In medicine, a person can’t legally practice autonomously until they’ve completed a residency, which is additional training on a specific medical sub-specialty that can last anywhere from three to seven (or more) years. The name is derived from the fact that recently graduated medical students spent so much time at the hospital that they literally lived there, hence the term- residents. This critical period of on-the-job training prepares the fresh medical school graduate to actually do his or her job well because as any medical student will tell you, the ability to practice medicine fresh out of school is laughable.
I offer this introduction to the concept of “residency” because I’m proposing that trainers and coaches need to do the same thing before entering the workforce. Most trainers begin taking clients (and their money) with minimal experience and knowledge about how to actually train or coach an individual. Fortunately, those who do not improve significantly will find themselves out of work (or starting) very quickly, thus making the world a safer place. The problem is that of the trainers and coaches who remain in the field, very few of them will ever possess the ability to coach, program, and consult others on nutrition properly. I’m not particularly sure that this is due to a lack of available educational resources, but if I had to hedge a bet on something it’d probably be on a misunderstanding of the actual physiological responses that result from training and nutrition processes (legitimate understanding anyway).
What I’d like to see is people earning a legitimate certification who are then paired up with a veteran coach or trainer for a period of 3-6 months and then earning some sort of professional certificate denoting some minimal level of proficiency in actually training or coaching people. Right now, the only certification that requires a rigorous practical and didactic portion is the Starting Strength Coaching Certificate, which has a failure rate of around 90%. Does this surprise anyone?