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Q&A: To Help You Become an Incredible Health Coach

by: Sarah Appleby
Published: December 8, 2023
Updated: December 8, 2023

What makes an incredible health coach?

Is it their credentials? Or their experience? Or do other less tangible factors come into play, like authenticity or relatability?

Are you ready to become an incredible health coach?
Are you ready to become an incredible health coach?

In order to become a great health coach, you must first discover your why. Your aha moment. My aha moment came after the birth of my first child. While on maternity leave, I realized that I didn’t miss my job as a medical researcher. I wanted to make a difference – a real impact in the lives of others, and staring at cells under the microscope felt a little too removed for me. I knew that I wanted to help women regain love and confidence in their bodies. At this stage I didn’t even know what a health coach was.

After a little googling – much like how you probably stumbled across this blog post – I knew that the vision I had was in fact a legit career option. My mind was set. I was going to become a health coach. Now, almost nine years on, I’m still living my dream and running my very own health and fitness business.

But, this post isn’t about me. It’s about you. I want to help you kick-start your very own health coaching career. Finding your aha moment will help you take that leap of faith into your career as a health coach.

But what do you do next? How do you find work as a health coach? Do you need to be certified? How are you going to make a living as a health coach? What salary can you expect to earn as a health coach?

In this post we answer the 13 most frequently asked questions about health coaching, so you can become an incredible health coach.

Let’s start by answering the question…

1. What Is a Health Coach?

Health coaching is an important aspect of preventive medicine, and plays a pivotal role in the battle against chronic disease and health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

So what exactly is a health coach? They are the ultimate cheerleaders, and experts in behavioral change. A health coach is in the job of helping people lead healthy lives, and they specialize in guiding individuals make the necessary lifestyle changes they need to achieve their health goals.

Health coaches do not provide any clinical interventions, nor do they diagnose, prescribe or treat their clients. Instead, they work alongside them, putting in place actionable, achievable steps to help their clients create new healthy habits.

2. What Methods Do Health Coaches Use?

A great coach will use an assortment of coaching strategies to help their clients on their health journey, including:

  • Active listening
  • Habit stacking
  • Accountability coaching
  • Time management
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Goal setting

If these strategies sound completely foreign to you, then that’s totally fine, as you will learn how to use them when you become a certified health coach – but more on this later!

3. What Are the Different Health Coaching Formats?

Health coaches offer their services in a variety of ways. Some coaches prefer working one-on-one with clients in a personal coaching format. Other coaches thrive working in a group counseling set up. Other coaches like to reach as many people as possible, hosting online health summits and webinars.

Often coaches will offer a mix of coaching formats, which may include:

  • In-person coaching
  • Online in a video conference call
  • Telephonic coaching

I use a combination of in-person and online coaching in my business. I also offer one-on-one coaching and small group sessions (between 2-10 people). The variety of coaching formats gives me the opportunity to work with more clients. For example, online coaching allows me to connect with clients from all corners of the globe.

4. What Are the Different Types of Health Coaches?

You can find a health coach to fit any health and wellness need. Here are a few examples:

  • Coaching to increase physical activity
  • Nutrition and eating habits coaching
  • Weight management coaching
  • Diabetes prevention coaching
  • Coaching to assist medication adherence
  • Mental health coaching

5. Where Do Health Coaches Find Work?

You can find health coaches working in a diverse array of settings, including:

  • Corporate health coaching – implementing health and wellness programs in large and small businesses
  • Wellness coaching – using a holistic approach with their clients
  • Fitness industry – helping athletes and the general population with their nutrition and lifestyle
  • Medical setting – working alongside medical doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, physical therapists, chiropractors and other allied health practitioners as part of a collaborative health team
  • Insurance companies – as part of a preventive medicine plan
  • Private practice – running their own business and finding their own clients

6. Is It Important to Find a Health Coaching Niche?

Yes, it’s essential for a successful coach to find a niche.

Finding your coaching niche will:

  • Help you stand out to your ideal client
  • Attract clients that you’re most suited to work with
  • Allow your business to grow sustainably

How do you decide which niche is best for you?

Identifying your coaching niche is where the fun begins! You can start by reflecting on your own personal health journey. I’ve carved my own coaching niche as a specialist women’s strength coach. My ideal client is a busy working mom, who feels intimidated by traditional gyms and would like guidance on how to lift weights and “eat healthy.”

Here’s a list of coaching niches for you to consider:

  • Weight loss for men
  • Teen health coaching
  • Peri- and post-menopausal women
  • Nutrition for post-partum women
  • Stress-management for dads with young children
  • Strength training for seniors
  • Mental health coaching for athletes

The more specific you are, the more desirable your services will become to your ideal client.

7. What Are the Different Health Coach Services You Can Offer?

The type of coaching services you can offer will be determined by your:

  • Niche and specialization
  • Experience
  • Education and qualifications
  • Personality

Health coaching covers a broad range of services and may include:

  • Online weight loss programs
  • Personalized nutrition advice (one-on-one)
  • Group transformation challenges (Facebook)
  • Online fitness programs
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Health coaching app
  • Recipe repository
  • Grocery shopping guidance
  • Pantry clean out

Offering a service or a product with a defined goal and time frame can help attract clients, and it’s also a handy accountability strategy. People are likely to commit to a lifestyle change for 3 to 6 weeks. And hopefully this is long enough for them to solidify a new healthy habit that they can sustain for even longer.

8. Where Can Health Coaches Find Jobs?

There are plenty of health coaching jobs out there. The key is to know where to look for them. If you’re on the hunt for a health coaching job, here’s a few places you can look to get you started:

  • Online job sites such as Monster and Indeed are a great place to search for health coaching jobs in your area.
  • Company websites will often advertise their job vacancies on their own sites.
  • Company mailing lists, keep your eyes peeled for job ads in your inbox, as your favorite wellness or nutrition company may advertise any job opportunities to their mailing lists.
  • Social media, whether it’s Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or LinkedIn, health and wellness companies are likely to advertise for any job openings as they arise on their social media platforms.
  • Networking, using your own connections is the ultimate way to land a job. Approach companies you want to work with, as there may be a job vacancy that hasn’t been advertised yet.
  • Freelancing websites such as Upwork or Fiverr are another option if you’re running your own private practice.

9. What Is the Salary of a Health Coach?

The average salary for a health coach in the United States falls between $21,162 to $86,725 per year, according to Indeed (as of December 2023).

On face-value, this salary range appears large. But, if you dive a little deeper, you’ll understand that there are several factors contributing to your earning potential as a health coach, including:

  • Where you live. Check out our state-by-state salary guide for health coaches.
  • Your health coaching credentials (more on this in the next section).
  • Whether you hold additional qualifications – do you have an associate degree, a bachelor degree or a fitness certification?
  • Knowing your worth. Be confident when putting a monetary value on your coaching and your services. People will pay more than you realize.

10. Do You Need to Get Certified to Become a Health Coach?

Whilst anyone can technically call themselves a “health coach,” if you want to make a living out of being a health coach, then getting certified is a must. There are a growing number of online health and wellness schools offering health coach certifications, but it’s important to realize that not all schools are created equally.

When selecting a health coaching certification, it’s important to research what your chosen school offers in terms of curriculum, study support and any ongoing graduate support. Reading reviews written by graduates of a potential school, or from experts in the health and wellness space, can provide useful insight.

Here at the Primal Health Coach Institute (PHCI) we offer a range of health and fitness certifications, including our NBHWC-approved program. Read on to learn more.

11. What Is the Role of a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach?

There is currently no regulation in regards to who can work as a health coach. But, this space is evolving and changing. In 2016, the NBHWC (National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching) was established as a non-profit organization with the aim of developing professional standards in the field of health coaching. In collaboration with National Board of Medical Examiners, the NBHWC have put in place the professional standard, competencies, and skills that are essential for coaches to be effective. These standards and competencies form the foundation of the National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaching credential (NBC-HWC).

The NBC-HWC certification is the gold standard when it comes to health coaching credentials. In order to become NBC-HWC board certified, you must graduate from an NBHWC approved school, and then sit the NBHWC exam.

PHCI offers an NBHWC-approved program, which was recently awarded “Forbes 2023 Best Comprehensive Design for a Health Coach Certification Program.” PHCI was also the only school that received a 5/5 star rating from Forbes out of all the other schools that were awarded prizes.

12. What’s the Difference Between a Health Coach and a Life Coach?

Whilst there are some similarities between a health coach and a life coach, the main difference between the two types of coaches can be seen in the areas that they focus on.

A life coach helps clients with personal and professional goals – like financial coaching, relationship coaching and career development coaching.

A health coach often takes a holistic approach with their clients, helping them with their nutrition, fitness and stress management goals.

13. Who Are Health Education Specialists and What Do They Do?

When we delve into the world of health coaching, you’re likely to come across some related, but different career paths, especially if you’re doing your own online research. A similar, but different profession you may come across is a health education specialist, (also referred to as community health workers). Even the name sounds similar to a health coach! And whilst health education specialists share the same goal of promoting health and wellness, they take a different approach to this, and their educational path is also different to that of a health coach.

What does a health education specialist do? They teach communities how to stay healthy. This involves educating a community about factors that put people at risk of disease. They also implement large-scale community initiatives that promote and improve health and wellness.

What is the educational path of a health education specialist? A health education specialist will hold a bachelor’s degree in health promotion or a related field as a minimum tertiary education requirement. Often health education specialists hold a master’s degree in public health or community education.

In addition to their degrees, a health education specialist will also hold a health education specialist certification. This is different to a NBC-HWC certification.

Summary

In this post we’ve answered your top 13 questions about health coaching. We’ve covered everything from how to become a certified health coach, to what services health coaches offer, and even how much money health coaches earn.

If we’re going to put an end to chronic medical conditions such as obesity and other related health issues, then we’re going to need as many health coaches as possible spreading their health knowledge with the world. Together we can educate and guide others towards living a healthier lifestyle, and improve their health outcomes.

Are you ready to make a difference and become a health behavior change expert? Start your health coaching career today, with the PHCI.

Now tell us what you think! Leave a comment below to start or join the discussion...

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