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What is a Health Coach and is it The Right Career Choice for You?


What is a health coach

Chances are you already know this if you’ve landed on this page, but people are sick! 

And they’re getting sicker, year-after-year. 

As someone who is passionate about health & wellness, you’re probably aware that chronic health conditions such as type two diabetes, autoimmune conditions & cardiovascular disease are the leading cause of mortality worldwide.4 

And, these inflammatory diseases cause debilitating pain & symptoms, oftentimes leaving people stuck in an endless cycle of doctor-hopping and confusion. 🥴

But, you know who is perfectly suited to help these people? 

Health Coaches!

People need someone deeply committed to their health, with more time than what is allowed through the insurance networks. Someone who can help them uncover root causes, and develop personalized protocols that work for their lifestyle. Someone who can ask the right questions and develop actionable, life-changing plans! 

If that sounds like something you’d enjoy doing, then you’re in the right spot.

Today we’re answering the question, “what is a Health Coach?”, and we’re going to help you decide whether health coaching is the right career path for you. 

Are you ready? 

Let’s dive in!

health coaching

What is a Health Coach?

When you hear the word “coach”, what do you think of? 

For many, it’s motivation. And, that’s definitely part of health coaching, because let’s face it – making big health changes is hard work, and having someone to cheer you on is helpful!

But Health Coaching is so much more than a motivational push.

In fact, a Health Coach can completely change the course of a person’s life. 🤗

Someone coming to a Health Coach has likely spent years trying to feel better. They’ve probably seen multiple doctors, and maybe even seen some specialists, only to be told:

“Everything looks normal!”

Yet their symptoms remain

And they’re left to scour the internet in search of answers. 🎪

Or, on the other hand, maybe they receive a diagnosis, and are told this is something they “just have to live with” for the rest of their lives! They’re given medication to try and manage the symptoms, but they’re still sick – all because our healthcare system lacks holistic, personalized care. 

The solution? 

In part….is Health Coaching. 🥰

A Health Coach can be many things, such as…

  • a teacher
  • an accountability partner
  • a problem solver 
  • a motivator
  • a detective 

But, most importantly Health Coaches are EFFECTIVE.(1) 

Health Coaching focuses on behavior change at an actionable level, rather than simply educating the patient on their condition – a common approach in traditional healthcare.  In fact, it has been found that only educating patients on health concepts (thanks for the pamphlet 🙄) is not effective in changing habits and behaviors.3

Health Coaching is personal, and works to implement real change so that people can finally heal & thrive. 

So, hopefully we’ve answered your first question of “what is a Health Coach?” by now. 

Which brings us to the next question…

What is a health coach

What Exactly Does a Certified Health Coach Do?

There are many places you can get certified as a Health Coach, and each has a slightly different curriculum and/or wellness philosophy. Be sure to read our recent blog post comparing several popular health certification programs here

But, regardless of where you choose to get certified, most programs are focused on personalized care and support to help people overcome their symptoms and live healthier lives. 

In some instances, a Health Coach will partner with a physician or medical team, and will be responsible for helping the patient follow through with a treatment plan. For example, they might use a strategy called motivational interviewing to dive into things such as: 

  • What the patient’s home lifestyle is like
  • What excites and frustrates the patient
  • What are the patient’s coping mechanisms 
  • What is the patient’s idea of optimal health 

Getting to know their patients on a deeper level allows a Health Coach to serve as a powerful guide throughout the healing journey. 

At Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN), we actually prepare students to go beyond traditional Health Coaching. Graduates of our functional health certification program are equipped to run their own online wellness businesses, without the need to partner with a physician! 

Similar to Health Coaching, we take a personalized approach at FDN, using custom diet & lifestyle protocols to help people improve their health. However, we also teach students how to run & analyze specific functional health tests to pinpoint underlying causes of their symptoms. 

Talk about a game changer. 🙌

Sounds pretty good right?  

So, let’s take a closer look at the difference between these two roles.

What is a Health Coach vs. a Functional Health Practitioner?

Whatever title you carry, you’re positioned to deliver undeniable VALUE to those looking to get healthier. 

But one of the biggest differences between a Health Coach and a Functional Health Practitioner is how deep they’re trained to dig. 

A Health Coach: 

  • Provides highly-personalized support & accountability 
  • Asks questions to get a deeper understanding of any barriers & obstacles 
  • Helps set clear health goals and provides a plan for meeting those goals 
  • Practices positive psychology, addresses mental/emotional aspects of behavior change 
  • Uses motivational interviewing & other specialized tactics 
  • Must partner with another medical provider for diagnostic testing
  • Does not analyze labs to create custom protocols

A Functional Health Practitioner: 

  • Asks “what can we do?” but also “WHY is this happening?” 
  • Educates and empowers for real, lasting change 
  • Implements a self-care model / teaches people how to listen to their body 
  • Highly-skilled at being a “health detective” & uncovering root-causes
  • Qualified to create custom diet & lifestyle protocols  
  • Well positioned to run their own private virtual wellness practice
  • Higher earning potential compared to a Health Coach
  • Qualified to run functional health testing (e.g. GI Map, Dutch Hormone, food sensitivity testing, etc..) 

Did you catch that last part? 👆

Part of the certification program to become an FDN Practitioner includes in-depth training in functional labs and allows you to order the tests through the FDN Medical Director Program as an unlicensed practitioner.

Not only does this set you apart from other Health Coaches in the industry, it provides you with the ability to run an independent wellness practice with greater earning potential, as opposed to working as a Health Coach at an established wellness clinic. 

What’s more?

As a Functional Health Practitioner, you’re highly skilled at: 


We chatted more about all of this in a recent discussion with one of our very own FDN Practitioners, and we invite you to have a listen. 😍

Sooo… now that you know what a Health Coach does, and how it compares to a Functional Health Practitioner, the next question is how do you make this into a career? 

What does that even look like?

What is a Health Coaching Career Like?

If you’re considering a career in the Health Coaching field, there’s one thing we’re certain of – you want to help people! Perhaps after having made progress on your own healing journey. 

But, it can be overwhelming to think about what a career as a Health Coach or Functional Practitioner would be like. The beauty is – you can make it what you want. 

  • Want to work virtually with the flexibility to care for your family? 👪
  • Want to have the ability to work from anywhere and travel? 🧳
  • Want to be part of a team and work face-to-face with clients? 🙋
  • Want to simply change lives? 🙌

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, health coaching may be the perfect fit. 

There are many opportunities when it comes to being a health coach and many career moves you can make. Whether it’s an entrepreneurial approach or a corporate wellness program, the career options for a health coach are plentiful. 

But if you’re looking for ultimate flexibility, getting certified through FDN will open countless doors. It gives you the skills necessary to run a highly-profitable virtual health practice while changing the lives of many.

Ready to Become a Health Coach or Functional Practitioner?

This is an exciting time to enter the health coaching field! 

There are many options available to you, and we’re here to help you choose the best health coaching program *for YOU*.

Take the first step by booking a free call with one of our Course Advisors here. 


  1. Effectiveness of Health Coaching in Diabetes Control and Lifestyle Improvement: A Randomized-Controlled Trial. (2021, October 29). NCBI.
  2. Health coaching as a lifestyle medicine process in primary care. PubMed.
  3. How to Empower Patients? A systematic review and meta-analysis. PubMed.
  4. Inflammation. (n.d.). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.,
  5. LaRosa, J. (2021, January 15). $7 Billion U.S. Health Coaching Market Gains Favor Among Consumers, Insurers & Employers. Market Research Blog. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from
  6. Miller, K. (2020, March 25). Coaching Philosophy: What is It and How to Develop Your Own? Retrieved August 9, 2022, from

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