The 6 Best Health Coach Certifications of 2023 | How to Become One

Welcome to the PTPioneer breakdown of the top 6 Health Coach Certification Programs.

The topics covered throughout this article will be:

  • What it Means to Be a Health Coach
  • The most respected Health Coach Certifications
  • The top Health Coaching Organizations
  • A breakdown of my review methods and criteria

By reading this article, you will be informed of all of the best health coaching certifications in the fitness industry.

So, let’s dive in and get right into discussing the role of a health coach.

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Introduction to Health Coaching

Health coaching is ideal for trainers or teachers who have the desire to thrive and use holistic wellness along with long-lasting behavior changes.

This is one of the newer exercise science careers and is growing in popularity.

What does a health coach do?

Well, a health coach will have the job of helping find the root of the client’s problems and then encouraging a change of lifestyle instead of only seeing the symptoms.

Health coaches share many similarities with personal trainers, but they really emphasize and enhance the behavior change aspects of personal training.

Health coaching and personal training share many similarities and also work to complement one another.

Even the benefits of health coaching are nearly identical to the benefits of personal training.

You will find that the top three certifying organizations for health coaches in this article will also offer the best personal trainer certifications.

They also happen to offer some of the better nutrition certification programs, although those are not in the same order.

This can be an excellent way to enhance a current fitness certification and become an expert in changing client behaviors.

Most of the time, a health coach certification will be chosen to pursue after personal training certification. So, it is most often seen as a specialization to add to training knowledge and services.

A health coach’s salary will be very similar to a personal trainer’s salary, and if the two are combined, or even just combined with other certifications, salary potential is increased.

Suppose you have yet to get a personal training certification, like many readers on PTPioneer who are doing their research. In that case, looking for opportunities to purchase multiple certifications together is a good idea.

There are many directions for a personal training career, and health coaching could be the optimal option for many people.

Choosing one quality organization and pursuing fitness certifications is ideal for maximized success.

If the organization you choose to pursue is ISSA, a personal favorite of mine, then I recommend you check out the ISSA Elite Trainer Bundle.

This Elite trainer bundle from ISSA will include the ISSA CPT certificationISSA Nutritionist certification, and a specialization of your choice, like the ISSA Health Coach Certification, ISSA Strength and Conditioning Certification, ISSA CES certification, and many more options.

If you want to maximize your value and set up a solid foundation as a personal trainer, you cannot go wrong with one of the greatest values in the fitness industry with the ISSA Elite Bundle.

You essentially will sign up to earn three certifications for the price of one, which is a tremendous deal when you consider that each certification alone can cost $600 – $900.

ISSA Elite Trainer badge

The ISSA Elite Trainer bundle comes in at $83 monthly or $999 when paid in full.

The ISSA often runs discounts on the bundle directly through their website, and if so, it would not be easy to pass up.

There’s an even better part, too!

You can study the ISSA Elite Trainer for free by visiting the ISSA website today.

That covers the basics of health coaching and a little extra on some deals for getting into this excellent specialization field.

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The 6 Best Health Coach Programs - Everything you need to know in [year] 3

The Top Health Coach Certifications in 2023

Let’s dive in and look at the Top 6 Health Coach Certifications throughout the fitness industry.

All these programs will help you powerfully and efficiently change your clients’ lives.

1) ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) Health Coach Certification

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The ISSA is a leading fitness organization with a lot of respect from employers looking for trainers and coaches.

They offer more certifications and specializations than the other organizations on this list, so there are options for many different types of personal trainers.

The ISSA Health Coach Certification is for personal trainers and other health professionals who wish to help their clients overcome mental and physical barriers to health.

You will learn to develop all the skills required to instill lasting behavior change into your client’s everyday life.

Programs developed for your clients will provide all the guidance needed to empower people and improve lives.

Study Materials: ISSA Health Coach

There are three comprehensive ISSA Health Coach programs to choose from:

  • Health Coach
  • Health Coach Elite (Health Coach + Nutritionist + Onnline Coach)
  • Health Coach Master (Health Coach + Nutritionist + Online Coach + Exercise Recovery + Transformation + Yoga Instructor + Weight Management) 

The program on its own will include these materials:

  • ISSA Certified Health Coach Textbook (note – removed first bullet point)
  • 8 Chapter Quizzes
  • Unlimited Education Support
  • Guided and Structured Study
  • Video Lectures That Make Personal Health Coaching Easy To Understand
  • Online Final Exam

The ISSA health coach materials, like all ISSA study programs, are constantly updated with new information, so you can effectively coach clients.

The ISSA health coach training program allows you to study independently and schedule your online exam whenever is best for you.

The program lands first on our recommendations because not only is it an outstanding program, but it is also an amazing deal in fitness.

ISSA Health Coach Certification Cost

ISSA has three options for payment for all of its programs, and this health coach specialization is no different.

There is an option to pay monthly in 12 months, 6 months, or pay in full immediately.

Prices on the bundles range from $99/month to $199/month for a 12 month plan, interest free.

This can be considered a normal price for a certification program, but ISSA has some amazing deals to help you get multiple certifications at once.

The ISSA Health Coach Elite Bundle allows professionals to get three certifications: The ISSA Health Coach Certification, the ISSA Nutritionist certification, and the Online Coach certification (especially relevant now, with many health and fitness professionals conducting online sessions at an increasing rate).

Another significant benefit of buying a bundle would be that a specialization like nutrition or online coaching can be used for continuing education credits, which are needed to recertify anyways.

With ISSA, you will need 20 continuing education credits every two years, which would easily cover that requirement.

The cost for certification renewal will be $0 when you earn your credits through ISSA, and if earned outside of ISSA, it will cost $99 to renew.

Now, how do these materials stack up compared to the other certifications, and why is it at the top of my list?

ISSA Health Coach Content Quality

ISSA’s material and online format do an excellent job of teaching the materials required to become an effective health coach.

The Health Coach course has 22 chapters worth of knowledge to teach the cognitive-behavioral approaches, goal setting, and psychology skills for health coaching and all the information you could want regarding chronic health conditions.

Using motivational interviewing and many other coaching skills is done well and will lead to a coach becoming very successful when trying to help others.

For someone who is already a personal trainer, this will still benefit greatly, as it adds a ton of content already known regarding behavior change and many new areas like business development and stress management.

This program ranks as my top choice, as it includes all of the materials taught in the other health coach programs, but it is much cheaper, increasing the value tremendously.

Like the top three on the list, this program is more of a specialization and is maximized when pursued by existing personal trainers.

Next, let’s look at another top name in fitness, NASM.

2) NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Wellness Coach

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The NASM Certified Wellness Coach program is an online course that aims to give the core skills for your coaching business, and it is rooted in practical application and the use of holistic health and standard health protocols.

Wellness coaching is another name for health coaching. It aims to instill lifestyle behavior changes so that clients can have more satisfaction with life, a stronger emotional and physical performance, and a life with less disease.

The five major areas taught with NASM will be movement, nutrition, mental and emotional well-being, recovery and regeneration, and coaching.

Study Materials: NASM Wellness Coach

The NASM wellness coach program is sold as one package but sometimes bundled with other programs, such as nutrition certification.

The NASM wellness coach package includes these items:

  • State-of-the-art Digital Learning Platform
  • 4 Audio Interviews
  • 1 Simulation
  • 2 guided Reflections
  • Insightful Animations
  • Chapter Quizzes
  • 1 Practice Exam
  • Final Exam

The online format of the digital learning platform is probably the best in the fitness industry. It is not only accessible on any device but very efficient and easy to navigate.

The audio interviews give direct insight into different theories and concepts from experts in the field, which is very helpful for those new to coaching.

The simulation scenarios and guided reflections are something unique to NASM that help it stand ahead of the certifications lower on the list. It is like case studies done with other programs and really enhances the learning experience.

Next, let’s look at the cost of NASM’s excellent coaching program.

NASM Wellness Coach Certification Cost

The major downside of this certification program, especially when comparing the first three on the list, would be that it is quite expensive.

The NASM Certified Wellness Coach certification comes in at $6,499 when not on sale, but it is often lowered to as much as $3,400.

This is quite a bit more expensive than the other comparable organizations like ISSA and ACE.

Still, there is a lot of value for any health professional who wishes to drive change in their clients to benefit them in the long term.

The NASM Certified wellness coach cert will require 1.9 CEUs to recertify, which is 19 credits for continuing education, and the completion of the program also serves to give 20 credits.

The CWC certification is required to be recertified every two years. It will cost you nothing when recertifying, as the CWC recertification process only costs money when it is a late renewal application.

NASM Wellness Coach Content Quality

The NASM wellness coach program is broken up into 5 sections which consist of 35 chapters in total.

It is an extensive program, as it should be for the price they charge.

The five primary sections covered will be an introduction to wellness and coaching, movement, mental and emotional well-being, nutrition, and coaching.

The information throughout this study program expands on all coaching aspects that are touched on in a personal training program.

Wellness coaching will build a successful foundation of impactful strategies to help your clients meet goals.

Next, let’s move to number three in our list of fitness organizations offering health coach certification.

3) The ACE (American Council on Exercise) Health Coach Certification

The ACE (American Council on exercise) health coach certification

ACE is a top name in fitness and is well known for its personal training and group fitness certifications.

ACE’s health coach program is a course that helps you understand basic behavioral science and healthy lifestyle change.

This ACE health program will help you develop the practical skills and strategy needed to transform your client’s health, lifestyle, and wellbeing for good.

The health coach certification from the American Council on Exercise is geared more toward fitness professionals such as personal trainers and certified nutritionists.

Study Materials: ACE Health Coach

There are three separate packages from ACE, each containing slightly different study materials to prepare yourself for the test.

The Basic bundle includes the following:

  • The primary textbook for the health coach certification in digital form
  • Entrance to the exam
  • Access to the Study Companion
  • ACE Answers package
  • Access to ACE University

The Plus bundle includes everything that the Basic does with the addition of:

  • 2 Practice Tests
  • A Hardcopy of the Textbook.
  • ACE Answers Plus
  • Audiobook version of the text
  • Audio Coaching Sessions

The Advantage bundle includes everything in the Plus bundle, but with the addition of:

  • ACE Answers Advantage
  • 3 Practice Tests
  • A Dedicated Advantage Team
  • Health Coach Live Class

All of this material is self-study material.

You can study for the ACE health trainer certification in your own time and at your own pace.

When you are ready to take the exam, you can register to take it at your convenience in your own home.

The only requirements are that you are at least 18 years old, have a valid CPR/AED certification, and have a valid and accredited general personal training certification (or the work experience equivalent).

ACE Health Coach Certification Cost

The Basic option starts at $999 before any discounts but has been discounted to as low as $499.

The Plus health coach certification usually costs $1,299, but I frequently see it increased to $649.

And the final option, the Advantage package, will come in at $1,799 and can be seen for as low as $899 at times.

Certification renewal with ACE will be done every two years, like the two certifications above ACE on this page.

Renewal of one certification will cost $129.

If you are renewing two certifications, it costs 69$ each.

For the renewal of three certifications, it will cost $59 each.

And lastly, renewing four or more certifications will cost $49 each.

So, if you plan on having multiple certifications and saving money on renewing, the more you have, the cheaper it will be, although not as cheap as ISSA recertification.

ACE Health Coach Certification Content Quality

Inside Health Coach

The interactive study materials are a surprisingly beneficial part of the program, making it one of the best health coach programs.

There are 18 chapters packed full of coaching content that expands deeply on anything learned in the Personal Training program.

The primary sections of the study will be the foundation of health and wellness coaching, the coaching experience, lifestyle medicine, chronic disease and comorbid conditions, and professional conduct and establishing your coaching practice.

The materials effectively teach future coaches how to enact habitual change in their clients’ lives.

The American Council on Exercise is a well-recognized certifying agency in health and fitness.

ACE has a very popular ACE CPT certification and works hard toward continuing to evolve in the area of health, fitness, and coaching.

It will take you about 20 hours to study for the exam.

4) The NSHC (National Society of Health Coaches)

The NSHC (National Society of Health Coaches)

The NSHC was founded not long ago, in 2007, as the health coaching division of Miller and Huffman Outcome Architects, LLC.

The organization was founded on the premise that healthcare clinicians could positively impact health behaviors and patient/client compliance by altering the traditional patient engagement approach through evidence-based conversation strategies.

The health coach certification is in its 4th edition since its inception and has improved greatly over time to stand among the best certifications in the industry.

This evidence-based study program involves the skill needed for a conversation with your clients, clinical strategies, and interventions to effectively and safely engage clients on health behavior change and lifestyle to better self-manage their health and general well-being.

General information: NSHC Certification

The NSHC program is only available to professionally licensed healthcare individuals.

These include physicians, nurses, certified nutrition specialists, pharmacists, psychologists, physicians, athletic trainers, dental hygienists, certified clinical counselors, ACSM certified acupuncturists, ACSM licensed exercise psychologists, and many other credentialed professionals.

The overall NSHC program will take 85+ hours to complete.

The online study package includes all the study materials necessary to learn the material and pass the exam.

The study materials included:

  • Hard copy Manual OR E-Manual access (current NSHC membership required)
  • Additional online study materials & practice
  • 42 CE Contact Hours upon passing 
  • First-year NSHC Membership for free (Membership begins on the date of purchase)
  • NSHC Certification Registry (Conditions apply)
  • One Free Test attempt when the test is completed within 12 months of purchase.  Additional test attempts (if needed) may be purchased in the Member’s Store.
  • E-Quick Reference Guide for field use
  • Online Skills Practice
  • Numerous case examples, concept applications, and quick quizzes
  • Plus! Wellness & Prevention (Smoking cessation, weight loss & maintenance, stress management, healthy eating & exercise)
  • Self-assessments of your coaching style
  • Best practice clinical interventions for CHF, HTN, CAD, COPD, Diabetes, Depression, Pain, Pressure, and Ulcers (via online access)

By purchasing the National Society of Health Coaches certification, you also receive a one-year NSHC membership.

This membership comes with free online or over the phone support, access to live webinars, the most recent articles from NSHC, online tools, and much more.

If you would like to get this certification but not as a licensed healthcare professional, you can take the test and receive a certificate of completion credential.

This is different than their full certification, as it just lets people know that you have learned the material on the health coach certification but are not as qualified as a healthcare professional.


The NSHC allows organizations to do bulk orders, so the pricing depends on how many registrations.

For the sake of this article, I’m guessing you are not an organization looking to certify all its employees.

The cost for this 5-year of NSHC certification this $875.

Renewal will need to happen every five years and comes at the cost of $545. This is as much as the first-time certification from some other organizations, but it is only every fifth year to re-up with the NSHC.

Unlike other organizations, recertification with NSHC will require a retest; for that, you have to stay up to date with the current materials.

NSHC Certification Content Quality

Health Coaching Certification

This is a very highly regarded certification in the health coaching industry, even if the organization does not garner the same respect as names higher on the list.

They have a rigorous and standardized approach to health coaching, with every aspect being evidence-based and research-driven.

Unfortunately, those that are not already licensed healthcare professionals will not be able to get the full certification.

The “certificate of completion” is only available.

Thus, this is one of the best possible health coach certifications, but it will be more for health professionals outside of personal training.

Next, let’s look into another top health coach cert.

5) The Wellcoaches School of Coaching

The Wellcoaches school of coaching

Founded in 2002, the Wellcoaches School of Coaching has been collaborating with ACSM (the American College of Sports Medicine) to influence health coaching primarily.

To add to the credibility of this certification, the ACSM does do a large portion of the research throughout the fitness industry and is one of the longest-standing fitness organizations.

This means that while new, the Wellcoaches School of coaching already has a pretty strong reputation, and the certification is highly valued.

ACSM also offers a certification for persona training, which would have much of the material relating to that quality cert.

General Information: Wellcoaches Certification

There are three options for the main learning portion of this wellness coach certification.

You can sign up to complete the course in 9 weeks, 4 weeks, or 4 days.

From there, you must purchase the following steps to receive credit for the certification: module 2 classes and module 3, which involves a final exam and a 20-minute skills assessment.

These modules, once done, will get you certified as a health coach through Wellcoaches. Still, there is also an offer to get the nationally accredited certification through them by taking module 4.

The other eligibility requirements can be seen on their website.

In general, the multiple options are nice, but the different modules make for confusing things to keep track of instead of paying for all parts in one go.

This gives you the overall knowledge to work with your clients and improve their well-being and outlook on health and fitness.

The general study materials they provide are live workshops and interactive online classes.

There are also three individual mentoring sessions and the general textbook for the program.

Wellcoaches requires the applicants to have a minimum of an associate’s degree.

Wellcoaches Certification Cost

The most confusing part of the certification is simply the format they have to purchase it.

To get certified, you must purchase 3 modules separately and go through them in order.

The first module is the most expensive, coming in at $1550, including the Core Coach Training.

From there, you will move to step 2, the second module. This costs $185.

The second module will offer live classes and e-courses to help cement the concepts and knowledge learned throughout the first module.

Module three is the last step for the basic health coach certification, costing $735.

There will be a written exam, three 1-hour mentor sessions, a 30-minute skills assessment, and submissions for goal writing and vision statement examples.

This is all that is needed for the basic health coach certification, but there is an optional standout addition with the Lifestyle Medicine for Coaches Certificate, which costs $250.

If it helps, it is possible to find bundles online through their website, bundling these three main modules for $2,300. But, they are still required to be handled as separate steps.

Wellcoaches Certification Content Quality

Becoming a Wellcoach

The Wellcoaches program is a very solid health coach program overall. I mean, it is based on ACSM’s excellent coaching and research-based information.

It is great that they have a viable option for people to get the wellcoaches certification with or without national accreditation.

With these programs, you will learn all the essentials of coaching and real-world knowledge and experience to enhance all the taught materials.

The study materials offer much information on combatting essential problems such as the obesity epidemic, sedentary lifestyles, stress, and depression.

Wellcoaches is more comparable to the health coach certification offerings from NSHC and NASM, especially regarding the higher pricing than ISSA and ACE.

Altogether, you cannot go wrong with this excellent program. It has the cons of being a tad too expensive and a somewhat confusing module system.

6) Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

The final health certification program on this list is also one of the most complex, with three different health coach certifications being offered.

The founder of this organization is Dr. William Sears, who has been practicing medicine for over 40 years.

On top of the founder, a team of world-class educators helps to create the excellent wellness certification the institution has come up with.

The mission of this institute is to educate, equip and empower people and organizations with science-based and practical training and resources to improve clients’ health.

The certifications follow Dr. Sear’s popular LEAN system.

LEAN stands for lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutrition.

These are the pinnacles of the study program and form an excellent system to help any client.

General information on the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

If you are going for one of the three available health coach programs, look to spend approximately six weeks completing each one.

In addition to getting certified, the program also encourages its certified health coaches to teach their seminars and workshops.

There are no prerequisites to apply for the Dr. Sears health coach certification.

Let’s talk about the three different health coach certifications.

  1. Adults and seniors coach: This curriculum is composed of information that will help change the lives of senior citizens and adults. You’ll learn behavior modification, healthy lifestyle choices, cognitive function practice, and stress reduction techniques.
  2. Pregnant and nursing coach: This certification targets pregnant and post-pregnancy women. Focuses on the importance of eating right, reducing stress, getting back in shape, and how their spouse plays a vital role in a positive pregnancy experience both during and after.
  3. Family coach: The health coach certification for families aims at strategies to motivate and educate families. A strong focus on lifestyle choices and preventing childhood obesity.

There are also packages to purchase for health coach certifications at a time.

For instance, you can do the pregnancy and family certification together, the adults and family certification together, or all three of them together if you would like.

This super certification lasts approximately 30 weeks long and is an online-based program.

This master health coach program is mostly designed for individuals who want to pass the ICHWC (International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching) exam.

Study materials

The study materials that are provided with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute certification are:

  • Interactive Learning Modules
  • Discussion Board Collaboration
  • Activities and Assessments
  • Reading Assignments
  • Class Conference Calls

Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Certification Cost

The courses are sold individually based on the life stage you want to focus on coaching for.

It is also possible to do all three of them and master all the offered life stages.

To purchase one of the life stage courses, you would have to pay $945.

Purchasing two life-stage courses will cost $1,345.

And finally, to get all three life-stage courses, you must pay $1,645.

They also offer payment plans for these courses, but you must talk to the company directly, as it varies based on different factors.

For one course, it will take 6 weeks, and then add an additional 3 weeks for each course added on for a total of 9 or 12 for the two and three cert bundles, respectively.

Once you become a certified health coach with the Dr. Sears wellness institute, you must recertify every 3 years to keep your status.

The recertification cost will be $145 for the first year, $95 for the second year, and $75 for the third year.

Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Certification Content Quality

Overall, this course is very in-depth and informative.

It may be the best choice for some people who want to work with one specific population, as it is very specific to the three groups they choose to focus on.

This is unique, as the other certifications on this list will teach a wide variety of relevant material for the broad foundation of a coaching career.

It’s excellent for non-health or fitness professionals who would like to get started in health coaching without having the prerequisites, as there are no major prerequisites for professionals.

I like the study materials they provide and the support that comes with each certification.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a health coach certification?

A health coach certification is a program that teaches a personal trainer or other health professionals the most optimal ways to coach clients and change behaviors effectively. It can be a standalone certification, but it often is achieved as a certification used in conjunction with personal training and other fitness specialties.

Which is the top health coach program?

The top health coach program will be ISSA, followed by NASM and ACE. For most readers with a personal training certification, these three will meet or exceed the needs. The last three on the list for other professionals will often match their needs.

How tough is the health coach certification exam?

The difficulty of health & wellness coach exams can vary quite a bit based on an individual’s prior knowledge. Many of these programs offer online testing, which eases the difficulty, but you still need to ensure you know your stuff.

What is the cost of health coach certification?

The costs can be found throughout this page but vary greatly. Expect to spend a minimum of $600 and all the way up to $3,500 with deals running on these programs. The course lengths will also vary quite a bit.

Are there study materials to prepare for the health coach certification test?

Yes, all of these programs that include exams will have the accompanying study materials. All the study materials from these organizations will include communication skills, behavior science, business skills, physical activity information, integrative nutrition, hands-on experience, and other important materials on how to become a health coach.

How much is the health coach’s salary?

According to the United States Department of Labor, a health coach make an average of $40k to $75k per year. This is hard to put an expected amount on, as there are so many variables to consider for earning potential.

What are the program requirements for health coach certification?

Most organizations will have similar requirements, and all have an age requirement. Future health coaches will need to be 18 years or older, and some may require another form of certification in health or fitness. Some more intense programs will have education requirements like a bachelor’s degree for their certification course or some related work experience.


These 6 programs are some of the industry’s most respected certifications for online health coaching or integrative health coaching in-person.

Overall, ISSA is the best health coach certification option in terms of value and study material. On top of that, it will fit the majority of readers of PTPioneer who are seeking a specialization to add to personal training.

Suppose you have been working as a licensed health care practitioner. In that case, I think that the NSHC certification is the best option, as well as it has comparable prices and excellent study materials compared to the ISSA health coach certification.

You still cannot go wrong with any of the certifications throughout this article for the future of your career path in exercise science or a related field.

It is a great time to start a health coaching career, just like any fitness and health area in today’s work environment.

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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93 thoughts on “The 6 Best Health Coach Programs – Everything you need to know in 2023”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Thanks! This was very helpful. I’m a physical therapist and found this overview great as I’m looking into starting to be a health coach.

    1. PTPioneer User

      I’m also a PT and looking at health coaching. I’ve been bombarded by calls by IIN and The Health Coach Institute and I don’t like the feel of that. I think Duke would be great but too costly, the NSHC sounds like a good fit.

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        Hello Jessica,
        I didn’t know that these people made so many sales calls. All of these are pretty decent options and I would definitely check out each of their individual health coach websites to see which one resonates the best with you before you make a decision.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello Lisa,
      I am not too familiar with the health coach to to that you are talking about. I will definitely have to look more into it and included in the information on my website in the future. Thanks for the heads up!

      1. PTPioneer User

        Hi! I am also wondering about the Heath Coach Institute. I like that you get dual certified as a Life and Health Coach, but am concerned that they are only accredited by the International Coach Federation. Will that be limiting?

        1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

          Hey Erica,
          the health Coach Institute is something I definitely need to look into more. I want to do a full in-depth review article on just the certification. Until I do, I do not want to give you recommendations on this particular certification or not.

    2. PTPioneer User

      So far my impression of both of these is that they are very strongly based on marketing. I think marketing is key in this profession but I also want to have the right education. Still researching…

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        Hello Jessica,
        All of these have fantastic study materials in education that are backed by scientific studies. In terms of one company marketing their product differently than the next, that may be true. Either way, all of these are great health coach certification options that will really add to your knowledge base.

  2. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler,
    Thanks for your overview! Have you come across the Integrative Institute of Nutrition or the Health Coach Institute. Would be interested in your thoughts on these two programs vs the 5 above. Thanks!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Jules,
      I am not too familiar with that health coach program but I will definitely take a look at it and see what they are all about. Thanks for your input as I am always trying to make my website better!

    2. PTPioneer User

      hi I have a lot of friends who did it and are very happy , it more nutrition thats why i don’t think it works for me i am more into fitness

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        Is definitely a legitimate option Maria, it’s great that you have done your own research as well as having other friends that have gone through the process themselves. That is always one of the most helpful things!

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        Hey Mira,
        Yes absolutely, they can become health coaches. It’s great to expand outside into other areas of health and fitness as well and becoming a health coach is one of the most beneficial things towards helping clients understand nutrition as well as behavioral change psychology. This combination is absolutely fantastic for making strong lifestyle changes.

  3. PTPioneer User

    Fantastic advise thank you < for me i don't have any background so i guess the best is Dr. Sears i saw it in another website and i like what they offer< i am 45 and have become obsess with health and fitness so i think its my best approach < what do you think ?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Maria,
      This is a very legitimate health coach certification. Personally, coming from a personal training background I thought that ACE was the best option for me. Be aware that NASM also just recently released a nutrition certification called the NASM CNC (certified nutrition coach) certification. This combines a lot of information on nutrition but has a superstrong focus on behavioral change as well. For that reason, I am basically considering a health coach certification that has a very strong emphasis on nutrition as well. I highly recommend checking that out if you are interested. Good luck becoming a health coach!

    2. PTPioneer User

      Hello! I can shed some light on the Dr Sears program because I have just finished the 6 week course! (I am now onto the other stages – pregnancy and seniors) But after the six weeks I am now officially a health coach! Cost was ridiculously cheap compared to the others. It is scientific-based, holistic, and you learn a heck of a lot in six weeks! Not only that, but they have ongoing support, tons of free material to extend education and it is a very positive environment! Hope this helped!

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        Great to hear that you enjoy that the doctor Sears program so much. It’s definitely a legitimate health coach certification. Good luck with your health coaching career I know that you were going to crush it.

  4. PTPioneer User

    Hi 🙂 Great article! I just signed up for IIN (Institute of Integrative Nutrition). I put down a deposit but I am hesitant to do the whole program. I love the spiritual and holistic approach, that is already how I coach- but I am wondering for $5000 if it’s really necessary if I can get certified for less $500- $1000 and a lot faster. I honestly just want a certification that can help me grow my business and work with companies that pay their employees better and maybe offer benefits. Any thoughts?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      I do like the holistic approach as well. In terms of the job opportunities you would get between $5000 certification and a $500 certification are probably not too different from one another. On the other hand, if you do want a nutrition certification that does have a specific focus like you’re talking about, it seems like you are on the right path.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello David,
      No I have not heard of the primal health coach Institute. I will have to look into it and do a full review thanks for pointing this out for me and have a good day.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello, do you mean personal training software? There are definitely a few great programs that I have used including virtuagym, Totalcoaching and trainerize. I hope this helps answer your question!

  5. PTPioneer User

    Tyler – Thank you so much for such an indepth look into the different options. I was initially looking into IIN, but was/am hesitant because of the steep cost.

    One thing i noticed when I went to Dr. Sears’ website is that the first year renewal is 145, second, 95, third 75, and after that you are a lifetime “member” with access to all the materials.

    After reading i was convince ACE would work until I looked more into their requirements.

    One question – i know this is just your opinion, but does it really matter if the program is accredited?

    Lots to consider. Thank you, again!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Yes every certification or program should be accredited by some sort of legitimate accrediting agency. If that were not the case, anybody off the street could create a certification and start charging money for it. These accrediting agencies make sure that the study materials and exams are legitimate. This is both in terms of accuracy of the information as well as that their testing procedures are difficult enough so that not anybody can get certified. They want to make sure that the people coming out with the certifications actually know what they are getting certified for. I hope this makes sense to you and good luck with all the studying.

  6. PTPioneer User

    I am not a health professional nor in fitness or personal training but I would lime to be a health coach! I want to know if there is one course to get certified without being a health professional ! Thank you

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Katia,
      You do not need to have a personal training certification for some of these. In fact you can get the ACE health coach certification right now if you wanted. I feel like that is right now the best option. The NASM CNC is a nutrition certification but it also covers a lot of health coach topics such as habit formation training and other tidbits. That is another certification that I recommend. I hope this helps answer your question in some way

  7. PTPioneer User

    Great article! I’m looking into becoming a health coach and with accreditation being so important, I’m assuming everything you listed here is accredited by a legit and recognized organization? I’m leaning towards Dr Sears or Ace but need to learn more about each first. Thank you!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello Nicole,
      Yes all of these are very legit certifications. Good luck with your search and I hope you find the health coach program that is right for you!

  8. PTPioneer User
    Midnite Kimberly Townsend

    This is very helpful, thank you! Do you know about/ have any opinions on The Institute of Transformal Nutrition,
    Like someone else mentioned before I really like the holistic approach this program offers. Does ACE or any of the programs you listed delve into the spiritual and psychological aspects of health coaching much? Thank you!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello midnight,
      These certifications are not necessarily holistic certifications. Some of them do however dive slightly into the spiritual side and definitely talk a lot about the psychological aspects of health coaching. That is what habit formation is all about anyways. I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for, but a purely holistic certification might be something that’s more up your alley.

      1. PTPioneer User

        What are your thoughts on the Institute of Transformational Nutrition in terms of being a legitimate certification……seemed to me like a quality program that was backed by quite a few professionals in the industry. Also saw that it was on the list of approved programs for the health coach alliance

        1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

          Hey Tristan,
          Thanks for pointing this out to me. I will take a look at the Institute of transformation nutrition and do a full review of it here on my website. There are so many certifications in so many new ones coming out every year that it is hard to keep track. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

          1. PTPioneer User

            I am a nurse, I am curious if the Duke one is the best due to my background or if they other ones are just as good??

  9. PTPioneer User

    I’d like to add a couple more options: Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. This link will save you an additional $500:

    Also, when you are done with your basic certification, consider learning more clinical knowledge at SAFM.

    I talk to a lot of coaches (I run a Facebook group of 12,000 coaches) and I truly believe these are the best options. Here’s the link to my group if anyone is interested:

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Jodi,
      Thanks for the information. I will definitely check out these health code programs to see what they are all about. Don’t hesitate to stop by again and leave more comments!

  10. PTPioneer User

    Hi! I went through the Wellcoaches program in 2012, prior to the division/addition of two options. The cost of certification is separate from the cost of the class (which is very good – loved the Motivational Interviewing) and am considering a career change from tech back to a caring profession. Info to know:
    18-week, teleclass program fees:

    Full fee: $1295 (does not include certification fee)
    Payment Plans: 3-month or 5-month includes additional processing fee per month
    Early Bird Discount: $100 discount, applied immediately when paying the full fee, or divided over the course of each payment with both the training registration and bundled purchase payment plan

    4-day, residential program fees:

    Full fee: $1645 (does not include certification fee)
    Payment Plans available; please view specific course for details
    To ensure registration, invoices for corporate accounts must be paid in no later than 7 days prior to the course start.
    Early Bird Discount: $100 discount, applied immediately when paying the full fee, or divided over the course of each payment with both the training registration and bundled purchase payment plans.

    For those who have already completed the program yet did not complete the certification, there is a reduced course price.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Jami,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving this valuable information about the wellness coach program. I will definitely look into this and thanks so much for leaving such a detailed comment.

      1. PTPioneer User

        You’re welcome! I’ve decided to go back to finish my certification in August, and am seriously considering ACE because of your review. Personally, I used dietary and lifestyle changes to go from a pre-diabetic condition to very good health, and maintain it over the years. After looking into the human genome project and learning how the DNA works for type-2 diabetes, I made these changes and know how difficult it can be. It would be much more satisfying knowing I am helping people rather than staring at a computer for 8-hours daily at a tech company. So, yeah, really glad I found this article. Thank you!!

  11. PTPioneer User

    I have been doing tons of research on health coaching programs and I’m curious to know if you know anything about the AFPA Holistic Health Coach certification as that seems to be the direction I’m leaning towards but I’m just hesitant given that it’s also a financial investment. Any opinions are appreciated!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Jackie,
      AFPA is definitely an investment. That being said, they are a fantastic organization that have really gained the trust of the entire industry. This is especially true if you are looking to go specifically holistic. In my opinion is a great program and clearly the biggest drawback is trying to balance whether or not it is worth it for the money.

    2. PTPioneer User

      Hello can I ask you for some advise.. I have a bachelors in community health and have not worked in the past 12 years , now since my kids are all grown up I am looking to go back to work … I was thinking to take one of these certifications that way I refresh my memory again and get a recent certificate as well when applying to a job … what would you recommend I apply for which program ? Can you please advise me 🙏🏼Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you soon…😍

      1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        Hello, I feel like you are the same person that left another comment on this post. All of these will be fantastic for refreshing your memory on what you need to know in order to become a health coach. That being said, what experience with health coaching do you have in the past? What type of coaching do you want to do in the future? All of these factors are important when trying to decide on which healthcare certification to choose for your current situation.

        1. PTPioneer User

          I have worked with health insurance company before improving the overall lifestyle of individual with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases basically improving and providing better health choices to improve health and reduce risk….. this is what I like to do … I am in between Ace or NSHC’s certification…. just been reading reviews about how hard the Ace test is…. your opinion and insight on this is greatly appreciated 👍

          1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

            Hey Raula,
            I would say that the exam from the American Council on exercise is a little bit harder than the rest but I think that’s a good thing overall. They really test your knowledge of what you learned during the healthcare certification and how you can apply it in a real-world setting. For me, this is the choice to go with but all of these options are pretty good to be honest.

  12. PTPioneer User

    Hey Tyler! Love this site and the info you have provided. I have been looking into Health Coach Institute, do you have any feed back on them? I do know they aren’t cheap, so I’d hate to go with the more expensive option if they aren’t who they say they are!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Romi,
      I will have to do some further investigation into this institute before I can say for sure. Are they accredited by any legitimate organization? That is a good quick way to tell if they have gone through the hoops they need to in order to provide a great certification.

  13. PTPioneer User

    I Tyler love the valuable information… My question for you is I am a certified Special Ed teacher, who is looking to diversify. I am looking for a program where I could teach my students and students parents about health, including supplements for behaviors, food, and exercise. Which program would you recommend? I also wonder if I meet the condition to be in related health care field?
    Thank you,

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Michelle,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. If you are looking for a combination between nutrition as well as health coaching I would definitely look into the certified nutrition coach by the National Academy of sports medicine. Is not technically a health coach certification but it touches upon a lot of the same topics such as behavior and habit changing techniques. On top of that it has a lot of information on nutrition obviously. I hope this helps you resolve your question and don’t hesitate to leave me any more comments or questions if you have them.

  14. PTPioneer User

    IIN Integrative Nutrition
    I looked into this, but I’m so new to this whole nutritional health coaching. The money isn’t so much of an issue if I’m earning the credentials that I need. I’m not interested in being in a gym. I’d rather work with families, children, and adults, be it nursing, pregnant, post partum, seniors and so on, but from my own office at home. I don’t want to end up spending thousands and finding that I didn’t get the proper certification. In IIN,

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Tracy,
      It sounds like you have a very good idea about which type of people you want to train in the health coaching industry. Working out of your own home and working with individual clients that way is a lot more profitable than working in a gymnasium situation. The hardest part is getting clients that I believe you will do a great job!

  15. PTPioneer User

    I like working with people , changing habits, educate people on any disease they might have and get them to make lifestyle changes and motivate them to better living …. Having a bachelors in community health degree what other certifications I can add to look good on my resume and increase the likelihood of getting a job …. I am just hesitant to pay for a certification that’s no accredited or it’s not considered a good institution…. please advise me …thank you

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      All of these are great questions and all of these certifications on the list for the top health coach programs would be a good addition to your bachelors degree. They all have slightly different focuses in slightly different curriculum though depending on what exactly you are looking for, those of the factors you should think about. Probably out of all of these, the healthcare certification from the American Council on exercise is one of my go to certifications.

      1. PTPioneer User

        Ok one more question I need a certification which I can test online is that possible ??i am living outside the states currently

        1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

          Hello Rola,
          It depends on which health coach certification that you are talking about. All of them have different rules and regulations regarding testing procedures and where tests can be taken. Some allow international tests to be taken outside of the states but you will have to check with your particular certifying organization to see if they do that, and if so, where they have testing facilities outside the United States.

  16. PTPioneer User

    I have some time looking for different alternatives for courses on health coach.
    I am a dietitian, but I moved to the USA and I cannot use my license here so Im looking alternatives related with my career.
    I really liked your review, but there is none of the two courses I had been watching, I am worried about paying so much for a course that is really not worth it, or that is just as good as another one that costs half!
    I would like to know your opinion about Suzanne Monroe Integrative Nutrition and Wellness Coach Certification if you know them, and also the health coach from Integrative Nutrition.

    Thank you very much for your time and help.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Maria,
      That is so cool that you have moved to the United States to start your training here. It’s too bad that your health coach license and not transfer from another country. Honestly I have not heard of that specific integrative nutrition certification. In terms of the wellness coach certification, there are various wellness coach certifications out there, which one do you mean? Also when you say that you are a health coach from integrative nutrition, which integrative nutrition course have you taken as there are various as well. If you leave me links to each of them that could be more specific as I’m looking at them

        1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

          Hey Maria,
          awesome to hear that you are already a nutritionist. In terms of health coaching, these are the top pure health coach certifications as of right now but I am planning on doing a whole another article that talks about the best ballistic/integrative nutrition certification as well. That article will include both of the certifications that you mentioned above. Stay tuned for this but as of right now I do think that the integrative nutrition certification is top-of-the-line.

  17. PTPioneer User

    Thanks for the information about the programs. I was wondering if you could provide a little insight/advice for me: I’m a physical therapist, but would love to move into health coaching independently. It seems that all of the healthcare systems I work for have so much red tape d/t such things as insurance and billing. I would love to build my own clientele and help them to move towards wellness from a multi-faceted approach (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, nutritional), but was wondering if the NSHC program would help me meet those goals or if it’s purely focused on a clinical setting.
    Thank you for any advice!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Katie,
      It’s great to hear that you want to become a health coach. His true that you can help your clients from a wide variety of angles not just fitness and nutrition. But like you said, emotional, mental, spiritual etc. Any of the certifications on this list will help you gain knowledge in order to help your clients in that way. Which one is catching your eye the most?

  18. PTPioneer User

    I have a masters in counseling but do not hold a license. I am wanting to get into the health coaching field centered around behavioral health. Is there an accredited certification for people who do not have a license?
    Thank you,

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Yes most of these health coach programs are accredited and I think that any one of these would be a good option for somebody that does not have a license. All of these will help focus on behavioral change on a deep level. Good luck.

  19. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler,
    I am a group fitness trainer but I don’t hold any NCCA accredited certification. ACE’s prerequisite states that the candidates should hold one. So, I’m torn between ACE and AFPA’s holistic health coach certification. Is AFPA recognised by employers internationally?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      In this regard I would definitely opt to go with the American Council on exercise as they are more recognized worldwide. Especially in the United States a lot of people prefer ACEcertifications. That is unless the AFPA certification has something very specific that you are looking for.

  20. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler,

    Thank you for this post. It was very helpful! I am a Registered Dietitian and I have been interested in becoming a health coach as well. I am debating on doing either the ACE or the NSHC. I know from your post that you prefer the ACE but you mentioned that both are very great programs and have similar costs. I have a background in nutrition and so I don’t think the NASM CNC is necessary for me but I am just curious what your opinions are for which program is better suited for someone like me.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Jane,
      It seems like you already have the nutrition background. In that case, I would go for a Pure Health coach certification such as the American Council on exercise or the NSHC as you mentioned. Take a look at both programs and see which one resonates better with you as they are both great.

  21. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler,

    What are in fact, the legitimate accrediting organizations?

    Have you done your research on the Health Coach Institute? And is it an MLM/pyramid scheme, or legit institute?

  22. PTPioneer User

    Hi! Thanks for this article – very helpful! I am going into my sophomore year of college and am majoring in Exercise Science, and I would love to get certified to be a health coach! Do you have any recommendations of what program I should go through (that don’t need an associate’s degree)? I’ve been looking at NASM and ACE…let me know!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      I think that the health coach certification from the American Council on exercise is a great choice. I love your career path and good luck with personal training and health coaching.

  23. PTPioneer User

    Hello there,
    I have been researching options to become a wellness coach. I am passionate about health, nutrition, and fitness. My background is that I am a certified medical assistant. I do not hold a degree , only the MA certification. I would like to complete courses online.
    I am wondering what my best options are?
    Thank you

  24. PTPioneer User
    Diana MacDonald

    HI Tyler, I noticed your comment that how much you spend on the coaching certificate may not impact employment opportunities. I am hoping to teach at a College or University in the future ( I live in Canada), for Wellness Coaching and wondered if that would make the Duke University option the best, would it be more respected? I am a little put off by all the sales pitches from some of the other wellness coach organizations, reminds me of Amway:(

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      You can definitely go with Duke, they are a fantastic option. I will definitely contact some employers around your area to see which certifications they may accept or prefer for a position in nutrition coaching. This is the best way to be sure.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Just take a look at any of the health coaching programs mentioned in this article. You can follow them to their websites and check out the requirements to get registered. Good luck with your health coaching career.

  25. PTPioneer User

    Hi, I am from Canada and have be doing some research on obtaining Wellness Coach Certification, and was wondering if you have any feedback on AFPA. The cost is significantly cheaper than other programs, so I was wondering why. The Health & Wellness Certification is $699. If I do decide to invest in a certification, I want to make sure its accredited and legitimate.
    I found your article on Health vs. Welness vs. Life Coach very helpful- It helped me determine for sure that Wellness Coach certification is what I am most interested in.
    Any feedback you can provide would be helpful.
    Thank you

  26. PTPioneer User

    Hi, thank you for the info above.
    You mentioned that NSHC certification is $595, but why does it show $875 on their web? Or do you have a group discount ID that allows users to purchase at $595?

    Thank you

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Ken, thank you for pointing that out. It does appear that the cost of the certification changed and we will be updating the article in the future.

  27. PTPioneer User

    Thanks for this information. I’m an RN and have been looking into getting a health coach cert. I’m surprised to find that the top three you mentioned don’t meet the standards for the National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach exam. Dr Sears, and Wellcoach are approved.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Mandy, that is a good point you bring up, but most of the materials in this website are geared toward the fitness industry, specifically. So, in terms of personal training specializations, I feel the top three choices are the best a personal trainer could strive for.

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