4 Steps to Health Coach Certification


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Want to be a health coach? Health coach certification programs are rising in popularity. Follow these 4 steps (the same ones I took) to become a certified health coach.

Want to be a health coach? Health coach certification programs are rising in popularity. Follow these 4 steps to become a certified health coach.

Health Coaching Certification

Obtaining my health coach certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) four years ago opened up countless doors. Not only did I receive a solid education on the multitude of dietary approaches that can lead to wellness, but I completed the program with a keen understanding of what it would actually take to run a nutrition-centric business.

And today, well, I sort of feel like I’m living the dream as a successful food blogger and YouTuber. Last year, Downshiftology reached more than 100 million people. Sometimes I legitimately have to pinch myself!  

Maybe you have a similar dream – and that’s awesome. Given the steadily increasing rates of obesity and other chronic diseases, there is a huge demand for health coaches. Because health coaches can help people navigate a confusing world of nutrition and wellness misinformation.

Want to be a health coach? Health coach certification programs are rising in popularity. Follow these 4 steps to become a certified health coach.

4 Steps to Health Coach Certification

1. Evaluate Your Goals & Expectations

Before you jump into anything, pause, and take a breath. Make sure becoming a health coach is something you should actually do. In my experience of building a business and getting to know fellow health coaches, the people who truly thrive have a few things in common. They have a killer work ethicthey have a clear goal in mind for what they want to do once they graduate and they have realistic expectations of how much money they’ll make when they start out.

Once you feel confident that becoming a health coach is the right path for you, start researching health coach certification programs.

2. Find A Reputable Health Coach Certification Program

Within the past five or 10 years, dozens of new health coach certifications have become available. Unfortunately, not all are created equal. So, how do you weed out the ones that aren’t worth your time? There are a few key questions that will lead you toward a reputable health coach certification program:

  • How long has the health coach certification program been operating? If a company offering a health coach certification has just started up, then pass. You want a program that has stood the test of time and has enough notoriety to give you access to the best instructors and speakers in the nutrition space. The health coach certification program I completed, IIN, has been in operation for 27 years and features guest lectures from true visionaries in nutrition and wellness.
  • What’s the duration of the program? If a program claims you can get your health coach certification in just a few weeks, that’s a red flag. Gaining a solid nutritional foundation and developing the coaching skills and business savvy necessary to make health coaching a career, should take the better part of a year. The program should also periodically test your knowledge to ensure that what you’re learning sticks. If anything seems too quick or too easy, it probably is.
  • Is the program willing to connect you with alumni? If you’re contemplating enrolling in a health coach certification program, the program should be more than happy to connect you with alumni who can share their experiences. If they don’t, well, that’s another red flag. You can also do a little research of your own on LinkedIn to find recent graduates.
  • Can the program provide examples of successful alumni? You want a program that provides students with the tools necessary to thrive in their future businesses – and any solid program should be able to point you to some rockstar alumni for inspiration. Case in point: IIN grads include Kelly Leveque, celebrity nutrition coach and best-selling author, and Elizabeth Stein, who founded Purely Elizabeth shortly after receiving her health coach certification.  

3. Dedicate Plenty Of Time To Your Coursework

Once you find the program that is right for you, your next mission is to keep your eyes on the prize and always make time for your coursework. Even when life gets busy. With most health coach certification programs, your video lectures, readings, and practice quizzes are released via weekly modules. And if you don’t dedicate the appropriate amount of time each week to complete them, you can quickly fall behind.

My suggestion? Block off one hour every night (or a larger 5+ hour block over the weekend) to complete the week’s work. Letting yourself fall behind is a slippery slope and can make all the difference between you completing your certification or not.

4. Don’t Forget To Practice, Practice Practice

Getting the most out of your health coach certification program isn’t just about completing your readings, watching your videos, and passing your tests. Perhaps the most important part? Practicing health coaching consultations with fellow students in your program – as many different people as possible.

You may think you know what you’re doing, but until you’re faced with the initially uncomfortable reality of asking personal health questions to complete strangers, you don’t know what’s going to come out of your mouth. Let alone the types of questions they may have for you.

Practice coaching will give you an idea of what to expect from clients. It will also help you build your confidence and allow you to tweak and customize your coaching approach until you develop a style you and your clients are comfortable with. The fact is, you need to stutter your way through a couple practice sessions before you can truly excel.

More Health Coaching Posts to Enjoy

If you’d like to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the health coaching program I attended, click here to get a copy of the curriculum guide.

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  1. Hi there,
    I am a respiratory therapist with a PhD in Public Health, and would love to be a health coach. How do I get started, what is an average course duration and most most importantly, how much does it cost? I have a huge student loan but think this is the route I should take to boost my career in health.

    1. Hi Ingrid – I’m actually sharing a course bonus in this week’s email, make sure to subscribe for more details!

  2. Hi there, I would love to become a health coach for the reasons being. myself, my family and family to come and to truly help my comity in need. that really has the lack as my self. but i find it every are to find the right place. is there somewhere you can point to one that would truly be the best you believe.

    1. You can read more about my health coaching journey on my website and Youtube channel! Just search for health coach and you will see a few results.

  3. I am interested in Health coach certification,
    I have a Bsc hons in Microbiology,HND in Catering Enterprise Management and an MBA in Tourism and Hospitality Management

  4. Hi! How did you decide on IIN vs. ACE, I am looking into both and ACE seems more aligned with personal training perhaps. I was wondering if you could share (or maybe you have a post) on how you chose IIN over something else? Thanks!! :)

  5. Hi , is this health coaching totally online module I am from Singapore and would like to learn more about it from an aluminium like you. 

    Thanks in advance 

  6. Thats amazing. I went on the IIN website a couple of weeks ago looking at qualifications in nutrition. Its something thats always interested me, I love food and I have no work in the current situation. Might have to revisit their site. Thank you Lisa x

    1. Hi Debbie – It’s definitely something to consider if this has always been a field thats intrigued you :)

      1. Hi Lisa, 
        This is really informative. I browsed through IIN website, however could not find the fees structure. Could you please help me with the cost of doing such a course.

      2. I’m glad you enjoyed it! And I’d recommend reaching out to them for the most up-to-date costs.

  7. How would you suggest becoming a health coach to someone who is a nurse? Is the process still the same or are there certification courses to help blend nursing and health coaching together? Thanks!

    1. Hi Peter – the process would be the same. You would just have a wonderful, more comprehensive background as a nurse. :)

    1. Hi Patricia – you can click the link at the bottom of the post for more information on becoming a health coach. :)