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Top 11 Health Coach Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top health coach certifications available, helping readers choose the best one for their career goals.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are an important part of the job market for health coaches as they demonstrate a level of knowledge and expertise that potential employers look for. Certifications also show employers that a health coach is committed to their profession, has taken the time and effort to gain additional qualifications, and is able to provide quality services to their clients. In addition, certifications can help differentiate health coaches from other professionals in the industry, allowing them to stand out from the crowd and make themselves more attractive candidates for employment opportunities.

This article reviews the top certifications for Health Coaches and explains how they can help to advance a health coach's career.

What are Health Coach Certifications?

Health coach certification is a professional credential that recognizes an individual's expertise in helping people achieve their health goals. It is designed to provide individuals with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to effectively coach clients on lifestyle changes that lead to better health outcomes. Health coaching involves teaching clients to adopt healthier behaviors and habits, while also providing support and guidance as they work towards their goals.

Health coaches are uniquely qualified to help clients make positive lifestyle changes because they have a comprehensive understanding of nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep hygiene, mental wellness, chronic disease management and more. By earning a health coach certification, individuals can demonstrate their commitment to helping others improve their overall well-being. As such, certified health coaches often serve as trusted advisors for those looking for guidance in making healthy decisions.

The benefits of health coaching include improved patient engagement and adherence to medical advice; increased knowledge about nutrition and exercise; enhanced self-efficacy in making lifestyle changes; improved quality of life; reduced risk factors for chronic diseases; and improved overall physical health. Additionally, having a certified health coach on staff can benefit healthcare organizations by increasing patient satisfaction levels and reducing costs associated with preventable chronic diseases.

Pro Tip: Before enrolling in a health coach certification program, make sure to research the institution's accreditation and reputation. This will ensure that you receive an education that is up to industry standards and will be respected by potential employers.

Related: What does a Health Coach do?

Top 11 Health Coach Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Health Coachs today.

1. American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coach Certification

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coach Certification is a comprehensive program designed to equip health and fitness professionals with the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively coach individuals in making lifestyle changes that lead to improved health. The program includes an online course, a practical exam, and continuing education requirements.

The ACE Health Coach Certification takes approximately 12-15 weeks to complete. The program consists of two components: the online course and the practical exam. The online course covers topics such as nutrition, physical activity, behavior change, communication skills, and professional development. Upon completion of the online course, students must pass a practical exam in order to receive their certification.

To get ACE Health Coach Certification you must first register for the program through ACE’s website. Once registered you will have access to the online course material which you can complete at your own pace. After completing all of the modules in the online course you will be eligible to take the practical exam which is administered at an approved testing center near you.

The cost for ACE Health Coach Certification varies depending on whether or not you are an existing ACE Professional member. For non-members, the cost is $599 USD; for existing members it is $399 USD. This fee includes access to all of the materials needed to complete the program as well as one attempt at passing the practical exam.

2. National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) Certification

The National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) Certification is a professional certification program that recognizes the knowledge and skills of health and wellness coaches. The NBHWC is the first national board to certify health and wellness coaches in the United States. It was created to help ensure that health and wellness coaches are competent, qualified, and knowledgeable professionals who can provide quality services to their clients.

The NBHWC Certification process involves passing an online exam, completing at least 80 hours of continuing education credits, and submitting an application for certification. The exam consists of two parts: a written component which tests knowledge of foundational concepts in health and wellness coaching, as well as a practical component which tests competency in applying these concepts with clients.

It typically takes about six months to complete the entire process from start to finish. To get started on your certification journey, you must first register with the NBHWC website and pay the registration fee of $150 USD. Once registered, you will be able to access study materials such as practice exams or tutorials that will help you prepare for the exam.

Once you have completed all requirements for certification, including passing both components of the exam, you will need to submit your application for certification along with supporting documentation such as proof of continuing education credits earned or transcripts from any relevant courses taken.

The cost associated with obtaining NBHWC Certification depends on how much time it takes you to complete all requirements for certification. In addition to the registration fee mentioned above ($150 USD), there may also be additional fees associated with taking any required courses or purchasing study materials needed to prepare for the exam.

3. International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching (ICHWC) Certification

The International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching (ICHWC) Certification is a professional credential that recognizes the knowledge and skills of health and wellness coaches. It is designed to help ensure that individuals who provide health and wellness coaching services have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to do so effectively. The certification requires applicants to demonstrate their mastery of core competencies in areas such as communication, behavior change, client-centered approaches, evidence-based practice, coaching ethics and professionalism.

It typically takes 6-12 months to complete the ICHWC Certification process. To get certified, applicants must first complete an approved training program in health and wellness coaching or a related field. After completing the training program, applicants must pass an exam administered by the ICHWC. Finally, they must submit a portfolio demonstrating their mastery of the core competencies required for certification.

The cost of ICHWC Certification varies depending on the chosen training program; however, it can range from $1,500-$5,000 USD.

4. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health Fitness Specialist Certification

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health Fitness Specialist Certification is a professional certification program designed to prepare health and fitness professionals to work with individuals and groups in preventative and rehabilitative exercise programs. This certification is recognized as the gold standard for health and fitness professionals worldwide.

In order to become certified, applicants must first meet the eligibility requirements, which include having a current CPR/AED certification, an undergraduate degree in an exercise science-related field, or a combination of education and experience. Once these requirements are met, applicants can then register for the exam. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as exercise physiology, nutrition, anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics, and other areas related to health and fitness. The exam takes about three hours to complete and costs $300 USD.

Once the exam is successfully completed, applicants will be awarded their ACSM Health Fitness Specialist Certification. This certification is valid for three years after which it must be renewed by completing continuing education credits or re-taking the exam.

5. National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC) Certified Health Coach

The National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC) Certified Health Coach is a professional certification program designed to help individuals develop the skills, knowledge, and credentials necessary to become successful health coaches. The NSHC Certified Health Coach credential is recognized by employers and health care organizations as a mark of excellence in health coaching.

To become certified as an NSHC Certified Health Coach, you must complete a comprehensive training program that includes online coursework, hands-on practice sessions, and an exam. The entire program typically takes between six months and one year to complete.

To get started on the path to becoming an NSHC Certified Health Coach, you will first need to register for the program through the NSHC website. Once you have registered, you will be able to access all of the course materials needed for completion of the program. You will also be assigned a mentor who can provide guidance throughout your training process.

The cost of becoming an NSHC Certified Health Coach varies depending on which package you choose. There are three packages available: Basic ($1,495), Plus ($2,195), and Premium ($2,995). Each package includes different levels of support and access to additional resources that can help you succeed in your certification journey.

Once you have completed all of the required coursework and passed the exam with a score of 80% or higher, you will receive your official NSHC Certified Health Coach certificate from the National Society of Health Coaches.

6. Integrative Nutrition Certified Health Coach

Integrative Nutrition Certified Health Coach (INCH) is an online health coaching program designed to help individuals become certified health coaches. The program focuses on teaching individuals how to use nutrition, lifestyle, and behavior change techniques to help clients reach their health goals. It also covers topics such as stress management, emotional eating, and mindful eating.

The INCH program takes approximately 6 months to complete, depending on the individual's learning pace. Those enrolled in the program will have access to a variety of resources including lectures, videos, webinars, and quizzes.

To get started with the INCH program, individuals must first register for the course online by completing an application form and paying the tuition fee. The cost of the course is $2,999 USD which includes all materials needed for completion of the program.

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to become certified health coaches through Integrative Nutrition's certification board (IINCB). This certification requires passing a written exam and completing a practicum project.

7. International Association of Wellness Professionals (IAWP) Certified Wellness Coach

The International Association of Wellness Professionals (IAWP) Certified Wellness Coach is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have achieved the highest standards of excellence in the field of wellness coaching. It is a comprehensive program that includes both theoretical and practical components, and provides an opportunity for coaches to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the areas of health, nutrition, lifestyle management, stress management, behavior change, communication strategies, and goal setting.

The IAWP Certified Wellness Coach Program consists of three levels: Level 1 – Foundations Course; Level 2 – Advanced Coaching Course; and Level 3 – Professional Certification Exam. The Foundations Course is a self-paced online course that takes approximately 6-8 weeks to complete. It covers topics such as understanding the role of a wellness coach, developing effective coaching skills, establishing meaningful relationships with clients, and creating successful wellness programs. The Advanced Coaching Course is an 8-week instructor-led course that focuses on advanced coaching techniques and strategies for working with clients. Finally, the Professional Certification Exam is a 3-hour online exam that tests knowledge in all areas covered in the Foundations and Advanced Coaching Courses.

To become certified as an IAWP Certified Wellness Coach you must successfully complete all three levels of the program. The cost for the entire program is $1,499 USD which includes access to all courses and materials as well as one attempt at the Professional Certification Exam.

8. Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Certified Health Coach

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Certified Health Coach is a comprehensive program that provides students with the knowledge and skills to become a health coach. It is an online program that takes approximately one year to complete, although the exact length of time can vary depending on how quickly the student progresses through the coursework. The program covers topics such as nutrition, lifestyle management, behavior change, and business development.

To get certified as an IIN Health Coach, students must first complete the program’s curriculum and pass all assessments. After completing the coursework, students must also pass a final exam in order to be eligible for certification.

The cost of the IIN Certified Health Coach Program varies depending on whether you choose to pay in full or opt for a payment plan. The full cost of the program is $5995 USD, while opting for a payment plan will cost $6995 USD over 12 months.

9. Functional Medicine Coaching Academy Professional Training Program

Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA) is a professional training program designed to help healthcare professionals become certified Functional Medicine coaches. The program offers comprehensive training in the principles of Functional Medicine, including nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management.

The FMCA Professional Training Program consists of three main components: an online course, an in-person workshop, and a certification exam. The online course is self-paced and takes approximately 8 weeks to complete. It covers topics such as nutrition science, lifestyle medicine, and coaching skills. The in-person workshop is two days long and takes place at the FMCA headquarters in San Diego, California. During the workshop participants learn about the principles of Functional Medicine and how to apply them to their practice.

The certification exam is administered by the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). It consists of multiple choice questions covering topics such as nutrition science, lifestyle medicine, and coaching skills. To be eligible for the exam applicants must have completed both the online course and in-person workshop.

The cost of the FMCA Professional Training Program varies depending on whether you are taking it as an individual or a group. For individuals, it costs $2195 USD plus applicable taxes; for groups of four or more it costs $1895 USD per person plus applicable taxes.

10. Precision Nutrition Level 1 and Level 2 Certifications

Precision Nutrition (PN) is an evidence-based nutrition coaching program that provides a comprehensive approach to nutrition and health. It was founded in 2004 by Dr. John Berardi and Dr. Phil Harvey, two of the world’s leading authorities on nutrition science and behavior change.

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is a comprehensive online course that covers the fundamentals of nutrition, including macronutrients, micronutrients, food quality, energy balance, meal timing, digestion, metabolism and more. The course takes approximately 20 hours to complete and includes video lectures, quizzes and tests for assessment. After completing the course successfully you will receive your PN Level 1 Certification.

The Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification is an advanced online course that builds on the knowledge from the Level 1 Certification and focuses on helping you become a better coach for your clients. This course covers topics such as goal setting, habit formation, behavior change strategies and more. The course takes approximately 40 hours to complete and includes video lectures, quizzes and tests for assessment. After completing the course successfully you will receive your PN Level 2 Certification.

Both certifications are offered online through Precision Nutrition's website at a cost of $499 USD each or $899 USD for both certifications combined.

11. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s Professional Training in Mind-Body Medicine

The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) Professional Training in Mind-Body Medicine is a comprehensive and intensive training program designed to equip health care professionals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to effectively integrate mind-body medicine into their practice. The program includes both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience.

The training takes place over the course of two years and consists of six weeklong residential retreats, one per year. During these retreats, participants learn about the evidence base for mind-body medicine, explore various modalities such as meditation, yoga, nutrition counseling, expressive arts therapy, and more. They also receive supervised clinical experience in working with individuals and groups. In between each retreat there are four months of online learning activities that include lectures from leading experts in the field as well as interactive discussions with peers.

To be eligible to participate in the CMBM Professional Training Program in Mind-Body Medicine you must have a graduate degree in a health or mental health profession such as medicine, nursing, psychology or social work; or be enrolled in an accredited professional degree program with at least one year of clinical experience.

The cost of the two year program is $25,000 which includes all tuition fees for the six weeklong residential retreats plus all online learning activities during the four months between each retreat.

Do You Really Need a Health Coach Certificate?

The answer to this question is ultimately up to you. A health coach certificate can be a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in the field of health coaching, as well as show potential employers that you are serious about the profession. However, it is not absolutely necessary for success in the field.

If you are passionate about health coaching and want to make an impact on others’ lives, then getting a health coach certificate could be beneficial for you. It will provide you with an edge over other applicants who do not have one and also give you access to exclusive job opportunities or higher pay scales. Having a certificate can also help establish credibility as a professional health coach, which can lead to more clients and more business in the long run.

On the other hand, if your goal is simply to get into the field of health coaching without investing too much time or money into it, then a certificate may not be necessary for you. There are many ways that you can gain experience in the field without having an official certification, such as volunteering at local community centers or taking online courses related to nutrition or exercise science. With enough experience and dedication, it is possible to become successful without having a formal certification.

In conclusion, whether or not you need a health coach certificate depends on your individual goals and ambitions within the field of health coaching. If having an official certification would give you an advantage and help meet your goals faster, then it could be worth pursuing one. However, if obtaining a certificate does not fit into your plans or budget at this time, there are still plenty of other ways that you can gain experience in the field without having one.

Related: Health Coach Resume Examples

FAQs About Health Coach Certifications

1. What is a Health Coach Certification?

A Health Coach Certification is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to provide health coaching services. It provides evidence of competency in the field of health coaching, and helps ensure that clients are receiving quality care from knowledgeable professionals.

2. How do I become certified as a Health Coach?

You must complete an accredited health coaching program offered by a recognized institution or organization. These programs typically involve completing coursework, passing examinations, and demonstrating practical application of health coaching concepts and techniques.

3. What are the benefits of becoming certified as a Health Coach?

Certified Health Coaches have the opportunity to work with diverse populations, providing guidance and support for individuals looking to make positive lifestyle changes. Additionally, certification can provide access to additional resources and networking opportunities within the health coaching industry.

4. Are there any prerequisites for becoming certified as a Health Coach?

Yes, most programs require applicants to have prior experience in healthcare or related fields, such as nutrition or exercise science. Additionally, some programs may require applicants to hold certain certifications or licenses before applying for a Health Coach Certification program.

5. How long does it take to become certified as a Health Coach?

The amount of time required to become certified will vary depending on the program chosen and individual's circumstances; however, most programs can be completed within 1-2 years if all requirements are met in a timely manner.

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