The path to full-time health coaching.
As little as five years ago, the only path to health coaching on a full-time basis was to set up a part-time practice and work your tail off. After a little (or lot of) time and definitely a lot of hustle, you’d have the clients, income, and confidence necessary to leave that job you dreaded going to every day and fully embrace the life you’d been dreaming of.
While the part-time to full-time route is still the most popular way to build a lucrative health coaching practice, there are now many alternatives for those who don’t want to spend another second working in a soul-stealing job that has nothing to do with their passion for health and wellness and helping others.
Health Coaches are needed now more than ever.
Not only are Health Coaches in high demand as private practitioners – they are being hired in places you come in contact with on a daily basis. Why the sudden surge? Well, the simple answer is that it’s not so sudden. We’re living amid a healthcare crisis:
Despite the increased information available to us on how to live healthier, we’ve never been sicker, nor have we been more confused about what actually helps us get healthier. There’s so much conflicting nutrition information out there, and we’re stuck having to decipher what it all means. We end up more frustrated and ultimately give in to what the food industry tells us is “healthy.”
The hiring of Health Coaches is on the rise.
Medical professionals, business owners, and employers everywhere now understand that food is actually a pretty big deal. The food we eat is absorbed into our blood, organs, tissues, and cells and determines our health, mood, and actions.
Yet food is also very complex. Different foods have different reactions in each of our bodies. One person’s nourishment can be another person’s “poison.” Food has the power to harm or heal, so it’s really critical to understand the food that’s right for you. This is an Integrative Nutrition core concept called bio-individuality.
Experts who understand the power of food and can advise others on how to eat what’s right for them have become a hot commodity. Health Coaches empower their clients to make their own informed wellness decisions, and that’s really what people want: to feel that they truly understand how to make these decisions and feel at ease doing so.
The field of health coaching is exploding, and where it was once a challenge to find companies that are hiring Health Coaches, it’s now a challenge to find a company that isn’t. In fact, it is estimated that health coaching is growing to become more than a $7 billion service industry.
Health Coaches can now be found in private practices, fitness centers, nursing homes, restaurants, health food stores, and just about anywhere food is created, packaged, purchased, or consumed. To put it another way, Health Coaches can be found everywhere.
Nine places you can work as a Health Coach.
1. In hospitals and doctor’s offices
Did you know that not every medical school requires students to take nutrition courses? The National Academy of Sciences recommends medical schools provide at least 25 classroom hours, but a report by Martin Kohlmeier, a research professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that not even 10% of the schools met this requirement; 73% of the schools required less than this amount, and overall, medical students receive less than 20 hours of nutrition education in their entire medical school career!
In stark contrast, obesity rates are soaring. As a society, we’re inundated with poor food options, especially those populations who don’t have proper access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Poor nutrition is continuously being attributed to an endless list of chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
There’s a disconnect here, right? Poor nutrition is hurting us, and medical schools aren’t equipping their students with the nutrition knowledge they need to help their future patients.
A growing number of doctor’s offices, wellness centers, alternative health practices, and even hospitals are recognizing the crucial benefits of health coaching and holistic self-care. Depending on your location you might be able to secure a part time or full-time position either as an independent Health Coach in a team environment, or alongside a medical doctor who wishes to provide nutritional guidance to patients, like IIN grad Amanda Carney.
2. For healthcare insurers
Health insurance companies now understand the value of preventive care as a tool to reduce benefit payouts and ultimately reduce the cost of insurance premiums.
So much so, that many are offering free phone consultations to its customers in an effort to get them on a healthier track. Telemedicine is an ever-growing perk of both insurance carriers and brick-and-mortar doctor’s offices, giving people the ability to receive health and wellness consulting or screening without having to leave their home or office.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs successfully applied for the creation of new Category III CPT codes for health coaching through the American Medical Association, which went into effect in early 2020. CPT codes make up the language for coding medical services, allowing for submission to insurance, and Category III refers to temporary codes whose main purpose are to collect data and assess health outcomes from particular services.
The use of these codes recognizes the true value of Health Coaches, demonstrating that the services they provide can drastically improve patient’s health outcomes. The eventual creation of permanent CPT codes for health coaching will allow people to submit their health coaching appointments for insurance coverage.
This will be the single biggest catalyst for the profession when his occurs. It may also be the single biggest act that reverses the health crisis, as it will expand access to health services that are so underutilized today: seeing someone who can actually help implement the diet and lifestyle changes necessary to improve health.
3. With corporations
Unhealthy employees are costing U.S. businesses. According to the annual Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, the per-employee health benefit cost is more than $13,000 per employee, which has risen 3% since 2018. To help cut these costs, corporations are looking to implement technology-focused solutions, such as telemedicine programs whose goals are “empowerment, convenience, and lower cost.”
Furthermore, the Integrated Benefits Institute estimated that absenteeism due to illness (taking sick days) costs U.S. companies an estimated $530 billion in lost productivity annually. In other words, unhealthy employees can lead to unhealthy businesses.
While employers have long embraced a number of health initiatives, like subsidized gym memberships and programs to help employees quit smoking, they are taking employee wellness far more seriously now. With so much at stake, some businesses are now hiring full-time Health Coaches to lead their in-house corporate wellness programs.
The president of the Integrated Benefits Institute, Thomas Parry, PhD, underscores this need, stating “illness costs [the United States] hundreds of billions of dollars, and we can no longer afford to ignore the health of our workforce. These results demonstrate the needs for a more holistic, integrated strategy when it comes to managing health.”
Health Coaches take a holistic, integrated approach to health and wellness, taking into account all aspects of wellness, such as food, relationships, environment, physical activity, spirituality, and much more. This approach is implemented in all the work they do with clients, including corporate wellness programs, which creates healthier bottom lines for these companies.
4. In on- and offline food chains
A popular and highly effective technique among many successful Health Coaches is to take clients to a grocery store and re-teach them how to shop for food based on their unique needs.
Now, many online food delivery services and progressive grocery chains are also seeing the benefit of helping their customers shop smarter by hiring Health Coaches. Some chains will even go a step further and host in-store nutrition classes and recipe demos. It’s one thing to buy the healthy ingredients and pantry staples, but it’s another to understand how to use them in a way that helps you feel nourished and satisfied.
As discussed in an analysis conducted by the Food Marketing Institute, retailers are increasingly recognizing how important health, wellness, and well-being are to their customers and are pursuing efforts that increase their trust with customers as well as provide them with the education they desire. Furthermore, customers are becoming more educated around food labeling and are interested in more transparency around what’s in their food.
By helping customers shop, eat, and feel better, food chains are increasing customer loyalty at a time when competition has never been fiercer.
5. At schools and universities
Despite what you may have heard, schools have come a long way since the days of calling fried fish sticks with a side of mac and cheese and chocolate milk a “well-balanced” lunch.
School administrators are realizing the harmful short- and long-term effects that a poor diet has on students’ capacity to reach their full potential. Sean Patrick Corcoran, associate professor of economics and education policy at New York University, says that “students who eat regular, healthy meals are less likely to be tired, are more attentive in class, and retain more information.” Schools that have healthy lunch vendors even have students who score higher on statewide tests!
Health Coaches are being hired to create healthier menus, oversee food preparation, and hold one-on-one consultations with students. Health Coaches in schools aren’t just tackling nutrition issues, either. They are helping students with body image, sleep patterns, and weight management issues as well.
If you’re passionate about food production or consumption in your country, children’s education, or public policy around wellness, then an IIN education will provide you with a great perspective and starting point for getting involved.
6. As a private or group coach
One-on-one coaching is a common way for students to begin exploring and sharing their wellness with others, with many going on to do this work part time or full time. As an IIN student you’ll have the option and guidance to set up your website, develop your niche market, and establish all the necessities to launch your coaching business by the time you graduate. You can coach clients in person or on the phone from anywhere in the world, which is how Marissa Vicario got started.
Those who enjoy personal interaction and group dynamics opt to focus on group coaching, bringing people together who are interested in whatever wellness topic they choose to focus on, such as healthy aging, cleansing or detox, weight loss, etc. You can form ongoing relationships with local organizations, health food stores, wellness centers, churches, or other entities to hold regular events.
7. Through online programs
If you enjoy communications, creativity, and marketing while being location-independent then you might want to consider developing your own unique online program. These can come in the form of virtual courses, subscription programs, or member-based offerings. Rather than individual attention to a small number of people, this is a way to provide valuable content that can influence thousands in a positive way while still giving you plenty of freedom. Virtual coaching is becoming the norm due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and according to Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches Jon Fischer and Cori Landon, it’s an incredibly effective way to coach and create your ultimate work-life balance.
8. With restaurants for recipe or product development
Many IIN students are foodies, with the ultimate goal of opening healthy restaurants or cafes, offering private cooking instruction, or become recipe creators. Yes, healthy eating can be delicious, and if that’s your passion then you’ll definitely feel at home at IIN. Once you figure out exactly what you want to pursue, you’ll have much more foundational knowledge and momentum to make it happen as a Health Coach.
Have you ever dreamed of creating your own healthy product – food, body care, or lifestyle - to be sold for the benefit of people around the country, or even the world? As a Health Coach you’ll gain the knowledge and insights to fuel your creativity, gather the necessary resources and relationships, and develop both your wonderful product and the story behind it.
If you love cooking, perhaps you’ll decide to launch a healthy product line like Purely Elizabeth founder, Elizabeth Stein.
9. By writing or blogging
Publishing your work as an author or blogger is another great way to share your knowledge with the world. If you love cooking and creating recipes, you can write a cookbook or create a wildly popular health blog. You could also become a wellness writer for businesses or organizations who share your values, or work alongside wellness brands that need your professional skills as well as appreciating your education.
Many Institute for Integrative Nutrition graduates have gone on to write bestselling books in the realm of health and wellness - you can check out some of the books created by our graduates here. Publishing a book is a great way to reach even more people with your message than you would working one-on-one with clients. And although it takes time to write a book, book sales offer a form of passive income, which is incredibly worthwhile and can help sustain you between publishing.
Cultivate a fulfilling full-time health coaching career with an Integrative Nutrition education.
Health Coaches have more full-time opportunities than ever, so don’t feel that you are limited to starting with a part-time private practice and growing from there. It’s highly likely that businesses are recruiting full-time positions near you now.
Health coaching roles are becoming so prolific that there are now many training programs to choose from, so just a few words of caution before you choose an online nutrition school to earn that valuable health coaching certificate; all Health Coaches are not created equal. The increased demand for Health Coaches has unfortunately given rise to more and more certificate mills that are aiming to cash in on this historic labor trend.
Do your research and spend your hard-earned dollars wisely. Finding the right training program is all about your goals and what works for you. Ready to take that next step to achieving the life you’ve always dreamed of? Take a free Sample Class to get a taste for what you’ll learn in our online Health Coach Training Program.