Inside the Career of a Health & Wellness Coach
By Ashford University Staff
Scrolling through your social media sites, health and fitness seem to be at every turn. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to seeking advice on healthy eating, exercise, and overall wellness. And if you’re on the giving side of advice, you want to be sure you’re accurate. As you develop your role in the health and wellness field, consider the education necessary, as well as the ups and downs of being a health and wellness coach. We sat down with Melissa Vicario to learn the inside scoop on what this career entails. Marissa is an author, health and wellness professional, and founder of Marissa's Well-being and Health.
What Does a Health & Wellness Coach Do?
Wellness coaches work one-on-one with clients to empower them to change lifestyle habits. Changing behavior is a key component of this profession. If you pursue a health and wellness coaching career, you might help people address choices such as unhealthy eating, leading a sedentary lifestyle, or smoking by discussing barriers and challenges, and ways for the client to overcome these habits. In this profession, you help people make their health a priority and work with the client to establish goals for achieving healthy results.
What’s a Health & Wellness Coaching Career Like?
A Wellness Coach is one of many career opportunities for professionals with a degree in Health and Wellness. Yet with fitness photos overrunning your Instagram, it can be tough to get a real picture of what the job looks like on a daily basis. Social media posts fill our minds with inspirational quotes and concise, you-can-do-it clichés, making the actual job appear fuzzy. We sat down with board-certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author Marissa Vicario, AADP, to talk about what her career looks like.
What are some important skills or characteristics needed for the job?
“To be a health coach, a high level of maturity and compassion is required. You also should be a good listener, highly intuitive, and passionate about health and wellness on a personal level.”
What do you love about your job?
“I love that I'm able to help and inspire people to create happier, healthier lives. I enjoy being my own boss and being able to work from anywhere. My job doesn't feel like work because I'm having fun doing what I love.”
What is your least favorite part of your job?
“There are times when I miss working as part of a bigger team. Also, it can be hard to turn off and shut down at times because I'm always thinking about my business since it's such a big part of who I am.”
Do you specialize in any area (i.e. weight loss, exercise, nutrition, smoking cessation, stress management)?
“Women's health and lifestyle. I help women learn to trust themselves to make slimming, nutritious, and energizing choices without fad dieting.”
Do you have any additional certifications?
“Yes, I'm certified by the International Association for Health Coaches, and I also have a certificate in Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from UCSF.”
Do you work for an organization or do you work for yourself?
Do you work with corporations (on-site corporate wellness) as well?
“Yes. For worksite wellness I typically give workshops and presentations relating to a number of wellness topics like nutrition and stress management.”
How many clients do you see each day/week?
“It varies, but the maximum number of clients I see per week is 12-15. It takes time to discover what that ‘sweet spot’ is for you depending on how many days per week you want to work and how many people you can coach per day keeping in mind that this work can be physically and emotionally taxing at times.”
How long is each session and what is the charge?
“Each session is 30 minutes or 50 minutes depending on which package the client has purchased.”
Is this covered by health care insurance plans?
“Health coaching may be covered by some insurance plans. It varies by insurance company so I always advise clients to check with their insurer.”
What suggestions do you have for someone wanting to get started in the field?
“Get certified! There are a lot of people calling themselves Health Coaches (which are different from Wellness Coaches) without the credentials. It's of utmost importance that you are properly credentialed to be able to work with clients in a health coaching capacity.”
Becoming a Health Coach
The International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching provides information on health coaching and some potential avenues for certification if pursuing a career in health and wellness coaching interests you. It is important to note that you may seek certification from many organizations, but it is critical to carefully examine each organization, their membership and certification options, accreditation, and accrediting body. Each organization has its own eligibility requirements for certification.
We sincerely thank Marissa for her willingness to participate in this brief interview and for her passion in changing clients’ health for the better.
Written by Sandra Rebeor, MSHS, Lead Faculty in the College of Health, Human Services, & Science, and Christine McMahon, DHEd, CHES, Assistant Professor and Program Chair in the College of Health, Human Services, & Science at Ashford University.
For more information about on-time completion rates, the median loan debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, please visit ashford.edu/pd/obahw. Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.
Successful completion of the Bachelor of Arts in Health and Wellness from Ashford University by itself does not lead to licensure or certification in any state, regardless of concentration or specialization. Further, Ashford University does not guarantee that any professional organization will accept a graduate's application to sit for any exam for the purpose of professional certification. Students seeking licensure or certification in a particular profession are strongly encouraged to carefully research the requirements prior to enrollment. Requirements may vary by state. Further, a criminal record may prevent an applicant from obtaining licensure, certification, or employment in this field of study.