You can choose from a wide variety of programs to become a health and wellness coach. These vary from structured college-level programs to online self-paced courses.
If you are looking to make a change and try a new career guiding others toward healthier living, it is possible to complete a program in six months. How? Read on to learn more.
Are Health and Wellness Coaches in Demand?
Before committing money, energy, and time to complete a health and wellness coaching certification, you’ll want to be sure there will be a demand for your new skills and expertise.
So, is there? The short answer is yes.
According to Precedence Research, the global health coach market is projected to hit over $25.95 billion by 2030, with a jaw-dropping compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7% during the forecast period of 2022 to 2030.
This creates countless employment opportunities for health and wellness coaches.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster-than-average employment growth of 12% from 2021 to 2031 in health education specialists—the category into which health coaches fall.
What’s driving this boom? Well, several factors are at play, including:
What Does a Health and Wellness Coach Do?
Health and wellness coaches are health education and behavior change specialists who help clients build the self-care skills, habits, and healthy behaviors crucial for optimal overall health and well-being.
You can think of them as life coaches focused on optimizing their clients’ health and wellness.
Key responsibilities of health and wellness coaches include:
- Evaluating clients’ current health statuses, strengths, and overall wellness
- Helping clients identify and reflect on self-defeating behavioral patterns in various aspects of their lifestyle (i.e., fitness, nutrition, weight loss, stress management, and general health
- Guiding and facilitating clients in achieving and sustaining healthier lifestyle habits
- Teaching clients about accountability—and being there to reflect on their efforts
In general, health coaches might focus on helping clients with the following goals:
- Weight loss or weight management
- Quitting smoking
- Lowering stress levels
- Eating healthier
- Adhering to a medication regimen
- Achieving better work-life balance
- Prioritizing self-care
- Balancing wellness with a busy schedule
- Practicing personal goal-setting and follow-through
What Health and Wellness Coaches Cannot Do
It’s important to note that while health and wellness coaches often have some understanding of nutrition, fitness, medical, and psychological conditions, they aren’t legally qualified to perform the same work as:
- Certified nutritionists
- Registered dietitians
- Licensed therapists
- Certified personal trainers
This means health and wellness coaches cannot:
- Perform nutrition coaching or create individualized meal plans for clients
- Diagnose or treat clinical conditions and chronic health conditions
- Provide therapy services during coaching sessions
- Give clients specific physical fitness recommendations
Is Health Coaching the Same as Wellness Coaching?
Are “health coaching” and “wellness coaching” the same thing?
The answer to this can depend on how one defines “health” and “wellness”.
For example, this scientific article proposes that one possible definition of health is the absence of any disease or impairment.
And this article defines wellness as the “holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit”. It also mentions that wellness encompasses eight mutually interdependent dimensions:
Following these definitions, here’s how health coaching and wellness coaching could differ:
- Health coaches focus on helping clients manage specific health concerns (e.g., reducing alcohol consumption) or conditions (e.g., type 2 diabetes). They may also work with clients to help them navigate different nutrition and fitness plans, plus other lifestyle modifications that directly affect their specific health concern, condition, or goal.
- Wellness coaches focus on helping clients achieve overall health and well-being by emphasizing a holistic and integrative approach to wellness that includes physical, mental, behavioral, emotional, and spiritual health. This may include helping clients identify and more effectively manage areas of their lives that may be causing unnecessary stress or hindering their progress toward their goals.
But you’ll often find that the general public and professionals in the coaching industry use the terms “health coaching” and “wellness coaching” interchangeably.
Is health coaching different from wellness coaching? Strictly speaking, yes. But does that matter? Not really, which is why we’ll treat the following terms as synonyms in this article:
- Health coaching, wellness coaching, and health and wellness coaching
- Health coach, wellness coach, and health and wellness coach
Is Wellness Coaching for You?
How would you know if you’d find a career in health and wellness coaching fulfilling? Well, if you’re passionate about helping others:
- Create healthier lifestyle habits
- Succeed at sticking with their health goals
- Optimize their strengths and talents
- Navigate significant life transitions
- Maintain a work-life balance and prioritize their health
- Move forward professionally
… then chances are good that completing a health coach certification program is the right step forward for you.
What Credentials Do You Need to Be a Wellness Coach?
Speaking of a health coach certification program, here’s a disclaimer: technically and legally, you don’t need to be a certified health or wellness coach to provide health and wellness coaching services.
That’s because the health and wellness coaching industry is still unregulated.
However, just because you can call yourself a health coach without the relevant certification doesn’t mean you should.
That’s because a health coaching training program:
Arms you with the most up-to-date and effective health coaching skills and knowledge. The health and wellness field is a fast-changing one. A health coach certification equips you with current, credible, and reliable health information and coaching skills to help guide clients into adopting a healthier lifestyle. This prevents you from giving incorrect advice or overstepping your scope of practice. You’ll also pick up crucial interpersonal skills needed to build trust and rapport with clients.
Makes you more hirable. Imagine that you’re a potential client or employer. Who would you hire to help you with your health goals or add to your payroll: a certified health and wellness coach or an uncertified one?
Provides professional health coaching tools and resources. What questions should you ask when meeting a client for the first time? How should you handle sensitive health information? What’s the usual offboarding process? Without the help of a health coaching certification program, you’ll have to figure these out on your own. Many high-quality certification programs would give you access to a wealth of ready to use templates, forms, and worksheets you could simply utilize with your own clients.
How to Become a Wellness Coach
If you’re ready to take the leap and become a certified health and wellness coach, here are three steps to start picking up crucial coaching techniques and living your passion.
#1: Get Clear on Your Goals
Questions to ask yourself at this stage include:.
How do I want to work as a certified health and wellness coach?
Work for a company, run my own business, or a hybrid of both? For inspiration, here are a few examples of career options for health coaches.
If you’re looking to work for a company, your options include the following:
- Community centers
- Health clubs
- Fitness studios
- Private medical offices
- Health insurance companies
- Educational institutions
- Wellness centers
- Weight loss centers
- Rehabilitation centers
- Corporate environments
And if you’d like to run your own business, your options include the following:
- Create your own health and wellness products and programs
- Start a health and wellness blog
- Lecture or speak on health and wellness and behavior change
- Run an integrative wellness center
- Develop a health-based smartphone app
What kind of clients do I want to work with?
How old are they? What kind of issues are they struggling with the most? What kind of health improvements are they looking for?
Get as detailed as possible—and write it down so you don’t forget!
What kind of services will I provide?
In-person one-on-one coaching sessions? Group coaching? Online coaching? Corporate wellness coaching? Digital products and resources?
#2: Pick a Health Coach Certification Program That’s Best for You
With many health coach certification programs available, how will you know which is right for you? Here are three things to look out for.
Does It Offer Distance Learning?
One of the most flexible and convenient ways to complete your education is to choose distance learning or online coursework. Regardless of your schedule, you can generally complete your program in six months—or even less. These often cost less than brick-and-mortar university courses, too.
Do You Meet the Program’s Prerequisites?
Most programs have a minimum age requirement and suggest that you have a basic understanding of health and nutrition before beginning your program. If you are an experienced personal trainer, group fitness instructor, or athletic trainer, you could already be familiar with some of the subjects in the health and wellness certification program.
Students can enroll from anywhere in the world and should generally have the minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent.
There are some less-intensive courses that will certify you as a health coach with less training. More-intensive programs may require kinesiology, biology, or nutrition as an undergraduate degree in order to enroll in a certification program.
Is the Program a High-Quality One?
The following questions can tell you a lot about the quality of a health and wellness certification program:
- What does the curriculum cover? Check out the program’s free course preview. Will the program teach you everything necessary to work with clients in the way you wish?
- Is the program accredited? If so, by whom? Not all health coach certification programs are created equal. Make sure the one you pick is accredited by a nationally recognized third-party professional organization, like the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP).
- Does it provide a variety of learning materials and resources? Good-to-haves include study guides, practice quizzes, additional reading materials, and assignments. These could all help you better grasp the coursework and ace that final exam.
- Will it provide continuing career support? What happens after you complete the health coach certification program? Does the certifying agency provide continued support in the form of continuing education courses or networking opportunities with other health and wellness professionals?
#3: Pass the Final Exam and Start Working as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Upon completing the course , you will generally be required to pass a certification exam. This may be an online exam or it may be held at an in-person testing center.
After you pass the exam, you’ll be able to start working as a certified health and wellness coach.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to work for a company, run your own business, or do a hybrid of both, you should maximize your employability to potential employers and clients by:
- Niching down: Stand out from other certified health and wellness coaches by occupying a unique space in the market. For example, instead of working with people simply looking to get into healthy living, you could focus on helping individuals with auto-immune diseases who could benefit from specialized support. Need help finding your niche? Check out this article for guidance on choosing the best niche for your health and wellness coaching business.
- Building your brand: Beyond setting you apart from competitors, building a strong brand also helps you build credibility, trust, and authority. Branding also inspires client loyalty and retention. But here’s an important disclaimer: brand-building isn’t simply choosing a logo or creating a nice-looking website. It’s also about consistently putting out messaging aligned with what your target clients are looking for. One crucial piece of the puzzle you could use to help with that is content marketing. Find out how to get started with that here.
- Exploring complementary certifications: Examples include nutrition or fitness certifications. These can help round out your health coaching knowledge and expertise, plus expand the types of services you can provide as a certified health and wellness coach.
Are AFPA’s Health Coaching Certification Programs Credible?
Our programs are nationally and internationally recognized by some of the most well-respected organizations in the industry:
Beyond the credibility factor, AFPA’s health coaching certification programs are well-positioned to help you kickstart a successful career in health coaching by offering:
- A fully remote, self-paced certification experience. As with all AFPA certification programs, our health coaching certification training programs are self-paced, self-study programs you can complete from anywhere in six months or less.
- Payment plans. If finances are a concern, rest assured that our health coach certification programs are budget-friendly. They cost a fraction of the price of a four-year college curriculum and many other health coach programs. What’s more, we also offer instant-approval payment plans. You can choose to make payments over three, six, or twelve months.
- Valuable entrepreneurial guidance. Interested in running your own business after certification? AFPA offers exceptional business resources and guidance to help you establish a successful health coaching business, so you don’t have to journey down the entrepreneurial path alone!
If you’re ready to help others adopt and sustain healthy lifestyle changes while living your passion, check out our health coach certification programs here: