Downshiftology
subscribe to new posts: via email via rss

Should You Become a Health Coach? Yes and No

Health coaching is a growing career path and rewarding in so many ways. But before you become a health coach, there are a few things to consider to determine if it’s right for you. I’ve been a certified health coach for over 5 years, let me share some insights and tips.

Health coach sitting on sofa with laptop and notebook.

The Career of Health Coaching

It seems many are intrigued by the fact that I ditched the corporate world and struck out on my own as an online entrepreneur, after becoming a health coach. While some health coaches decide to coach clients individually, others like myself, use their health coaching certification as a jumping off point for creating cookbooks, food products, wellness-centered brands, and online businesses.

Am I a health coach? Yes. Am I a food blogger? And I a YouTuber? Yes. Am I social media influencer? Yes. And depending on which day of the week it is, I may give myself a handful of other titles. Welcome to the world of entrepreneurship.

But becoming a health coach was a pivotal moment for me and the catalyst for starting my business. Today, five years later, Downshiftology is a successful business that reaches over 100 million people a year. And while I no longer coach clients individually, the knowledge that I learned continues to be woven throughout everything I do.

Should You Become a Health Coach?

For the full explanation, watch the video below! 

The short answer is yes and no. There are several good reasons to pursue health coaching, which I highlight below. If these are your driving factors, I think you’ll be happy with the program. But there’s also an important reason why you shouldn’t pursue it.

Yes, if you want to improve your own health

Did you know that many who enroll in health coaching programs have zero desire to create a business? It’s true. They simply want to learn more about nutrition and holistic health to benefit their own wellness and help those around them. It’s preventative medicine at it’s finest.

Trust me, there are things I wish I knew 10 years ago about nutrition, wellness and self-care that may have mitigated my numerous doctor appointments as I was diagnosed with four autoimmune diseases. I’m super thankful that I’m healthy today, but an education in wellness can’t be underscored.

So if you’re interesting in health coaching for your own wellness, you’re not alone.

Yes, if you want to positively impact others and make a career out of it

One of the most rewarding aspects of health coaching is positively impacting clients and helping them reach their goals. But just to clarify (as it does get confusing) health and wellness coaches are NOT dietitians, clinical nutritionists or doctors. They don’t prescribe medicine, order lab tests or provide medical advice. 

Health coaches, similar to athletic coaches or business coaches inspire, motivate and provide a level of accountability. And it’s been proven to be effective. They do this either independently, or working with doctor’s offices as part of their clinical practice. 

Can you make a career out of it? Yes. Absolutely. Media outlets for the last couple of years have mentioned health coaching as an emerging occupational trend, simply based on the needs of society. WebMD and the CDC highlight it as well. In short, the field of health coaching is gaining in popularity, with doctor’s offices even employing health coaches on staff.

Yes, if you want to create a wellness-centered business

It may seems like an oxymoron to obtain a health coaching certification to not coach, but this may in fact be the largest trend. Many people pursue health coaching to have a solid, well-rounded background in nutrition and holistic health, as the basis for other endeavors.

Next time you go to the bookstore, peruse the cookbook aisle. Then, flip to the back and see how many cookbook authors are certified health coaches – a lot! Many health coaches pursue other revenue generation streams like writing books, holding wellness retreats and creating physical or digital products.

Kelly Leveque wrote her wildly popular book, Body Love, after becoming a health coach. And Elizabeth Stein from Purely Elizabeth launched a healthy foods company. Pursuing health coaching can be the jumping off point for numerous wellness-centered businesses, even bricks and mortar businesses like yoga studios and healthy cafes. 

No, if you’re not realistic about the work involved

I’ve talked to numerous people who pursued health coaching with visions of massive wealth dancing through their heads. They do the math of what they could charge: $100/hr x 2080 work hours in a year equals $208K! Unfortunately, those individuals were let down and re-joined the 9-5 game after deciding that it really wasn’t for them.

Yes, you can make good income as a health coach, but it won’t happen overnight and it will take quite a bit of effort. When you finish your certification, clients will not automatically fall into your lap. You’ll have to find them, market to them and work to gain their business. This requires confidence, business skills and marketing savvy.

The health coaching program I attended, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, does provide courses to address this. But even still, it takes time to really find your groove, develop your niche and grow your business. In other words – don’t quit your day job (just yet!).

My recommendation is to build your health coaching career while you still have a steady income stream. Then, once you’ve gained enough momentum in your coaching career, you can choose your future path – whichever path that may be.

More Health Coaching Tips

If you’d like to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the health coaching program I attended, you can take a free sample class or download their course curriculum.

This post was originally published Jan 2016, but recently updated. 

Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

151 comments on “Should You Become a Health Coach? Yes and No”

  1. Hi Lisa! I would love love to become a health coach. I have been troubled with the idea of just work for money, instead I want to accomplish many levels of satisfaction by making others happy, healthy and motivated in life. I didn’t know what I liked to be until I saw an add from IIN and your description just made it more achievable. Thank you for making this article it really help me to understand it a little bit better.

  2. I’m in my mid-thirties, just graduated (BS biology, chemistry and nutrition minors) and am trying to figure out my new passion since I realized (through experience) that the medical field is not my cup of tea.

    What I keep coming back to is overall health and wellness. It’s what drew me to biology and nutrition in the first place and was behind my desire to be a doctor. It’s what I just spent 6 straight hours reading about and trying to organize into actionable plans for myself and my family.

    I am afraid to make a career out of this because I enjoy the security of state health insurance and a stable income.

    Thank you for your blog post and I will check out the others you mentioned. You’ve given me a lot to consider. Thank you!

  3. I’m in my late twenties and also in the corporate world. I’ve grown an interest in nutrition specifically after my 130 pound weight loss. My current job is not fulfilling in anyway( and never has been) so I’ve been looking at careers within nutrition, something that actually interests me. I’ve looked into the INN program. I’m nervous in taking this step because I have absolutely no experience or background, I just believe it to be so interesting and important and would love to spread the knowledge to the others. It’s a lot to think about but I thank you for this post!

    • Hi Oneka – It’s always something to consider if you are really interesting in nutrition and how to nourish your body! I have a few other health coaching posts on my website, so do make sure to take a peek at those :)

  4. i want to become a personal trainer, also a health and wellness coach and make meal preps for people, am certified in culinary arts am sure that looks good on me because it shows people i know how to handle food. But i just want to train people for literally anything Sports, speed, gym, also the food prep. i am 18 and currently a senior.

  5. I am considering becoming a health coach, but I am worried about how people will react! 

    • Hi Jane – In life, you’re always going to have people who think differently to you or would rather you pursue something else. I’ve learned it’s best to follow what you’re passionate about in life, for your own personal contentment and success. :)

  6. Hi Lisa, I’m really interested in becoming a health coach. I’m 54 and all my life I’ve been passionate about health and wellness. Can you recommend a school that offers this? I live in CA. 
    Much appreciated!

    • Hi Angela – I received my health coaching certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (linked at the bottom of the post). It’s an online program so you can attend from anywhere. :)

  7. Hi Lisa,
    I found you looking for recipes on YouTube (I’m a subscriber) and love your style and philosophy on food and life. I am 43 years old and recently unemployed. I was not fulfilled by my career as a marketing communications project manager so I’m using this time to reflect on my interests and skills to figure out exactly what I want to do for the next 20 years. I have always been keen on cooking and eating and have many times (at least since 2011) said that I should blog about it. Sadly I have never taken that first step and have therefore contented myself with reading others blogs and vlogs. I have gained 10 lbs each decade and don’t want to continue this trend. I’m always bloated and constipated and often tired. I checked my thyroid once and got tested for gluten allergy and doctor said it is fine. Reading your post, I feel motivated to consider health coaching as a career, to help myself and others, but I want to ask if you think it’s going to be more difficult to be successful at it now I’m in my 40s versus someone in their 20s and 30s. I would appreciate your honest opinion. Thank you!

    • Hi Cristina – that’s wonderful your motivated to improve your wellness and that of others! I started Downshiftology in my late 30’s and my YouTube channel at 40. So I don’t think it’s ever too late to embark on a new career or opportunity. ;)

  8. I would really enjoy being a health coach. I am a Registered Nurse, of 40 years, and I was wondering if you think it would still be wise to take a health coach course? Thanks in advance for the advice.
    Doreen

    • Hi Doreen – I think the health coach training could certainly supplement the training you’ve already acquired as an RN. If you think you’d enjoy it, then I say go for it. :)

  9. Lisa,

    Have you heard of the Health Coach Institute? If so, what are your thoughts regarding their program?

    Thank you for any information you can provide.

  10. Hi Lisa, i love watching your videos, you make things look simple and neat. I am currently doing my research on which Health Coaching School to go to. I inspire to educate people on how food plays an important role in preventative healthcare. However, i am an introvert, and usually uncomfortable speaking up. Do you think it would be a huge obstacle in building a health coach career? 

    • Hi Nat – I’m an introvert as well who shudders at the thought of public speaking. ;) I don’t think it’s an obstacle at all in building a health coaching career. And I find it’s much easier to communicate information when it’s something you’re passionate about. So if you feel called to become a health coach, I say go for it!

  11. Lisa, So descriptive and quite practical approach you have continued throughout the article. A brilliant post, Thanks Love for sharing it! :)

  12. Hi Lisa,

    Reading this article has really inspired me to look into becoming a certified health coach. I am a 22 year old who wants more than just the typical 9-5 job and who really wants to inspire people. My passion has always been health and fitness. I have the drive and passion. But I am hesitant to start.

    How long did it take you to build up your clientele? As well as market yourself? 

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jess – that’s wonderful you’re inspired to pursue health coaching and help others. I started coaching family and friends before graduating (to gain practice and experience) and then marketed myself through my website. I coached clients online my first year, but as my website and YouTube channel took off, I pivoted and prioritized those platforms (though all my health coaching guidance is constantly woven through my content). :) Hope that helps!

  13. That would be nice to have to be able to positively impact clients. Maybe it would be good to get a job as some sort of health coach. That is something I am sure a nurse coach would want to look into sometime soon.

  14. I love to eat healthy, I enjoy helping others reach their goals, for living an healthy full lifestyle.

  15. Right here is the right site for everyone who wants to understand this topic.
    You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a new spin on a subject that has
    been written about for years. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

    • Thank you! Yep, changing a career or even going back to books can be huge life change. So being certain about becoming a health coach is important!

  16. Hi can you send me all the information to sign up and costs, ciruculim, and if this course is internationally recognized and registered with IAWP?

  17. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for all the wonderful information! I am in the process of finding the right school for me. I totally agree with you when you say we should have different avenues for income streams too.

    How important is it for a school Health Coaching School to be accredited?

    Also, how did you gain your knowledge of healthful cooking? Through your Health Coaching education or another avenue?

    • Hi Cathy – I’m happy you’ve found the information helpful. As for the accreditation it really depends on what your plans are afterwards. Most health coaching programs are not accredited as they’re certificate programs. If you’re looking to become an RN or practice medicine, then you’d definitely want an accredited school. And for my knowledge of healthy cooking, it’s just been a lot of playing around in the kitchen. :)

  18. Hi Lisa, I just stumbled upon your website and just wanted to say a big thank you as you have inspired me to pursue becoming a health coach. I have been in my current career for 10 years and have always wanted something more, something different. Your website has given me some pertinent information and knowledge to consider for the next step at pursing this new career. Keep up the good work! Thanks again!

  19. I loved your article, for almost a year now I have been fascinated with the health field and fitness. Unsure which route I wanted to take for a career in personal training and fitness, health coaching seems the best fit. It keeps the pressure off of maintaining a 6 pack, while still being able to support my clients with plans and proactive solutions for their health. I am so excited for a career change in something that I love.

  20. Hello. I am exploring the possibility of becoming a Health coach. I found your article very informative. 
    I have always been interested in health,diet exercise and so on. I have noticed that there are so many programs. 
    My desire is to be able to help people in making healthy life changing choices. I feel a program such as this is a way I can help others and help my family as well. 

  21. Hi Lisa
    Great article, I have been looking into studying Nutrition and Health Coaching weighing up my options over the last year and as I have been doing that I have realised that I want to help people in so many ways other then just healthy eating. I want to empower people to live their best through adapting the 4 pillars of health, healthy habits, body confidence and self love etc. Is health coaching the right way to go in order to help towards achieving this or should I be looking at a qualification elsewhere? Thanks

  22. Hi Lisa! I am a 19 year old that loves health and fitness! I am currently struggling with what to do with my life and I am very interested in health coaching! I am currently getting my associates in science while I figure out what my next step is. Any advice? 

    • Hi Hannah – that’s great you’re getting your associates degree! And just know that it’s totally okay to struggle with what you want to do with your life. I didn’t figure out what I passionate about until my late 30’s when I started Downshiftology. ;) Health coaching is a great education in nutrition and wellness and if that’s where your passion lies it would be a wonderful addition to your associates degree. I’m always a fan of more education and learning.

  23. What are the requirements before enrolling?

  24. Hi my name is Merna, I thought about becoming a health coach but what confuses me, like you said in your article you can’t coach or give advice on nutrition. Can you explain how you guide or motivate your clients to take better care of themselves. Do you have a nutrional plan or guide that they follow? Thanks.

    • Hi Merna – it’s similar to how a sports coach “coaches” his athletes – it’s more about motivation, accountability and inspiration. You can give advice on nutrition and have clients try different dietary approaches, you just can’t prescribe medicine nor dictate what’s best for them from a medical standpoint. Hope that helps!

  25. I did a degree in Bicohemisty. Have a desire to become a health coach but I don’t know where exactly to start? What if is that you can’t do a course right away or anytime soon. How can I start this pursuit in the.mean time? What are some practical steps I could take?

    • You could always read a wide variety of books on nutrition and wellness. I’m a big proponent of constant learning and staying up-to-date on the latest studies and nutritional advice. The more knowledge you have going into a health coaching program the more knowledgeable you’ll be coming out!

  26. Thank you for the great article. I am a respiratory therapist with a double major in healthcare and psychology. I’m also pursuing my masters in public health with an emphasis in nutrician and wellness. I have a passion for fitness and nutrician. I came across the national society of health coaches, people with prior certifications are eligible to sit for the exam. It includes a home study guide and test. Once passed you become a certified health coach. This seems too easy after reading some blogs online about people taking 6 month courses to become a health coach. Your right when you said it’s a self marketing company, I just want to have an accreditation so people take me seriously. What are your thoughts?

    • I think just sitting a test (because you have prior certifications) without becoming educated on new material (as you would with a 6 month or year-long health coaching program) would leave you at a disadvantage as a health coach and not provide you with the tools you need to be successful and impactful.

  27. GREAT post – truly inspiring. I would like to get started training to become a health coach while continuing my current full time job. However, are there much cheaper accredited options besides the IIN? Seems very pricey for someone drowning in student debt!