What Does a Health Coach Do? (With Skills and Education)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 6, 2023

Published May 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whether a person desires to lose weight, refine their eating patterns or improve their general health, knowing where to begin can be helpful. Health coaches can assist individuals such as this in developing sustainable healthy lifestyles. If you're interested in a career in the health and wellness industry, understanding the duties of this position can help you decide if it's a suitable path for you. In this article, we explore a health coach's duties, define the role, explain the essential skills, describe educational requirements, and answer some frequently asked questions about the career.

What does a health coach do?

To better answer, "What does a health coach do?", it's beneficial to review their job duties. The duties of a health coach may differ according to their location, their clients, and their specialization. The following are some daily tasks that health coaches may perform:

  • Assisting clinicians with registration paperwork

  • Advising patients on integrating a clinician's care plan into their everyday routines

  • Speaking with clinicians about patients they're treating in collaboration

  • Supporting patients with chronic health conditions

  • Examining medical records of patients

  • Assisting clients in developing their own health objectives and action plans

  • Providing one-on-one coaching consultation

  • Organizing joint coaching sessions, classes or seminars

  • Authoring books and research papers about healthy living

  • Developing their own wellness product line

Related: What Is a Life Coach? (Duties, Salaries, and Career Advice)

Work environment for health coaches

Health coaches work in various environments, including physician's offices, clinics, gyms, health centres, spas, and colleges. Many of these professionals may typically prefer to be self-employed. They may operate private practices either through an online business, conducting private sessions with clients and assisting them with their wellness objectives, or offering add-on services as a coach in person at any of the above settings.

By establishing their own business, some health coaches can work remotely and maintain a flexible work arrangement throughout the week. Opening their own private practice enables nurse health coaches to concentrate their energy on patients who may profit most from their training and expertise. Health coaches with additional specializations, qualifications, and training are typically in higher demand, as they can showcase more advanced capabilities in the environments that require them.

What is a health coach?

A health coach assists clients in developing customized programs for physical health improvement. These plans may differ according to the client's unique requirements and pre-existing medical issues, but they typically focus on exercise, diet, and other health-related habits. As with other coaches, health coaches can assist clients in setting targets and taking actions towards meeting those targets.

Health coaches can find employment in a range of fields, including traditional medicine, fitness, complementary therapy, wellness, and diet. Their field and specialization can also determine their employer, which may include fitness facilities, colleges, clinics and weight loss centers.

Health coach skills

Generally, health coaches possess the following abilities:

Understanding psychology-based approaches

Health coaches require a working knowledge of psychology at the minimum. This knowledge can assist these coaches in encouraging their clients to develop and commit to care plans. Positive psychology, for example, can help health coaches inspire their clients through incentives and recognition. Additionally, health coaches understand how habit development occurs, enabling them to help clients develop healthier behaviours and unlearn unhealthy ones.

Related: What Does a Health Care Aide Do?

Implementing counselling strategies

Health coaches assist their customers in developing their own unique objectives and plans for leading a healthier lifestyle. One counselling strategy that can assist with that is motivational interviewing, which can help individuals discover their personal motivation for following a care plan, in contrast to working with a mandatory regime. Health coaches are also familiar with the stages of development, or the phases that individuals experience when trying to change their behavioural patterns, and the best ways to lend support during every phase.

Exercising empathetic listening

Clients seek health coaches because they find challenges in sustaining healthy lives, whether they have a chronic condition, desire to lose weight, or have difficulty eating healthily. Health coaches practice empathetic listening to provide clients with the chance to convey how they're feeling before providing a plan. By doing this, these coaches can develop a long-term plan that the client can easily accommodate.

Developing action-based plans

Health coaches assist their clients in establishing activities to help them reach their wellness targets. A health coach requires skill in collapsing broader goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, such as going to the gym three times a week or increasing fibre consumption to meet an overall weight target. Health coaches help their clients remain accountable for accomplishing these tasks and define newer or updated tasks for the future.

Education requirements for a health coach

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a health coach can acquire additional education. While most candidates may pursue associate or bachelor's degrees, master's degrees can help candidates improve their employability during the job search process. Aspiring health coaches can pursue degrees in various subjects, including health sciences, health and wellness, fitness, and dietetics. Job candidates interested in working for a firm or medical practice can study areas like behavioural therapy, pediatrics, psychology, geriatrics, nutritional medicine, or nursing.

Prospective health coaches typically choose to get health coaching certification. Certification from a recognized organization can assist health coaches in expanding their knowledge of the field and acquiring more clients.

Read more: How to Become a Career Coach (With Steps and Types)

What is the distinction between a health coach and a nutritionist?

While health coaches and nutritionists both conduct research and advise clients on diet, their roles, approaches, and educational backgrounds may differ:

Area of concentration

Nutritionists concentrate on all areas of nutrition, including daily calories, food intolerances, and dietary deficiencies. While health coaches may be conversant with nutrition, they may not possess the degree of knowledge that a nutritionist possesses. Health coaches are often more knowledgeable about the overall factors that contribute to a client's wellness.

Form of approach

Health coaches assist clients in developing their own goal-oriented, realistic plans for enhancing their wellness and health. They concentrate on coaching or working with their clients to determine what plan performs best towards their goals for a healthier lifestyle. Nutritionists also develop customized treatment programs for their clients, but they don't necessarily collaborate with them to develop these plans. Rather than that, the nutritionist develops client-specific nutritional guidelines, meal planning, and dietary recommendations based on general health standards.

Read more: Eight Popular Jobs in Nutrition (With Salaries and Duties)

Area of knowledge

Generally, nutritionists are qualified to request and analyze some medical tests, such as blood sampling. Additionally, they can recommend nutritional supplements to clients, such as minerals, vitamins, and botanicals. Due to the fact that health coaches typically have a broader, more general education in all areas of health, they rarely possess the specific credentials to recommend medications or request blood tests.

Related: What Is a Health Coach Certification? (With Expected Salary)

Frequently asked questions about working as a health coach

Below are some frequently asked questions about being a health coach to help guide you when making career decisions:

What is the average salary of a health coach?

The average salary of a health coach is $33,079 per year. Salary ranges for health coaches may differ depending on location, education, employer, and experience level. When applying for a position as a health coach, you can study the firm's job description and deduce additional skills that can make you a more suitable candidate.

How are coaches educated and certified?

Health coaching is a relatively new discipline, and professionals may not require any certification to practice as health coaches. Although, there are several programs that can develop and certify coaches, both in-person and digitally. For instance, you can gain certifications such as the Registered Health Coach (RHC) and Registered Health and Nutrition Counselor (RHNC) offered by the Health Coach Alliance (HCA).

Read more: 20 Popular Careers in Health Science to Consider

Why is certification significant?

Certifications are critical for assessing your expertise and determining your eligibility for specific job duties. A certificate indicates that you possess the necessary knowledge in a particular wellness discipline to advise others. For those who work independently as health coaches, obtaining a certification can help establish your business's credibility.

How much time and money does health coaching require?

Coaching time commitments and rates often differ. Some professionals provide brief consultations for a specific issue, such as whether or not to take an offer of employment owing to health concerns. In contrast, others may coach clients for months or years on issues such as weight management, diabetes care, depression, or hypertension. Your abilities and experience level may influence your rates and session duration as a health coach. Health coaches typically take confidentiality seriously and conform to a professional code of ethics.

Coaches may perform their services efficiently through face-to-face counselling or remotely, using digital means, like video conferencing tools. This option offers significant flexibility, as coaching can occur in person or even over the phone.

Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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