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Published: June 8, 2024

What Is Health Coach Board Certification, and Why Does It Matter?

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Health coaching has gained incredible traction over the last few years—it’s grown into a market worth more than $7 billion! As more people recognize the value and importance of preventive health, the more they seek out support from trusted sources, organizations certifying health coaches, and individuals with holistic health expertise. Health Coaches are trained to take a holistic approach that allows clients to better understand every aspect of what keeps them healthy, from physical health to mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Health Coaches create a safe space for clients to explore their health goals, providing the accountability and resources needed to improve health outcomes.

As the profession of health coaching continues to grow, so does the need to standardize education requirements as well as coaching competencies (the skills of a coach). This is meant to ensure that not just anyone can call themselves a Health Coach; only those who have earned the required training and have demonstrated their knowledge through a process like board certification – as with other health-care professions – can truly be a practicing Health Coach. 

What is the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC)?

The NBHWC was founded to carry out this goal of certifying Health Coaches who can enter the healthcare marketplace prepared to be a trusted and successful practitioner. The founders, along with the board members who oversee the organization, come from various medical, research, education, and health-care backgrounds and have worked to set the gold standard in training and skills that Health Coaches must have to practice effectively. A coach who sits for and passes the board exam will become a national board-certified health and wellness coach (NBC-HWC). This certification is regarded as a global benchmark of professional coach training. 

Rachael Barillari, Coaching Intensive Practicum graduate, July 2021:

“This program changed my teaching practice, and I’m already coaching and creating curricula for kids and teachers in public schools using what we’ve learned. Incredible courseexactly what I needed and more.”

What does it mean to get board certified, and why would a Health Coach decide to do so?

Board certification is not currently a requirement to practice as a Health Coach, but it has emerged as an important way to distinguish oneself from other coaches in the field and increase employability. Taking the steps to pursue further education in coaching and behavior change highlights your dedication to learning how to become the best Health Coach you can be as well as demonstrates your competency in the skills required to foster growth and change in your clients.

Health Coaches who wish to practice in traditional health-care settings, such as a doctor’s office, a hospital, a nutritionist’s or dietitian’s practice, or similar environments, will often find that board certification is a prerequisite for a job. However, for many who start their own businesses, either virtually or in person, obtaining board certification can give them a competitive advantage, especially within their wellness niche.

Alison Kuhns, Coaching Intensive Practicum graduate, May 2022:

“I’m so grateful for this course because it’s prepared me to step into my new corporate wellness coaching role!”

How do you pursue Health Coach board certification?

Even if you don’t know whether you want to be a professional Health Coach, selecting a health coaching program that gives you the opportunity to pursue board certification is one way to ensure the quality of your education. Schools and programs that have been approved by the NBHWC offer excellence in health coaching and wellness education and have met requirements set by the NBHWC based on curriculum and coaching experience.

Depending on which school or program you enroll in, the process to pursue board certification will vary. All graduates of an approved program will need to apply to sit for and then sit for and pass the certification exam.

IIN is an NBHWC-approved program provider.

IIN’s Coaching Intensive Practicum (CIP) has been approved by the NBHWC, meaning that graduates of this course are eligible to apply and sit for the NBHWC certification exam. The Coaching Intensive Practicum curriculum provides 12 weeks of live learning and mentorship, expert coaching demonstrations, and an in-depth overview of how to apply evidence-based best practices in health coaching.

Anonymous, Coaching Intensive Practicum graduate, July 2021:

“I was looking at two other courses prior to selecting this course. I’m glad I did. One can tell, a lot of thought and preparation went into planning the course and how it’s delivered. There’s a lot of information to cover....The course material was clear, concise, and easy to follow.” 

IIN pioneered the field of health coaching and has been training people all over the globe, for 30 years, to harness their passion for wellness and turn it into a lucrative career guiding others to create true health and happiness. In addition to our world-renowned Health Coach Training Program, IIN offers additional courses to support the career growth of not only IIN graduates but all Health Coaches seeking to expand their knowledge.

The Coaching Intensive Practicum is one such course, aimed at providing Health Coaches with everything they need to become certified by the NBHWC. Learn more about the course and enroll in our next cohort here.


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