Health Coaching: A Market and Career Opportunity Snapshot

health coaching

If you’re looking for a rewarding new career that allows you to spend time helping people, health coaching could be a perfect fit. With the health and wellness coaching industry currently experiencing a 6.7% annual growth rate, now is the perfect time to make the switch.

What Is Health Coaching?

Health and wellness coaches offer guidance for people who need help on their journey toward a healthier lifestyle. Coaches work closely with their clients to learn about their daily routines, home life, stressors, motivations, and goals. From there, they work with the client to create a manageable program based on personal accountability. While there are numerous apps geared toward health and wellness, nothing can beat the effectiveness of a truly personalized, custom health coaching experience.

Why Is Health Coaching So Popular?

Many factors contribute to the rise in health coach jobs, but one recent driver is an increase in health consciousness throughout the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the interest in better health and wellbeing is high, many people struggle because they don’t know where to begin or lack ongoing motivation to succeed, driving higher demand for health coaching services. As much as 50% of people who start an exercise or diet program quit within the first six months. But on the upside, most who cross that six-month threshold tend to stick with their programs for longer. Staying motivated for six months and beyond is hard for most people, which is one area where health and wellness coaching can help.

What Services Can Health Coaches Offer?

Health coach services will depend heavily on individual qualifications, which is where certification and experience play a huge role. In general, a health and wellness coach can offer the following services:

  • Action steps for healthy eating
  • Suggestions to enhance sleep
  • Support for quitting bad habits (smoking, poor diet, etc.)
  • Guidance for increasing activity levels
  • Time management skills
  • Stress management strategies

In most cases, health coaches help their clients determine their goals and strategies, and then provide support and accountability to help in meeting those goals. For example, for a client wanting to start an exercise program, a health coach will ask about goals, the importance of exercise in the client’s life, and how it can be implemented into a regular routine. By involving clients in the goal setting and strategizing, health coaches tap into the client’s own intrinsic motivation.

What Backgrounds Do Health Coaches Have?

Many health coaches come from other health-centered careers, such as dieticians, personal trainers, and physical therapists. They may be transitioning into health and wellness coaching, or adding the coaching skills to an existing practice to give it more breadth. Other health coaches move into the field as a second career, transitioning from a wide variety of occupations to a vocation that they may find more personally rewarding.

What Does a Health Coaching Career Look Like?

Job Structure

There are many companies that employ health coaches. These companies may provide coaching services to employee wellness programs or as part of other wellness initiatives. Also, many health coaches choose to run their own health and wellness coaching business as independent contractors. Many coaches thrive in this structure, as studies show that self-employed people tend to be happier, but both situations have benefits.

Independent business owners can set their own rates, hours, and schedule, and don’t report to a boss (though you will have clients to maintain and keep happy). But with that freedom comes the responsibilities of running a business, such as quarterly taxes, healthcare costs, retirement planning, marketing and general business expenses (including continued education). Income can be inconsistent, so you’ll want to have a solid business plan in place.

Conversely, if you choose to become an employee, you will likely have a consistent paycheck, health benefits and free ongoing continuing education. The tradeoff is you’ll have less control over the direction of your work. But this is a sacrifice that many are willing to make in exchange for job and income stability.

Salary

Average salary for a health and wellness coach in the U.S. is around $61,000, but ranges from around $35,000 at the low end to $80,000 at the higher end.

Again, as an independent contractor, you will get to set your rates, meaning that your salary is dependent solely upon how much you want to charge and how many clients feel comfortable paying you that amount. As an employee, you may see salaries in the low-to-middle area of that range, with the addition of the aforementioned healthcare and education benefits.

Is Health Coaching Right for Me?

Wellness coaching is a great way to help others, work independently, work remotely, and follow your passion. Also, with the massive industry growth, there is potential for higher salaries, future career growth, and growing stability. If these factors have piqued your interest, then health coaching may be a good fit for you.

How to Become a Health Coach

Here is a general rundown of the basic requirements to get you started in health and wellness coaching:

Get Relevant Education

The following fields of study, though not required, dovetail nicely with a career in health coaching:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Nursing
  • Exercise science
  • Nutrition
  • Health education or physical education
  • Human services
  • Kinesiology

Get Certified

One of the best things you can do for your career is to get certified. This not only increases your credibility with potential clients, but it enhances your coaching expertise. In addition to the private certification programs, you might also consider becoming nationally certified by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) to add even more credibility to your practice.

If you’re interested in starting the process of national certification, a wellness coaching program like the Certified Wellness Coach training from the Catalyst Coaching Institute (currently offered as a virtual program) can put you on the right path. The course consists of two days of live training via Zoom, followed by 30 to 40 hours of online workshops, practice coaching sessions and course work. From there, you’ll be well positioned to take the next step toward national certification.

Get Relevant Experience

Real-world experience is the best way to kickstart your health coaching career and be taken seriously. Your experience in a healthcare related field creates a strong foundation of knowledge. Adding the certified wellness coaching credential will enhance what you already know and provide additional skills to share your expertise in the coaching style to increase engagement. For someone without a degree, undergoing the certification process can help provide experience as well.

Update Your Resume

Make sure your resume is up to date with your certification and all relevant experience – including any volunteer experience or internships that involve working with people. Employers often like to see that you are a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, or in the process of becoming one. Including your projected timeline to take the board is also helpful.

Search for Clients or Jobs

Assuming you meet the qualifications, start applying to jobs that seem like they are the right fit for your circumstances. Remember, no job should require you to pay money up front for training or any other costs.

If you want to go the independent route, then you need to start building up clients (you may even want to work for a company short-term to build experience before going out on your own). Brush up on your marketing strategies and stay consistent in your outreach for the best results.

Launch Your New Career!

With high demand and relatively low competition in the field, now is the perfect time to start your journey toward becoming a health and wellness coach! Stay up to date with our latest health coaching news and feel free to contact us with any questions!

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