobic endurance, flexibility, and alternative modes 

    Program Design

    Design: training programs that maximize performance, reduce injury risk, and increase long-term wellness by selecting exercises based on muscle groups, movement pattern, and job specificity by targeting specific energy systems, incorporating various training methods and modes; maximizing muscle balance; training programs for an injured trainee to maintain training status during the rehabilitation and reconditioning period DETERMINE AND ASSIGN: appropriate exercise intensities, training volumes, work periods/duration, rest periods, and training frequencies, exercise progression, APPLY: the principles of periodization, exercise order; specificity, IMPLEMENT: flexibility training  

    Organization, Administration, Testing, Evaluation

    Organize and Administer: the design, layout, and organization of the training facility, policies and procedures of the training facility, safe training environment; SELECT AND EVALUATE: test results   

    * Explanation of Non-Scored Exam Questions

    The TSAC-F exam contains non-scored questions that are being evaluated for future use. Including this type of question allows the TSAC-F Exam Development Committee to collect meaningful information about new questions that may appear as real scored questions on future exams.

    Pretesting is accomplished by interspersing new ("untried") questions throughout the exam (20 nonscored questions appear in the TSAC-F exam). Only this small number is included so that additional testing time will not be needed by exam candidates. These questions are not scored as part of a candidate’s certification exam, and they do not affect an individual’s pass/fail status. The non-scored questions are scattered throughout the exam so candidates will answer them with the same effort that they give to the actual scored questions.

    To keep the TSAC-F exam reflective of current job-related duties, new questions must continuously be introduced and evaluated. Pretesting is an accepted testing practice that creates a statistically sound standardized exam and allows candidates to receive scores that are based only on previously used (“tried”) questions. Nonscored pretest questions also appear on the computer-based exam format to provide the same testing experience to all candidates, regardless of which exam format a candidate chooses.

    ** NOTE: Please do not send in your supporting documentation until AFTER you have registered for an exam. **

    18 Years Old and High School Diploma or Equivalent

    To qualify to register for the TSAC-F exam, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. 

    CPR and AED Certification

    Current CPR and AED certification is also a requirement. If you do not have current CPR and AED certification, you can still register for and take the TSAC-F exam. The NSCA will accept any adult CPR and AED certification obtained by attending a CPR and AED course.

    Accepted CPR and AED certifications must include:

    • A hands-on training component (certification through a course completed entirely online will not be accepted)
    • A skills performance evaluation
    • Examples of accepted CPR and AED certifications include:
    • American Heart Association (Heartsaver)
    • Red Cross (including Blended Learning First Aid/CPR/AED Program)
    • National Safety Council
    • St. John Ambulance 

    Although no formal post-secondary course work is required, candidates are expected to understand the fundamentals of biomechanics, training adaptations, anatomy, exercise physiology, program design guidelines that pertain to the unique needs of law enforcement, fire and rescue, and military and special operations.

    The NSCA will not release exam scores until documentation of valid CPR and AED certification has been received.

    Note:Exam scores are valid one year from the date the exam was taken, the NSCA must receive documentation of valid CPR and AED certification BEFORE the one year mark has passed. After that date, exam scores are considered NULL and VOID and the exam must be re-taken.

    Please mail your supporting documentation to:

    1885 Bob Johnson Drive
    Colorado Springs, CO 80906
    FAX: 719-632-6367 (copies of CPR/AED only)
    Email: exams@nsca.com (copies of CPR/AED only)

    TSAC-F® Study Materials

    The CSCS®, CSPS®, NSCA-CPT® and TSAC-F® examinations reflect the most current and accepted KSA standards within the health and fitness industries. Further, the examinations may be developed from references that may be in addition to resources listed below. NSCA materials survey important content area, but are not a comprehensive study of the Exercise Sciences.

    Suggested Resources

    NSCA resources include: 

    Additional/Optional Resources

    NSCA resources include:

    Free Resources include:

    Purchase Study Materials

    History of the TSAC-F® Certification

    In 2005, the NSCA created the Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC) program to address the unique concerns of tactical professionals though a variety of educational resources (i.e., TSAC report, facilitator symposia, and TSAC Conference). After consistent and growing interest in TSAC, the NSCA created the Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator® (TSAC-F®) certification in 2012.

    The TSAC-F exam is a tool used to identify individuals who apply scientific knowledge to physically train tactical athletes (i.e., military, fire and rescue, law enforcement, protective services, and other emergency personnel) to improve performance, promote wellness, and decrease injury risk. The TSAC-F program encourages a high level of competence among practitioners and raises the standard for strength and conditioning professionals who train tactical athletes.

    With that in mind, the NSCA brought together an expert committee of Tactical, Strength and Conditioning, Exercise Physiology, Dietetics, and Allied Health professionals. These subject matter experts defined the breadth of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) and the degree of cognitive complexity of a TSAC-F to safely and effectively perform their job. The scope of the TSAC-F exam makes it the most comprehensive tactical strength and conditioning certification in the industry.

    The NSCA has been a leader of practical application and research of strength and conditioning for over three decades. In recent years, the focus of the fitness industry has shifted toward greater specialization. The NSCA envisions this trend as an opportunity to expand the development of its members and certified professionals. The TSAC-F was developed to address the unique concerns of tactical athletes. This specialized certification may give TSAC-F certificants a competitive advantage in highly sought opportunities in the tactical community.