Become a Certified Special Population Specialist (CSPS)

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Certified Special Population Specialists® (CSPS®) are fitness professionals who, using an individualized approach, assess, motivate, educate, and train special population clients of all ages regarding their health and fitness needs, preventively, and in collaboration with healthcare professionals. They design safe and effective exercise programs, provide the guidance to help clients achieve their personal health/fitness goals, and recognize and respond to emergency situations. Recognizing their own areas of expertise, CSPS receive referrals from and refer clients to other healthcare providers as appropriate. 

Learn more - What is a Special Population?

Exam Registration and Scheduling

Exams are administered at hundreds of Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide. 

When you have finished studying and are ready to take the exam, you will need to register for the exam online. Within 2-3 business days after registering, you will receive an Authorization to Test email from Pearson VUE with instructions on how to schedule your exam. At that time, you will be able to select the date, time and location you wish to take your exam. Candidates can view exam appointment availability after registering for the exam. To locate the nearest Pearson VUE testing center click the button below.

Locate Testing Centers

Exams must be taken within 120 days of registering.

  • Exam eligibility start and end dates may differ for exam retakes. After registering for an exam, your eligibility dates will be listed on your Authorization to Test email.

Rescheduling an Exam 

  • You must contact Pearson VUE to reschedule an appointment.  You may only reschedule within your eligitiblilty period. 
  • Scheduling changes must be made and confirmed with Pearson VUE.  Leaving a voicemail is not sufficient to reschedule your appointment.
  • If you have successfully rescheduled your test date, you will receive a confirmation email from Pearson VUE within 24 hours.  If you do not receive a confirmation email of your rescheduled exam, you have not successfully rescheduled your appointment.  

For more details on rescheduling exam appointments and the cancellation policy, refer to the NSCA Certification Handbook (PDF). 

CSPS Exam Registration Fee  

    Member Rate*     Non-Member Rate 
Registration Fee   $340     $475

NSCA Members save money when registering for exams. Interested in becoming an NSCA Member? Learn more about membership and how it can benefit you! 

Exam Description and Content

Candidates must pass an exam that will test their knowledge, skills, and abilities in four domains: Basic Pathophysiology and Science of Health Status, Condition, Disorder or Disease; Client Consultation; Program Planning; and Safety, Emergency Procedures and Legal Issues. Click to learn more.

More Content Details


Candidates must have at least a bachelor's degree, or a license in one of a number of occupations and have a current CPR/AED certification. Click below for more information and details on how to submit the required documentation. Click to learn more about the prerequisites.

Prerequisite Details

Exam Preparation

Since candidates come from wide and varied backgrounds, we offer several different approaches to studying for the exam. Click to learn more.

How to Prepare

Exam Study Materials

We offer a variety of study materials to help candidates prepare for the exam. Click below to see available materials.

View Study Materials

Exam Retake Policies

NSCA policy limits the number of times a candidate may attempt a certification exam within a one-year timeframe and requires a wait period before retaking an exam. 

  • Candidates must wait 30 days to retake an exam from the most recent date the exam was taken. The waiting period is industry standard to ensure adequate preparation.
  • Candidates can register online to retake the exam once the 30 day period has concluded.
  • A candidate may attempt an exam up to three times in a one-year period.  After the third attempt and any subsequent attempts, the candidate must wait one year from the most recent test date before attempting another exam.  This policy is in place for test security purposes.
  • Candidates do not need to resubmit eligibility documentation unless their CPR/AED certification has lapsed.
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