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How Much Can a Health Coach Make?

How much you can earn as a health coach can depend on a number of things, including your education, where you work, and whether you carve out a niche with a specialty.

man and woman confer in busy gym
man and woman confer in busy gym

With an increased emphasis on wellness and disease prevention, more people are using health coaches to improve their lives and well-being. Some people are referred by their doctors to a health coach, while others, inspired to make long-lasting lifestyle changes, seek out a coach on their own.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t report annual salaries for health coaches, but the role is similar to a health education specialist, a profession that the BLS says draws a median annual salary of $56,500.

A health coach is a relatively new career, and it’s a good fit for people who are passionate about inspiring and motivating others to live their best lives.

With increased demand for health coaching, these professionals work in many settings. However, health coaches can have starkly different levels of education, work experience, and professional credentials, and these variables can affect where you work and the salary you can expect to earn.

With this as a starting point, here’s what you might expect to earn as you partner with others to help them improve their wellness.

How Do Health Coach Salaries Compare?

If you’re considering a career as a health coach, it may be helpful to weigh this profession against other health and wellness occupations that may not require a college education. Compare what health education specialists earn versus other positions in which trained health and wellness professionals partner with individuals to improve their well-being.

It’s worth noting here that while life coach and therapist might seem like similar professions, their roles are actually quite different. A life coach helps clients move forward by setting and meeting goals, while a therapist helps clients look back to heal from past trauma.

OccupationMedian Annual Salary
Health Education Specialist$56,500
Exercise Trainer$40,510
Dietitian/Nutritionist$63,090
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2020

It’s important to consider the big picture, even where you live, when investigating what you can expect to earn.

“Salaries vary according to the region of the country,” says Melinda Huffman, BSN, MSN, CCNS, CHC, co-founder of the National Society of Health Coaches. “For example, salaries and wages are higher generally in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and on the West Coast because the cost of living is higher.”

Health coach certification is a professional credential you can earn after completing a coaching program. It’s optional but can play a role in advancing your career and your salary.

Your credentials and education can also play a role in how much you earn. A health coach who has medical experience and a nursing license is likely to command a higher salary than a health coach whose education is limited to a certificate from a coaching program, because a clinically trained health coach can provide a broader range of services.

Health coach certification is a professional credential you can earn after completing a coaching program. It’s optional but can play a role in advancing your career and your salary.

“Generally, if an employer is looking for a certified health coach, this is baked into the salary they offer,” Huffman says. “If an employee chooses to become a health coach while working for an employer, they should ask if [certification] will generate more income per hour or in the form of a bonus.”

How Will My Salary Compare If I Own My Business?

Many health coaches start their own businesses and enjoy a level of flexibility and autonomy they may not have as an employee. Starting your own coaching business can be an attractive option if you need to work around other responsibilities such as caring for children, or if you want to coach to supplement another job.

While you’ll be free to set your rates, you’ll also have to manage tasks and expenses related to owning a business. These could include:

  • Sales and marketing
  • Social media planning
  • Bookkeeping
  • Website management
  • Legal advice related to client and provider contracts
  • Software for billing and scheduling
  • Fees for business licenses and business taxes
  • Liability insurance

Working on your own gives you limitless opportunities to explore new ways to connect with clients. This can mean offering virtual consultations or group meetings to expand your client base. It may also allow you to expand your skills and branch out into motivational speaking or health writing.

Ultimately, you have to consider how much time you’re spending on preparation and meeting with clients versus your hourly rate and expenses, says Araceli De Leon, MS, an ACE-certified health coach and personal trainer.

“When you’re an independent contractor, everything is on you,” De Leon says. “A lot of health coaches start to gain experience in a doctor’s office or a more formal setting like that, then branch out on their own or work in both half-and-half.”

Is There Demand for This Career?

As the U.S. healthcare system shifts to emphasize disease prevention over treatment, health coaches fill a needed role. When a coach helps a person improve their well-being, they can also lower healthcare costs and reduce the need for long-term healthcare services.

Together, these benefits increase the value of a health coach’s skills and contribute to a growing demand for their services. According to the BLS, similar professions, such as health education specialists, can expect job growth of 13% through 2029

Since 2020, the American Medical Association (AMA) has been tracking health coaching services to assess their use and effectiveness. This data could be used to support AMA acceptance of health coaching as a medical service at some time in the future.

How Much Competition Will I Face for a Job?

Competition in the job market will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Demand for the type of health coach you want to be
  • Your education and professional credentials

A certificate from a health and wellness coaching program can prepare you for entry-level positions that emphasize the core role of a coach—partnering with clients to help them achieve health goals.

“While I see some coaches coming to the table with advanced degrees or certifications, I also see a lot of coaches who start as a health and wellness coach and then become national board-certified,” says Leigh-Ann M. Webster, NBC-HWC, executive director of the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching. “Then, they may want to take the DPP [Diabetes Prevention Program] and specialize in diabetes or they may want to spend more time with people in fitness, so they become a certified personal trainer.”

Earning a coaching credential may help you become a more competitive candidate. “Generally, employers look for health coaches with a reputable and well-known certification,” Huffman says.

Where Do Health Coaches Work?

While health coaches with clinical experience may find more opportunities in traditional healthcare organizations or with health insurance companies, a health coach can deliver services in virtually any setting that emphasizes wellness. And opportunities are expanding across a wide range of employers.

Here are some examples of workplaces where health coaches are in demand:


Hospitals and physician practices

Most primary care providers don’t have time to help patients make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve their health. Coaches fill this gap.


Holistic/integrative health centers

In these settings, a health coach with a credential in alternative therapies may be able to expand their services and boost their salary.


Corporations

More companies are emphasizing wellness at work with onsite programs. A health coach may work one-on-one with employees or with groups with common wellness goals.


Insurance companies

Major insurance companies employ health coaches to support insured individuals in achieving health and wellness goals.


Spas, fitness centers, and health clubs

In these settings, a health coach may support clients working on physical, mental, or lifestyle changes. A health coach who is also certified as a personal trainer may have an advantage.


Private practice

Health coaches who work in private practice have the flexibility to specialize, possibly helping patients with a specific disease like diabetes, for example.

How Do I Advance My Health Coach Career?

Successful health coaches are committed to lifelong learning to stay up to date on the latest trends in their field and give their clients the best guidance possible, De Leon says.

Demonstrating your expertise by earning a health coach certification can help you stand out as a coach because it tells potential clients that you’ve met specific standards for knowledge and experience. You can pursue certification after completing a training program.

Depending on your interests and career goals, you can also pursue additional education or certifications to expand your services and provide more value and convenience for your clients. For instance, if you want to provide counseling on exercise or meal plans, you can earn a personal trainer or dietitian credential.

Successful health coaches are committed to lifelong learning to stay up to date on the latest trends in their field and give their clients the best guidance possible.

“There are a lot of coaches who decide they want to be self-employed and so they will develop a niche and start earning additional certificates or certifications that support their niche in the marketplace,” Webster says. “This can also help health coaches who want to expand to areas outside of healthcare. For example, we’re starting to see health coaching more in school systems where we may see coaches who maybe just want to work with teenage girls or they want to work with teenage boys playing sports.”


anna giorgi

Written and Reported by:
Anna Giorgi
Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

araceli deleon

Araceli De Leon, MS
ACE-certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer

melinda huffman

Melinda Huffman, BSN, MSN, CCNS, CHC
Co-Founder of the National Society of Health Coaches

leigh ann webster

Leigh-Ann M. Webster, NBC-HWC
Executive Director of the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching


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