What are the top health coach certification programs?
If you’re interested in becoming a certified health coach, this article is for you. Today, you’ll learn the qualifications you need and the best programs out there.
Want to learn more? Read on!
What qualifications do you need to become a health coach?
So, you’re thinking about becoming a health coach?
Now’s the right time. Precedence Research predicts that the health coaching market will be worth $25.95 billion by 2030.
But what qualifications do you need to offer your own health coaching services?
Well, it depends on your prior experience.
While coaching isn’t a regulated industry, it’s important to have a background in health, nutrition, or wellness if those are your niches.
But guess what? Your clients are buying into you as a coach, not the degrees you have.
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Most clients are much more interested in the transformation you offer than the certifications you have.
With that said, some health coaching is regulated.
So, depending on your health coaching niche, you might need a certification. Make sure you research your specific niche carefully to ensure you have the qualifications you need to succeed.
Plus, you might need to have completed health coach training to work as an employee, if that’s the route you’re looking to take.
Next, let’s look at the top health coach certification programs.
Best health coach certification programs in 2023
Here below are the best health coaching certification programs based on reviews and reputation. As coaching certification programs are unregulated, I prefer to look at universities or companies with a great reputation.
Disclaimer: I haven’t done these certification programs myself, so I can’t vouch for them personally. This is a curation of the best options, but you should still do your own research to decide which health coach certification program is the best one for you.
The Mayo Clinic is a leading medical center with a well-respected and highly reviewed health and wellness program. It’s even accredited by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching.
And, considering that the program is just twelve weeks long, it’s surprisingly detailed. The drawback? If you don’t already have a background in healthcare, it might not be the best fit.
Also, in this program, you don’t get certified right after taking the course. You need to complete 50 hours of coaching within two years first.
Best for: Health and wellness coaches who want a well-rounded education
Duration: Twelve weeks
- Taught 100% online
- Focuses on coaching skills and not just wellness education
- Requires a bachelor’s or associate’s degree to get in
- Extra practice hours are needed after the course to get the certification
Duke University’s health and wellness coaching programs are celebrated and well-reviewed. What’s special about them? They focus on habit-building as a tool for success.
How can you help your client identify bad habits and build healthier ones – in nutrition, fitness, sleep, or any other area? That’s what you’ll learn in this program.
This program is comprehensive, hands-on, and online.
Best for: Health professionals wanting to get into coaching
Price: $5,500 for the coaching program. $1,440 for the certification course.
Duration: Ten weeks
- Includes mentor reviews on recorded coaching sessions
- Mix of live training and self-paced coursework
- You need an extra course to get your certification
- There are no payment plans
The International Association of Wellness Professionals, accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), offers a program that includes every aspect of a client’s life as contributing to their wellness.
So, in this program, wellness isn’t just about their body and mind. It’s also about their relationships and career, sunlight, air quality, spirituality, and more. This 360-degree approach sets this program apart from other wellness certifications.
Plus, it’s divided into three parts to help you learn wellness expertise in addition to coaching and entrepreneurial skills.
The entrepreneurial side, in particular, is much more in-depth than many other courses. It talks about attracting dream clients, how to sell, and how to get into the entrepreneurial mindset.
Best for: New business owners
- Covers 12 aspects of human health and wellness
- Includes resources on starting a successful coaching business
- Contains spirituality that won’t resonate with everyone
- Only has three modules on bodily health
The Emory University Health and Wellness Coaching Certificate is a rigorous academic program that consistently tops the charts for health coach certifications. With a combination of live online learning and self-guided materials, it’ll help make you the best coach you can be.
You’ll learn everything you need as a health and wellness coach – from detailed modules on nutrition to broad modules on stress management.
Interested in getting a master’s degree equivalent in less time than a normal college degree? Then this certificate is a great option.
Best for: Heath coaches wanting a degree equivalent
Duration: Four to five months
- Detailed curriculum
- Academic certification with a great reputation
- Only open to those with a bachelor’s degree
- Requires 100% attendance for all practice coaching sessions to qualify
The Health Coach Institute is one of the best schools for health and wellness programs in the US. You’ll learn everything from stress management to techniques for habit change. Plus, as an extra seal of quality, it’s accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
This program even includes one-on-one private coaching with a tutor, so you can ask questions and get quality coaching yourself. For an in-depth look at life and health coaching, this is a great option.
Best for: Distance learners who want to go at their own pace
Duration: Six months
- Completely self-guided, so you can study when you want
- Open to everyone with a high school diploma
- Doesn’t include feedback on your coaching sessions
- No live training element
This graduate certification from the University of North Dakota is great if you’re interested in nutritional coaching. It covers how to guide your clients through traditional coaching techniques and create frameworks for them to follow, like a set exercise and diet plan. There’s even a class on disease prevention.
Ultimately, nutrition is a big part of this program. So, if that’s your niche and you have a bachelor’s degree, this could be the one for you!
But if you’re interested in more specialized subjects, like pregnancy health or addiction, this course isn’t the best option.
Best for: Health coaches with an emphasis on diet change
Duration: One year
- Part-time program with plenty of flexibility
- Includes hands-on coaching practice
- Only open to those with a college degree
- Focuses a lot on nutrition, so not as balanced as other programs
The Georgetown University Certificate in Health & Wellness Coaching program applies to so many niches. It’s a hybrid course, meaning there’s in-person tutoring and online, self-paced learning.
This course is focused on behavior change psychology and coaching skills. So, it places less of an emphasis on actual health and wellness education because it’s aimed at people with prior experience in the health sector.
Do you have a healthcare background and live in or near Washington? Then this course might be a great option for you.
Best for: People local to Washington, DC
Duration: Eight months
- In-person guidance and coaching practice
- Broad subjects to cover a wide range of health niches
- You must have a healthcare degree or experience working in the field
- The school can’t sponsor your visa if you’re outside the US
The Institute for Wellness Education’s Wellness Coach Training Certification is well respected in the wellness coaching space. They use evidence-based practices to train you how to coach well.
The course covers several topics, like nutritional, social, physical, and mental wellness. But it also has a huge focus on coaching itself.
How does a good coach listen, encourage, and support their clients to achieve their goals? That’s what this course is all about.
Taught 100% online, you get interactive workbooks to work through on your own time. The school also runs frequent teleconferences to help you practice your coaching skills with others and get feedback.
Best for: People who want to focus on developing wellness coaching skills
Duration: Self-guided, around 50 hours
- Heavy emphasis on coaching skills to make you a great coach
- Completely self-guided for ultimate flexibility
- Doesn’t include mentorship by an accredited coach
- Not much education on how to start a successful health coaching business
Precision Nutrition is a peer-reviewed program. Which means that the curriculum is backed by the latest nutritional science, so you know you’re getting the best possible education on nutrition.
Plus, the program is online and self-paced, so you can dip in and out as your schedule allows.
Want to learn how to create complex nutritional plans for anyone and everyone? Then this could be the certification for you.
Best for: Aspiring nutrition coaches
Price: $119/month for one year
- Helps you learn personalized nutritional science
- Has great reviews
- No feedback sessions on coaching practice
- No live training
The National Society of Health Coaching has a certification program that’s perfect for nurses and clinicians who want to add to their skills or make a career change. It’s focused on patient care – how you can use coaching skills to improve your patient’s recovery. So, it has modules on pain management, chronic illnesses, and patient motivation.
If you’re a health practitioner wanting to take your career to the next level, this course is perfect for you.
Best for: Nurses and clinicians
Duration: Self-paced, around 85-100 hours of study
- Comprehensive guide to using coaching techniques as a clinician
- Unique modules for clinical settings
- Only open to health professionals
- No information on how to start a health coaching business
So far, the health coach certifications we’ve looked at have had set study curriculums. Do you want more control over exactly what you study? If so, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Health Coach Training Program may be for you.
This is a great program if you resonate with the idea of bio-individuality. What does that mean? Since your body is unique, the diet and exercise program you need is also unique.
So, you’ll learn how to personalize a health program by taking your client’s needs into consideration.
Plus, this course covers aspects of life we don’t traditionally associate with health, like relationships, environment, social life, finances, and career. But that’s what makes this course so interesting – it’s a detailed look at health coaching that you can tailor to your niche.
Best for: Those who want to personalize their learning
Duration: Six or twelve months
- You can customize the modules you learn
- Taught by reputable coaches such as Gabby Bernstein
- May be too spiritual for some
- Recognized certification in the US and the UK
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coach Certification has a well-rounded health coaching program.
With this certification, you can become a personal trainer, wellness coordinator, health case manager, and more. In other words, this is a great course to take if you’re changing careers.
From quizzes and self-timed exams to video training and a hard-copy manual, the program will help equip you with the skills you need to successfully transition into a health-related field.
Best for: Career transitioners
Duration: Three to six months
- Active community of coaches from all walks of life
- Doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree to be accepted
- No feedback on your coaching skills
- No live training sessions – all recorded
13. Arizona State University’s Online B.S. in Health Sciences – Healthy Lifestyles and Fitness Science
If you want a degree in all things healthcare, Arizona State University’s Online B.S. in Health Sciences program is for you. The school has a customized approach to learning. So, there are six broad areas of study and you get to customize what you learn.
Those six areas are:
- Health Care Compliance and Regulations – good for healthcare workers and government positions
- Health Education and Promotion – good for future data analysts and educators
- Health Leadership and Management – good for learning management skills and becoming a future catalyst for health change in an organization
- Health Psychology – good for learning about human behavior and the psychology behind habits
- Healthy Nutrition – no explanation needed there!
- Integrative Health – good for learning about chronic illness
Though there isn’t a traditional framework for teaching you how to coach, this course gives you the tools to build science-backed health and wellness programs for your clients.
Best for: Those who want a solid science-backed education
Duration: One year
- Unique approach to healthcare science
- Ability to personalize what you learn
- Not as focussed on coaching skills
- No education on how to start a business
The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute programs are highly reviewed in the coaching world. And, there are several specialties you can choose from.
The most famous is the pregnancy health pathway. But you can also specialize in family health, adult health, or elderly health.
So, if you want to become a pregnancy coach or a coach for elderly folks, this institute is a great place to start. Plus, you can choose between 6-week, 9-week, or 12-week programs, depending on how many specialties you want.
In terms of health content, the institute mainly focuses on nutritional and physical health. The rest is about how to be a good coach to your clients.
Best for: Pregnancy coaches
Price: $975 for one specialty
Duration: Six weeks
- You can choose from four health niches
- Short courses allow you to become qualified in just six weeks
- No feedback on live coaching sessions
- Isn’t as in-depth into health topics as others on this list
The Chapman Institute provides wellness certifications to employees who want to boost their skills. So, it’s made for HR staff, brokers, benefits managers, and anyone else who focuses on employee care.
There are four levels of certification: Coordinator, manager, director, and consultant.
The coordinator program is the first level. It gives you a basis for all aspects of employee health and wellness, like group activity planning, stress management, and health initiatives. You’ll also learn some light coaching skills to be as supportive of your colleagues as possible.
The course can be taught in three ways:
- Self-guided and online
- Live online
All for the same price!
So, if you’re in a 9-5 job that involves employee care and your company has a learning budget, suggest this course!
Best for: People in 9-5 jobs who want to learn wellness coaching skills
Duration: Depends on the format
- Ideal for coaches specializing in employee health and wellness
- Taught in multiple formats
- Less content on actual health and wellness concepts
- Duration varies depending on the format you choose
The American Fitness Professionals and Associates’ Health and Wellness Coach Certification is a great course for anyone starting out in coaching.
Why? Because it doesn’t assume you have prior knowledge and takes you right from the beginning of your coaching journey.
There are two parts to the course.
The first is health and wellness training. This part is all about holistic health. You’ll learn the basics of mental, physical, and nutritional health. But it goes one step further. You’ll also get to learn about the science of drug abuse, alternative medicines, and preventing disease.
The second part is all about coaching. So, you’ll learn different coaching models, coaching agreements, and how to structure your business as a coach.
The course is accredited by multiple national boards, including the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). Plus, the great reviews and reasonable price make it a top option for newbies to the coaching space.
Best for: New coaches
Duration: Self-guided, around six months
- Open to everyone – no prior healthcare education needed
- Balanced curriculum of health and coaching topics
- Not ideal for coaches with specific niches since the topics are broad
- No live coaching feedback sessions
Lastly, let’s talk about the MindBodyGreen Health Coach Certification. MindBodyGreen is one of the most popular publications on health in the world.
But, unlike Mayo Clinic, it takes a more holistic approach to health and wellness, covering topics like spiritual health, mental health, and more.
Unsurprisingly, their certification program is comprehensive. It covers the basics of health, including stress, sleep, nutrition, and exercise. But it also talks about alternative approaches, like shadow work, mindfulness, and integration.
So, if those sound like topics you want to explore, this could be a great course for you!
It’s taught 100% online with self-guided and live elements, including 18 weeks of live coaching practice sessions with feedback.
Best for: Those who want to have a modern approach to health and wellness coaching
Duration: 20 weeks
- Excellent testimonials
- Accredited by the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching
- Not much education on how to start a successful coaching business
- Big time commitment for live training modules
Now you know what the best health coach certification programs are. But how do you choose a program for yourself? That’s what we’ll look at next.
How to choose the right health coach certification program for you
So, now you know the best health certification programs out there. Feeling overwhelmed?
Don’t worry, I’m here to help. Here are some factors to consider when comparing different programs.
First things first, you need to figure out what area of health coaching you’re most interested in.
What’s your niche as a health coach? And how can a certification help you learn more about it?
For example, do you want to focus on pregnancy health, fitness, wellness, holistic health, or something else entirely?
Knowing your niche will help you narrow down your options and find a certification program that aligns with your interests and goals.
Need help choosing a profitable coaching niche? Check out this video:
Once you have an idea of what type of health coaching you want to pursue, it’s time to do some research on the different schools that offer certifications in your niche.
Look for reviews or ask around to see what others have to say about the program. For example, health coach Facebook and Reddit groups are great places to ask.
Ultimately, choose a certification program that has a good reputation and has produced successful health coaches.
Duration & delivery
Another important factor to consider is the duration and delivery of the certification program.
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For example, if you’re going through a career transition, you might be juggling your 9-5 job at the same time. Or maybe you have kids, so you only have free time in the evening.
Think about how much time you could realistically dedicate to studying and whether you’d be able to attend classes in person or not. This will help narrow down your options.
Finally, what’s your budget?
There are many certifications available at a wide range of budgets, so it’s important to find a program that fits.
But remember: Cheaper doesn’t mean better.
You want to invest in a certification program that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed as a health coach. So, if that means saving a little longer, go for it.
Want to learn more about getting started as a coach? Check out this video:
Over to you!
There you have it. Now you know the best health coach certification programs out there.
Each program is different, and you need to choose the one that aligns with YOUR vision as a health coach.
Now, I’d love to know:
What’s your #1 question about starting your health coaching business?
Let me know in the comments below.