How to Become a Health Coach in [year] - PTP's Guide 15

Hello, and welcome to our article on how to become a health coach!

You are going to learn the necessary steps to becoming a health coach, like:

  • The general steps to enter into the health and fitness industry
  • The activities that a health coach does every day
  • Frequently asked questions about health coaching

I also highly recommend that you take the quiz and find out which certification is best for your career goals.

What type of Certification are you looking to get?

After this article, you will be able to begin taking the steps required for you to become a wellness coach.

Let’s dive in and look at this job market!

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How to become a health coach

What is a Health Coach?

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A health coach assists individuals with a medical diagnosis, condition, or predisposition that may be preventable through lifestyle change. They guide and assist their clients as part of the overall healthcare provider continuum.

There is a major focus on positive behavior change in this career path.

In this article, I will explain what a health coach does and how you can become one.

Health Coach vs Wellness Coach

The terms health coach and wellness coach are often used interchangeably, but they generally have distinct meanings with overlapping practices.

While health coaches focus on helping clients overcome specific conditions, wellness coaches provide more broad guidance for clients to make healthy choices, separate from the details of any given health diagnosis or predisposition.

Wellness coaching is broader is scope, but it’s important to know that it is not prescriptive. The focus is on helping clients identify the different choices they can make and empower them to make them as compared to giving them a to-do list and telling them to stick with it.

Depending on whether you want to focus specifically on health coaching or have a broader focus on wellness, you want to consider either a health coach certification or wellness coaching certification such as the NASM Certified Wellness Coach.

The health coach certification can be combined with a personal trainer certification, or it can be a stand-alone cert.

Basically, a health coach certification gives you all of the lifestyle coaching skills, your CPT cert allows for training clients physically, and the nutrition certification gives scientific coaching skills for the food components of fitness.

Providing clients with these three separate services can maximize what you offer them and drive results in their lives.

Furthermore, you can quickly earn much more as a personal trainer when stacking these certifications – reports suggest that trainers earn $4,000 more per year per certification on average.

I will say purchasing three full certifications gets pricey, so I definitely recommend looking for deals and bundles!

If you choose the ISSA as your health coach certification, I highly recommend looking at the ISSA Elite Trainer Certification Bundle.

The Elite Bundle from ISSA includes the ISSA CPT certification, ISSA nutrition certification, and one more specialization, like this certified health coach.

When it comes to health coaching, ISSA offers the ISSA Certified Health Coach, or CHC, and it is an excellent certification choice for personal trainers to pursue and add to their certs.

For someone that is already certified through ISSA as a CPT, the CHC certification is a no-brainer.

And, while you are at it, you might as well maximize value and get three certifications for half their price bundled together.

ISSA Elite Trainer badge

The ISSA Elite Trainer Bundle is an insane deal in fitness, and it’s impossible to find one similar from another organization.

It is tough to pass up any deal on these ISSA programs, so make sure to check out their site often.

Another amazing benefit of ISSA and the Elite Trainer is that you get some of your already required CEUs out of the way, which we will discuss later in this article.

It is never a bad idea to combine your personal training knowledge with other knowledge in the health industry. If anything, it only makes you a more diverse personal trainer.

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All of the best personal training certifications require you to continue educating yourself, and achieving new certifications is a good way to meet this requirement.

For more information on the best CPT programs in the industry, check out my article on the best personal trainer certifications.

Make sure you know how to become a personal trainer as well. It’s similar to being a health coach, but notable differences exist.

Both health coach and personal trainer salaries are on a constant rise! The two fields are excellent to get into if you want a solid salary.

Well, what is a Certified Health Coach exactly? Well, another good word for a health coach is a “wellness” coach.

Many people consider health coaches to be the same as nutrition coaches, of and there are many great nutrition coaching programs.

In reality, health coaches may encompass some part of nutrition coaching, but they will not cover all of those job aspects.

They cover so many topics about health under a large umbrella. They don’t necessarily completely focus on exercise routines (like personal trainers do), nutrition or diet (like nutritionists do), or the mental aspect of wellness (like therapists do).

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There may also be more specific versions of health and wellness coaching and online health coaches’ jobs, like holistic coach certifications and other similar personal health coach specializations.

They take a well-rounded approach by dipping slightly into each of these categories when they help their clients.

It is a well-rounded approach to wellness, and the health coach education for wellness coaching certification or other specializations will show well-roundedness in exercise science.

They try to find the root of people’s problems and start there to better public health.

They focus on habit formation and essential lifestyle changes that individuals need to make to live healthy and happy lives.

The reason why so many people in this world have chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, chronic pain, and chronic diseases is that from a very young age, they have had horrible lifestyle habits.

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The health coach’s job is to help these individuals change their way of thinking and living so that they can fix their problems.

The pharmaceutical industry and prescription drugs are a short-term fix for these people’s chronic conditions. These “magic pills” will only cover the symptoms but not fix the problem.

Health coaches use a holistic approach by getting their clients active, starting to eat healthily, and learning to develop the mental ability to make the right choices.

They do this by helping to change bad habits into better habits, such as quitting tobacco, alcohol, weight loss, and junk food, and simply living a healthy lifestyle and through health education in coaching sessions. It requires a grand skill set.

Soon, health coaches, personal trainers, and nutritionists will work very closely together for one client’s health! That is a lot of work experience coming together to better the health conditions of people.

Another lesser-known detail about these certifications that are typically pursued to enhance personal training offerings is that the certification may count as cheap continuing education units to help renew your CPT.

It is a combination of benefiting your business in two ways, expanding your offerings and helping you recertify.

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Is a health coach certification the right thing for you?

Often this is a difficult question to ask regarding most certifications in the industry.

In my opinion, if you are already a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, this would be a fantastic addition to your business.

New credentials or certifications always add a fresh new perspective on health and fitness that can benefit your clients.

Do you consider yourself more of a wellness expert or more of a fitness expert?

Sometimes people get the definitions of these two confused, and it cannot be easy to answer.

Personal training can be so much more than performing the exercises.

You need to coach your clients through healthy habits and build the right mindset to get in shape and get healthy.

Often my clients come to me with questions unrelated to exercise because they often see me as a mentor.

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It may even be beneficial to find a full-time health coach near you so that you can talk to them directly about their job and get insight into their everyday life.

In a way, every personal trainer acts as a health coach in some way or another.

I think that most personal trainers would benefit significantly from health coach certifications and a wellness coach certificate. These are interchangeable terms.

The most significant difference is that you will learn how to teach your clients about habit formation and lifestyle changes systematically.

With this system in place, you can be much more useful!

If you have clients that you cannot change their habits, they will make very little progress in the gym. That is why they need both to be truly successful!

All the info you need if you are curious about becoming a health coach!

Now let’s get into the main part of the article where you learn how to become a health coach! From the research I’ve done, I have found a few certifications.

Out of all of them, I could only find one health coach certification that the NCCA accredited. If you have read my article on “How to Become a personal trainer,” you will see all of the steps are very similar.

Let’s jump right into it!

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Step 1: Sign up for your health coach certification of choice

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The first step to become a health coach (or wellness coach depending on your goals), is choosing the right certification. Here are a few top health coach and wellness coach certification options.

Health Coach Institute

The Health Coach Institute gives you both Health and Life Coaching in one certification.

They also offer a NBHWC approved certification with their Pathway Program. Both these certifications will help prepare you with the skills you need as a health coach, teaching you how to work with clients and manage your business.

The Health Coach Institute uses their “Empowered Well-Being Model” to teach you health coaching from top to bottom.

NASM Certified Wellness Coach

If you are leaning more towards a holistic lifestyle wellness coaching approach, then I strongly recommend the NASM Certified Wellness Coach (NASM-CWC).

The NASM-CWC is a very comprehensive certification that covers the NASM 5-pillar approach to holistic wellness. This program focuses on the mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being of your clients using peer-reviewed methods and state-of-the-art toolkits that help them identify and choose the best decisions for their overall health.

ISSA Health Coach

ISSA’s Health Coach Certification gives you the skillset to help clients reach optimal health and longevity by making conscious choices. The ISSA Health Coach focuses on working alongside licensed healthcare providers to help clients with chronic disease and related risk factors.

If you do opt for the ISSA Health Coach, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of the ISSA Elite Trainer program, which provides a substantial discount for bundling 3 or more ISSA Certifications.

This is the sure ticket to success in the industry because you get the hands-on knowledge regarding personal training combined with the behavioral coaching and health coaching skills that help you deliver truly custom-tailored experiences to clients of all needs.

ACE Health Coach Certification

That being said, out of all of the certifications available, another option is the ACE health coach certification. It is one of many ACE certifications that we review and are familiar with, and it is also top of the line.

ACE offers you two main packages for the health coach training program coursework, and it pairs very well with their ACE CPT.

All of the ACE certifications are excellent options for fitness and wellness professionals to pursue.

AFPA Health Coach

If you are the type that wants that comfort and less pressure, the AFPA health coach certification and Health Coach Institute are the best for you.

AFPA allows you to write your exam for a maximum of 28 days. You can write, start your exam and pause it to be continued some other time. You have two study options:

  • The $649 study package is a 100% online coaching certification and
  • $799 package for also online and a digital copy of your textbooks

Health Coach Institute, health coach program costs $6,450.

Step 2: Study your butt off for the test!

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The next obvious step is to study your butt off for the test! This study process should take approximately six months to absorb all of the information in the manual.

While studying for the test, I felt that the “Master the Manual” book was beneficial in forcing the information to stick in my head.

It all depends on how you like to study and how your brain learns the best. Time management tactics can be good to implement here for proper studying.

Some people can read the textbook and memorize everything. Other people need a lot of visual learning tools.

The ACE Academy was also extremely helpful because it gives you access to e-mail chat one-on-one with experts from ACE. Both bundles include the ACE Academy.

Step 3: Set a date to take the exam

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You need to make sure you are leaving yourself plenty of study time when you set the dates to take the exam.

You should also have a “day before” and a morning of study session to help solidify any information. Try to start thinking of these things upon enrollment in your chosen course.

I like to go over my notes the night before as I’m lying in bed to go to sleep.

Make sure you either go over the most challenging parts of any critical areas that you have highlighted. You also need to get lots of rest to think straight during the test.

I recommend getting at least eight hours. In the morning, you need to re-study these problematic parts highlighted as you eat breakfast.

Make sure to get a good amount of protein and carbohydrates to fuel your brain.

Once you can pass the exam with the required grade, you will become a health coach.

Make sure to the confident and relaxed. You will do great!

Step 4: Find a place to work as a health coach or have it complement your personal training business

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Once you are certified as a health coach, you need to find work as one!

If you are already a personal trainer, you can skip this step because you must incorporate what you have learned into your work with your clients.

If you are looking for work in your new career, make sure that you build a fantastic resume to hand out to potential employers.

Be confident during your interviews, and just be yourself!

When you finally get a job or decide to be an entrepreneur, endeavor to invest in good health coach software to complement your work and make you exceptional in the field.

A personal training job interview will be similar to health coaching, so ensure you know how to succeed in these interviews for the health and fitness industry.

Remember, you will need to aim to motivate your clients in and out of the gym; this is the main goal of health coaches. Make sure you also know some of the best gyms to work at.

Certified Health Coach Salary

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Yes, you must be wondering how much health coaches make.

The health coach business is quite lucrative and can be a good source of income for you once you are certified and have gained the requisite experience.

A certified health and wellness coach’s salary in the USA can be as much as $65k. In any case, it depends on the state where you are practicing.

It is quite similar to a personal trainer salary or even a nutrition coach salary.

The real salary trick is to combine these certifications and make more money by offering more services to your clientele.

If you hold more than one health and fitness certification, you can definitely make more money and improve the quality of your training results with clients.

There may be some different health coach qualifications for various jobs. I have heard of health coaches earning between 51k on the lower rung of the ladder and as much as 75k.

Your salary may also change if you have completed an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree program.

Either of these education programs in the field of health could play a major role in a health coach’s career and lifestyle coach’s salary.

In other words, it is subjective – but very lucrative, as you can see. It all depends on if you have a health coach certification duly accredited by a health coach institute.

Continuing Education Units

Regardless of your fitness and health certification, it would be best to keep your education current by getting Continuing Education Units or CEUs.

The average organization requires around 20 hours of education every two years. Just about all work at around a 10 hour per year mark.

For recertification of your health coach certification or other certifications(s), you must also pay a fee, typically in the realm of 100$, to keep the certification current.

Specializations can also be an easy and relevant way to earn more money and renew your certification.

For example, if your main certification is the personal training, and you get a specialization in health coaching, then you can use this completion of the health coach program to count for your hours.

This is like killing two birds with one stone, as you are adding to your earning potential by expanding your offerings and also knocking out the continuing education units you would have to do either way.

That is where bundles for programs come in handy for new trainers and coaches, as they allow multiple certifications to be earned, which knocks off the initial CEUs required.

Deals like the ISSA Elite Trainer bundle allow someone to earn a CPT, nutritionist, and other specializations like health coaching.

These bundles are at the top of value in the fitness industry, meaning you would not have to worry about your first years of recertification hours.

ISSA routinely has deals running on the Elite Trainer Program directly on its website!

You should consider checking these promotions from ISSA if you are looking for great deals to strike and start your professional fitness journey.

All in all, make sure you know the CEU requirements for your chosen health coach organization before committing.

It is a necessary part of the wonderful profession of fitness and health.

Guide Methodology

I critically examined the common”how-to’s” for health coaching for this comparison. I also have experience with all of the top fitness organizations and their health coach certifications.

I used my years of knowledge in the fitness industry and individual certifications to analyze the certifications and judge how a trainer can start their journey to becoming a health coach.

Guide Methodology

What does a health coach do?

A health coach is a trained professional who mentors individuals or groups of people to achieve health goals through food and other physical activities. To be more productive, look for software like the total coaching app.

Can I be an online certified health coach?

Yes, you can be an online certified health coach by getting certified through one of the accredited health coach certification organizations. You can also work with your clients online. The work for health coaches is very similar to online fitness coaching.

Can a personal trainer also be a health coach?

That is a bit tricky to answer. A personal trainer focuses more on exercising a client’s physical appearance so that he/she will look healthy and fit, while the health coach will focus more on the clientā€™s general well-being through food intake and much more.

How do I become a certified health coach?

You can become a certified health coach by passing the health coach certification exam. To write this exam, you are required to:
– Be 18 years and above
– Have a valid identification
– Have a degree or diploma in a related field
– Choose a certification organization
– Register for the program
– Choose the date for the exam
– Have a current CPR/AED
– Pass the exam

How much is the salary of a health coach?

The health coach salary in the United States is within the range of $51k to $65k on average annually.

You can also earn above that, depending on your work state.

Are there free health coach certifications?

Sure, free health coach certifications are online, but many are not accredited.

How long does it take to become a health coach?

It takes a minimum of 3 months, a maximum of 12 months, and a maximum of 12 months from the day of your registration to the exam.
It all depends on you.

Where do health coaches work?

You can find health coaches working in the hospital, nursing homes, training centers, fitness centers, and insurance companies.

Which is the best health coach certification in the industry?

There is no best health coach certification program but I would advise you to choose ACE because it is the only one accredited with the NCCA, and the study materials and textbooks are rich with information.

What is a certified holistic health coach certification?

Holistic coaching certification is simply a course that combines diet and nutrition with health coaching.

Do I need health coach software to become a health coach?

No, it is not a must to have health coach software to become a health coach but it is a necessity that you have it and use it to make your work seamless. But there are many options when it comes to software to help with coaching, like MindBody and more.

What is the difference between a health coach and a wellness coach?

There are no major differences between a health coach and a wellness coach. A health coach is also a wellness coach.


Being educated as a personal trainer and a health coach is invaluable to your clients, and you will see their results skyrocket!

Whether you call yourself a health coach or a personal trainer, it doesn’t matter if your clients’ results are excellent.

If you are looking for some extra continuing education credits for your personal trainer certification, this would be a fantastic addition to your knowledge arsenal.

I hope you guys liked my article. Let me know if you have any experience with health coaches or have any other comments.

It might also benefit you to check out personal training marketing ideas, personal training insurance, and my fantastic workout template for personal use or to use with your clients!

Also, if you are not yet certified as a personal trainer, make sure to check out some comparison articles such as ACE vs NASM, NASM vs ACSM, and ISSA vs NASM!

Make sure to check out ISSA and its offerings thoroughly; they have some of the greatest deals in fitness. This deal with the ISSA CPT and two more certs is unbelievable and hard to pass up.

Happy wellness coaching!

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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12 thoughts on “How to Become a Health Coach in 2024 – PTP’s Guide”

  1. Hello Tyler,

    I found your website very informative. I am a MD in Costa Rica, but live in California and work in quality in a hospital. I am interested in do a health coach certification and work online as a part time, especially in Costa Rica. Is the ISSA bundle certification my best option for online coaching?
    Thank you

    • Hey Paula, ISSA is a great organization to get a health coach certification with, along with ACE as a second great current option. I would recommend weighing these two against each other and choosing one of them. I lean toward ISSA, but it’s always great to look at multiple options.

  2. Hi, I know very little about nutrition. I am passionate about health and healthy habits. For beginners the first step would be to take college courses on nutrition then take a course on a health institute To become certified?

    • You definitely do not need to take college courses unless you want to become a registered dietitian. These nutrition certifications that I talked about on my website or geared towards Fitness professionals such as personal trainers.

  3. Hello Tyler,
    I would be very interested in starting a career in health coaching in Europe (I am Italian, currently living in the Netherlands).
    I’d like to ask you 2 questions:
    1) Is the ACE valid also in Europe?
    2) My background is in Business and Marketing (bachelor + master degree). I am a fitness, nutrition and personal growth enthusiast but do not have any certification so far. How would you advise to proceed to start my career as health coach from scratch?

    Thank you

    • Hello Davide,
      it’s great to hear that you want to do health coaching in Europe. Most of my information is tailored towards people working in the United States or even Canada with only a few people in Europe. For people that have specific questions on whether a specific certification is valid in their country or region, I typically recommend that they contact their local health clubs or gymnasiums to see which personal training certifications or healthcare certifications they accept and which ones they prefer. That is the best advice I can give you.

  4. Hi!
    I foud your website on google while trying to get comparison reviews between NASM Nutrition Specialist certification an ACE Health Coach certification. Your page is great by the way, congratulations.
    I’m a NASM Personal Trainer, AFAA Group Ex Instructor and WEFNA Basic Nutrition and Sports Nutrition Advisor.
    Alhough as a Nutrition Advisor I’m able to coach clients with their diets, I’m not able to provide meal plans which is something my clients ask for. I noticed with NASM Nutrition Specialist certification you get access to client handouts and meal plans. I wonder if with the ACE Health Coach cert I would be able to provide meal plans as well.
    Can you please advise on this?
    Thank you so much for your time!

    • Hey Gabriellla,
      Honestly the health coach certification is very broad and covers lots of topics on wellness not just diet in particular like the NASM nutrition specialist certification does. If you want to help your clients with the meal prep I would definitely go with the nutrition specialist certification over the general health coach certification from ACE. I hope this helped


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