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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.

Begin

Step 1

Do your research and choose a study program

Once you've decided that becoming an ACE Certified Health Coach is right for you, the first step is choosing a certification program. The pool narrows quickly when you take accreditation into account. 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 which certification program is right for you, it's time to get your study materials. ACE Health Coach Study Programs include a combination of digital and hard copy materials. Preparation for the exam is self-paced, typically taking 80-100 hours over 3-4 months. ACE offers several tools you can use, including direct access to experts in our ACE Resource Center and the ACE Study Center on Facebook.

Curious what our study programs are like? Get a free course preview in the certification of your choice.

Next

Step 2

Register for your exam

Costs associated with registering for an ACE Health Coach Certification Exam are included in each of the study program options. The only requirement is that you register for your exam at some point 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.

Next

Step 3

Pass your exam and get your dream job

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

There are a lot of factors that go into finding the right position. First, you'll need to determine which setting 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. Whichever career path you pursue, ACE has a number 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.

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Our commitment to foster career growth

As part of our commitment to foster career growth among ACE Certified Professionals, we have secured agreements from a wide range of health and fitness companies nationwide. Identifying yourself as an ACE Certified Personal Trainer or Group Fitness Instructor at 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Town Sports International, KoKo FitClub, Crunch, Steve Nash Fitness World and Sports Club, Orangetheory Fitness and Active Wellness will get you in the door for an interview for any qualifying position at those facilities.

24 Hour Fitness
Anytime Fitness
Orangetheory Fitness
Town Sports International
Koko FitClub
Crunch
Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club
Active Wellness

Step 4

Define your specialty

It’s important to note that you can’t be everything to everyone, no matter how great you are at your craft. You must have a clear idea of your target market 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 like 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, what you are most passionate about and your preferred training style.

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Step 5

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.

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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: credentialingexcellence.org A list of ICHWC-approved training and education programs can be found at: ichwc.org/approved-programs 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

If you have any questions, please email us at credentialing@acefitness.org.