Luckily, there are thousands of individuals out there whose goal is to help others with their well-being. Health coaches, as they are called, help empower people to live healthier lives through the lenses of nutrition, exercise, attitude, and more.

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However, if you’re among those who want to become a health coach, there’s good news: The need for health education specialists is growing faster than the national average—at a rate of 7%, and they make about $60,000 in median pay each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

But becoming a health coach can be a complicated process, especially in such a large space. In fact, the health and wellness coaching market is expected to hit $3.83 billion in size this year, notes Statista

If you’re looking to get certified, Fortune Education’s inaugural ranking of the best health coach certifications for 2024 will help you make a decision.

Catalyst Coaching Institute prepares students for the NBHWC exam through its Fast Track Certified Wellness Coach and Master Certified Wellness Coach programs. The training consists of both recorded webinars as well as live training sessions during the evening. Practical coaching skills assessments are also conducted via mentor coaches. 

Catalyst Coaching Institute

Master Certified Wellness Coach/Pathway to National Certification








Price $4,495–$4,962
Program length 6 month est.
Format Synchronous & asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



2. Wellcoaches

Wellcoaches’s Certified Health and Well-being Coach certification consists of three modules: core coach training; deepen knowledge and practice; and one-on-one mentoring and skills assessment. It requires partipants to have an associate degree or two years of work experience. As of late March 2024, the program boasts training nearly 200 coaches who have delivered more than 125,000 coaching sessions to close to 31,000 clients. 

Wellcoaches

Certified Health and Well-being Coach








Price $2,905–$3,640
Program length Varies; 8 month est.
Format Synchronous & asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



3. Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

Dr. Sears Wellness Institute’s master health coach certification consists of 24 weeks of training (includes a two-hour virtual class every Thursday at noon ET) as well as a skills assessment with three live mentor coaching feedback sessions. Individuals also get the opportunity to take 6-week life-stage specialization training: families; adults and seniors; or pregnancy. 

Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

Master Health Coach Certification







Price $3,175–$3,875
Program length 30 weeks
Format Synchronous & asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



4. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

ACE Fitness’s advanced health coach training program gives individuals access to the organization’s most robust study program, additional training in behavioral change—as well as a live, one-on-one skills assessment. In order to sit for the ACE Health Coach certification exam, individuals must have an associate’s degree in a related field or have other relevant certifications or experience. 

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Health Coach Advanced Training Program








Price $2,990
Program length 1 year
Format Synchronous & asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



5. American Fitness Professionals and Associations (AFPA)

American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA)’s certified master health and wellness coach combines self-paced learning (35+ hours) with live Zoom classes (48 hours). The training, in part, walks students through the current trends in the industry, scope of practice, and how to creating coaching agreements. The organization boasts of training more than 130,000 students through its 30+ certification programs.

AFPA

Certified Master Health and Wellness Coach








Price $2,548–$3,548
Program length 12 weeks
Format Synchronous & asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



6. Primal Health Coach Institute

Primal Health Coach Institute’s certification combines multimedia learning (videos, audio, and text lessons) with live monthly webinars. The program consists of 23 chapters and five projects, covering topics from fat and cholesterol to imposter syndrome and marketing. For those struggling through the course, staff is available for one-on-one support. The program has no prerequisites to participate. 

Primal Health Coach Institute

Primal Health Coach Certification








Price $4,495–$4,962
Program length 6 month est.
Format Asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



7. mindbodygreen

The mindbodygreen’s health coach certification is focused on “interactive, cohort-based learning experience over 20 weeks.” The program covers everything from nonviolent communication and SMART goal-setting to lifestyle factors like sleep and addiction. Two live classes occur every week, with one-on-one sessions with faculty also available. Participants also get life-time access to training. 

mindbodygreen

Health Coach Certification








Price $5,999
Program length 20 weeks
Format Synchronous & asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



8. International Sports Sciences Association

The International Sports Sciences Association’s (ISSA) health coach certification seeks to empower students to be able to make a positive impact on health and disease and guide clients to achieve longevity. The program consists of video lectures and ends with an online, open-book multiple choice exam. A success team is available for “unlimited support” for students. 

ISSA

Certified Health Coach








Price $988–$2,388
Program length 10 weeks
Format Asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



9. Precision Nutrition

Precision Nutrition’s level 2 master health coach certification combines immersive study, guided practice, and live weekly online learning sessions to help participants feel confident to “help anyone create a meaningful health transformation.” Instructors have a combined 70+ years of coaching experience. For those that finish the program and still aren’t satisfied, a full refund may be possible. 

Precision Nutrition

Level 2 Master Health Coaching Certification







Price $2,699–$4,788
Program length 28–32 weeks
Format Synchronous & asynchronous
Bachelor’s degree required? No



10. Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Whether you’re new to the wellness, health, and nutrition coaching ecosystem or well-versed, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s flagship coaching program aims to teach students everything from bio-individuality to multidimensional health. For an added $1,500, students can reserve a seat in IIN’s NBHWC-coaching intensive to fulfill the education requirements needed to sit for the exam. The programs are offered in both English and Spanish. 



Methodology for Fortune’s ranking of the best health coach certifications

In formulating our ranking, we considered a variety of factors such as cost, student support, and outcome after completion of the program. While there are a number of organizations seeking to set industry standards, there is no end all be all regulator. Because of this, it can be difficult to compare programs across the board, especially for important factors like completion rate and student success. In the end, after consultation with our expert panel, we utilized indicators that we felt best judged the health coach certification ecosystem for 2024.

We reviewed 17 certification programs and listed the top 10.

Here are the data points we used:

  • Price: 25%
  • Financing options: 15%
  • Lending partnerships: 10%
  • Scholarship availability: 15%
  • Bachelor’s degree requirement: 10%
  • National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) certified: 8% 
  • International Coach Federation (ICF) certified: 2%
  • Mentorship programs: 10% 
  • Life-stage specializations: 5%

Our expert panel 

In preparation for the release of our new ranking, Fortune sat down with two experts who have worked in the health and wellness coaching space for a number of years.

  • Nicole Pope: Director of operations and certification project manager, National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching
  • Duston Morris: Department chair, health and wellness coaching, and associate professor, Maryland University of Integrative Health

By asking questions about the importance of health coach education, different types of programs, and the skills needed to succeed, we hoped to better understand how to effectively guide those pursuing a career in the field. It’s noteworthy that neither expert was directly involved in ranking any programs.

The reason you should get certified

When looking at lists of the top health coaches online, you’ll find that some people are not certified by an accredited organization. Harvard Medical School says that because the industry is still young, the definition of a “health coach” is still highly debatable. 

Many people claim to be health coaches without participating in formal training, studying, or research. 

“Those people are very different from somebody who has actually gone through and completed an approved coaching program recognized by the NBHWC,” Morris tells Fortune

When it comes to providing clients with evidence-based information and providing a real service to the world, he says certificates prove that one understands the ethics and competencies of a certified health coach.

“It’s really critically important that anybody who goes into health and wellness coaching—or any field where they’re going to be working with clients—has some background demonstrating their ability, efficacy, and knowledge,” Morris adds. 

He explains that more often than not, if you’re looking to be employed by an organization or a school, hiring managers are looking for credentials. 

According to Glassdoor, If you get hired or manage to build a solid client base, a certified health coach makes an average of $95,000–$161,000 each year.

Coaching is where science meets communication 

Because health coaching is so interactive, Pope says that any good program should have an aspect of synchronicity.

“Many programs are totally asynchronous, so you never meet with a faculty member. [NBHWC] does not approve of that at all,” she explains. That’s why she advises being wary of programs that simply swipe your credit card, tell you to complete modules, and pronounce you as a health coach. 

The NBHWC requires training courses to include student-with-student communication and interactive practice with trained faculty. 

Pope and Morris agree that besides communication, a handful of other skills embody a great health coach. Be on the lookout for programs that teach you how to:

  • Practice deep and reflective listening
  • Assess a client’s readiness to change a behavior or habit
  • Set reasonable and attainable health goals with clients

Regarding hard skills, our experts narrowed them down to three main areas: 

  • The ability to perform assessments and collect client data
  • The ability to interpret the data
  • The ability to provide clients with actionable feedback based on that data.

According to Pope, it is crucial to understand that health coaches are not authorized to diagnose, treat, or provide meal plans. For instance, if a client has diabetes and fails to disclose it, and the health coach devises a diet plan, it can lead to complications that are beyond the scope of a certified health coach’s expertise. 

“At the end of the day, you are talking to clients about their behavior, and a good curriculum should teach you how to do that,” Pope says. 




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