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Unpaid Review: The 5 Best Health Coaching Certifications for 2024

Unpaid Review: The 5 Best Health Coaching Certifications for 2024

Ready to level-up your reputation as a qualified wellness or fitness professional—while impacting the lives of people on a deeper level than ever before? Become a certified health coach.


The health coaching industry is booming. According to market insights from the US Health Coaching Market Report (Marketdata LLC), the global health coach market is predicted to hit over $25.95 billion by 2030. It's no wonder why: Due to skyrocketing stress levels, sleep struggles, and a rising awareness of the importance of behavioral and mental health across the globe, more people than ever are looking for help building a healthy lifestyle. 

As a health coach, you have the opportunity to meet these people in the midst of their struggles and help them cultivate the habits needed to enjoy a vibrant, vitality-filled life. You can even make a great living doing it—whether you decide to do that full time or part time. Sound like something you’re interested in? Then becoming a certified health coach is a great next step.

How is a health coach different from a nutrition or life coach?

While there are some similarities between these different coaching careers, key differences lie in the types of support and guidance each gives to their clients. Life coaches, for example, focus on mental wellness and personal development. And nutrition professionals focus primarily on healthy eating behaviors. Both of these coaches certainly promote client health, but they do so by catering to a narrower range of specific needs. 

Health coaches, on the other hand, are more like the Swiss Army Knife of the health and wellness coaching industry. They take a more holistic approach by considering their clients' physical, spiritual, and emotional states, providing the support and guidance needed to improve their wellness routines and habits in a more integrative way. This includes educating their clients about food, exercise, sleep, stress management, and more.

Why get a health coaching certification?

Health coaching certifications can help wellness coaches, functional medicine practitioners, personal trainers, and those looking to become health coaches, hone their skills, expand their services, and build a thriving career doing what they love.

There are a few different reasons why someone might consider becoming a certified health coach:

  • Boost your reputation and credibility: Adding “Certified Health Coach” to your credentials is a powerful way to let current and prospective clients know you’re a qualified professional. It indicates that you’ve received proper training and education in the field, and that you were able to meet certain standards set by the certifying organization.
  • Level-up your knowledge and skills: The best coaches are always looking for opportunities to hone their craft. A health coaching certification will ensure you have the foundation of knowledge and skills needed to excel in your field—or provide opportunities to take your expertise even further and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry. The result: A more integrative coaching career and more holistic results for your clients or patients.
  • Gain a competitive advantage: Prospective clients are putting their health in your hands, and they want to feel confident that you’ll provide a safe, healthy, effective path to their goals. In that pursuit, becoming certified sets a health coach apart from others who are not certified. It can help you attract more clients, particularly those who are looking for a health coach with a proven track record of success.
  • Make more money: In a report published for the 2023 State of Coaching, coaches across the industry with certifications tend to charge 3x more than coaches without certifications. (Something to keep in mind in addition to the knowledge you’ll gain from a certification when asking yourself, “Is the investment worth it?” For multiple reasons—yes, it likely is.)

And perhaps the best part? With a variety of paths to take, it’s easy to find a health coach certification program that aligns with your goals, schedule, and preferred learning style. You have the option of enrolling in a self-paced program, which provides the flexibility to learn at a pace that works for you, or you can join a cohort program, diving into a virtual classroom with other students and instructors.

It also probably doesn’t come as a surprise that many health coaching certifications vary in cost and length, so it's important to do your research to find the best fit for your needs.

Choosing a health coaching certification that's accredited or approved (how important is it?)

When it comes to health coaching certifications, there are two main types of qualifications you should look for: Accreditation and approval. Being accredited means a certifying organization has been officially recognized or authorized by an educational body. A few of the main accrediting bodies that relate to health coaching include:

  • International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)
  • Certifying Agencies/Institute for Credentialing Excellence (NCCA/ICE)
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

Approval, on the other hand, is more like a stamp of validation that indicates a certification program met specific standards and requirements of an organization. Some of the most well-known and respected health coaching approval organizations include: 

  • The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC)
  • Health Coach Alliance (HCA)
  • The National Board for health and Fitness (NBHF)
  • Health Coaches Australia & New Zealand Association
  • International Association For Health Coaches
  • UK Health Coaches Association 

Do you have to choose a health coaching certification that's accredited or approved? No—but it does come with some perks. 

For example, getting certified from an accredited or approved program often provides the benefit of being able to pursue a more distinguished credential, such as “Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach” for individuals who complete a program approved by the NBHWC. 

Additionally, some employers might require you to hold certification from an accredited institution, so if you're seeking a specific job, it's worth checking into their requirements and seeking a certification that sets you up for success. 

If that's not a concern, choosing an accredited or approved health coaching certification program indicates that the organization took formal steps to "prove" the quality of their program—which can provide peace of mind to know your investing in a vetted program, and it may even provide a credibility boost with prospective clients. 


What are the top health coaching certification programs?

Becoming a health coach is an opportunity to help people in bigger and more impactful ways than ever before. But doing this effectively requires a deep understanding of your client's needs—and the ability to translate technical knowledge to solve the real-world problems people face. Here are the five best health coaching certifications:

1. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (INN) Health Coaching Certification

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition was founded by Joshua Rosenthal in 1992. It was designed to provide training and support for individuals who want to become certified health coaches, as well as those who want to grow their health and wellness knowledge with courses taught by world-renowned experts.  

INN's health coaching certification program covers everything from integrative nutrition and nutrition science, to functional medicine, wellness concepts, personal development, coaching methods—and even business-building and marketing skills.


  • Learn from some of the brightest names in the health and wellness field: The team of experts at INN include Deepak Chopra (PhD), Zach Bush (MD), Deanna Minich (PhD), Gabby Bernstein, and many, many more.
  • Comprehensive training: INN helps students discover a truly holistic approach to nutrition and how it impacts every part of health and wellness. If you're serious about learning a truly holistic approach to health and wellness, INN is a perfect fit for you.
  • Reputation: INN has received program approvals from organizations in the U.S. and internationally—including the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC), the International Coaching Federation (ICF), The Health Coach Alliance, and more—so you can rest assured this is a very high-quality program.


  • Their approach may not suit everyone: The depth and breadth of the content covered in INN's program will certainly take your knowledge and skills to a new level. But for those who are relatively new to the health coaching field, this could pose a challenge. 
  • Cost: At $6,995 (one-time payment), INN's health coaching certification can be expensive, which may be a barrier to entry in some cases (but of course, value needs to be factored in to truly determine if this is a “con” or not for you). 

2. Health Coach Institute

The Health Coach Institute was founded by Carey Peters and Stacey Morgenstern in 2015. WIth over 20,000 students in 90+ countries, the Health Coach Institute has quickly become one of the most popular choices for certification and continuing education for health and wellness professionals across the globe. 

According to their website, the mission of the Health Coach Institute is to "empower deeply caring people to transform lives, create abundant careers, and change the world—one coaching conversation at a time." Their Become a Health and Life Coach program is a 6-month program designed to help current or prospective health and wellness professionals learn everything they need to thrive as a health or life coach. 


  • Dual Health & Life Coach Certificate: If you're interested in both of these niche's, this program is one of the only schools that offer health and life coaching together in one comprehensive program.
  • Support and guidance: The program includes "mentorship with your own personal coach and 24/7 access to a private community group during your educational journey.
  • Offers marketing and business growth training: Pillar 4 of the program is dedicated to teaching you how to build a successful business—including how to price and market your services, how to connect, engage with, and attract clients, and how to manage them.


  • Cost: At $5,450, the Health Coach Institute's Become a Health and Life Coach program can be expensive, which may be a barrier to entry in some cases (but of course, value needs to be factored in to truly determine if this is a “con” or not for you).
  • Their approach may not suit everyone: If you're not interested in becoming a life coach and would prefer to focus solely on health coaching, this may not be the best choice for you since a chunk of the program is dedicated to life coaching. 

3. Precision Nutrition (PN) Master Health Coaching Certification 

PN was founded when Dr. John Berardi and Phil Caravaggio joined together on two inspiring missions. To help clients all over the world discover the joys of living a fit, healthy life. And to help thousands of professionals deliver this purpose to their own clients. 

PN's Level 2 Master Health Coaching Certification is a 20-week elite mentorship program complete with real-world coaching scenarios, hands-on assignments, and mentoring sessions with PN's industry-leading Master Health Coaches. You'll learn how to prioritize a client's challenges, how to help them remove obstacles holding them back, and how to create unique, actionable coaching plans for each of your clients that focuses on sleep, stress management, diet, exercise, and more. 


  • Reputation: Precision Nutrition is widely recognized as one of the leaders in health and wellness education for professionals across the globe. So being able to say you're a "Certified PN Master Health Coach" could carry some clout that sets you apart from competition.
  • Mentorship: PN's program includes weekly interaction and guidance from their in-house coaches who have worked with thousands of clients and built successful coaching businesses of their own.
  • Real-world client case studies: Students of PN's Master Health Coaching Certification rave about the realistic case studies in the program that allow them to practice their skills in a supportive environment, while receiving expert feedback from the mentor coaches.
  • Cost: The regular price of the program is $4,788. But by joining the waitlist, you can score an exclusive discount and get the "early bird" price of just $2,699, making this one of the cheapest options reviewed.  


  • Cohort model: While there are many upsides to the cohort model—like guided mentorship—this also comes with limited program availability. As per PN's website, registration for the Master Health Coaching Certification only opens twice per year, so if your timing isn't right, you may have to wait—a few weeks or even months—to start the program. 

4. American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Health Coach

ACE is a non-profit organization, established in 1985, that has over 90,000 certified professionals. By offering NCCA-accredited certification programs, continuing education, and access to easy to understand evidence-based health and fitness information, their goal is to invest in the mission of getting people moving—so people from all backgrounds are equipped to lead active, healthy lives. 

ACE's Certified Health Coach is an online study program designed to educate and train future health coaches both in theory and the art of behavior-change coaching. 


  • Offers 3 different pathways: Choose from Advantage, Plus, and Basic study programs—each with different components—based on what best suits your unique goals and preferences.
  • NCCA-accredited: In addition to a potential boost in credibility, some employers require credentials from an accredited institution, so this can open the doors to more career opportunities.
  • Cost: As noted above, there are three different pathways for the ACE Certified Health Coach. If you choose the "Basic" pathway, the cost is just $779, making it the cheapest option of those reviewed in this article.   


  • Exam requirements: To sit for the ACE Health Coach Certification, you must have a current CPR or AED certification with a live skills check. Many health and wellness professionals have this, but it's something to consider.
  • Difficult exam: The final exam is reported by students to be challenging. (Of course, this could also be a "pro", as it indicates the high standard ACE holds for its students.) 

5. Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Health Coach Certification 

Founded by William Sears, MD, the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is designed to "educate, equip, and empower individuals and organizations with practical science-based training and resources to improve the health of others through the principles of Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition (L.E.A.N.). 

Dr. Sears' Health Coach Certification has been offering certification since 2008. Accredited and approved by reputable organizations, this health coach certification program equips you with knowledge, tools, and resources to succeed as a health coach.


  • Two pathways to choose from: Earn a life-stage specialty health coach designation (such as families, pregnancy, or adults and seniors), or choose the Master Health Coach Certification for a credential that covers each of these areas.
  • Comprehensive curriculum: This program is developed by medical doctors and focuses on prevention and the tools to address obesity, chronic disease, poor nutrition habits, and lack of physical fitness. 


  • Their approach may not suit everyone: There's no doubt the content covered is rigorous and high quality, but since this program is developed by medical doctors, this could be challenging for some individuals and may lack the practical application to coaching that some other programs provide. 


At the end of the day, your health coaching certification is just one tool in your coaching arsenal—but it's certainly an important one. Similar to deciding on how to price your services, choosing the certification program that's best for you comes down to figuring what's going to work best for the goals of your business, your schedule, and preferred learning style. We've provided some great options to choose from—now, it's your turn to narrow it down and dive in. Good luck!

Once you're certified and ready to start building a business changing lives, we can help. Designed specifically with coaches in mind, Practice's customer-relationship-management (CRM) platform allows you to schedule sessions, safely store client data, manage payments, and send important documents with ease. Start your free trial today. 

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