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Wellness Coach Certifications: Definition, Types and Benefits

October 8, 2021

Pursuing a career as a wellness coach can be rewarding if you're interested in helping others improve their health and lifestyle. There are different ways that you can become a wellness coach, such as obtaining a degree or a certification. You can find general wellness coach certification programs or ones that specialize in particular areas of wellness. In this article, we discuss what a wellness coach is, the types of wellness coach certifications and their benefits and some frequently asked questions.

Related: How To Become a Wellness Coach

What is a wellness coach?

A wellness coach is a professional who guides clients in setting, maintaining and achieving their health goals. They may consider overall wellness in developing client care plans or they might focus on targeted aspects of wellness, such as meal planning, exercise routines or stress reduction strategies. Wellness coaches can find employment within wellness companies, corporate wellness departments or through self-employment. Depending on the type of wellness coach you want to be, you can pursue different certifications to help you in your career and job search.

Related: What Are Certifications? Definition, Benefits, Types of Certifications and Examples

Types of wellness coach certifications

Consider the following certifications when deciding what to pursue:

Corporate wellness certification

Corporate wellness focuses on ensuring that company personnel are healthy and productive. You can find online or in-person corporate wellness certifications through the Corporate Health and Wellness Association or the Spencer Institute. Through these programs, you learn how to develop engaging methods to promote well-being and performance in corporate settings.

Health and wellness coach certification

The American Fitness Professionals & Associates offers a health and wellness coach certification online. The average time to complete this program is six months and covers general aspects of health and wellness, like diet and exercise. This certification considers overall wellness and can include factors such as work and personal life balance, spirituality and mindfulness.

Health coach certification

You can find health coach certifications from the American Council on Exercise, the National Society of Health Coaches or Duke Integrative Medicine. Health coach certification programs are typically for those pursuing medical careers and based on clinical research. These courses focus on more technical medical concepts with medical terminology, rather than theoretical constructs, like spirituality or mindfulness. Depending on the program provider, you can take relevant courses and exams online or in person.

Nutrition coach certification

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition offers nutrition-specific wellness certifications. You can complete this program online in six months and apply the program coursework as college credits. As a prerequisite, obtain a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in the certification program.

Personal training certifications

The American Council on Exercise offers fitness or personal training certifications that are available online that cover exercise topics from equipment, form and methods. Through this program, you learn how to evaluate an individual's fitness and fitness goal to design their personal training plan. This certification is valid for two years. As a prerequisite, complete an associate degree or higher in a related field before enrolling in the program.

Pregnancy health coach

You can find wellness programs for pregnancy health with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. This program has no prerequisites for enrollment and is a six-week self-paced course. Pregnancy health certifications focus on wellness during and after pregnancy, such as diet, exercise and stress reduction techniques.

Wellness coach certification

The Mayo Clinic offers certifications in wellness coaching in an online 12-week program with assignments, workshops and webinars with peers and mentors. This certification is valid for three years, and you can renew your certification by showing proof of continuing education for 30 hours. Education in wellness focuses on counseling concepts, such as assessing individual behaviors and interactions, identifying personal strengths and weaknesses and developing coping skills and strategies to improve health.

Related: 30 Careers in the Health and Wellness Industry

Benefits of having a wellness coach certification

The benefits of having a wellness coach certification can include the opportunity to keep your wellness knowledge updated and establishing connections with other wellness professionals. Through your wellness coach certification programs, you learn the most recent developments and methods in wellness coaching from in-person instructors or online resources that you can access and contact. Certifications that are valid for certain periods and require recertification allow you to refresh and update your industry knowledge. Certifications can also supplement your educational background if you have little formal work experience.

Related: 10 Benefits of Coaching in the Workplace

FAQs about wellness coach certifications

These are some frequently asked questions and answers about wellness coach certifications:

Do you need a certification to work as a wellness coach?

Depending on the specific position that you apply for, a certification may not be a requirement, but it's often preferable to have a certification or other diploma as your educational background. Certifications usually require coursework or training to develop your skills and knowledge in wellness coaching, which can mean less on-the-job training when you start a new wellness coach position. Check posted wellness coach job descriptions for information regarding their requirements and reach out to hiring managers for clarification if it's not specified on their listing.

Why is certification important?

Certifications are important in measuring your knowledge to determine your qualifications for specific certifications and job responsibilities. A certificate verifies that you have sufficient knowledge in your area of wellness to coach others. For those practicing as a wellness coach independently, having a certification can give credibility to your business.

How long does a wellness coach certification take?

You can enroll in wellness coach certification programs online or in-person, and the time it takes to complete a certification varies depending on the program. Online certifications that allow you to complete the program at your own pace can take a shorter or longer amount of time based on how much time you can commit to the coursework while working around your schedule. The average time to complete a wellness coach certification program is six months.

How do you choose a wellness coach certification program?

You can choose a wellness coach program based on your interests and strengths. Based on what you want to specialize in or what area of wellness you've developed expertise in, you can choose a certification that focuses on that. Consider the work environment that you want to have, such as in a corporate office, wellness company or independent business, as this can help you narrow your choices.

Some programs are available in person or online. Certification program providers often list the time commitment for each program on published enrollment materials. Depending on your current schedule and lifestyle, certain program time availability can be a deciding factor in choosing what wellness coach certification program works best for you.

What's the difference between h ealth and wellness certifications and holistic health coach certification programs?

Holistic health coach certification programs focus on whole food meal planning and plant-based diets, such as Paleo, vegan or vegetarian guidelines. While holistic diets can be a factor in health and wellness coaching for specific dietary needs, health and wellness cover a more general range of diets, along with exercise and lifestyle health. Lifestyle health aspects can focus on work-life balance, relationships or spirituality.

Please note that none of the certifications mentioned in this program are affiliated with Indeed.

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