How to Become an
NBC-HWC Health Coach

Primal Health Coach Institute is an NBHWC Approved Program

The Primal Health Coach Master Certification Course has the NBHWC Seal of Approval for health and wellness coaching training and education.

NBHWC-approved programs undergo an extensive review process that includes vetting curriculum and content, coach training and application, and faculty qualifications.

Primal Health Coaches that go on to take the Master Coach Certification Course are qualified to apply for the national board certification examination and have the opportunity to earn the designation, National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC).

Is the NBC-HWC Credential a Good Fit for Your Health Coaching Aspirations?

If you’ve been exploring different health coach certification schools, you’ve likely come across a tongue twister of a credential—the NBC-HWC credential—and wondered if it were really necessary to your career goals. 

As the world’s leading ancestral health coaching school, we’ve seen our grads craft extraordinarily creative coaching careers, so we know there’s no one-size-fits-all path to success. We also know that preparation makes the journey smoother. So, in an effort to help you plan yours, here’s what you need to know about the NBC-HWC credential and how Primal Health Coach Institute prepares you.

What Is the NBC-HWC Credential?

NBC-HWC is short for National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, and it’s the gold-standard professional credential for health coaches.

In partnership with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the NBHWC has certified more than 3,000 coaches. This prestigious credential represents the highest standards of education, training, and skills assessment. Consider that there are over 120,000 health coaches practicing in the United States alone, and it’s easy to see how this credential can set you apart.

In other words, if you want to be seen as a top-level health coach, it’s a designation to strive for.

As the $6 billion health coaching industry grows, we’re seeing more perks being given to NBC-HWC credentialed coaches. Health coaches certified by the NBHWC can now deliver healthcare services using CPT codes designated by the American Medical Association (AMA), for example. Along with the growth of the industry, this trend is forecasted to continue.

How Do You Earn the NBC-HWC Credential?

You have an associate degree or 4,000 hours of work experience

You have an associate degree or 4,000 hours of work experience

You have an associate degree or 4,000 hours of work experience

You have an associate degree or 4,000 hours of work experience

Work Experience vs. Education Option

The NBHWC requires an associate degree or higher, or 4,000 hours of work experience in any field.

Should you choose the education option, you will be asked to sign a Documentation of Education statement.

Finding an NBHWC-approved Training

Before you can sit for the NBHWC exam and earn your credential, you must earn a health coach certification from an approved school such as the
Primal Health Coach Institute.

NBHWC-approved programs undergo an extensive review process that includes vetting curriculum and content, coach training and application, and faculty qualifications. 

If taking the work experience option, be prepared to provide:

  • A work summary of your 4,000 hours 
  • Names of your employers
  • Manager or supervisor contact information
  • Job title
  • Dates employed
  • Average monthly hours
  • Total number of work experience hours
  • A notarized copy of the HWC work experience form
Tracking Your Health Coaching Sessions

Primal Health Coaches that go on to take the Master Coach Certification Course, are prepared to start meeting with clients as soon as they pass the final practical skills assessment. 

To meet the 50 health coaching sessions requirement, you’ll want to track your sessions in a health coaching log and review the NBHWC session requirements here.

Sessions are:
  • At least 20 minutes long
  • Concentrated on coaching (75%)
  • With clients other than your friends, family, or classmates
  • In-person or virtual
  • Paid or pro bono
  • Conducted within 7 years of sitting for the National Board Certification exam
Your log must include:
  • A client identity code for confidentiality
  • The length of your coaching or group session
  • The date and session number
  • A summary of topics discussed
Taking the National Board Certification Exam

Once you’ve graduated and logged your 50 coaching sessions, you’re qualified to sit for the exam. The application fee is $100 and the exam fee $350, but you’ll have plenty of time to save up as you’re conducting sessions with clients and preparing for the exam.

We cover everything you need to know in our Master Coach Certification Course. You’ll be tested on:

  1. Coaching Structure (17-23%): How do you prepare for and conduct each stage of your sessions? 
  2. Coaching ProcessRelationship/Communication/Techniques) (47-53%): How effectively have you mastered the art of coaching?
  3. Health & Wellness (17-23%): How extensive is your health and wellness knowledge?
  4. Ethics/Legal (7-13%): Do you know what is required of you legally, ethically, and professionally?

You will have 4.5 hours to take a test tutorial and answer 150 multiple-choice questions with breaks included. When you pass, you will be certified for 3 years, at which time you will have the option to renew.

You can learn more about what to expect on the exam, as well as test prep materials and exam dates, here.

How Does a Master Coach Certification Prepare You?

The Master Coach Certification curriculum satisfies NBHWC-educational requirements and qualifies you to sit for the exam.

Coaching Structure

From client discovery, through intake, onboarding, and the duration of your coaching relationship, right through to client graduation, we unpack what your clients will be thinking, feeling, and needing based on their readiness for change. You’ll learn how to help your clients with productive goal-setting and accountability plans, and will get many, many chances to practice this essential part of the coaching relationship with your peers.

Coaching Process

Coaches are leaders who collaborate with clients to facilitate and co-create behavior change strategies. You’ll learn just about every tool in the book to nurture change-talk and ask powerful, evocative questions that connect to client emotions, intrinsic motivators, and values. This crucial section of the curriculum guides your client toward autonomy and agency over their own health.

Health & Wellness

As the rate of chronic disease continues to rise, it’s feasible that your clients may come to you with some diagnosed or subclinical health conditions. While management of disease states is left in the capable hands of licensed health practitioners, health coaches must learn how to navigate these wellness challenges. We offer a deep exploration of some of the most common health conditions as well as the unsupportive health behaviors plaguing developed nations.


Health coaches are a growing piece of the healthcare puzzle. As the industry continues to grow, it is imperative that coaches learn how to effectively conduct themselves in the context of the health care system at large. As behavior change agents, we have flexibility to really dive into the details of our clients’ environments, emotions, support systems and more, while supporting the medical guidance of licensed professionals.


“Research-based, science-backed, and evidence-based are curriculum criteria that matter to me, and this Master Coach program delivered. Having worked in the field of healthcare behavior strategies for several years – and transitioning to becoming a National Board Certified Health + Wellness Coach – I was beyond pleased and impressed with the rigor and depth of recognized, legitimate scientific resources used to develop the course and support students during our learning experience and beyond. I plan to sit for the board exam in February 2021. Thanks, Primal Health Coach Institute, for advancing the coaching practice!”

Discover How Primal Health Coach Institute Can Help You Become an NBC-HWC Board Certified Health Coach