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We are going to be doing a deep dive into the ISSA and its outstanding ISSA Nutritionist certification!

This nutrition certification has gone through many iterations throughout the years, and that has all culminated in this standout Nutritionist Certification.

Throughout this article, we will cover the primary topics, like:

  • ISSA Nutritionist Course Curriculum
  • Prerequisites for Certification with ISSA
  • Study Material Overview
  • Exam Difficulty
  • Common Questions From Students

Now, with all that said, let’s dive in and learn about ISSA and its fantastic nutrition certification option.

We highly recommend that you take our helpful quiz to find the best nutrition certification for you.

A learner with an open laptop and the ISSA nutrition certification review.

ISSA Nutritionist Information

ISSA Nutritionist Information
9.5/10 Our Score
  • Exam cost: $799 (purchased with study materials)
  • Study material cost: $66.58/month for 12 months
  • Prerequisites: High School Diploma, CPR/AED
  • Exam pass rate: 70%
  • Average completion time: 2-6 months
Pros
  • Nutritional science up to date 
  • Unlimited retakes on final exam 
  • Elite Trainer package offers the best value in the industry
Cons
  • Online textbook format feels dated 
  • Study material isn’t integrated with textbook
  • Expensive if you are just buying a stand alone nutrition cert
9.1
Our Score
Nutrition science10
Behavioral coaching9
Meal Programming9.5
Up-to-date content8.5
Business skills8.5
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ISSA Nutritionist Study Materials
ISSA Nutritionist Study Materials
  • Curriculum study preparation
  • Video and written curriculum included
  • Must purchase separate textbook
  • 200+ practice questions
  • Expensive supplemental materials
Free Study Guide
Free Study Guide
  • Curriculum material overview
  • Complete chapter breakdowns
  • 60 practice questions
  • 130 flashcards and cheat sheet
  • Free from PTPioneer

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ISSA Organization and Nutrition Cert Overview

ISSA, or the International Sports Sciences Association, was founded all the way back in 1988 by renowned fitness experts during a period of physical decline in the world.

ISSA has a mission of increasing the fitness of the people in the world by way of properly educating fitness professionals to effectively teach and enact change in their clients.

This organization has one of the best personal training certifications in the fitness market, up there with the likes of NASM and ACE.

The nutrition certification originated in 1995 as a specialization in performance nutrition and other iterations of the ideas, like with the special fitness nutrition course and the later sports nutrition, all the way until what it has become now, the ISSA Nutritionist.

Typically, we see ISSA compared to NASM, or ISSA compared to ACE for the top CPT certification spot, but when it comes to nutrition solely, ISSA and NASM nutrition certs are among the best in value and study offerings.

There are typically two types of readers in this nutrition cert article, one is people interested in expanding their personal training offerings and knowledge, which is the most common, and the other are people solely looking for nutrition coach certs to start a side business. Either way, becoming a nutrition coach is an excellent career path.

For the first type, a nutrition specialization is going to amplify a personal training coach’s salary, and if you are still wondering about how you can become a personal trainer, this is an excellent takeaway to increase earnings.

If you have yet to earn your personal trainer certification but still match the first category of readers, then make sure to check out reviews for the top certification, like the ISSA CPT, NASM CPT, ACE CPT, ACSM CPT, NSCA CPT, and NCSF CPT.

And, if you are the second category of reader, then you should know that ISSA has a great offering for nutrition coaches, and your salary as a nutrition coach will be up to par with other organizations’ expectations.

ISSA should be considered a great organization, as they offer many NCCA certifications.

Now, let’s dive into the nutritionist cert and start with the cost of the course and bundles offered.

Cost of ISSA Nutritionist

The ISSA nutritionist specialization can be bought alone or is often seen in many of the certification bundles offered through ISSA.

The ISSA Nutritionist course purchased alone will cost $66.58 per month for 12 months or it can be purchased for $799 without any discounts.

An ISSA fitness nutrition textbook and a journal with a highlighter and sharpie, ready to study.

When you purchase the nutritionist cert or a bundle it is included in, you will get these study materials included:

  • ISSA Nutritionist Textbook (online given, physical optional)
  • Practice Exam and Section Quizzes
  • Nutritionist Education Bootcamp
  • Library of Client Forms
  • Online and Home Study Exam
  • Online Student Forum
  • Free Professional Website
  • Unlimited Educational Support

The real value of this certification is when it is purchased in addition to other certifications.

For someone who has yet to get their CPT cert, the ISSA Buy One Get One Bundle is ideal.

They also have a buy-one-get one which is perfect when you’re just starting out.

We all know trainers need to know about nutrition as well as exercise and at Trainer Academy we recommend you consider both, especially with a deal like this that costs almost the same for two as for one!

Having a good base in nutrition will mean you can provide a better quality of service to your clients.

Gyms will be more likely to consider you as a strong candidate because you can do two things instead of one.

You have more job opportunity and a higher earning potential as a result of this.

The ISSA BOGO offer includes the Certified Personal Trainer certification and the ISSA Nutritionist certification, all for the price of the CPT alone.

This Bundle costs $78.95, or a one-time price of $828.

It will include everything from the Nutritionist course, along with the materials from the CPT certifications.

There is another popular option for the ISSA nutritionist to be bundled along with, and this is the ISSA Elite Trainer Package.

The ISSA Elite Trainer package includes three total certifications, which are the ISSA CPT, ISSA Nutritionist, and the ISSA Strength and Conditioning Coach. Make sure to visit the ISSA website to see what’s still available because these offers are only on sale periodically.

The Strength and Conditioning Coach certification is the second most popular specialization to go along with personal training, right behind and close to nutrition certifications.

The Elite Trainer: Buy One Get Two package comes in at an astonishing one-time price of $999 or a monthly payment of $95.27 for 11 months.

The ISSA Elite Trainer package is the best value in fitness and has yet to be matched by any. other organization. You can truly become a master trainer with a deal such as this.

As far as the offerings for the ISSA Nutritionist, the study materials and ISSA information brought to the table is of excellent value in the industry.

ISSA receives a 5/5 in terms of value for future certified professionals.

Next, we will dive deep into the quality offered by the study materials.

Quality of Study Materials

Let’s look at the quality of the materials offered in this excellent nutrition program!

When you purchase the nutritionist cert or a bundle it is included in, you will get these study materials included:

  • ISSA Nutritionist Textbook (online given, physical optional)
  • Practice Exam and Section Quizzes
  • Nutritionist Education Bootcamp
  • Library of Client Forms
  • Online and Home Study Exam
  • Online Student Forum
  • Free Professional Website
  • Unlimited Educational Support

The ISSA Nutritionist Textbook is accessed via the online study system on ISSA’s website.

The ISSA nutrition textbook open on the table of contents looking at the layout of the book's chapters.

The textbook is a total of 394 pages of information spread throughout 18 chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Nutrition
  • Chapter 2: Cells, Organ Systems, and Digestion
  • Chapter 3: Metabolism and Energy Balance
  • Chapter 4: Carbohydrates
  • Chapter 5: Protein
  • Chapter 6: Fats
  • Chapter 7: Vitamins
  • Chapter 8: Minerals
  • Chapter 9: Water and Hydration
  • Chapter 10: The Role of the Nutrition Coach
  • Chapter 11: Stages of Change and Motivational Interviewing
  • Chapter 12: Client Assessment and Goal Setting
  • Chapter 13: Business in Nutrition Coaching
  • Chapter 14: Dietary Guidelines
  • Chapter 15: Product and Supplement Labels and Claims
  • Chapter 16: Supplements
  • Chapter 17: Navigating Successful and Rending Diets
  • Chapter 18: Special Nutrition scenarios

The Chapters all begin by setting the tone for what you are going to learn throughout by putting in a learning objective section.

This follows the order that the main topics will appear in the chapter.

Throughout the text, you will learn the science of food intake, in addition to diving deep into the mental aspects which assist with client behavior change.

The job of a nutrition coach is to be able to answer all of the questions that clients have with research-backed information and then also be able to coach them through their lifestyle changes to benefit them in the long run.

You will be able to inform clients on how to use food as fuel and the psychological strategies that go behind their food selection and habits.

The text allows future coaches to gain the ability to create personalized nutrition programs in a complex world of numerous diet trends.

Your nutrition plans will help clients optimally understand macronutrients and micronutrients through your expertise and nutritional advice.

There are even case studies found in the text to help with specific scenarios and applying the knowledge you have learned.

We recommend the physical textbook, as this allows you to highlight and mark, and the online textbook isn’t quite at the same level.

An open ISSA nutrition textbook, with our learner studying and highlighting the text.

The actual online textbook has a dated feel, and we personally think it is a bit below what is offered by other nutrition certifications in the fitness industry.

It would be nice if they had a hub that was easily accessible, similar to the NASM nutrition certification study system.

The quizzes and practice tests that go along with the text are also not found within the online textbook and are accessible within your account page that you get to the textbook.

It would be a great addition to having these accessible via the textbook, so you may easily take a test on the information that you just finished reading.

Still, the quizzes they do offer will test you on all of the necessary materials.

Studies will also be required to take all of the quizzes in order to sit for the final exam, which we will expand on in a later section.

Each quiz consists of 10 questions, for a total of 180 questions to test you over the course material before the exam.

A standout feature of the ISSA Nutritionist comes with the client forms, which they offer for easy download. All of these are offered in an easy-to-utilize PDF form.

These client forms will help kickstart the coaching of your clients and make sure you have the necessary materials accessible in an easy format.

The online student forum from ISSA will help students answer any questions they have with the textbook and tests, and support is received rather quickly from ISSA, too.

The free professional website is a great value that is not seen by many other organizations, and just another way to boost the value slightly, like with the PDF client forms being included.

All in all, the ISSA Nutritionist receives a 4.5/5 for the total value and quality of their study materials.

They could benefit from modernizing their online textbook format and also making things like quizzes better integrated into their textbook study system.

But, when it comes to the things done well, the book teaches the science of nutrition and the methods of assisting behavior change in a perfect way.

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Continuing Education Units

When you get a fitness certification like this one, you will eventually need to recertify so that you retain your certification and stay up-to-date with the newest dealing in the fitness industry.

Another important aspect to understand is that certification courses and specializations like nutrition all serve as ways to gain recertification with continuing education credits.

To recertify as an ISSA professional, you will need to attain a total of 2.0 continuing education units, which is equal to 20 hours of education.

A course like this nutritionist certification will give nearly all 20 hours of continuing education.

And, when it comes to recertifying, you will be required to have the same amount of hours to re-up your ISSA Nutritionist cert.

The good news is that the 20 hours are universal regardless of how many certifications you are renewing.

If you earn your credit through ISSA, you will not have to pay any money to renew a certification, but if you have earned the credits outside of ISSA, then you will need to pay $99.

Exam Difficulty, Time to Study, and Pass Rate

The ISSA Nutritionist exam is similar to the rest of the fitness industry in that it has a rather simple final examination process and a high pass rate when compared to certifications like strength and conditioning and personal training.

The ISSA Nutritionist final exam can be taken in the comfort of your own home. This means it is an open-book exam.

As an open book exam, you can imagine that the pass rate is quite high, and partner that with an unlimited amount of tries allotted to each customer, ISSA proves to be very lenient in their specialization.

The exam has right at 200 questions for the test-taker to answer.

The only real difference between ISSA and other nutrition certifications is the unlimited attempts.

As far as the expectations for study time, if you focus on the cert, it could take as little as 2 months, or as much as 6 months, depending on how much time you devote to the certification each week.

It takes a little less time to become a nutrition coach than it does to become a personal trainer.

We would rate the ISSA nutritionist as a 5/5 when it comes to the difficulty of the materials and exam, as well as study time. This is because it is what you would expect from a nutrition certification.

And with ISSA, the materials cover all of the proper areas, and you have no chance of not passing the exam unless you just let it expire.

Salary Expectations

Salary expectations are a bit different for readers of this article, depending on which category you fall into.

For someone who is solely certified as a nutrition coach, you can expect a rather average salary range of about $41,000 as an established nutrition coach.

As with all fitness jobs, you should not expect this out of the gate, as you need to build up clientele for the typical jobs unless you get a salaried position with a company.

For the majority of readers, this nutrition coach certification will work to supplement their already existing fitness career and add to what they offer to their clients.

For that scenario, the fitness trainer would already have a salary which is an average of 40k – 50k, and this nutrition certification would allow them to increase their salary by 5k – 10k on average.

Now the averages all depend on many factors like location, full-time/part-time status, and much more.

You only need a high school diploma to qualify for this ISSA certification.

Some other specializations can equally increase your salary, like Group Fitness CertificationsStrength and Conditioning Certifications, and even specific ones, like Yoga and Pilates Certs.

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Pros and Cons

The following are the overall pros and cons of the ISSA Nutritionist certification.

What we Liked:

  • Nearly all learners pass within 6 months
  • Nutritional science is well-researched and up-to-date
  • Unlimited retakes on the final exam
  • Cost and value, of course, and bundles are unmatched
  • Coaching aspects up to par with specific coaching certs

What we didn’t Like:

  • The online textbook is dated
  • The quizzes aren’t as integrated as some competitors
  • The average Nutritionist salary is still low for a stand-alone nutrition cert

Frequently Asked Questions

What Certified Nutritionist options are out there?

There are many nutrition certification programs to choose from, and your best option is going to be this ISSA Nutrition specialist cert, Precision Nutrition level 1, or the NASM sports nutrition certification. When it comes to value and nutrition education, you can’t go wrong with ISSA.

What ISSA Nutritionist study materials are recommended?

Everything you need for the course will be included in ISSA, but it could be beneficial to reach out to other organizations for a more guided study guide. But, the course is studied at your own pace, so, in general,, it should be a relaxed process, and it’s doubtful you ever need a retest.

What certifications are similar to nutrition?

Nutrition Certifications are the most popular specializations to go along with personal training right now. Other options include health coach certifications and anything else that allows you to get CEUs while recertifying and also expanding your salary and offerings to customers. There are many types of exercise science career options to explore.

Is the ISSA Nutrition Exam Challenging?

The ISSA nutrition exam is more on the relaxed side, like all nutrition certifications in the fitness industry. ll of these certifications, whether it be the NASM, ACE, or Precision Nutrition certification, will have a low level of challenge. All of these exams tend to be multiple-choice and not timed.

Conclusion

All in all, the ISSA nutritionist is a solid nutrition certification that holds its own in comparison with other organizations.

We would rate it a score of 4.5/5, with its main competition being the NASM CNC program.

When we look at the positives, we see a study system that is backed by all of the latest nutritional science, a relaxed certification exam process, and all of the fundamentals of coaching and wellness in a well-made self-paced online course accreditation.

We believe this is the best nutrition certification in terms of value and is right up there with credentials like the one from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

References

  1. Melton DI, Katula JA, Mustian KM. The Current State of Personal Training: An Industry Perspective of Personal Trainers in a Small Southeast Community. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2008;22(3):883-889. doi: https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181660dab
  2. ‌Stacey D, Hopkins M, Adamo KB, Shorr R, Prud’homme D. Knowledge translation to fitness trainers: A systematic review. Implementation Science. 2010;5(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-5-28
  3. ‌Ahmed S, Rashid M, Sarkar A, et al. Fitness Trainers’ Educational Qualification and Experience and Its Association with Their Trainees’ Musculoskeletal Pain: A Cross-Sectional Study. Sports. 2022;10(9):129. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/sports10090129

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