Career Path on How to Become a Health Coach

As health care costs continue to surge, more American companies are beginning to hire health coaches to establish workplace wellness programs for employees. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, 51% of all employers with a workforce of fifty or more employees created workplace wellness programs in 2013. With over 500 vendors selling these programs, workplace wellness is estimated to be a $6 billion industry. 

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Health care professionals that intend to become a health coach typically have either an undergraduate or graduate degree an applicable discipline. After earning a degree, aspiring health coaches acquire experience in the field through job positions, internships or volunteerism. To establish creditability, many health coaches also become certified professionals.

Job Description for Health Coaches

The main function of a health coaches is to help clients to cultivate a healthier lifestyle. Examples of specific duties may include:

  • Assessing a client’s current health condition
  • Developing health goals for a client
  • Providing counseling services
  • Documenting a client’s progress
  • Conducting behavioral health screenings
  • Establishing a client’s treatment plan

Education for Health Coaches

Students interested in a health coach career should begin by completing a bachelor’s degree in a field-related discipline such as nutrition, counseling, fitness, psychology, wellness, nursing or health care. Although a bachelor degree is considered a professional standard, job candidates that hold a master’s degree or higher will likely benefit from preferential treatment during the hiring process. When choosing a degree program, students are encouraged to select one that integrates classroom instruction with experiential learning.

Health Coach Careers By State

Health Coach Certification

A great way for health coaches to prove their professional skills and abilities is by becoming certified. Credentialing associations such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC) administer examinations to individuals that want to attain the distinction of certified health coaches (CHCs). Some certification agencies require individuals to meet education and experience eligibility criteria to qualify for certification examinations.

Employment for Health Coaches

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 55,830 health education specialists, including health coaches, employed nationwide as of May 2021. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS reports that the number of jobs for health education specialists will grow by 12.4% — that’s much faster than the average growth for all other occupations during this time.*

The top employers of health educators as of May 2021 included:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Local government
  • State government
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Individual and family services

Common places of employment for health coaches:

  • Day spas
  • Corporations
  • Medical centers
  • Natural health food stores
  • Physician offices
  • Wellness centers
  • Schools

Salaries for Health Coaches

According to the BLS, health education specialists, including health coaches, earned an average salary of $64,930. Early career professionals earned about $46,770, while those with extensive experience earned about $102,480. Washington DC came out on top for its average pay for health education specialists, at $94,610, followed by Maryland, at $90,140.*

*2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for health education specialists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Salary statistics representing entry-level/early career = 25th percentile; mid-level= 50th percentile; senior-level/highly experienced = 90th percentile. Data accessed April 2022.

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