National Wellness Coaching Exam Coming Soon?

Big changes are on the horizon in the wellness industry. The answer to the question, “Is the wellness coaching industry regulated?” was previously a simple “no”. Now the answer has become much more involved! The short answer is “not yet – but very soon”. For those of us in the wellness industry or for individuals considering entering the field, we now have a lot more to consider.

There are advantages and disadvantages to moving to a regulated industry. Right now, it is easy to become a wellness coach. Basically, it is as simple as giving oneself the title. There are currently no regulations determining background, education and competency. So for a number of years, those of us in the wellness industry who do value competence and want to show credibility have been choosing our own wellness coach training programs and making sure that we receive quality training prior to working with clients as a wellness coach. In a google search of wellness coach training programs, there are hundreds of options – varying in price, time and content. There is a lot of freedom for coaches in a non-regulated industry. But along with that freedom comes frustration when competent and qualified coaches are compared side by side with individuals with little training and experience who also use the same title of wellness coach.

The National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches (NCCHWC) has been working behind the scenes for the past 5 years to gather some consensus on what it means to be a competent wellness coach in anticipation of the first ever national wellness coaching exam (anticipated in late 2016) and the Catalyst Coaching Institute is pleased to be recognized as one of the first coaching certification programs to earn the NCCHWC seal of approval. So what does a national exam mean for us? There is a mix of excitement and uncertainty in the midst of this transitionary time in the industry. As a general rule, change takes time. And with change also comes the opportunity for growth.

Personally, I (Suzanna) am invested in the wellness coaching world on several different levels:

  • As the Chief Learning Officer for US Corporate Wellness, we employ a team of wellness coaches to provide personalized wellness coaching for individuals as part of a national employee wellness company. Is it important for our coaches to pass the national wellness exam? Will the organizations that we work for begin asking us for national credentials of our coaching team?
  • As the Co-Founder of the Catalyst Coaching Institute, we train individuals to become certified wellness coaches. Is it important for us to be an approved provider through the NCCHWC? Will all of our students be interested in the national exam or should we offer several levels of training? Our answer to the first question was “absolutely yes” and we were pleased to receive notification that they have approved our Master Coach Certification as one of the first programs to earn NCCHWC recognition as a qualified certification. The answer to the second question will be up to you, and each person will have a different answer based on their professional goals.
  • As a wellness coach, how important is it for me personally to take the national wellness exam? Will it influence my current employment? How important will it be on my resume if I am applying for a new position? What if I have my own practice – will my clients even know about the national exam and will it matter?

All of these questions are important and worth considering. I don’t know how quickly news will spread about the national wellness credentialing and what impact it will have in the industry. What I have decided is that as much as I dislike policies and procedures, application processes, studying and taking exams, I view the move towards national standards as a positive and healthy development in the wellness industry.

  • As the Chief Learning Officer for US Corporate Wellness, we will encourage and support our team of wellness coaches in meeting the national credentials.
  • As a training institution (the Catalyst Coaching Institute), we have completed the application process through the NCCHWC to become an approved transition program and have received notification that we are one of the first certification programs to be approved nationally.
  • As a wellness coach, I will personally move towards completing the requirements needed to take the upcoming national certification exam.

Change can sometimes feel overwhelming. The idea of more training and exams inevitably means more time and money. My suggestion is to take a deep breath and begin recognizing this new pathway toward national certification as an opportunity for growth and learning. The first step is to begin learning about the upcoming examination. Take some time to think about your current situation and determine what is best for you. Talk to other wellness coaches and educators in the industry. The credentialing process is a pathway – to be taken one step at a time. You don’t have to start at the highest levels immediately. If you decide that you want to move towards the national credentialing exam now or in the future, your next step would be to examine the requirements and begin the necessary training. To view the details, go to or contact us to discuss further.

Each program meets the overall standards set forth by the NCCHWC, yet each program has a unique personality and focus. Take time to research your options and then begin down the path with fellow wellness coaches towards the first ever national credentialing exam.


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