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Certification 101

How to Become a Health Coach

With chronic disease on the rise across the globe, the need for health coaches is growing as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health coaching profession is predicted to grow by 16% over the next 10 years. Health coaching is a dynamic partnership that centers on increasing awareness and capacity for change and empowering people to adopt healthier lifestyles. If you are interested in pursuing a career as an ACE Certified Health Coach, follow these steps.


Step 1

Choose your study program and start studying

The ACE Health Coach Certification is the only health coach certification accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), considered the gold standard in health and fitness.

Once you've decided the ACE Health Coach Certification is right for you, it's time to choose a study program that best fits your study needs: Basic or Plus. The new ACE Health Coach Study Program includes a combination of digital and print materials that are designed so that you can learn at your own pace. The innovative online learning experience will guide you through the program so you can benefit fully from the comprehensive information and training modules that will prepare you for both the certification exam and a career as a health coach. ACE offers several tools you can use, including ACE Answers, our self-serve resource center, and ACE Answers on Facebook, our social study community.

Curious what our study programs are like? See how you'll learn here.


Step 2

Register for your exam

The cost of the ACE Health Coach Certification Exam is included in the price of each of the study program options. You are required to register for your exam within six months after purchasing your materials. Prior to registering, make sure you meet all of the exam prerequisite requirements, which include 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.


Step 3

Pass your exam and get started on your dream job

Once you pass your exam, you will become an official ACE Certified Health Coach and gain access to exclusive resources aimed at helping you launch your career, including professional discounts on exercise equipment, liability insurance and more. You'll also receive your certificate to display and a wallet ID card to verify your credentials to potential clients and employers.

Once you're ready to start helping clients get healthy, you'll first need to determine the right environment for your career. Consider the setting you'd like to work in—a health and fitness club, specialty studio, benefits association, wellness facility, medical fitness facility or your own private practice—and the type of population with whom you prefer to work. Choosing a path that suits your desires and personal and professional needs will ensure your career starts off on the right foot. Whichever career path you pursue, ACE has a variety of tools to help you get started. For more information, see our Programs & Benefits or log in to your My ACE Account once you earn your certification.


Step 4

Define your specialty

No matter how great you are at your craft, you can't be everything to everyone. Focusing on a specialty within your health coaching practice will make it easier for you to connect with clients who will be a good fit for your services. ACE has created a series of Specialist Programs to help you focus your expertise in specific areas, including behavior change, fitness nutrition and weight management. Although anyone can pursue the education in a specialist program, only those who hold NCCA-accredited certifications will be recognized as ACE Specialists. To find out which area you should pursue, consider the needs in your community and what fuels your passion.


Step 5

Maintain Your ACE Certification

In order to ensure your ongoing professional development and maintain high standards, ACE Certified 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 this standard helps us validate that professionals continue to enhance their competence to safely and effectively help empower people to change. To fulfill those renewal requirements, ACE offers a number of diverse opportunities to help you build your expertise.


ACE Health Coach Exam Requirements

The prerequisites to sit for the ACE Health Coach Certification exam are provided below. If you feel you meet one of the prerequisites, you may submit your pre-approval documents for review. Once your pre-approval documents are received, ACE will respond to your request within 5 business days.

To sit for the ACE Health Coach certification 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's degree or higher from an accredited college or university in fitness, exercise science, nutrition, healthcare, wellness, or a related field
    • Click here to see a list of the most common degrees submitted for review. Note: This list is not all inclusive.
    • You will also have the option to upload a professional license (e.g. RN, LCSW, etc.) if applicable.
  3. A completed health coach training and education program approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC)‡
  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 must complete a CPR/AED course that includes a live skills check prior to registration.

A list of NCCA-accredited certification programs can be found here.

A list of NBHWC-approved training and education programs can be found here.

Not sure if you are eligible to sit for this advanced certification exam? Click here for a decision tree. NOTE: The results of this decision tree DO NOT result in pre-approval. You will still need to upload pre-approval documents for review.

Not sure how to create a resume? Click here for a template.

Note: All candidates must submit appropriate required documentation prior to registering for the ACE Health Coach Certification 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

If you have any questions, please email us at