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How to Become a Health Coach: Qualifications & Steps

If you’re ready to take the leap and become a health coach, you’re in good company. Health coaches have the power to transform lives by changing behaviors so people can make healthier choices in order to battle chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Your passion for helping others pursue and achieve their goals for healthier living may have launched your desire to become a health coach, but now it’s time to take the practical steps to turn your love of health and wellness into a career.

Here are six basic steps to become a health coach and live your dream of helping others fulfill their pursuit of health and wellness.

Step 1: Research health coach programs.

The first step to become a health coach is to do your homework and research the right health coach certification program for you. With thousands of programs and hundreds of certifying organizations, it’s important to know your options. Although some students go the route of pursuing a degree program at a traditional university, this route can be expensive and time-consuming. A few of the degree options for health coaches include those in the following fields:

  • Nursing or other healthcare
  • Nutrition
  • Counseling
  • Fitness
  • Wellness
  • Psychology

Health coach jobs typically don’t require a bachelor’s degree (hospital and other medical facility jobs are often the exception), but most do require some type of certification.Health coach qualification and certification programs often take three to six months, are considerably cheaper and offer plenty of options for specialization and complementary certification add-ons, such as those in personal training, fitness, or nutrition. Look for a certifying organization that offers everything you want in a health coach certification by asking yourself what type of career you want to pursue. Once you become a health coach, some of the most common career paths include working for:

  • Health clubs
  • Community centers
  • Health insurance companies
  • Corporations with wellness programs
  • Doctor’s offices or hospitals
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Holistic health clubs

Step 2: Choose a program and get certified.

Now that you’ve done your research and narrowed down your options, it’s time to pick a program. Make sure to pick a health coach certification program that offers you flexibility, expert resources, and the option for assistance and guidance if you need it. Being certified shows that you’ve put in the time and that you’re committed to refining and perfecting your passions and talents to provide a professional service. After you’ve studied evidence-based and systematic coaching methodology and completed your certification course, it’s time to take your exam. You’ve got this! Then, once you’ve successfully passed the exam, you will officially be a certified health coach and ready to start your career in health and wellness.

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  • Why holistic health matters
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Step 3: Work, work, work.

While you’re pursuing your health coach certification, it’s also important to establish some work experience. Having a certification is just one piece of the health coach career puzzle. You want to prove to potential employers and future clients that you not only have the training and expertise, but that you also have the experience to back up your pursuits. Whether you start by working in a health club, fitness center, or through private, one-on-one sessions with people you know, getting started in helping others change their behavior through making healthier choices will look great on your resume.

Step 4: Find the perfect job.

Whether you decide to go out on your own or work as a corporate health coach, finding a job means lots of focus and hard work. You need to be able to market yourself to potential employers or clients effectively, which in today’s fast-paced world of health and wellness means means using social media wisely, making sure your LinkedIn profile is always up to date, and networking—85 percent of jobs are found through networking. Another great way to find a job is to use trustworthy health and wellness job boards, such as:

  • This site offers more than 225,000 job opportunities across countless sectors, including those in the health and wellness field.
  • AFPA Career Center: With links to relevant LinkedIn groups that have nutrition job postings, this site also offers job-hunting resources.
  • This site posts nearly 200 jobs every single day and offers career advice and resources too.

Step 5: Keep your certification current.

Once you’ve become a health coach, you’ll have to keep your certifications up to date to maintain your professional standing. Also, having your certification current looks great on your resume, so if you’re switching jobs, hoping for a promotion, or just looking for new clients, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.

Step 6: Make it happen with AFPA Fitness.

With an AFPA health and wellness coach certification, you’ll be approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) and can even become a board-certified health coach through the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board (ANMCB). If you’re ready to get started, download our Free Sample Course now to see what our Health & Wellness Coach Certification course has in store for you today.

Earn your healthcare coach certification through AFPA’s comprehensive health coach certification program.

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