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Certification 101

How to become an ACE Certified Health Coach

With a rising interest in achieving healthier lifestyles, due in part to greater awareness about the obesity and chronic disease epidemics, more people are being drawn to a career as a health coach. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, between 2012 and 2022, employment in the field is expected to increase by 13%. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a Certified Health Coach here are a few steps to make the process seamless.


Step 1

Do your Research

Once you’ve decided that becoming an ACE Certified Health Coach is right for you, the first (and extremely important) step is choosing a certification program. There may be hundreds of options available, but the pool narrows quickly when you take accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) into account. Considered the gold standard in health and fitness, NCCA accreditation ensures programs for a wide range of industries meet defined standards of excellence for performing a specific job. It’s also the standard recognized by leaders (and employers) in fitness and medical communities. In fact, the ACE Health Coach certification is the only Health Coach certification that is accredited by the NCCA.

To learn more about the requirements and processes necessary to earn and maintain an ACE Health Coach Certification, download our Certification Handbook. To start your journey toward certification, make sure you meet the pre-requisite requirements for becoming an ACE Certified Health Coach prior to sitting for the exam.

Select an NCCA-Accredited Certification

Health Coach Careers

Get the Career Guide

As an ACE Health Coach, you'll have the opportunity to get people — and your career — moving. Learn about life as a Health Coach in our career guide.

Becoming a Health Coach - A Career Guide for a growing field

Explore your options for starting or furthering your career in the fitness industry as a health coach.

Health Coach Settings

  • Medical offices and hospitals
  • Large corporations and small businesses
  • Health insurance companies
  • Community centers
  • Educational institutions
  • Holistic health facilities
  • Health clubs

Step 2

Choose a Study Program

Once you’ve decided which certification program is right for you, it’s time to secure your study materials. Certification providers typically offer different plans for candidates that vary based on how much guidance they receive. Preparation for ACE exams is self-paced and done through a combination of online and physical materials. To prepare for the ACE Health Coach certification exam candidates generally invest 80-100 hours of study time over a 3-4 month period depending on background, experience and available time. ACE also offers several tools you can utilize as you prepare, including direct access to experts in our ACE Resource Center and the ACE Study Center on Facebook.

View Full Programs Comparision

Step 3

Register for Your Exam

Costs associated with registering for a certification exam are included in each of the study program options. The only requirement is that you register for your exam within six months after purchasing your materials (even though you can select a date beyond that deadline). Prior to registering, make sure you meet all pre-requisite requirements for your exam, which includes holding a current CPR/AED certification with live skills check. Please note that purchasing ACE study materials is not required in order to register for the exam.

Find an Exam Location

Where would you like to take your exam?

Step 4

Pass Your Exam

Once you successfully pass your exam you will officially be an ACE Certified Health Coach, ready to start a career. As an ACE Certified Health Coach, you’ll gain access to exclusive resources aimed at helping you launch your career, including professional discounts on equipment, ACE apparel, liability insurance and a wide range of other products. Once you pass your exam, you’ll also receive your certificate and a wallet ID card in the mail that will make it easy to verify your credentials to potential clients and employers.

Programs and Benefits

Step 5

Get a Job

There are a lot of factors that go into finding the right position. First, you’ll need to determine which environment you want to work in (a health and fitness club, specialty studio, medical fitness facility, or if you’d like to venture out on your own) and where. It may help to check out our salary report to find out what ACE Certified Pros are making nationwide. Whichever career path you pursue, ACE has a number of tools to help you get started. For more information on these benefits, visit Programs & Benefits or log in to your My ACE Account once you earn your certification.

Step 6

Maintain Your Certification

In order to maintain the high standards set by the NCCA, ACE Professionals (and others in the industry) are required to earn 20 hours of continuing education credits (2.0 CECs) every two years. Establishing and enforcing that standard helps us validate that professionals continue to enhance their competence to safely and effectively lead people to change. To fulfill those renewal requirements, ACE offers a number of diverse opportunities to help you build your expertise.

Get Certified

Additional Support

There will no doubt be more questions you need answered once you start your career. Finding a mentor can help you navigate some of those challenges, but our team is also here to help with any additional questions you may have. Feel free to give us a call.

Call (888) 825-3636 ext. 782

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ACE Health Coach Exam Requirements

To sit for the ACE Health Coach Certification Exam, you must:

You must also SUBMIT proof of at least ONE of the following:

  1. Current NCCA-accredited certification† in fitness, nutrition, healthcare, wellness, human resources or a related field
  2. An associate degree or higher from an accredited college or university in fitness, exercise science, nutrition, healthcare, wellness or a related field
  3. A completed health coach training and education program approved by the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaches (ICHWC)‡
  4. A minimum of two years of documented work experience in coaching, leading, designing, implementing, or facilitating one or more of the following: behavior or lifestyle change, exercise, wellness, nutrition, or physical activity

*CPR and AED certificates are both required in the U.S. and Canada. Candidates outside the U.S. and Canada are only required to hold a current CPR certificate due to differing international laws regarding AED use by non-medical professionals. Candidates taking an ACE exam via computer-based testing must obtain a current CPR/AED certificate prior to registration. A list of NCCA-accredited certification programs can be found at: A list of ICHWC-approved training and education programs can be found at: Note: Candidates must submit supporting documentation of current NCCA-accredited certifications, degrees and/or work experience prior to registering for the ACE Health Coach exam.

Pre-approval Process

Candidates must submit supporting documentation of current NCCA-accredited certifications, degrees and/or work experience prior to registering for the ACE Health Coach exam.

Submit Pre-Approval Documents

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