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How to Become a Wellness Coach: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a wellness coach. Research the education, training information and experience required for starting a career in wellness coaching.

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Do I Want to Be a Wellness Coach?

Wellness coaches provide individualized attention to clients to help them discover their goals and develop healthy habits. Wellness coaches can be self-employed or work for healthcare and fitness organizations. Self-employed individuals may spend a significant amount of time seeking new clients and might meet with current customers during evening or weekend hours to meet their scheduling needs.

Job Requirements

Although wellness coaches can open up their own business with little training, healthcare employers generally require a bachelor's degree. Individuals with training in social work, counseling or psychology possess the training and skills applicable to the role of a wellness coach. In addition, wellness coaches may also have training in fitness and nutrition. The following table contains the main qualifications that employers listed in job postings for wellness coaches during November 2012:

Common Requirements
Degree Level None required, bachelor's degree often preferred
Degree Field Counseling, psychology, health promotion or related field
Certification Wellcoaches certification may be preferred
Experience None required with degree
Key Skills Verbal and written communication skills

Step 1 - Earn a Degree

Wellness coaching is a relatively new field and it is hard to find undergraduate programs in this specific area. However, some schools offer a minor in wellness coaching. With this minor, individuals will take courses in psychology, nutrition and fitness. Students may also have the opportunity to complete an internship. Aspiring wellness coaches can learn applicable techniques earning an undergraduate degree in social work or behavioral science as well. With a degree in counseling, individuals will learn the communication skills necessary to help clients identify their values, goals, obstacles and challenges.

Success Tip

  • Choose applicable electives. Students may have to choose electives that help them obtain skills necessary for a wellness coaching position. For example, individuals pursuing a degree in behavioral science may choose electives related to health and fitness, such as nutrition and exercise science.

Step 2 - Gain Experience

Wellness coaches can find some entry-level positions that do not require a bachelor's degree. They can gain experience working one-on-one or in small groups and begin to build a reputation and client base. In an entry-level position, wellness coaches can develop communication skills necessary to engage and inspire clients. Some organizations may also provide training for wellness coaches.

Step 3 - Become Certified

Employers may prefer that wellness coaches are certified by the Wellcoaches, a training program that is endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine. Individuals will undergo a 13-week training program to earn certification. Additional criteria for certification includes an oral assessment and written exam, proof of clients and submission of goals. Wellness coaches will be required to renew their certification every three years.

Success Tip

  • Complete continuing education courses. Organizations, such as the Wellcoaches School of Coaching, offer continuing education opportunities through workshops, live classes and webinars. This can help wellness coaches stay current with trends in related industries, including wellness and health, as well as keep their certification current.
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