Last updated on September 21st, 2023.
Health coaching is a great career choice for altruistic people who enjoy working with others and helping them make lifestyle changes to improve their physical and mental health. It is also a fairly easy profession to begin at any point in your life, regardless of your prior experience and background. But before you start pursuing this path, there are important things you should know regarding health coaching and what this entails in term of training, salary, and other crucial career aspects.
In this article, we will cover commonly asked question on making a living as a health coach or wellness coach. As you read, you’ll learn how to best obtain legitimacy in this career, whether health coaching is currently in-demand, and the future trajectory of this demand. Additionally, we’ll detail crucial financial information regarding whether this is a sustainable career choice, how health coaches make money, and what they can expect to charge clients and earn annually.
Is Health Coaching Legitimate?
Health coaching is a relatively new career that first made an appearance around the early 1990s. However, the substantial growth of individuals claiming this title in recent years has led many to question its legitimacy.
Whether health coaching is a legitimate profession is partially subjective, as this largely depends on an individual’s definition of “legitimate.” Health coaches who have completed accredited courses and obtained official certifications are unquestionably more qualified than those without, but whether these credentials are enough to assign them the title of a “legitimate health coach” depends on the individual.
The biggest debate with health coaching and legitimacy lies with the career’s overall lack of required training.
If you associate legitimacy with necessitating the completion of some form of credential, whether that be a college degree, an accredited course, or a certification program then no; health coaching would not be “legitimate” in your opinion as individuals who pursue this career don’t need to fulfill specific qualifications set by any official board or government organization/department.
Because of this, health coaching has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years since the lack of required credentials or training allows nearly anyone to wake up one day and consider themselves a health coach. This has led to the rise of fake or undertrained health coaches and programs that are overtly harmful to their clients and the career’s reputation as a whole.
That being said, there are individuals who go through extensive training by completing collegiate courses, accredited online courses, or accredited certification programs to ensure they have the proper qualifications and knowledge to safely and effectively coach their clients. To many, these qualified individuals are legitimate health coaches who can be trusted for employment and should be actively sought-after over alternative options.
Granted, there are also a fair number of individuals who have educated themselves through individual research/study (since the field is still new) who could be just as knowledgeable without obtaining these credentials. Not to mention the fact that health coaching career is just one of many that don’t require the completion of a degree or other training to be considered a legitimate job, which is why, as we stated previously, the answer to this question largely depends on the individual.
How Does a Health Coach Make Money?
All debates aside, if you’re interested in pursuing the career of a health coach, you’re probably reluctant to put your all into it until you know what this means for you financially. One of the most prevalent question people usually have is how health coaches make money.
There are several ways that health coaches can make money from their training and experience, but the most common is to charge their clients for individual or group sessions where they’ll focus on helping them reach their desired health goals. This could mean losing weight, improving energy levels, making dietary changes, or any other physical and mental health related goal.
In addition to charging for individual or group sessions, health coaches can also make money by:
- Teaching a course either tailored towards clients or training future health coaches
- Hosting a workshop or webinar on subjects like nutrition, exercise, etc.
- Conducting health food store tours where you walk through a grocery store with your client and educate them on the best foods that match their health goals
- Be a paid speaker at health coach-related events
- Work contracted hours with a local gym, spa, or wellness center
- Write a book
- Create your own brand and business then optimize by selling products, placing ads on your website, etc.
- Offer special services like at home pantry make-overs where you help clients clear out foods that will inhibit their health goals and then organize what’s left.
Because health coaches aren’t considered an official medical profession, they must be careful with the advice and services they provide, both for physical and mental health, as there are laws defining what qualifies as “medical advice”. There are 7 main things a health coach covers that could be beneficial to anyone.
This is why many will avoid making money from additional services such as meal plans, but as you can see from the extensive list above, there are numerous alternative methods they can pursue to generate and increase their revenue.
How Much Does a Health Coach Charge Per Hour?
There’s no all-encompassing answer to this question, as it depends on a myriad of factors, mostly:
- The health coach’s experience and credentials
- The type of coaching they do
- The scope of their business (individual versus a team)
- Their manner of employment (self-employed versus employed by a related business ex. a gym)
On average, a new health coach with limited experience will charge individual clients $50-$75 per session or anywhere from $26 to $33 per hour ($22.64 being the current national average posted on Indeed). If the health coach has significant credentials and/or more years of experience, they could potentially increase their rates to $100-$250 per session.
Can You Make a Living Being a Health Coach?
Although the hourly rates listed above exceed minimum wage in every state, they aren’t guaranteed for every up-and-coming health coach. The significant rise in people pursuing this career can also pose an obstacle for making a decent living being a health coach due to demand and competition. So, how feasible is this goal?
Some sources claim the average salary of a Health and Wellness Coach in the United States is $61,500 with the majority falling within the range of $53,730 and $69,116, while others claim the average falls lower to around $44,276.
Regardless of which figure is the most accurate, all salaries listed above fall within the middle-income range for most states, proving it is entirely feasible to make a living from being a health coach.
Of course, the bigger question here is how one goes about achieving this goal. Because health coaching has amassed a questionable reputation due to the presence of fake courses/programs and woefully inexperienced and underqualified health coaches promoting distrust of the career, it has become significantly more challenging for others to be deemed legitimate and trustworthy enough to obtain clients and garner the necessary business to support themselves financially.
This is why it is crucial that individuals interested in becoming health coaches enroll in accredited courses/ certification programs and acquire credentials that would indicate they are qualified individuals who have been educated and obtained essential skills through study and training.
Is Health Coaching In Demand?
Security is another element people consider heavily before pursuing a career, and this often comes from demand. If no one is willing to pay for your services as a health coach, then you’re quickly out of a job, which is a harsh reality but one that is crucial to consider.
Fortunately, health coaching is a growing field that will likely continue to be in demand for some time. From 2014 to 2017 the career saw 15% increase in market value, and the BLS has estimated that health coaching and related professions can expect a 13% job growth up to 2029.
As we’ve alluded to previously, the biggest challenge here won’t necessarily be the demand, but the competitive number of individuals becoming health coaches and vying for the same clients. Again, this supports the necessity of setting yourself apart from the competition as much as possible through accredited certification and other credentials from renowned and trustworthy sources.
Final Thoughts on a Health Coach Career
Becoming a health coach might not have had much of a future two decades ago, but nowadays, it is a completely viable options as a full-time, financially sustainable career. The outlook of demand for this job is bright and the salaries are enough to live comfortably in most regions nationwide. The best thing you can do to be successful in this field and crush the increasing competition is to get qualified, use your experience to your advantage, and enjoy what you do.