What degree do I need to become a Health Coach?

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Tony Dorsett is a four-time All-American, considered one of the greatest running backs in college football history. He said,

“To succeed…You need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.”
Tony Dorsett (born April 7, 1954)

Maybe somewhere down the road you encountered a coach who encouraged you, motivated your path to health and wellness. That’s why you found yourself here, inquiring about how you can pass that on to your own individual clients or maybe a group setting at a gym. Either way, you want to emulate the Good Coach mentality. But before you do that, you need to learn the trade.


You have a couple options for becoming a Health or Wellness Coach. A four-year B.A. or B.S. (Bachelors of Arts or Science degree) will be extremely beneficial; future employers will see that a well-rounded education creates a well-rounded Coach. Clients come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds and diversities. A good Health Coach needs to be able to engage and show that they can be trusted. Coursework in the following is common:

  • Psychology
  • Speech and Communications
  • Sociology
  • Counseling

Beyond that, a Health Coach is encouraged to acquire practical skills from the following college departments:

  • Nutrition
  • Food Science
  • Kinesiology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physical Education and Recreation

RELATED: How to Become a Personal Trainer: What Degree Should I Get?

Work Environment

Coaching is a conversation between you and your client. You will need excellent conversational skills. You will need to be professional and keep confidentiality for your clients. Coaching is all about motivating people, helping them set goals and ultimately attain those goals. A good coach shows the individuals the ropes, helps them, and then lets them go. A good coach needs to know when to let a client go. Often times a client seeks Health Coaching for something obvious like weight loss, and after a few sessions may find that their goal changes. Perhaps the real culprit was time management rather than overeating. Health Coaching shares a skill set with Life Coaching and other counseling occupations that help people process goal attainment. Coaches have to be careful not to tell clients what to do; rather, they have them seek for themselves what to do. Coaching is facilitating the clients to explore their own needs.
From a legal standpoint, a Coach needs to be careful not to give medical advice. they can recommend but not give detailed meal plans without being a licensed Dietitian. They often collect data, educate, and advocate depending on where they work. Coaches may work in gyms, colleges, community centers, non-profits, or private practice.


Technically, a college degree is not needed to become a Health Coach. However, most gyms and wellness centers will require certification from one of the nationally known organizations.

Within many trade industries, the NCAA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) is known as the most recognized and valued accreditation. They approve several programs, some focusing on fitness in the Health Coach/Personal Trainer model. It would be wise to become certified by a program endorsed by them.


Health and fitness is a promising field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is projected to grow 21% between the years 2012 and 2022. As our society intends to reduce healthcare cost through preventative care, people will seek assistance from Health Coaches to attain personal goals for better health.