Finding the best health coach certification program is step one to turning your passion into a career. Here’s everything you need to know — plus advice from experienced health coaches.

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If you’re passionate about wellness and love helping others on their health journeys, a career in health coaching could be right for you.

People hire health coaches for a number of reasons — to help them improve their nutrition and fitness routines, navigate health conditions, manage stress, and more.

If you’re considering becoming a health coach, certain programs can help you get the training you need.

Some health coach certification programs are self-study exams intended for those already in the field, while others provide comprehensive training that can prepare you to sit for the National Board Certification Exam. Passing this exam means you’ve met the gold standard in health coach certification.

Keep reading to see some of the best health coach certification options available today and determine which might be best for your needs, timeline, and budget.

Meredith Schneider, BA, NBC-HWC, CPT

“Becoming a certified health coach is deeply fulfilling and relevant in today’s world due to the increasing demand for personalized wellness solutions and the pressing need to combat chronic diseases through proactive lifestyle changes. As a health coach, you can connect with clients personally, guiding them toward achievable goals and sustainable health improvements tailored to their unique needs and challenges.”

— Meredith Schneider, BA, NBC-HWC, CPT, Health Coach at Real Appeal

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Best interactive

MindBodyGreen Health Coaching

  • Price: $5,999
  • Program length: 20 weeks

Online courses can feel a bit isolating at times, but this health coach certification program is interactive. It includes live sessions two times a week so you can receive real-time feedback and learn with your cohort.

Yet the 20-week training program is somewhat flexible, as it includes 50 hours of self-paced video lessons and 1-on-1 faculty sessions for closer instruction. Though the video lessons are self-paced, you’re still expected to complete the program within the 20-week timeframe.

The program is NBHWC-approved, which means once you graduate from it, you’re eligible to apply for certification to become a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC).

After graduation, you’re also eligible for complimentary career support through MindBodyGreen’s alumni program. The company says the program includes 20 hours of annual education for ongoing support and development.

Another perk is that the program allows you to request the syllabus so you can review the expectations before committing. The website also gives a general overview of each week’s curriculum without needing to make a request.

Pros

  • includes Functional Nutrition Training (free but taught separately)
  • financing is available to make monthly payments of $250 instead of pay all at once
  • refunds are available up to 14 days after purchase

Cons

  • high cost compared to other similar programs
  • refunds deduct a $250 administrative fee
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Best advanced training

ACE Health Coach Certification Advanced Training

  • Price: $2,990
  • Program length: up to 1 year

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization offering health and fitness education and certification.

Along with NBHWC approval, this advanced program also holds accreditation through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which was developed in 1977 to help secure the health, welfare, and safety of the public for all professions.

This interactive program is focused on behavior change science and lifestyle medicine. ACE says you’ll receive live feedback from its master coaches.

Since the program is designed to be comprehensive, it may take up to 1 year to complete.

Pros

  • NBHWC-approved
  • NCCA-accredited
  • interactive

Cons

  • longer program compared to less advanced options
  • pricier than other programs
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Best nutrition-focused

Precision Nutrition, Nutrition Coach Certification

Nutritional coaches help people meet their nutrition goals through education, meal planning, and more.

While the language is a bit vague, Precision Nutrition says on its website that its training leads to guaranteed job interviews in the United States with certain fitness companies — including Lifetime Fitness, Equinox, and FORME.

This program qualifies for continuing education credits with the NBHWC, but it’s not considered an NBHWC-approved program.

If you’re interested in Precision Nutrition and don’t mind the extra requirements for starting an NBHWC-approved master level program, you can check out the Level 2 Master Health Coach Certification Program.

Pros

  • possibly a good fit for those interested in nutrition coaching

Cons

  • Precision Nutrition isn’t transparent about program cost and length (you need to sign up for information)
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Best comprehensive and holistic

AFPA Certified Master Health and Wellness Coach

  • Price: $2,548
  • Program length: 12 weeks

If you’re interested in a holistic approach to health coaching and want to commit to a comprehensive training program, you may find this AFPA certification a good fit.

This master level program helps its graduates prepare for NBHWC certification. In fact, one option with this program includes an Advanced Health Coaching Intensive live course that includes an NBHWC practice exam.

You can also choose a self-study program if you would rather skip live sessions in a small group. However, this route doesn’t include the NBHWC practice exam.

Pros

  • NBHWC-approved
  • offers both self-paced or an intense, live version
  • live version includes the NBHWC practice exam

Cons

  • pricey
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Best custom

Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Health Coach Certification

  • Price: $975–$3,875
  • Program length: 6–36 weeks

This certification option allows you to choose age-specific training based on the life stage of the demographic you’re looking to work with.

You can choose a program focusing on:

  • families
  • adults and older adults
  • pregnancy
  • master level (a client-centered coaching program with some advanced training in chronic disease and prevention)

You can also train across two or three life stages if you prefer.

The core health coach training is 6 weeks long and includes training in the age program you select.

If you want training in more than one life stage, you can add it on for 3 extra weeks per specialty (and an extra cost). If you select training in all three stages, your program will be 12 weeks long and cost $1,675.

Those who opt for the master level training are eligible to sit for the NBHWC National Board Exam. This route is longer, with 30 to 36-week course options. It’s also priced higher, ranging from $3,175–$3,875, depending on how many life stages you want to train for.

Pros

  • customize your training based on interest areas
  • master level is NBHWC National Board Exam eligible
  • keep lifetime access to course materials

Cons

  • cost starts budget-friendly but can increase depending on goals
  • only the master level option can sit for the NBHWC National Board Exam
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ProgramLengthPriceNBHWC Approved
MindBodyGreen Health Coaching20 weeks $5,999NBHWC-approved
ACE Health Coach CertificationUp to one year$2,990NBHWC-approved
Precision Nutrition, Nutrition Coach CertificationNot available without sign-upNot available without sign-upMaster level program is NBHWC-approved
AFPA Health Coach Certification12 weeks$2,548NBHWC-approved
Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Health Coach Certification6–36 weeks$975–$3,875Master level program is NBHWC National Board Exam eligible

While looking for the best health coach certification programs, we considered:

  • Variety: We include programs that allow you to customize your training so you can choose a curriculum most focused on your interests. We also show certifications for those already working in the field who want to boost their resume, as well as training for those new to the industry.
  • Pricing: Cost can vary quite a bit. We include options for a wide range of budgets.
  • Class type and length: Some options include live sessions, while others are self-paced videos only. Some options are self-study exams, which can wrap up quickly, while others can take several weeks or up to one year to complete.

We also considered National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) approval.

The NBHWC approves some certification programs, which will help those new to the field gain credibility to begin working by passing the NBHWC National Board Exam.

Passing this exam is considered the gold standard in the health coaching field. We include NBHWC-approved certifications on our list, as well as others without NBHWC approval, simply designed for existing health coach workers to boost their portfolio.

“All NBHWC ATPs [approved training programs] must meet the standards required for eligibility to sit for the board-certifying exam,” explains Lizzy Miller, MS, MPH, NBC-HWC, RDN, Associate Director of Coaching Excellence at RVO Health.

“ATPs complete a rigorous initial and annual evaluation process, demonstrating excellence in curriculum, faculty qualifications, and student support,” Miller says.

“Before enrolling in such an intense program, take time to reflect, as this is a time and financial commitment. Consider why you want to become an NBC-HWC and what having this credential will do for you personally and professionally,” Miller continues. “Determine your learning style and seek programs that align with your needs and preferences.”

So, what should you consider before you commit to a health coach certification program? We went straight to the sources and asked experienced coaches for their takes.

“I would say the two most important factors in choosing a health coaching program are program applicability and cost,” says Kaitlin Brooke Feehan, MPH, BS, NBC-HWC, Health Coach at Real Appeal, RVO Health.

Miller agrees. “Of course, cost is a factor when shopping around for coach training programs, as most programs cost an average of $4,000 to $5,000. When looking beyond the financials, I recommend anyone interested in completing coach training look for programs offering various learning modalities and application-based mentoring.”

“Two big things to keep in mind are accreditation and the format of the program…,” Schneider adds. “Make sure respected organizations like NBHWC or ICF accredit the program you choose — this ensures you’re getting top-notch training that meets industry standards while factoring your budget for these certifications.”

“Secondly, think about how the training is delivered: online, in-person, self-paced, or structured. Pick a format that fits your schedule and learning style, whether that’s squeezing in study time around a busy job or attending classes in person,” Schneider continues. “Finding the right balance of quality and flexibility sets you up for success in your health coaching journey!”

If you haven’t already, you may want to consider starting with an undergraduate education program at a college or university since having an associate degree or higher is one of the NBHWC exam requirements.

However, you may be able to skip this requirement if you can prove you have 4,000 hours of work experience.

Full NBHWC exam requirements include:

  • complete an NBHWC-approved training program
  • complete 50 health and wellness coaching sessions
  • have an associate’s degree or higher or 4,000 hours of work experience in any field

Keep in mind that some people are considered health coaches without any certification. These coaches should be transparent with clients about their qualifications without making any misleading claims about their credentials.

Health coaches provide their clients with information, guidance, and support around several health-related areas.

Some health and wellness coaches specialize in a certain life stage or age (like pregnancy or families), while others are focused on holistic health, fitness, and lifestyle management for people of all ages.

You may decide to focus on nutrition or center your services around a certain chronic condition, self-care, or stress management — the options are seemingly endless.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the median pay for Health Education Specialists in 2023 was $62,860 per year ($30.22 per hour).

This field is also expected to grow 7% from 2022 to 2032.

Note that this information was projected assuming someone has an entry-level education requirement of a bachelor’s degree. The certification programs on our list do not require a college degree.

The NBHWC may waive the degree requirement if you have 4,000 hours of proven work experience.

It’s not unusual for people without certifications to call themselves a health coach (especially thanks to digital factors like a large social media following).

Only someone who completed or passed a certification program should call themselves a “certified” health coach, though each program varies in its curriculum and may or may not be NBHWC-approved.

It’s important to be transparent about whether you have any certifications or other formal training so potential clients understand your background — plus, you’ll also avoid any claims of false advertising.

Health coaches guide clients to better well-being through individualized support, planning, resources, and more.

Aspiring health coaches can find certification programs online that may allow them to sit for the National Board Certification Exam. This is considered the gold standard in this growing industry.

Existing health coaches can consider shorter certification programs to elevate their resumes. Be sure to check out the requirements and curriculum ahead of time to ensure you enter a program that best fits your goals.