How to Get Started as a Health Coach


Have you been considering pursuing a career in the growing world of health & wellness coaching? Or maybe you have a career in a related field such as physical therapy, counseling or other areas and you’d like to integrate health & wellness coaching into your practice. Or… perhaps health & wellness has become an important part of your life personally and you’re curious if there’s a way to take this passion and turn it into a career.

Regardless of what brought you here, in the next few minutes we’ll give you the key concepts, tools and resources to determine the best next step for you and your career pursuits, including the how, where and when to get started toward making the most of this opportunity in your career and life.

I’m Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute, where we partner with those looking to Be A Catalyst for a world in need. If you’ve not yet hit that subscribe button down below, that’s an easy way to tell us you like what we’re doing.

Health & wellness coaching is currently a $7 Billion dollar industry and is projected to show strong additional growth in the coming years. It’s attractive to a wide range of individuals who are looking to integrate their love for health & wellness into their career, want to integrate coaching into a current career in areas such as health care or fitness, are looking to create more flexibility with their work schedule, or all of the above. The future of health & wellness coaching is bright – but what are the keys to getting started?

Step one is to move forward in becoming a truly qualified health & wellness coach. Years ago, an individual could just decide out of the blue to call themself a health & wellness coach, regardless of qualifications. Fortunately for all of us, that’s changed in recent years. The National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching – or NBHWC – is now in place to differentiate between those people simply “calling” themselves a coach and those who are actually qualified as a coach. Yes – there are still people calling themselves a “coach” without being qualified. This often includes people selling supplements or individuals who think posting fitness photos on Instagram makes them a credible health & wellness coach. However, the number of those so-called coaches are diminishing quickly as more people become aware of the standards that now exist for any health & wellness coach who wants to be taken seriously.

If you decide health & wellness coaching is the right route for you, you absolutely will want to start by pursuing a certification program approved by the NBHWC. The time involved to complete a qualified certification generally ranges from 4 months to 2 years, depending on the program design and your focus. We’ll provide some additional details about the NBHWC and how to choose the best certification specifically for you in the description section below.

Once you’ve determined your best path to earning the education and credentials to be recognized as a qualified health & wellness coach, the next step is to determine where you want to put your skills to use. Do you want to start your own coaching business? Work for a national health & wellness provider? Integrate your skills into a current role as a physical therapist, counselor, physician or similar setting? There’s also the option of combining a couple of these options if desired. For example, we have many health care providers pursue the coaching certification and then start a small side business as a coach to earn some extra income. By the way, that’s one of the nice things about coaching – you have very limited expenses outside of the initial certification. So while it can make for an exceptional full-time career pursuit, it also fits well into a part-time schedule. Due to the limited investment on the front end, even if you’re only planning to invest 5-10 hrs/week in this aspect, there is a high probability of payoff over time.
As a health & wellness coach, you also have a variety of options in terms of settings. Coaching can be provided face to face, telephonically, digitally or some hybrid of the three. You might work from home, out of a physicians office or health club, or in more of a traditional office setting. Your setting will be up to you, depending on the path you choose.

With the HOW and the WHERE dialed in, the last step we’ll touch on today is the WHEN.

When should you get started? Obviously nobody can answer this one except you. However, here are a few questions to consider that have been helpful to others…

#1 – WHY am I considering this path in the first place? Is it part of a clear vision I have for my future? Or just the next “hot topic” that happens to have my attention right now? It’s not unusual in life for the plan to become clear as you move forward with a purposeful action such as earning your coaching certification. However, even if you don’t have the exact path figured out, it’s wise to pause and reflect about how this fits into your career and life before investing the time or money to do so.

#2 – Speaking of investing your time and money, Is there an ROI – or a Return On Investment – for the money side of the equation? Depending on which organization you select for your certification training, you’re going to invest somewhere between $2800 and 10,000 or more. While the “cheapest” option isn’t necessarily the best choice, do the more expensive options really pay off for you in the long run? Or are you just paying more for essentially the same outcome? Along the same lines, many certification programs will offer something like a “6 months no interest” option. That’s a nice option for many, but if taking advantage of such an offer, be sure to have a plan for how that fits in your broader financial situation long term.

#3 – Lastly – it’s important to consider the WHO you choose as your partner in your certification journey. You have plenty of good options, but the key is to find the best one specifically for you. Some programs are designed to be more of a “certification mill,” with limited support or personal connection. On the other end of the spectrum are those within the university system and are structured as such, with more extensive paperwork and administrative elements involved. The best option for each person is different in terms of which option is best. Take the time to speak personally with a few of your top choices… get a flavor of WHO they really are and whether their style and approach fit you – beyond simply looking over their website. Becoming a certified health & wellness coach is very personal – you want to be confident you’ll have the support you need, both short and long term.

If you’re serious about getting started as a health & wellness coach, we have plenty of additional resources available to help you along your journey at This is Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute signing out – now let’s go BE A CATALYST along this journey of life.

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