Nutrition or Health Coach Certification?

Are you debating whether it would be better for you to pursue a nutrition certification or a health & wellness coach certification? Which would provide more benefit as you move forward in your career? Or maybe you’re simply wanting to understand the key differences between the two options? These are all very common questions and you may find the answers surprising.

I’m Dr. Bradford Cooper and as the CEO of US Corporate Wellness, physical therapist and athletic trainer for 30+ years and a longtime endurance athlete, including 11 Ironmans and the 3000 mile cycling race across America, I’ve been fortunate to cross paths with a large number of talented individuals who have taken one route or the other. In the next few minutes, I’ll provide you with some of the key differences to consider and how each might fit best into your current or future career plans.

Let’s start with the warning – there are scam artists involved in both health & wellness coaching certifications and nutrition certifications. So out of the gate be careful about which organization to whom you’re hooking your wagon before you invest your money or your time. A beautiful website and frequent advertisements all over social media just means they have a beautiful website and frequent ads all over social media. It doesn’t tell you whether they are a legitimate training program. So go deeper. For example, when it comes to health and wellness coaching certifications, you want to be sure you select a program that is approved by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching. That still provides you with plenty of options from which to choose a program that fits your personality, preferred learning style and long-term career support needs. But if you miss that step and select a program that looks cool but isn’t credible, you’ll be very disappointed down the road. Also – consider the ROI on your investment. When it comes to certifications, the cheapest route – like buying a used car – often falls short in key areas. But it’s also easy to overspend thousands of dollars for the shiniest “certification” that doesn’t significantly enhance your credibility or skill set. Take your time and base your decision on which program fits you as an individual and provides the training and support you need to succeed both short and long term.

Next – what’s the difference between a nutrition certification and a health & wellness coach certification? Both will allow you to serve others in a meaningful way. Both enhance your resume as you either expand on your current career or are pursuing a new one. However, the way in which each will do so is quite different. A certification in nutrition is exactly what it sounds like. You are enhancing your knowledge, skills and credibility in one specific area: Nutrition. For many, this is the perfect choice and exactly what you’re looking to do. Also – if you choose to go the route of a nutrition certification, be sure to do your homework about the difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist, as they are NOT the same thing and you’ll want to understand the difference prior to starting down this path.

By comparison, a health & wellness coach specializes in coaching the individual through their health and wellness journey rather than specializing in one specific area. As a coach, you’ll learn how to effectively utilize skills such as motivational interviewing and an understanding of intrinsic motivation to help your client become the best version of themselves as they move forward. While you’re likely to learn information about exercise, nutrition, sleep and more as you move through the health & wellness coach certification, your specialty focuses on optimal coaching skills rather than one specific area.

Is there overlap? Absolutely. Some nutritionists later decide they want to expand their business or resume to include coaching. We have physicians, physical therapists, nurses, counselors and many other professionals pursuing a certification in health & wellness coaching to enhance their client engagement and outcomes. It is not uncommon for nutritionists to do the same. By the same token, some coaches decided they love coaching but want to have a deeper understanding of nutrition specifically and so will pursue that certification.

So which is better – a nutrition certification or health & wellness coach certification? Hopefully the information we’ve provided in this brief video has helped clarify the answer depends on the route you’re wanting to take with your career. Do you prefer a narrow, focused emphasis? Then the nutrition certification may be best. Would you rather pursue a broader emphasis that is applicable to a wider range of settings and situations? In that case, the health & wellness coaching certification is likely your best avenue. Obviously this can be a touchy subject, so we’re looking forward to some potentially interesting comments below 😊. An important note of caution for everyone – there are a variety of state-specific guidelines for anyone who is sharing nutritional advice. So if you decide to go that route, be absolutely certain you clarify those before starting down that path.

There are more tools and resources to improve your coaching and your life available at Or – here’s a great video on which you can build from here if you’d like. This is Dr. Bradford Cooper signing out. Thanks for joining us. Take care.


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