Have you heard about health coaches? This guide will walk you through what a health coach is, and explain how to become a health coach.
Everything You Need to Know About Health Coaching
The decision to become a nurse is often an easy one. You want to help people and nursing is a great way to do it. Making a difference is the motivation that keeps you going, even when it’s draining and difficult. Unfortunately, a lot of bedside nursing is draining and difficult.
After a hard shift, it’s not hard to sit and ponder what your career goals are. Is nursing fulfilling your desire to help people? Is it everything you hoped it would be? What are your dreams and goals? Is your current job everything you dreamed it would be? What would your life look like if your work made you happy?
That’s a multi-faceted and difficult set of questions. The great news is, no matter what the answers are, there is likely a solution to make you happy that remains fully in the nursing spectrum. Exploring alternative nursing career and specialties can be a big task. If you enjoy working with people one-on-one and enjoy helping people see how they can improve their health holistically, then this article may help you narrow down your search.
Health Coaching isn’t Just for Nurses
Before we go any further, we should clarify that you don’t have to be a nurse to be a health coach. So this article is still for you if you are not a nurse. However, since this is a nurse blog this article will be discussing nursing topics related to health coaching, as nurses already have a great deal of the health knowledge needed to be successful in this career path.
Digging Into the Health Coach Career
This article will dive into the health coach career so you can decide if it is right for you. Let’s look at what a health coach is, what they do, and how much money they can earn.
Then, if you think you want to try and make this your next career move, you can learn how to become one.
What is a Health Coach?
On the surface, a health coach is someone that guides and directs clients with methods that will improve their overall health.
If you look at it closer, there are many varieties of health coaches. There is not just one specific type. They all bring with them their own background, passions, and bias. They may focus on different areas of health or wellness, and not just diet and weight loss.
According to Well Works For You, “health coaches are mentors. They build one-on-one relationships in order to make wellness plans and set health goals that will work for a specific person.”
Think of it like this: they work directly with you to create a plan to meet your health goals, based entirely on your history, current lifestyle, and hurdles or struggles. Obtaining a healthier life isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some people have obesity in their genetics, others might not have access to a gym and need encouragement to be more active. They will look at the big picture and help you every step of the way.
What Does a Health Coach Do?
What they do depends entirely on the exact coach and the situation of the person. Some of the responsibilities might be:
- Individual health counseling
- Help clients set personal health goals and create a plan for reaching them
- Looks at the past and current life experiences of the client and creates actionable steps
- Work with their clients to change plans as life experiences change
- Focus on social and emotional issues that impact health and wellness
- Be supportive and motivating
Think of them as a nurse, therapist, and project manager combined. No two health plans will be the same. They create each plan based on the history and current behaviors and influences of the person. They work with their clients to help them stick to the plan and evolve it as needed.
Health Coach Salary
Next, let’s look at how much you could earn as a health coach. The health coach salary depends on whether you are employed by a company or self-employed. Self-employment doesn’t necessarily mean renting an office and hanging out your own shingle. Many health coaches work under a network marketing infrastructures that provide a core program, training, and their own support. This is a faster launch path with a much lower startup cost, considering it can all be done in the comfort of your own home (in your pajamas if you want).
According to Glassdoor, health coaches earn an average of $16-20 per hour and an average of $45,000 a year. This takes into account employers such as WebMD and health service companies.
If you are self-employed, you will have to build up your own client base. Nudge Coach offers some advice about how much to charge. It’s an in-depth article that explores what other health coaches charge. Some charge per session, others offer packages at reduced rates. Check out the article for more, here is just a sample of charges they discovered:
- Coach 1: $99 for upfront consult + $199/month
- Coach 2: $50-120/week depending on offering = $200-480/month
- Coach 3: $300/month with a 6 month commitment
You may also work with a company that provides incentives and income based on client load and program. How much you earn is really up to you. The more clients and connections you have, the bigger your income can be. Many health coaches earn well over six figures, but they do work hard to earn it. If you aren’t willing to work, you can’t expect to earn anywhere near this. You can learn more about this by connecting with Donni after reviewing the Health Coaching 101 video series.
Types of Health Coaches
There are a variety of health coaches. As a nurse, you could work in a health care services building, or open up your own business. Since health coaches give individualized attention, there are coaches that reflect certain viewpoints and methods.
Lifestyle Health Coach
A lifestyle health coach works with clients to optimize their minds and bodies to achieve optimal health. Program health coaches recommendations often focus on weight loss and the primary entry point to living healthy. They also teach healthy habits beyond diet and exercise to address to the total person. The great thing about becoming a lifestyle health coach is that you are your own boss! You set your own hours because it’s your business. Luckily, there are programs in place to give you the infrastructure and resources you need to be successful. You can learn more about this path, and see if it’s right for you, check out the Health Coaching 101 videos.
Online Health Coach
The first time of health coach is the online health coach. This is someone that works via video chats and emails with clients. They can set up their own websites or they can work for online sites like WebMD.
Holistic Health Coach
A holistic health coach works with body and mind to create healthy changes in the individual. They use meditation, yoga, nutrition, and exercise to solve health issues.
Wellness Health Coach
A wellness health coach may not goal-oriented as other types of coaches. They are more focused on achieving a balanced lifestyle. They focus on balance within all aspects of life, including spiritual, physical, emotional, social, and occupational. They often focus more on the emotional state than the physical state, with weight loss not taking the center stage.
Nutrition Health Coach
The next type is more focused on healthy eating habits. What is the difference between a registered dietician and a nutrition health coach? The main difference is the certification and education required for them. To be an RDN (registered dietician nutritionist) you need:
A Bachelor’s Degree in nutrition or an approved nutrition related field, (a Master’s Degree will be required by 2024), complete an accredited internship, pass an accreditation exam and maintain 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years.
However, a nutrition health coach can obtain certification in about 6 months and only needs an associate degree in a health-related field.
Both titles will work with people to improve their health through the foods they eat. Some places, like supermarkets, only want to hire RDNs.
If you’re interested in nutrition health coaching but aren’t interested in a degree or certification, you should consider becoming a lifestyle health coach.
RN Health Coach
If you are currently an RN and want to change careers, finding a nurse health coach job will be an easy transition. In fact, lots of health care providers like Aetna hire nurses as health coaches. You may work in a specialized area, like healthy maternity or more generally for comorbidities like diabetes and high blood pressure. If your insurance provides a free breast pump, you may have spoken with one of their maternity health coaches in order to qualify. Your background and training as a nurse, along with all your medical knowledge, will make you highly qualified. Many insurance companies will only higher nurses for these roles.
Primal Health Coach
With the trend towards primal/paleo lifestyles, there is a program that will certify you as a primal health coach. You just have to pass the Primal Health Coach Institute’s certification. With this niched certification, you can work directly with people who are curious about making this a part of their life.
How to Become A Health Coach
Now that you know what a health coach is and how much they can earn, let’s look at the exact steps you need to take to become a health coach. These steps will outline how to become a certified health coach.
1.) Get Training and Consider Becoming Certified
Certification is not required to be a health coach, but many nurses feel more confident in pursuing a career with an additional credential. Some companies do require it, so if you want to work for a traditional employer you’ll want to research whether the companies you are looking it requires it. It may help you gain more confidence or trustworthiness when you try to gain your own clients.
Training, however, is required to be successful. The health coach training you receive will prepare you with knowledge about all aspects of a person’s health – from nutrition to emotional health and exercise.
There are lots of places that will train and potentially certify you as a health coach. However, some of them are very expensive and costs thousands of dollars. Here are some options to consider:
- Health Coach Training and Mentorship from Donni of Nursing Outside the Box – This is our recommended program/path if you want to become certified, as it is low cost and has a direct revenue stream you can start even before completing it. Watch the Health Coaching Business 101 video series and connect with Donni to learn more about it. Her training does offer the option for certification through a program created in conjunction with the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention & Education (COPE)).
- American Council on Exercise
- National Society of Health Coaches
- Health Coach Institute
- American Fitness Professionals and Associates
Next, you will need to network with other health coaches so you can either get a job or set up your own business. Either way, networking with other health coaches is a valuable next step. Join a professional organization like the National Society of Health Coaches, or become involved in a Facebook group. Connecting with a coach that can answer your questions to ensure it’s a good fit for you is always recommended. You can connect with Coach Donni to get insight and answer questions about health coaching.
3.) Find A Job or Start Your business
Finally, get a job or start your business! Health coaching gives you options. You can work for yourself or you can
Get a Job from a Traditional Employer
NutritionED has a very helpful list of careers sorted by state. Think about where you want to work. Do you want to work in a hospital, or a smaller health care office? Do you want to work for an insurance company? Do you want something that is more holistically oriented?
This is where your networking will really help. Don’t be afraid to ask for hiring recommendations.
Work From Home Health Coach Jobs
Some places will want you to work from their offices, meeting with clients in their facilities. But there is a lot of work from home health coach jobs as well. Our favorite is becoming an independent health coach, but there are options for everyone.
If you are looking for something more traditional here are some best places to find remote health coach jobs:
- Indeed.com – Search for “remote health coach” and it will populate results near you.
- LinkedIn – Write in your profile your certification and credentials. Then, search for “work from home health coach jobs.” Many will let you apply directly on LinkedIn.
- Vida – A health and wellness app that hires health coaches to work from home.
- Health Insurance Companies – Lots of insurance companies want health coaches to work from home and help their subscribers live healthier.
Work from Home as an Independent Health Coach
You can find out how to become an independent health coach in the free Health Coaching Business 101 course. This will allow you to help people but still have the freedom that self-employment provides.
You will find a health coach mentor, set up your own business, and then start building a customer base. You will want to seek out people that will be proud to share their experiences with you to others. You will find clients that are ready to make a change in their life but need a support system (you!) to do it. You’ll be able to do this all from the comfort of your home with just a laptop and a phone. You’ll get trained in the program, set up social media pages, building relationships, and begin to your new skills and opportunities with people you can truly help.
Is Health Coaching Right For You?
Being a health coach might be a smart career move if you enjoy working directly with people to make real changes in their lives. As a nurse, it can be tough to treat illnesses and yet not really know if you are having a real impact. If you desire that influence and want to be more involved with people, this might be for you.
You don’t have to be a nurse to be a health coach. If you only have an associate’s degree or don’t have a degree yet, consider obtaining a health coach certification. It will give you the training you need.
Real Life Testimonies from Health Coaches
What is being a health coach actually like? Here are some stories from health coaches about their experiences and why they chose this career path.
Amanda Patrick – Bliss Health Coaching
Amanda Patrick runs her own business as a health coach for Bliss Health Coaching. She has a Radiologic Technologist Associates Degree from Rhodes State College and a Health Coach Certificate from the Institute of Nutritional Leadership.
Her favorite thing about being a health coach is when she sees them making changes for themselves. She loves empowering others to achieve their dreams.
“The most rewarding thing for me is definitely when I see a spark is lit in people’s eyes when they realize they have the power to make changes. Once they understand they have complete power over their choices they become unstoppable.”
One of her favorite stories is about a woman that finally realized she was worth all the healthy changes that her body needed.
“I had a lady that had just completed my Love Yourself Healthy Devotional and finally realized that she loved who she was and she was worthy of treating herself with respect. After that she started caring for herself by choosing healthy foods and setting up boundaries in her relationships.”
Being a health coach can be challenging at times. Amanda told the Nerdy Nurse that health coaches don’t have a magic pill or some super quick answer.
“My biggest challenge is being frustrated with people wanting a quick fix. They just want the next pill or shake to make everything better and that just doesn’t exist. Getting healthy takes intentional work every day.”
But she wouldn’t trade it for any other job.
Randee Roven – Certified Health Coach
Randee Roven also runs her own health coaching business online and in person.
She was inspired to become a health coach after enduring two weeks in the hospital and then watching her father’s health issues.
“My passionate for health and wellness grew after spending two separate weeks in the hospital with asthmatic bronchitis and then pneumonia. Soon after my father had two strokes and a heart attack. When my wasband (husband at the time) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease I did everything I could to find anything that would help.”
Her most inspiring experience so far was when she helped a client lose 185 pounds. She did all of this with that person by in person and by phone.
She has some advice for anyone that wants to be a health coach:
“I would say It was a life changer for me! I learned about bio-individuality. What works for one may not work for another as in every aspect in life. It’s an exciting challenge to discover people’s “why”. So if you’re desire is to facilitate the journey to healthiness in others, become a certified health and wellness coach.”
Donni Alvarenga – Nursing Outside the Box
Donni Alvarenga is an oncology nurse turned pediatric nurse practitioner that found herself frustrated with the traditional nursing and medical model. She wasn’t able to give patients the level of support to attain optimal health. She found health coaching and it was a perfect fit for her desire to help people and live a full life.
Donni is “…on a mission to empower people to create optimal health for themselves–healthy body, mind, and finances.”
There are 3 things she wanted out of her career that nursing wasn’t providing for her:
- A higher purpose
She found all that and more in health coaching.
“Working in wellness has allowed me to not only use my nursing skills and knowledge, but also tap into my passion for helping people thrive. I came from a model, the healthcare “box”, where there was no money in wellness. Since there was no money in wellness, wellness was not a priority in the healthcare world I experienced. You could imagine my surprise when I was able to replace my Nurse practitioner Income and quit my job within 7 months of starting my business! Not only that, but for the first time in my life, I witnessed a Diabetic have her medications eliminated.”
Donni not only helps clients become healthy through her coaching services, but she also trains people to become health coaches and start their own businesses. You can find out more about health coaching and connect with her directly by starting the Health Coaching Business 101 free video course. Be sure to tell her The Nerdy Nurse sent you!
More Nurse Career Articles
There are so many career paths you can choose after you graduate from nursing school. Here are some more articles to help you decided. Follow your heart, it won’t lead you wrong.
- What is Nursing Informatics? – As technology grows in medicine, the nursing informatics field hiring rapidly.
- Hospice Nurse: What’s the Salary & Is It For You? – Being a hospice nurse can be very challenging. See if this is the career for you.
- How to Become a Lactation Consultant – If you have an interest in helping women feed their babies, this might be a job for you.
- Forensic Nursing Guide – Read and learn everything you need to know about forensic nursing.