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How to Choose The Best Health Coaching Certification Program

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A comparison of top online health coaching programs (plus 3 important questions to ask yourself before deciding)

Have you noticed that we’re becoming increasingly health-conscious, collectively? 

Healthy foods, products, and habits are all on the rise compared to years past. [1]

Which means greater demand for health coaches as people begin prioritizing their health. In fact, the global field of health coaching has grown to be worth over 7 billion in recent years, and it shows no sign of slowing down!

There really couldn’t be a better time to start a career as a health coach. Especially as people move away from conventional medicine & embrace cash-pay models in record numbers, making it easier to grow your own online health coaching business.

But, how do you figure out which health coaching program is right for you?

It’s a common question we get from potential students!

So today we’re going to look at 7 top health coaching certification programs, and how they compare to our functional practitioner certification course. 

Because when it comes down to it…we want you to choose the program that’s best for YOU. 

If that’s us, great! But if not, we want to help steer you in the right direction. 

All of the programs we’ll review today are 100% virtual (no in-person requirements), making them accessible & convenient to almost anyone! 

There are many health coaching programs on the market, but today we’re going to focus on:

  • Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN)
  • Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA)
  • Health Coach Institute (HCI)
  • Nutrition Therapy Association (NTA)
  • Kresser Institute 
  • Health Coach Institute (HCI)
  • Functional Nutrition Alliance (FNA)

But first, allow us to introduce ourselves in case we haven’t met before!

We’re Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN)

We offer a 6-12-month practitioner certification course that provides students with everything they need to transform people’s lives using the power of functional lab testing + highly personalized diet & lifestyle protocols. 

As pioneers in the field of functional lab testing, we give you the expertise you need to determine which lab tests to order, and how to interpret the results so you can create highly-effective protocols to help your clients overcome chronic health problems. 

And, equally as important, we provide you access to order these functional tests upon graduation, even without a license. Yes, anybody (including you!) can order functional testing through our Medical Director Program upon graduating.

Last, but certainly not least, we teach you how to build a thriving online wellness practice so you can make a living doing what you love. 

Here is the FDN Practitioner Certification Course, at-a-glance. 

  • Program Duration: 6-12 Months 
  • Estimated Time Commitment: 3-6 Hours / Week (depending on pace)
  • Investment: $8,997 
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: Yes, anyone (even unlicensed graduates) can order functional tests for their clients through the Medical Director Program. 
  • Certificate Awarded / Title: Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDNP)
  • Mentorship: Yes, 3 Personal Results and Recommendation Sessions, 6 Sessions With a Program Mentor to Practice What You’ve Learned.
  • Other Support: 8-10 Live Calls / Month (optional); Private Facebook Group; Access to Founder, Reed Davis, on 1 Call / Week & Post-Grad Community; Direct Access to Course Supervisor & Lead Mentor, Elizabeth Gaines. 
  • Functional Labs: Receive (4) Functional Lab Test Kits for yourself which is included in the cost of the program: Stress & Hormones Profile, Mucosal Barrier Assessment, Metabolic Wellness Profile, GI Map (Value $1k+)
  • Business Mentorship

Now that we’ve laid out the details of our program, you’re probably wondering:

 “What makes this different from other health coaching programs?”

Health Coach Certification Programs vs. FDN Practitioner Certification.

While we don’t refer to our practitioner certification course as a “health coaching program”, we do see it as a strong alternative to other health coaching programs on the market!

Why?

Simple – it provides you with the expertise you need to effectively address virtually any chronic health conditions out there. 

The overall goal is the same across all health certification programs: to provide you with the expertise & skills you need to help people live healthier lives. 

But we teach you to do that by performing a deep-dive investigation of all the causal factors of dysfunction using functional testing, whereas most health coaching programs focus more heavily on coaching strategies such as positive psychology, for example. 

To decide which is a better fit for you, you’ll want to think about whether you prefer operating your own independent practice & running your health investigations, or if you’d prefer partnering with another clinician who handles lab testing & analysis. 

Both paths are available to you, at similar price points! 

Let’s have a look at seven well-known health coaching programs and see how they stack up.

Health Coaching Certifications | Program Comparisons

1 | Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) 

The IIN program covers a variety of subjects including nutrition, lifestyle medicine and functional medicine. Similar to FDN, they embrace bio-individuality, teaching that everyone’s needs are different and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Throughout the program, they help you “develop your personal approach to life and health coaching that honors your unique body, and how to apply this approach with others to spark their own transformation.”

IIN health coaching program, at-a-glance:

  • Program Duration: 6-12 Months (two tracks to choose from)
  • Estimated Time Commitment: 5-6 Hours / Week (depending on pace)
  • Investment: $6,995
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: No
  • Certificate Awarded / Title: Integrative Nutrition Coach (INC)
  • Mentorship: No, role playing sessions with peers only

Fun fact: More than 50% of our graduates completed the IIN health coaching program before coming to FDN. 

Here’s what Kristin Thomas, FDN-P, had to say: 

“I had already completed the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) health coach certification, but it was clear to me that FDN had another layer of knowledge that would benefit my clients.”

2 | Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA) 

Another well-respected health coaching program is the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA). FMCA “prepares you to connect meaningfully with clients and partner effectively with practitioners.” 

If you’re not looking to get into the nitty-gritty of testing & lab analysis yourself, this program may be the perfect fit for you. They teach you specifically how to partner with doctors & practitioners who are trained in functional medicine. 

The program covers topics such as: the art & science of coaching, mind-body medicine, functional nutrition & positive psychology. 

FMCA health coaching program, at-a-glance:

  • Program Duration: 12 Months 
  • Estimated Time Commitment: 8-10 Hours / Week (depending on pace)
  • Investment: ​​Early Bird $7,779; Standard $9,779
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: No
  • Certificate Awarded / Title: Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach (FMCHC)
  • Mentorship: No mentoring sessions advertised 

3 | Health Coach Institute (HCI)

HCI prepares you to “become a Health and Life Coach”. It’s one of the only schools to offer Health and Life Coach training together in one comprehensive certification program. 

The dual certification prepares you to help others thrive on a holistic level across five key areas of life: health, money, love & relationships, career, and spirituality. 

HCI health coaching program, at-a-glance:

  • Program Duration: 6 Months
  • Estimated Time Commitment: 5-6 Hours / Week (depending on pace)
  • Investment: ​​$5,950
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: No
  • Certificate Awarded / Title: Dual Health and Life Coach Certification – HCI Certified Health Coach (HCI-CHC) and HCI Certified Life Coach (HCI-CLC)
  • Mentorship: Students are assigned an “Empowerment Coach” that can help answer questions & address roadblocks.

4 | Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA)

NTA equips its students to “support the body’s innate ability to heal by addressing the importance of nutrient-dense food, lifestyle choices, culinary wellness, client coaching, and how social and personal components influence health.”

Like FDN, NTA takes a bio-individual approach that’s backed by science, focusing on each individual’s unique nutritional needs.

NTA health coaching program, at-a-glance:

  • Program Duration: 12 Months
  • Estimated Time Commitment: 20 Hours / Week (depending on pace)
  • Investment: $6,900
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: No
  • Certificate Awarded / Title: Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)
  • Mentorship: Access to Instructors

5 | Kresser Institute

The Kresser Institute’s flagship program, ADAPT Functional Medicine Practitioner Training & Certification Program, “provides practitioners with the training to integrate and apply real-time clinical insights, new diagnostic labs, Functional Medicine panels with interpretation, and up-to-date treatment protocols with ongoing faculty support and guidance.” 

This advanced program combines training in functional medicine, ancestral nutrition and lifestyle, and practice management, and is for licensed healthcare practitioners only. 

ADAPT Training & Certification program, at-a-glance:

  • Program Duration: 6-12 Months
  • Estimated Time Commitment: 2-4 Hours / Week (depending on pace)
  • Investment: $11,000
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: Yes, for licensed practitioners only
  • Certificate Awarded / Title: ADAPT Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner (A-CFMP) – awarded at an additional cost
  • Mentorship: Not mentioned

6 | Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIM)

IIM provides two tracks to receive your health coaching certification; one basic, one advanced. Depending on which track you take, you will move through 6 or 12 modules on various holistic health topics, including GI systems, mitochondrial function, and detoxification. 

  • Program Duration: Not mentioned
  • Estimated Time Commitment: Each module has 2-3 hours of video content 
  • Investment: $3,096 for Starter Package (6 modules); $5,463 for Fellowship Package (12 modules)
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: Yes, for licensed practitioners only
  • Certificates Awarded / Titles: Advanced Certification (IHP) – for fellowship package only
  • Mentorship: Not mentioned

7 | Functional Nutrition Alliance (FNA)

FNA “teaches you a systems-based approach to nutrition and how to get to the root causes of your clients’ issues, no matter their signs, symptoms, or diagnoses.”

Similar to FDN, you’ll learn how to address health problems using proven systems that you can then apply to a personalized approach.

  • Program Duration: 10 Months
  • Estimated Time Commitment: Not mentioned
  • Investment: $5,950
  • Access to Functional Labs for Clients: No
  • Certificates Awarded / Titles: Certified Functional Nutrition Counselor
  • Mentorship: (9) 2-Hour Sessions with FNA Founder, Andrea Nakayama, Where You’ll Receive Mentorship on Client Cases and the Art of Counseling

Three Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding on a Health Coaching Certification Program.

  1. Do you have a desire to run your own wellness business?

If you’d prefer to run your own business (as opposed to working for a clinic or doctor), having access to functional testing is a major benefit! 

It allows you to offer more comprehensive services & higher value to your clients, so be sure to factor this in when making your decision. 

And take note about how much business development support is available to you as a graduate. It’s a lot of work to start & grow a wellness practice, so having someone to show you the ropes is a major game-changing benefit. 

FDN offers ongoing business development support to graduates for only $99/mo.

  1. Which do you enjoy more? The investigative nature of running functional lab tests & analyzing the results, or supporting clients through accountability, encouragement & positive psychology? 

If you prefer the investigative nature of running labs & cracking the case for your clients, you should definitely consider looking for a program that trains you in how to interpret functional labs, and provides you access to order the labs upon graduation. 

That’s our specialty at FDN! 

  1. What are your income goals as a health coach / practitioner? 

If you’re interested in a particular program, look up some of the graduates online. If they’re running their own businesses now, what are they charging? Also, don’t hesitate to ask program advisors what the income range is for graduates of their program. It’s going to vary by location, but they should be able to provide a general range for you. 

Keep in mind that the ability to offer functional testing to your future clients is going to massively increase the amount you can charge for your services. Most of our graduates offer high-ticket transformational programs, many that equate to $150-$200+/hr. 

Still Have Questions About Choosing The Right Health Coaching Certification Program?

We’re here to help you make the right choice! 

We invite you to: 

  1. Book a no-pressure call with one of our program advisors 
  2. Receive the first FDN Module for free and get an exclusive taste of the program
  3. Download our free guide to get better health results

Resources:

  1. https://www.renolon.com/health-conscious-consumer-statistics/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20recent%20study,in%20the%20past%20five%20years
  2. https://www.integrativenutrition.com/curriculum-guide-thank-you 
  3. https://learn.functionalmedicinecoaching.org/hubfs/FMCA_INFOPACKET.pdf 
  4. https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/healthcoachinstitute.com/catalog.pdf 

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