Best Health Coach Certification Programs

How to get started as a health coach

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A health coach helps clients set goals, address health concerns, and implement lifestyle changes to feel their best. Many health coaches work for themselves, either online or in person, or work for companies such as health clubs or medical centers. 

We compared over eight health coach certifications available in the U.S. and looked at factors such as cost, package options, and specialties available. This review will help you find a health coach certification program for your career goals.

Best Overall : Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN)


Institute for Integrative Nutrition

 Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Why We Chose It: Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) is a licensed vocational school and one of the leading programs in health coaching, offering a broad curriculum that provides college credit. 

What We Like
  • Offer a six-month intensive program

  • World’s largest health coaching program

  • Supportive online community

What We Don’t Like
  • Program requires a longer commitment than others

  • Primarily focuses on nutrition

IIN is one of the leading health coach certifications online, having certified over 100,000 students in 155 countries since 1992. It offers a comprehensive program that will teach you everything you need to know to work as a health coach from home as well as provides business coaching.

The program costs $6,795 and by the end, you will be well versed in nutrition science, wellness concepts, coaching methods and theories, and business building and marketing skills. Modules are delivered through their online learning center and include audio and visual lectures, quizzes, assignments, and tests. You can expect to study between five and eight hours per week. They also offer the opportunity to connect with classmates and instructors online through their private Facebook group. 

IIN is a licensed vocational school and your certificate is worth up to 29 college credits toward a degree at a participating institution. The program is one year in length but they also offer a six-month accelerated program. 

You must have a high school diploma or equivalent to apply.

Best Intensive Course : Duke Integrative Health Coach Professional Training (IHCPT)


Duke Integrative Medicine

 Duke Integrative Medicine

Why We Chose It: If you are a medical or allied health professional, the Integrative Health Coach Professional Training program offered by Duke Integrative Medicine is an in-depth learning experience for those who can commit to 10 months of education.

What We Like
  • Based on many years of clinical experience and research

  • Limited to 40 participants per course

  • Requires five hours per week

What We Don't Like
  • Designed for medical and allied professionals

  • Must have a bachelor’s degree or three to five years of related experience

Duke Integrative Medicine's Integrative Health Coach Professional Training (IHCPT) is designed with the medical or allied health professional in mind. It is a great choice for those who want to expand their skills and learn how to work with clients to change behavior and promote healthy habits. The course covers topics such as the role of a health coach, patient-centered care, how to promote behavior change, and how to effectively implement your new coaching skills with your patients. The program is 10 months long and you can apply online anytime for the next available session. 

The course is offered both in-person and online. You can expect to spend three hours per week in online lectures and two hours on homework. 

To complete the course, you must attend all the webinars and pass the final exam with a score of 80% or higher, but you can retake the exam as many times as needed during the exam period. Note that this program is very in-depth and one of the hardest health coach credentials to obtain. 

The IHCPT course is $4,440 and there are various discounts and financial assistance available such as the 10% early bird discount and 15% Duke alumni discount. You must have a bachelor’s degree or three to five years of related experience to apply.

Best for Pregnancy : Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Pregnancy Course


Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

 Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

Why We Chose It: The Dr. Sears Pregnancy Course designed for non-healthcare professionals and focuses primarily on working with pregnant and postpartum clients.

What We Like
  • Six weeks in length

  • No prerequisites

  • Self-paced

What We Don't Like
  • Less well-recognized than other programs

  • Specific to pregnancy and nursing clients

  • Yearly recertification fee of $145

The Dr. Sears Pregnancy Health Coach program is a great choice for those who want to primarily work with women during pregnancy and postpartum. This program aims to help coaches teach women how to eat right, reduce stress, engage in exercise, and balance life during pregnancy and postpartum. 

Courses are available online 24 hours a day and the program is self-paced. Programs start at regular dates throughout the year, although you’ll need to contact the company to find out the start dates. You will be mailed all the required coursework and have access to the interactive learning portal where you can find videos and e-learning segments. It also includes conference calls and discussion forums where you can connect with other students and instructors. 

The pregnancy health coach program costs $965 and there is a yearly recertification fee of $145. It is accredited and approved by many reputable organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine. 

This program is targeted at non-healthcare professionals and there are no prerequisites to apply. Dr. Sears Wellness Institute also offers other programs such as the adults and senior course and family course.

Best Full-Time Program : Arizona State University (ASU) Online Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences (Healthy Lifestyles Coaching)


Arizona State University

Arizona State University 

Why We Chose It: If you’re looking to obtain a Bachelor of Science with a focus in health coaching, the full-time ASU online program is a great choice for the serious full-time student. 

What We Like
  • Bachelor's degree

  • Rolling start dates

  • Prepares you for certification

What We Don't Like
  • Time-consuming

  • Many prerequisite courses and a 3.0 GPA required

The full-time Arizona State University (ASU) Online B.S. Health Sciences is a comprehensive bachelor's degree with a focus on health coaching. It is designed to be full-time online and includes 40 courses. ASU classes take place in Canvas, an online learning management system, which is where you can find lectures, audio materials, and active learning assignments. 

The course costs $15,972 per year for non-Arizona residents and $13,698 for residents. Like other bachelor's degree programs, you can expect it to take four years to complete the entire program, but that can vary based on how many courses you take each year. The program offers many opportunities to connect with other students and professors and receive the help you need to graduate. 

ASU is ranked in the top 10 for best online bachelor’s programs in 2021 by U.S. News & World Report and they have graduated over 6,500 students from their Healthy Lifestyles Coaching program. Their faculty bring high-level expertise and contribute ongoing research to the field. 

They offer rolling start dates and you can apply online if you meet the prerequisites. You must have completed the required prerequisite high school or community college courses and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

Note that this program requires many more prerequisites than others on our list and is the most expensive.

Best for Nutrition : Precision Nutrition Level 1


Precision Nutrition

 Precision Nutrition

Why We Chose It: Precision Nutrition is one of the leading providers of nutrition and health coaching certifications and its science-backed curriculum will provide you with everything you need to help clients make positive changes in their health.

What We Like
  • Self-paced

  • Receive textbooks in the mail

  • Online portal with easy-to-follow videos

  • Rooted in research

What We Don't Like
  • Must get 75% on all exams to pass

  • Courses only available twice a year

Precision Nutrition (PN) takes a science-based approach to nutrition and health coaching. Founded in 2003, it has quickly gained momentum as one of the most reputable health coaching certifications available. Upon completion, you will obtain a PN Coach Level 1 certificate and join a network of hundreds of thousands of other professionals. 

Precision Nutrition teaches that there is no right way to eat. The program will show you how to coach clients from the very beginning to the end of their journey with you. This course is about empowering your clients to make better choices about food and daily habits. 

There is also a supportive online community, active Facebook group, and engaging and interactive online materials. The course is designed to be completed at your own pace and usually takes between four to six months. You will need to take exams to receive your certification, and you must earn a 75% to pass those exams. You can take the exams at any time and there is no deadline to complete the entire course.  

PN is endorsed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE), among other reputable institutions. It costs $119 per month for 12 months or you can pay a one-time fee of $999 if you sign up during a pre-sale. There are no prerequisites to enroll. 

Most Affordable Option : American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coach Certification


American Council on Exercise

 American Council on Exercise

Why We Chose It: The ACE Health Coach Certification program is an affordable online, self-paced program that’s often on sale.

What We Like
  • Least expensive and often on sale

  • Comprehensive program

  • Available online

What We Don't Like
  • Self-paced

  • Must recertify every two years

ACE is one of the leading companies when it comes to fitness and health certifications. It is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), making it a reputable choice for those who want to further their career as a health coach. The program covers all aspects of health coaching including the theory behind behavior change, coaching strategies, and how to motivate clients. 

It is completely self-paced and online. Most people can complete the program in four to six months. It includes a voucher to take your exam, video lectures, video coaching sessions, quizzes, one practice test, and digital textbooks. You can access all the content through the ACE University platform, and lectures are easy to understand and great for both the beginner and advanced professional alike. 

The Basic study program normally costs $999, and there are often sales and promotions to reduce the cost. As of February 2021, the Basic course is $649 and the Plus program is on sale for $844 (normally $1,299). You can also do a monthly payment plan for the Plus program. Note that some of the features available with the Plus plan aren’t available with the Basic, unless you pay an extra fee for them.

To sit for the exam, you must be at least 18 years of age, CPR certified, and have an NCCA-accredited certification or an associate's degree or higher in a related field. You are also eligible if you have a credential from a National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC)-accredited institution or a minimum of two years of documented experience in health coaching. 

The ACE Health Coach Certification has many positive reviews online and is a great option for those wanting to begin a career in health coaching or expand their skills as a personal trainer or healthcare professional.

Final Verdict 

Overall, health coach certifications are a great way to establish yourself as a health professional and start coaching clients upon completion. You will be able to call yourself a certified health coach and either start your own business or work in a fitness or healthcare setting. Many programs are offered online and are either self-paced or guided by qualified professionals. Programs can take as little as six weeks or up to four years. 

If you are looking to simply obtain a health coach certification, there are many affordable options to choose from. Other options are more in-depth and will provide you with a bachelor's degree or college credits upon completion. Health coaches play an integral role in positive behavior change, proper nutrition, and fostering healthy lifestyle habits. 

Compare Providers

 Health Coach Certification Program  What We Chose It For  Cost*
Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Best Overall $6,795
Duke Integrative Health Coach Professional Training (IHCPT) Best Intensive Course $4,440
Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Pregnancy Course Best for Pregnancy $965
Arizona State University (ASU) Online: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences (Healthy Lifestyles Coaching) Best Full-Time Program $54,792 for Arizona residents $63,888 for non-residents
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Best for Nutrition $119/month or $999 on presale
American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coach Certification Most Affordable Option $999, on sale for $649

*As of February 2021

FAQs 

What Does a Health Coach Do?


Similar to personal trainers or nutritionists, you will act as a supportive mentor to clients to help them feel their best and make food and lifestyle changes to help them reach specific goals like weight loss or improved body composition. This can help them become more active and decrease risk factors for long term health problems. 

Health coaching is more diverse than other wellness careers and gives you the flexibility to decide how you are going to help others. 

What Is a Health Coach Certification Program? 

Health coach certification programs prepare their students to work as certified health coaches. They are available both online and in-person and cover topics such as behavior change, nutrition, exercise, and more. They typically provide you with the study tools, education, practice tests, and community support to successfully complete the program and develop your skills. 

There are many certifications online but only some are accredited programs. Once you complete a program you will be able to call yourself a certified health coach, start your own business, or begin working with clients in a wellness setting. 

Should I Get Certified as a Health Coach?  

If you want to help others with their health and wellness goals, one of the career pathways is to become a certified health coach. Getting certified helps you gain the knowledge you need and present yourself as an expert in the field, which can help you advance in your career. If you’re looking to start a business as a health coach or work for a fitness or healthcare facility, then gaining certification is a good first step. 

What Does a Health Coach Certification Program Cost? 

A health coach certification program can cost between $650 and $7,000, and if you want to obtain a bachelor’s degree you can expect around $65,000 (or more) for a four-year program. Note that you may have to pay extra for things like study materials, certification exams, licensing fees. 

Make sure you note all the expenses associated with a health coach certification program, and whether or not they’re included in the total program cost. If they’re not, you’ll want to budget for those. Additionally, make sure you check with the program to see if there are any sales, discounts, scholarships, or other ways to reduce the overall cost. 

Are Health Coach Certification Programs Accredited? 

Some programs are accredited by the NCCA, the main accrediting body for fitness and health certifications. Others may not be NCCA-accredited but are recognized by large institutions such as ACE or NASM as in-depth and reputable programs. 

How Long Is a Health Coach Certification Program? 

It depends on the program you choose and what you’re seeking certification in. Some programs can be completed in as little as six weeks while others can take as long as four years. 

How We Chose the Best Health Coach Certification Programs

We looked at over eight health coach certification programs available in the U.S. We considered factors such as cost, availability, content covered, and whether the program is accredited or recognized by institutions such as ACE or NASM. This is important as many health coaching certifications online are not reputable and may not be accepted if you are looking to obtain employment at a gym or health center. 

All of our top choices cover topics such as coaching strategies, lifestyle change, and nutrition, and business basics to prepare you to work with clients upon completion.

Article Sources

  1. U.S. News and World Report. "The Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs." Accessed February 16, 2021.