I get asked about this a lot & since I’m not a coach who helps coach have just collapsed all the most basic info you need here. Everything beyond this — google! Do your research! Look into it!
First — you don’t need a PhD to do “what I do”. I am training to be at the level of someone who may write the books/papers/whatever you take. To teach the classes for the B.S. degree you may seek. My PhD doesn’t naturally make me good at industry fitness. It just means I have a lot of niche knowledge + skills.
This doesn’t mean you cannot get into fitness without any degrees. You can start with a certification or a B.S.! At the end of the day — these are just the START anyways. You don’t get these pieces of paper & become the pro’s/experts.
So on that note — dont over think what you do. Instead ask your self WHAT certification or degree makes the most sense for what I WANT to do. And also importantly — be qualified to do!
If you want to be hired as a legit strength & conditioning coach you’re going to likely need a CSCS. If you want to work in a normal gym your ACE/NASM are likely fine. If you want to work in a crossfit box you’ll need a CFL1+. You get the point.
If you want to work with nutrition you probably want more than just knowing how to calculate a macro or what a carb is. I’m not as familiar with WAG. Pn1 has had some wonky reports of coaches gone rife with misinformation. I hear the best rapport about Mac nutrition. Becoming an RD will legally allow you to do the most.
As a whole I find the certification vs degree thing comes down to showing you’re invested into learning + continuously becoming better for your clients. Invest in something. Then keep learning.
The science of fitness is always growing. We can’t get too stuck or cling to one thing too much. Be willing to learn + apply + grow.
& at the end of the day you can study all you want but it may teach you nothing about working WITH humans. Coaching isn’t just giving a plan & it magically works. You do not learn this from a class or cert! Hands on & in person experience is INVALUABLE especially before jumping into online training