heath coach certification

Are you ready to start your career as a Health Coach? Need help to find the best online Health Coach Certifications? In this article, we will help you figure out the best health coach certification for you along with:

  • Why you should become a Certified Health Coach
  • How long it takes to become certified as a Health Coach
  • How much does it cost to get certified in Health Coaching?
  • What to expect from a Health Coaching Program

Why Become a Certified Health Coach?

This is an exciting time to become a certified Health Coach! Health Coaches have an array of employment and career opportunities available to them. This includes building a consulting practice to working collaboratively with other practitioners in a healthcare setting or fitness facility.

Now more than ever, people are becoming more health conscious. The world is changing and so is the health industry. This career is for you if you want to help clients build healthier habits and behaviors that can dramatically improve their well-being.

Health Coaches can work with individuals or with groups of people to help them make lasting health-related lifestyle changes. Health Coaches help their clients to identify areas of concern and assist with goal setting. While also providing motivation and encouragement along the way. Research shows health coaching can help clients lower their risk of developing preventable diseases. This includes diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In addition, some Health Coaches are trained in specific areas like behavioral health or nutrition. Ongoing studies are proving the effectiveness of Health Coaching for:

  • Nutrition
  • Chronic illness
  • Weight loss
  • Obesity
  • Stress management
  • Time management
  • Addiction

For example, a study published in 2022 found that Lifestyle Coaching was more effective in helping subjects improve blood pressure. Coaching also helped with hypertension rather than increasing medication. Another study found that lifestyle coaching can reduce depressive symptoms and improve workability.

Why people chose Health Coaching as a career?

Here are the top six answers:

  1. Being passionate about helping people live their best lives. If you love to help others, then health coaching might be the perfect career for you! Health coaching is a sought-after profession. Health coaching is an ideal career for those who enjoy sharing their knowledge. Many collaborate and work with others to make a positive difference.
  2. Wanting to share their lived experience to benefit others. Many Health Coaches are motivated to build a coaching practice. We see many people begin a career as a Health coach after experiencing their own health issues. They become passionate advocates for health and healthy living!
  3. Work-life balance. Flexibility in the work schedule makes health coaching an attractive option as a career. Working independently allows you to adjust your schedule to see clients part-time or full-time, with hours that suit their lifestyle.
  4. Self-paced education. Online programs that are self-paced, allow students and graduates to have the freedom to study from anywhere.
  5. Work from anywhere. Online technology enables an array of opportunities for Health Coaches. Health Coaching is portable. You can work virtually with clients anywhere in the world. Health Coaches have the choice of how and where they set up their practice.
  6. Satisfaction in being part of the health-care solution. The ultimate goal of a Health Coach is to have a positive impact on client’s lives and the community. Health coaches help clients adopt habits and behaviors that can dramatically improve their health.

Health Coaches can help to transform lives…. even their own!

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Health Coach Certification

How Long Does it Take to Complete a Health Coach Certification?

The great news is that Health Coach training tends to be pretty flexible. Coaching programs vary in the length of time. There are various styles of coaching to choose from as well. There is a health coach training program that suits the goals and needs of every student.

Many programs are now available online and are designed for adult learners with busy schedules and full-time jobs.

Some programs are as brief as 3 months in length and others are up to 2 years long. Discovering which program is right for you depends on what you need from a program.

Health Coach
Just imagine yourself as a Health Coach 6 to 12 months from now!

How Much Does it Cost to Get Certified in Health Coaching?

Starting a new career as a Health Coach requires a financial investment and time investment.

A review of ten different health coaching programs found that the costs ranged from $999.00 to over $7,000. Most offer convenient payment plan options.

The Health Coaching industry is experiencing exponential growth. It is expected that it will increase over the coming years. This means that after a few clients, you may already see a return on investment. When you take into account the career opportunities available to health coaches, it is a reasonable investment.

We’ve put together a list of the best health coach programs. This will help you compare and contrast various options in your search for a program that’s right for you.

What to Expect from a Health Coaching Program

A Health Coach certification program should equip you with up-to-date health information and coaching skillsets. This will ensure that you are able to guide clients effectively and safely to a healthier lifestyle.

To become a Health Coach, you’ll want training from a trusted certification program. Some programs focus on a particular area like nutrition. Others may offer a broad curriculum designed to cover several health-related concerns. It is important to do your research and find a program that fits with your philosophy and learning style. For example, if you’re interested in nutrition and whole-body wellness, the Natural Nutrition Coach certification is a great start!

What Can I Do With a Health Coach Certification?

A Health Coach Certification will allow you to guide clients in achieving and sustaining habits. These changes can include:

  • Healthy Eating
  • Exercising
  • Practicing Stress Management
  • Getting adequate and good quality sleep
  • Wellness plans
  • Meal planning and more!

The Best Online Health Coach Certifications 2023

These are the top ten picks:

HEALTH COACH COLLABORATIVE

Health Coach Collaborative Logo Transparent
Health Coach Collaborative Logo Transparent Transparent

If you are interested in holistic nutrition and whole-body health, this program is for you!

The Health Coach Collaborative courses include information about; nutrition, health coaching, and whole-body wellness. The students use this information to help clients in the pursuit of health and the prevention of chronic disease.

Each nutrition course is based on the four pillars of health:

Program Length

The 260+ hour, 14-course Natural Nutrition Coach Program combines textbook reading, videos, and activities. The program also includes a comprehensive 4-course module on how to effectively coach clients. The last module in the program includes nutrition business and strategy to ensure success of their graduates. Mandatory nutrition and coaching case studies and a comprehensive final exam are included. The courses are self-paced, but HCC prides itself on support from its instructors throughout the whole program.

All graduates of the 260-hour Natural Nutrition Coach Certification Program are automatically approved to join the Health Coach Alliance where they will be awarded the HCA Registered Health Coach™ title. To qualify for the RHC™ designation, students must successfully complete the full 260-hour Natural Nutrition Coach Program.

This program is for you if: You are passionate about holistic nutrition and whole-body health.

This program is not for you if: You want to become a Health Coach in less than 6 months

  • Cost: $2799
  • Payment plan available: Yes
  • Format: Online, 260-plus hours
work life balance examples
Health Coach Certification

INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) was founded by Joshua Rosenthal. It has grown into one of the larger health coaching certifications with more than 100,000 graduates to date.

The curriculum focuses largely on what IIN calls “primary foods, relationships, finances, stress, social life, and how they affect our health. To IIN, actual food is secondary to all of those factors. There is some general instruction about nutrition, physiology, and anatomy. These lessons stick to the basics (think: how carbs, protein, and fat affect the body differently).

This program is for you if: You want to focus on lifestyle management. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 10 hours per week to this program.

This program is not for you if: You want to spend less than six months on a certification or want to dive deeper into the nuances of nutrition.

  • Cost: $3,000—$7,500 depending on the program
  • Payment plan available: Yes
  • Format: Online or in-app courses, 6 or 12 months

HEALTH COACH INSTITUTE

The Health Coach Institute (HCI) offers two programs: Become a Health Coach (their base-level certification) and Coach Mastery. The Health Coach Institute focuses on many of the same objectives: behavior change, nutrition, exercise, stress, lifestyle, etc.

To take it one step further, however, the graduate course focuses entirely on building your health coaching business. The Coach Mastery course is best for people who already have experience with health coaching.

This program is for you if: You want a health coach certification with a business coaching component to refine your health coaching career. If you already have a health coaching certification and want to better your business with the graduate-level program.

This program is not for you if: You don’t have an interest in or need to learn business-building practices.

  • Cost: $5,450
  • Payment plan available: Yes
  • Format: Online, 6 months

AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is best known for its personal training certifications. It has a vast selection of specialization programs. The ACE Health Coach certification is a great accessory for those who are already personal trainers. Even though you don’t necessarily have to be a certified personal trainer, you do need some sort of health credential or experience as a prerequisite.

To enroll with ACE, you must have one of the following prerequisites:

  • Current NCCA-accredited certification in fitness, nutrition, healthcare, wellness, human resources, or a related field
  • An associate degree or higher from an accredited college or university in fitness, exercise science, nutrition, healthcare, wellness, or a related field
  • A completed health coach training and education program approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC);
  • A minimum of two years of documented work experience in coaching, leading, designing, implementing or facilitating behavior or lifestyle changes.

The Health Coach Advanced Study Program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). It is also approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC).

This program is for you if: You have or are working toward one of the necessary prerequisites, and plan on using your health coaching knowledge in addition to your current specialty (e.g., a certified personal trainer who can also provide nutrition coaching).

This program is not for you if: You don’t have a prerequisite health or fitness credential.

  • Cost: $1,299—$2,299 Health Coach Study Program to $3999 Health Coach Advanced Study Program
  • Payment plan available: Yes
  • Format: Online (self-paced), 3 to 6 months for the base program to one year for the advanced program

PRECISION NUTRITION

The Precision Nutrition program dives deep into nutrition science. If you want to deep dive into human anatomy and physiology, this program is ideal for you. Precision Nutrition is available to anyone—no prerequisites are required. Although the course attempts to put things in lay terms, you can’t expect to entirely avoid medical terminology. All of the course materials are in textbooks or on-demand online seminars. This is a self-paced program.

This program is for you if: You want an online course developed by a nutrition expert (John Berardi, Ph.D.), that you can do at your own pace and you want to focus on nutrition only.

This program is not for you if: You want hands-on field learning on a structured schedule or want to learn about more aspects of health coaching, other than just nutrition.

  • Cost: $999
  • Payment plan available: Yes
  • Format: Textbooks, exams, and online seminars for 12 months

EMORY UNIVERSITY

Emory University’s Health Coach Certificate Program is approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). This program is geared towards those who are looking for continuing education. This means it’s suitable for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Emory’s Health Coach Certificate Program is a 20-week Online Health and Wellness Coaching Certificate Program. It is a hybrid program that combines live online and a self-paced curriculum. Weekly coaching practice sessions and mentored coaching practicums are included. Students can expect to spend a minimum of 8 hours each week on coursework. 100% attendance is mandatory for the live classes and the practice coaching sessions.

Emphasis is placed on the foundational knowledge and practical skills of the coaching standards and competencies NBHWC.

This program is for you if: You love academia and want a challenging, university-level health coaching program, as well as a nationally recognized title.

This program is not for you if: You haven’t earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and/or can’t attend the in-person weekend courses.

  • Cost: $4,995
  • Payment plan available: Yes
  • Format: Online, hybrid live and self-guided training, ****20 weeks

HUMBER COLLEGE

Humber’s Wellness Coaching graduate certificate program prepares the graduate to work in the field of health and wellness coaching. Students have an opportunity to engage with clients in experiential learning opportunities within Humber’s innovative Centre for Healthy Living. There are also field placements within a variety of organizational settings. Students also receive a  Mental Health First Aid Certification and undergo the WellCoaches Core Training program as part of the coursework. The program is also approved by the Health Coach Alliance.

Courses are scheduled over two 14-week semesters and offer a blend of self-directed online modules and evening synchronous remote classes. Placement occurs in Semester 2 and offers both in-person and virtual options. This work placement consists of 210 hours. Currently, this program is only available to Canadian students.

This program is for you if: You are interested in having practicum experience and plenty of it with 210 hours of work placement.

This program is not for you if: You don’t have the minimum academic prerequisites: a bachelor’s degree, advanced diploma, or diploma, or if you do not reside in Canada. Currently, international students are not accepted. As well, the work placement is 210 hours–a significant amount of time for many.

  • Cost: $5624 CND
  • Payment plans available: Yes, through the college
  • Format: A blend of self-directed online modules and synchronous remote classes that take place in the evenings. Two semesters of 14 weeks each, and 210 hours of work placement.

NATIONAL SOCIETY OF HEALTH COACHES

The National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC) spearheaded the first clinical, evidence-based health coaching program. The course uses Motivational interviewing as its core coaching tactic. It’s a rigorous program that prepares students for anything and everything in the health coaching industry. The caveat? The NSHC is only available to licensed healthcare professionals.

The NSHC certification is designed to be used in conjunction with a medical license. This means the program is ideal for: doctors, registered nurses, licensed dentists, naturopathic doctors, or other degrees in healthcare. Other health professionals not on the list of acceptable prerequisites can take the course for a “certificate of completion”. This means they won’t earn the actual “health coach certification” credential.

This program is for you if: You are a licensed health or medical professional and want to earn an additional credential or use this program as a continuing education opportunity.

This program is not for you if: You do not have one of the accepted health or medical licenses to enroll and earn the NSHC certification.

  • Cost: $875
  • Payment plan available: Yes, through PayPal financing
  • Format: Online, 85 hours (on average)

FIT CHICKS ACADEMY

The Fit Chicks Academy is a female-focused company founded by fitness gurus Laura Jackson & Amanda Quinn. Fit Chicks offers several certifications including the Holistic Nutrition Weight Loss Coach Certification (HNWLC). The three-phase HNWLC program consists of 8 modules. The classes are a mix of audio and video classes with a focus on weight loss and habits coaching. Provided in the materials are done-for-you programs to use with clients. According to the website, students can complete the program in as little as 60 days.

The program is available in two offerings, the base HNWLC program, and HNWLC Plus. Both programs include a license for the exclusive use of all the coaching and teaching materials in the Fit Chicks resource portal and a 4-week Mastermind program for business. The HNWLC is recognized by NASM and AFAA and approved by the Health Coach Alliance.

This program is for you if: You want to focus on weight loss and become a Health Coach in 60 days.

This program is not for you if: You are looking for a program with less focus on weight loss.

  • Cost: Level 1 HNWLC -$1997 and the HNWLC Plus – $2997
  • Payment plan available: Yes
  • Format: Online, 60 days

DR SEARS WELLNESS INSTITUTE

The Dr. Sears programs are very well-rounded and follow Dr. Sears’ personal philosophy in lifestyle, attitude, nutrition, and exercise. These four items are also the four pillars of the health coaching coursework. Also, Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is approved by more than 10 leading agencies in the health and fitness industry. This includes the NBHWC and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

This program is for you if: You want a well-rounded, information-rich program that requires no prerequisites to enroll; you want online-only learning; and you want a program you can complete in as little as six weeks (or up to 36 weeks, depending on the course you choose).

This program is not for you if: You don’t want mandatory live lectures (online); or you don’t want to choose one of the Dr. Sears coaching specializations (adults and seniors, pregnancy, or families) and would rather have an overarching certification.

  • Cost: $945-$3875 depending on the program
  • Payments plan available: Yes
  • Format: Online, 6, 9, or 12 weeks

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Health Coach?

A health coach is someone who helps their clients reach their goals. They usually do not make recommendations but will help guide their client to make positive changes. Instead, they guide their client towards sustainable lifestyle change, by helping them set SMART goals and to stay motivated as they strive to form new healthy lifestyle changes. A health coach cannot prescribe, diagnose, or treat.

Who can become a Health Coach?

Anyone! If you love helping people and want to make a difference in someone’s life or in your community – health coaching might be a good career for you.

Should I take a health coaching certification?

Yes! Becoming a certified health coach will give you credibility when applying for jobs. Investing in your health coach career shows that you are dedicated to the profession. Lastly, this will help you build trust with clients as you have done the training necessary to help them achieve their goals.
Gives you credibility in the eyes of future employers especially when applying for jobs.

Are all Health Coaching Certifications the same?

Simply put, no. There is currently no set standardization of education for health coaching courses. It is important to choose a health coaching credential that includes these key attributes:

– Is science-based with an emphasis on diet, nutrition, and lifestyle behaviours.
– Takes a whole-body approach to wellness, not just exercise and nutrition.
– Teaches you strategies that help guide clients to behaviour change
– Includes a business strategy & development module

Check out our Health Coaching Certification here.

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Lisa Tsakos is a nationally recognized nutritional consultant and educator, author, and co-author of the Health Coach Collaborative's Natural Nutrition Coach Certificate Program. She founded her company, Nu-Vitality Health & Wellness, in 1998 to provide natural nutrition and wellness support to businesses and organizations across Canada. She has presented thousands of nutrition seminars to clients which have included the Toronto Police Service, Telus Mobility, the University Health Network, and many more.

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