How To Become A Health Coach: A Step-By-Step Guide (Forbes Advisor)

Posted: Nov 29, 2023 in In the News

This article originally appeared in Forbes Advisor on November 29, 2023.


How To Become A Health Coach: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Kayla Missman

Health coaches have a special opportunity to build long-lasting, trusting relationships that change people’s lives. Intuitive coaches take the time to truly connect with clients, helping them overcome their limitations and establish healthy habits.

If you emanate positivity, approach health holistically and love collaborating with others, you may be suited to a career as a health coach. Becoming a certified health coach takes more time and education, but that extra step can pay off. In an unregulated market, many clients and employers seek out coaches who hold reputable certifications.

Read on to learn how to become a certified health coach and what you can gain from pursuing this professional distinction.

What Is a Certified Health Coach?

Health coaches help clients feel their best and achieve their goals. They aim to improve clients’ overall well-being, not just their physical appearance, and help them maintain their positive changes over time. Health coaches delve into their clients’ mental and emotional health, offer nutrition guidance and work to reduce harmful behaviors like smoking.

Health coaches collaborate with their clients to assess their needs, evaluate their current states of health, develop long-term goals and enact treatment plans. They help their clients every step of the way, while teaching them skills to better manage their own health in the future.

The health coaching field is largely unregulated, but you can set yourself apart by becoming a certified health coach. Certified health coaches don’t just encourage their clients; they train in psychology, behavior change theories, clinical strategies and evidence-based approaches to instill long-lasting, healthy habits.

What Skills Do Certified Health Coaches Need?

Great health coaches make their clients feel comfortable and calm. Coaches should believe in their clients’ ability to achieve their goals and know how to impart that confidence in them. During each session, health coaches commit to creating a supportive, nonjudgmental environment for success.

At the same time, coaches aren’t there to diagnose or lecture. They must respect that their clients are experts on their own lives and use active listening and skillful conversation to encourage critical thinking and collaborative goal setting.

Where Do Certified Health Coaches Work?

Health coaches find meaningful work in various settings, and many embark on an entrepreneurial path, running their own businesses so they can set flexible schedules and choose their clients. This may suit people who want to specialize in particular groups or concerns.

Health coaches also work in hospitals, where they collaborate with medical professionals to develop personalized treatment plans. For example, they might help patients with cardiac rehabilitation or diabetes management. Physicians can also pursue health coach certification to enhance their practice.

Health coaches could also work for corporations to develop wellness programs, serve as educators or provide community services. They help clients one on one, at gyms, in group settings and through virtual sessions.


Certifications for Certified Health Coach

The health and wellness market is saturated with options, but not all carry the same weight. To start, look for certifications accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Accredited organizations comply with quality standards for their certifications.

Below, we discuss requirements for a few certifications and cover their benefits.


American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coach Certification

This NCCA-accredited certification includes a training program. To apply, you must have CPR/AED certification and fulfill educational or experience requirements. ACE requires completion of an associate degree, an NBHWC-approved program, an NCCA-accredited certification or two years of professional experience.

The ACE exam costs a minimum of $850, depending on your chosen program of study. Once you pass the at-home exam, you can earn recertification through continuing education credits.

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