So you want to know how to become a Health Coach? It’s one of the most common questions I get, so I’m sharing my experience and resources so that if you feel called to, you, too, can become a Health Coach.
For me, it all started with passion. I was prescribing my friends flax seeds for blemishes and my dad ginger for his arthritis.
You see, I had dramatically improved my own health once I discovered the power of food and I just wanted to share it with everyone. Naturally, I started with my family, but I didn’t want to stop there. I vowed to help make the whole world a healthier place. If you’re thinking about embarking on the journey of becoming a health coach, then I hope this guide helps you along the way.
What is a Health Coach?
A health coach is a healthcare professional that educates, motivates, and supports clients to achieve their health goals through diet, lifestyle, and behavior adjustments. Beyond education and guidance, a Health Coach keeps their client accountable each week.
Health Coaches typically work in tandem with a client’s doctor to achieve a specific health outcome. In fact, more and more doctor’s offices are starting to keep health coaches on staff, and The American Medical Association encourages doctor’s offices to do so.
What Does a Health Coach Do?
A Health Coach gives their clients a concrete plan tailored for their preferences and lifestyle, that will allow them to achieve their health related goals, such as to lose weight, mitigate symptoms of a chronic ailment, improve their health, or simply to feel better. While many of the changes will center on food, other important topics addressed include mindset/self-talk, habit formation, exercise, stress, and similar lifestyle factors that contribute (or detract) from health. Some Health Coaches help clients with cooking and meal planning, too.
Health Coaches can have a private practice or work in a doctor’s office or other medical center.
Beyond one-on-one coaching, health coaches can hold group classes (which I did for many years, and now host online), sell online programs and meal plans, host retreats or workshops, speak, write a book or cookbook, host corporate wellness programs, start a food product line, open a wellness center, and so much more. More and more spas, wellness centers, and food companies are hiring health coaches, too.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Become a Health Coach
- Are you passionate about nutrition, health, and wellness? It’s not enough to like it. You have to love it. Maybe be borderline obsessed with it. You must have a passion and curiosity about these three things in order to be a successful Health Coach.
- Are you willing to do the work? Most Health Coaches become entrepreneurs, opening their own practices, hosting corporate wellness seminars, launching their own healthy food companies or restaurants, running retreats or writing books and cookbooks. Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy feat, and no matter what direction you take it, you’re going to have to put in a little blood, sweat, and tears to launch and run a successful business. (Which is why you MUST have passion).
If you answered YES! to both of the above, then I hope the steps below on how to become a Health Coach help you along the way.
What are the Steps to Become a Health Coach?
Step 1: Choose a Certified Health Coach Training Program
When I became a Health Coach, there was really only one place to get certified: The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is the original Health Coach Training Certification program and has been around for 25 years. Now, there are dozens and dozens of Health Coach training programs, all with varying degrees of merit. Some are as little as two weeks or a few months, which in my opinion, are not sufficient.
Look for a program that is at least one year in length, that has teachers you respect and admire, and that will also teach you the business aspect of health coaching. While you can find companies that hire health coaches, and that is a good first step, you will ultimately earn more if you go the entrepreneurial route.
So, I highly recommend the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, because it meets all those criteria. (See my full review, and how to be mentored by me, below).
Step 2: Sign Up Practice Clients
During the health coach training program you will have to practice health histories with friends and family. Do as many as you possibly can. The more you do, the more confident you will feel and the better you will get at health coaching. Sign up 3-5 people as practice health coaching clients for 3 month programs, so you can start getting testimonials and experience.
Step 3: Set Up A Website and Social Media
You can be the best health coach in the world, but if nobody knows about you, it doesn’t matter! Marketing yourself and your business is a crucial step to any successful business, Health Coaching included. Set up a professional looking website and social media account, so that client’s can find you and learn more about what you offer. I think it’s important to have a blog with high quality content, an instagram (or whatever social media channel your target market is on), and a weekly email newsletter.
Step 4: Work With or Partner with Complementary Wellness Practitioners
Consider teaming up with a doctor, chiropractor, personal trainer, or other wellness professional who can refer clients to you (and vice versa). If you have a local functional medicine doctor or medical center that hires health coaches on staff, consider working with them to gain even more experience and a steady stream of clients.
Step 5: Seek out a Mentor
Mentors help you shorten the learning curve and give you guidance and direction you need when becoming a health coach. When starting something new, you’ll inevitably have questions – wouldn’t it be nice to ask someone who was exactly in your shoes a few years earlier? They can save you time and money by sharing their insights and experience on what does, and doesn’t work, and strategies for becoming a successful Health Coach.
Seek out a more experienced Health Coach who you can assist or who will be willing to answer your questions.
What is a Health Coach Salary?
According to glassdoor.com, the average Health Coach salary is $52,401, with the high range being $71,000. As with any career, and especially with any entrepreneurial endeavor, what you make really varies, and is highly dependent on you.
With time, dedication, and continued effort Health Coaches can make 6 and even 7 figures.
The highest earning health coaches are those who leverage social media and their websites to reach more people and sell online products. Personally, it took me 4 years to hit six figures, and I know many health coaches who are earning 6 figures as well. On the other hand, I know Health Coaches who are making 30-50K, and are doing Health Coaching as a side job. What you make of it is up to you.
My Experience Becoming a Health Coach
When I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) through a friend who had taken the course, I instantly became curious. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and have a voracious appetite for anything nutrition-related, so it seemed like an interesting opportunity.
While I knew 100% that I was interested in nutrition, to be honest, at first I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to become a Health Coach or if attending IIN was the right fit for me. I decided to investigate, ask around, and finally decided I’d just take it to enhance my own personal knowledge. A few months into the program, though, I started to imagine what it would be like to become a health coach, and actually make a living doing what I love. I admired other graduates who had done just that, and decided I would set out to build a practice. And so I did.