Choosing Best NBHWC Approved Health & Wellness Coach Certification

Choosing the Best NBHWC Approved Health & Wellness Coach Certification

You’ve decided you’re going to pursue your certification as a health & wellness coach. Now what? 

The first step is to head over to, the home of the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching. They’re not there to sell you anything; rather, they exist to bring credibility to all of us by establishing consistent standards, a code of ethics and a clear scope of practice for our profession. 

Click on the “Become A Health Coach” and access the list of NBHWC-approved programs that meet the standards to prepare you to pursue the national board certification. You’ll also notice that list includes more than 100 programs! How in the world are you supposed to be able to filter through 100-plus programs and pick the one that is best for you?

Let’s talk about it. I’m Dr. Brad Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute, and of course we’d love to have you consider Catalyst – but that’s not what this is all about. The coaching community is truly a community. Yes – we all have bills to pay, but in the end, I think we all want you to make the choice that is best for you and your future. 

I’m going to walk you through how you can effectively filter through the 100-plus programs listed as NBHWC-approved programs and then determine which one is best for you and the future you’re envisioning.

Step 1 – Eliminate

Over 15 of the approved programs are internally based, meaning they’ve been developed specifically for their own employees. Unless you work for one of these organizations, you can eliminate them from your list off the top.

Step 2 – Narrow

Are you looking for a program within a university or college system? For some people, they like the connection and potential opportunity to utilize credits earned toward future degrees. Others dislike the additional paperwork, application process and, in some cases, additional costs involved. Your preference around these questions will narrow your scope considerably. 

These first two steps immediately consolidate your list and make it more manageable. If you prefer the college/university option, you’re now down to about 48 options instead of 100-plus and you can begin considering elements like location, costs and related steps involved in selecting that college or university of choice. Similarly, if you’re leaning away from this setting, you’ve also narrowed your list from the original 100-plus to less than 50. Either way, you’re now ready to fine-tune your search.  

Step 3 – Filter

If you’re leaning away from the college/university option, then your next step is to filter out the low-hanging fruit. Of the 45-plus options still on your potential list, about a dozen of them provide little or no information about their program that allows for you to make comparisons or they’re located outside the U.S. So if you remove those from your list, you now have just over 30 programs remaining. 

Step 4 – Specialties

If you’ve decided you would like to specialize in nutrition or women’s health, for example, then you have some clear options. If not, then you’ve just reduced your list to about 25 credible programs. There’s obviously a big difference between trying to filter through 110 programs and 25 programs, but we’re still a long way from a final decision. So now what?

Step 5 – Other considerations

We’re all unique – that’s what makes coaching so much fun! What’s most important to you will be different from someone else. However, with that in mind, here are some of the key elements to consider once you have your list down in the 20s. 

Price is an obvious one. I’ve learned over the years the lowest price is often a mistake. Keep in mind that your coaching certification is something you’ll utilize for years – maybe even decades. A price difference of $1,200 feels like a lot, but over even just a three-year period, it’s $33 a month. Over five years, it’s $20 a month. Keep that in mind as you’re making your decision. However, also make sure you don’t use that as rationale to spend money on a higher priced program unless that higher priced program is clearly worth the extra money! 

As you keep the pricing in the forefront, the next consideration is credibility and connection. 

  • Does the program have a track record? 
  • Does that track record include a history related to the world of health & wellness coaching? 
  • Do the instructors have solid academic credentials? 
  • Do you have an opportunity to connect personally with the instructors or even the program founders for advice and feedback or is it more hands off, lecture-centric format?

Additionally, how does the training schedule match up with your needs? For example, our program at the Catalyst Coaching Institute involves one concentrated weekend of training where we bring the cohort together and then build around that with additional training and coursework, mentor coaching, exam prep and other components that you can plan around your busy schedule. Other programs are set up with regular weekly trainings over several months. Take a close look at how your top choices schedule the training to make sure it fits with your life. 

Avoiding tunnel vision is your next consideration. Every program on your list will qualify you for the national board exam. But that’s just the starting point. What else do they offer that might be important for you as you continue in your career? For example, Catalyst provides a complimentary national board exam prep for students; the YouTube Coaching Channel; the Health, Wellness & Performance Coaching podcast; additional training and resources to help you build your own coaching business if that’s a goal; coordinates the annual Rocky Mountain Coaching Retreat & Symposium; as well as ongoing CEUs and options to add coaching sub-specialties to your toolbox. We’re not alone in offering some of these, so just make sure the complimentary tools and resources offered by your top choices match up well with the types of things that will be most valuable to you as you move forward.

Step 6 – What feels right? 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: What is your gut telling you? Did you connect when you spoke with or traded emails with the program representative? Is the representative a salesperson or can you actually speak with the program founders or at least one of the instructors or mentor coaches to fully explore your specific situation with them? Are you just earning a piece of paper or are you joining a community you’ll be proud to be a part of that will support you throughout your career journey?  

Pricing, scheduling, support, complimentary materials are all key elements, but once you’ve utilized those components to narrow your decision down to two, three or four organizations, then maybe it’s time to listen to your heart. Make that your final tie-breaker.

This is a big decision. We’d obviously love to have you consider the Catalyst Coaching Institute but we know we’re not the right choice for everyone either. We’re happy you’ve decided to pursue training as a health & wellness coach and know that whichever organization you select, your life will never be the same. We’re here to connect anytime if we can be of any assistance in your journey.

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