How to Become a Certified Health Coach

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how to become a certified health coach

Helping people overcome chronic health conditions & build lasting health makes for a deeply rewarding career!

And if you’ve landed on this page today, chances are you’re considering this path for yourself, which is really exciting!

This career path isn’t for everyone, but chances are you’ve chosen to explore it because you feel called to help others overcome painful symptoms & live better lives.

And for many of you, this calling likely came after your own health struggles & healing journey. 

You probably know what it’s like to search tirelessly (for years sometimes!) looking for answers to the health problems that you (or a family member) were once plagued with. And now, you want to help others find answers more quickly. 

Andddd, you’ve likely heard that becoming a Certified Health Coach can:

  • Allow you more flexibility to be there for your family
  • Provide financial security for a more comfortable life
  • Allow you to work from home, or virtually anywhere in the world
  • Provide you with more time to do the things you love to do 

This is exactly what a career as a Certified Health Coach or Functional Practitioner can offer.

But, how & where do you even get started?? 

Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to break down today!

Simple steps to fast-track your desire to become a Certified Health Coach who truly changes lives (your own included)!

Let’s dive in!

How to Become a Certified Health Coach in 5 Steps

certified health coach

1. Get Clear on Your Vision. 

The first step is to have a clear vision in place, and map that vision to some concrete goals.

This is where you sit down with a warm matcha latte and journal to jot down the answers to some life-changing questions.

Some of these questions might include:

  • Where do you want to be located & who do you want to be working with?
  • Do you want to run your own virtual business or work for someone else?
  • Do you see yourself working face-to-face with clients in a wellness center?
  • What types of clients would you most enjoy working with?
  • What is an area of health that you feel especially knowledgeable in?
  • If you had to choose a specific problem to help people with, what would it be?
  • What are your income requirements and goals?

Keep in mind that these things can evolve over time, but getting clear at the beginning of your health coaching pursuit will (1) keep you motivated and (2) help you pick the best health coaching certification program.

Which brings us to the next step.

2. Explore Various Titles (e.g. Functional Medicine Health Coach vs. Functional Practitioner)?

The truth is, there are lots of titles available to you!

  • Health and Wellness Coach
  • Functional Medicine Health Coach
  • Functional Health Practitioner
  • Functional Medicine Practitioner
  • Holistic Health Coach
  • Holistic Life Coach

The best advice here is to look into the content that each certified health coach program is offering. You want the curriculum to align with your own wellness philosophy (more on that in step 3 below).

But, in general a Health Coach guides you & facilitates behavior change using positive psychology. They focus on habit building, make suggestions for implementing lifestyle changes, and provide accountability along the way.

A Functional Medicine Health Coach also offers general health coaching support, but is specifically trained in the foundational principles of functional medicine, making them a good candidate to work under a Functional Medicine Physician, or as a part of a functional medicine team1.

And for those looking to go even deeper, there is the option to become certified as a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). 

 Not only are FDN-Ps qualified to work with Functional Medicine teams as we discussed above, they are able to order testing themselves, even as unlicensed providers! This is through an exclusive program available to FDN graduates.

In addition to being able to order the labs, they are trained in analyzing the results & developing highly-personalized protocols based on these test results. What does this do for clients?

It produces results.

This is what sets FDN Practitioners apart from other Health Coaches.

One thing to note here is that FDN-Ps are able to charge more for their services because they are the ones ordering labs & creating protocols, rather than having to partner with a licensed practitioner or physician to do this. This is particularly relevant if you’re wanting to run your own health coaching or functional wellness practice.

If you’re still unsure, that’s okay!

Keep reading because you may find clarity as you move through these next steps! And, if you still have questions at the end, we’ll link our contact info. 😉

certified health coach

3. Choose a Certified Health Coach Training Program.

There are a growing number of Certified Health Coach / Health Coaching programs on the market today. Before diving into the details of what each program offers, ask yourself some questions about what you want out of a program.

Here are some questions to get you started:

How much time do you have each week?

Some programs are going to require more time than others. FDN coursework requires anywhere from 3-6 hours per week, where others require upwards of 10 hours per week.

What is your budget for a certification program?

Becoming a certified health coach is a big step, and requires a sizable investment. Many programs, including our FDN functional health certification program, offer monthly payment plans, so think about what size payment you would be comfortable making on a monthly basis.

And, a word of caution here: simply looking for the lowest priced certified health coach program isn’t going to serve you well in the long run. In fact, we have many students come to us after completing other popular health coaching programs because they realize they actually need more training & knowledge to get their clients the results they want. Oftentimes, investing at a slightly higher level ends up being the smarter choice.

Do you value certified health coaching mentorship? 

Something to keep in mind with price comparisons is the value you are getting from your investment in the program. Are you simply gaining access to coursework and a certification, or are you investing in quality mentorship & a community of people who want to see you thrive?

For example, Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) may be one of the more affordable health coaching programs, but they don’t offer the level of support & mentorship that FDN does.

And, what do you get with quality mentorship?

  • Practical experience
  • Expert feedback
  • A higher rate of success!

That’s worth its weight in gold.

Do you want to take a functional medicine approach?

As we discussed above, getting clear on the approach you want to take in helping your clients will be a determining factor in deciding which health coaching program or functional certification program is best for you.

If you decide that you *are* interested in a functional medicine route, then The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) offers a health coaching program. However, keep in mind that this program prepares you to play a supporting role rather than a solo role.

If you want to be a one-stop-shop health practitioner & have your own online business, you’re going to want access to functional medicine testing, which is what the FDN certification program specializes in.

Getting a grasp of these general questions is key to helping narrow down the best certified health coach program for you. 

Once you’ve obtained your certification, it’s time to get to the fun part!

The work you’ve been dreaming of.

certified health coach

4. Launch Your Health Coaching Career (or Business)

If you’ve decided to work for someone else, you’ll want to start applying to jobs online. But, if you’ve decided to start your own online health coaching business, then your entrepreneurial journey starts here!

When starting up your own business, you’ll want to think through which systems (e.g. Practice Better & GetHealthie) & processes you’ll use to provide your clients with an excellent experience.

Things to think through include:

  • Getting a business license
  • Structuring & pricing your packages
  • Marketing & sales calls
  • Client onboarding paperwork
  • Collecting payments

The great thing about the FDN Certification Course is that it includes not only the functional testing education & access to ordering labs, but also the foundational business education.

In fact, FDN recently launched “FDN Business School” – a complete program helping graduates launch & grow a profitable online wellness practice!

5. Build Confidence & Grow Your Career

Now that you’ve graduated as a Certified Health Coach, what’s next??

This is where lots of students get a little….freaked out.

But it doesn’t have to be scary – in fact, this is the fun part! 

If you’ve chosen to go down the path of starting your own business, just focus on getting your first five clients.

Want to know the best way to get started with building that client base? 

Through friends and family!

You can take what you’ve learned and practice on your family while helping them address ongoing health concerns. What better motivator than learning you’ve helped your aunt or best friend get to the bottom of symptoms they’ve been dealing with for years!?

Still feel like you’re lacking confidence? 

FDN has an incredibly supportive community. And as an FDN graduate, you have the option to book additional paid sessions with program mentors. This means if you run into a challenging client case & feel that imposter syndrome kick-in, you can get support behind the scenes! You won’t find this level of support anywhere else.

Certified Health Coach | FAQs

Do I need a degree or background in science or health?

Nope! Although having a bachelor’s degree in a certain specialty may benefit you in terms of the knowledge you bring to the table, it is not required in order to become a Certified Health Coach. You also do not need to have a background in any health related field.

Here at FDN, Reed Davis teaches in a way that makes all concepts easily digestible so that you can pass that knowledge on to your clients in the same manner.

Do I have to start my own business as a Certified Health Coach?

One huge benefit to becoming a certified health coach is the many different directions you can go with it! Whether you want to work for someone else, or branch off on your own, there are many job opportunities as a Certified Health Coach. 

How much can I make as a Certified Health Coach?

Like all fields, the amount of money you can make varies. An FDN Practitioner provides value on a level far beyond your typical health coach and can make well over 6 figures. You can check out this blog ‘How Much Does a Health Coach Make’  to learn more about the salary opportunities available to a Certified Health Coach vs. an FDN Practitioner.

What if I decide becoming a Certified Health Coach isn’t for me?

No problem! But this is where you want to be sure you choose a certification program that could greatly benefit you – because even if you decide not to pursue it as a career on your own, it could be used as a tool to better your own health.

The knowledge and investigative skills you acquire by taking the FDN  certification course is invaluable, and that coupled with your access to diagnostic lab testing will set you on a path filled with opportunities for long-term healing.

Still Have Questions About Becoming Certified Health Coach or Functional Practitioner?

We’ve got you covered.

We are familiar with all the major health coaching programs on the market, and we truly want to help you pick the one that is BEST FOR YOU.

Simply book a call with one of our Course Advisors!

Resources:

    1. Latif, Saima. “What Is Health Coaching? 12 Benefits and Principles Explained.” PositivePsychology.com, 14 December 2021, https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-health-coaching/#coaching. Accessed 25 August 2022.

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