Frequently Asked Questions

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Why does anyone need a coach?

Experts in human behavior know that one-on-one coaching is a proven, effective tool to help people make positive changes and keep them. As a wellness coach, you’ll align with what a client needs and values. You’ll help that client who’s fully committed to achieving a “personal best.”

It may sound obvious, but you’ll help clients determine how to improve their wellness. Wellness coaches can help people do a lot of things: imagine a preferred future, define their health and wellness goals, identify personal strengths and barriers, set target milestones, identify and carry out achievable health- and wellness-promoting behaviors, track and monitor progress, problem solve and recover from setbacks, celebrate successes, and influence and inspire those around them.

How does wellness coaching differ from personal training, nutrition coaching or therapy?

Wellness coaches can be versatile, also working as personal trainers, nutritionists or therapists. But just because someone is a trainer, nutritionist or therapist, doesn’t mean they are a wellness coach. You deserve a unique approach to your own personal wellness goals, and someone to help you attain them. Not all allied health practitioners are qualified to do that. Your wellness coaching begins with questions about your expectations of wellness—why it’s important to you and what path you envision to achieving wellness.

A therapist may want to know about where you’ve been, but a wellness coach will focus on where you’re going. A personal trainer may assign you an exercise routine and a nutritionist may prescribe a special diet, while a wellness coach sees both elements as part of the bigger picture of your “whole” wellness. Your wellness coach also knows that getting to that point won’t happen all at once, but a little at a time, and that long-lasting results are what matter most.

The average physician visit is between six and eight minutes, but your wellness coach would never presume that brief sessions are the way to maximize your goals. You need time to recognize what motivates you and what holds you back. Your coach will be there “all the way” to help you define wellness on your own terms.

As a wellness coach, what will I do for my clients?

As a wellness coach, first you’ll talk and then you’ll listen, as you and your client exchange ideas about—you guessed it—wellness. You’ll find yourself engaged in discussions about exercise and physical activity or fitness, diet and nutrition, weight control, stress management and other related questions. Your main focus will be to help clients make sound, sensible, long-term lifestyle changes.

As we all try to absorb “the latest, greatest” information about fitness, weight loss and health in general, we may think, “Sure, I want to do that—get fitter, thinner and healthier.” But history reveals that most of us simply can’t make major changes alone. We start with the best intentions, but for many reasons unique to each of us, we don’t finish what we started and we’re back to “square one.”

That’s why we need wellness coaches—like you—to motivate clients to set and prioritize goals and then follow them through to completion. No one is an island and everyone needs support. As a wellness coach, you’ll help clients build confidence and self-esteem to make changes and create new healthy habits. Your presence in a client’s life can provide organization and structure. Now they have someone to be accountable to—you, the expert—who will also inspire them to succeed and be the best they can be.

Do I have what it takes to be a wellness coach?

While superhero skills would be advantageous, what’s really important is:

  • a desire to help others
  • ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds
  • ability to work independently and in collaboration with other coaches and professionals in the healthcare and wellness systems
  • ability to adapt to changing environments
  • possession of excellent communication, listening, and negotiating skills
  • computer competence to access written, audio, and video content and submit required documentation
  • personal characteristics that enable coaches to:
  • 1) initiate contact with clients in a way that respects and honors the individual
    2) be empathetic and demonstrate genuine concern and kindness
    3) provide a role model that clients can emulate

    What are current and future career opportunities for Wellness Coaches?

    According to Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, we must move from a system that treats sickness and disease to a system that promotes wellness and prevention. Our goal must be to “increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life” by creating a system that recognizes that health isn’t just what happens in doctors’ offices, but “occurs where we live, where we learn, where we work, where we play and where we pray.”

    Wellness Coaches can be deployed in a range of situations:

    In Hospitals, Residential Care facilities and Physican’s offices: As Follow-up support for doctors and patients

    Health Insurance Companies: To help companies reduce their medical costs

    In Private Practice: To help people work through their wellness aspirations

    Health Clubs and Gyms: As a follow up to personal training

    In Offices and bases: To be a local resource for Wellness related issues, “at the coalface” to help organize wellness related activities for their colleagues to create a healthier and more resilient workforce

    With wellness and prevention both hallmarks of the Affordable Care Act, it goes without saying that professionals will be needed to deliver preventative care—which doesn’t happen by itself. Who better than wellness coaches to lead this charge that will contribute to more productive individuals and workforces?

    How are Wellness Coaches classified by the Department of Labor?

    In May 2013, the US Department of Labor (DoL) approved wellness coaching as an official US occupation based on IWE’s formulation of occupational competencies and training curriculum. The DoL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies wellness coaches under the occupational cluster of community health workers (SOC 21-1094.00). Community health workers:

    • Assist individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors.*
    • Conduct outreach for medical personnel or health organizations to implement programs in the community that promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health.
    • May provide information on available resources, provide social support and informal counseling, advocate for individuals and community health needs, and provide services such as first aid and blood pressure screening.**
    • May collect data to help identify community health needs.

    *Excludes “Health Educators” (21-1091).
    **Services, such as first aid and blood pressure screening, are provided by wellness coaches only if they have the professional licensing and credentialing associated with these services. Not all wellness coaches will have the training, licensing, or credentialing to provide these services.

    • According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL), there were an estimated 54,300 community health workers in 2014.
    • Employment of health educators will grow by projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

    In May 2013, the US Department of Labor approved a new apprenticeable occupation, based on the training requirements submitted by Dr Deborah Teplow of the Institute for Wellness Education:

    Wellness Coach
    O*NET-SOC Code: 21-1094.00
    RAPIDS Code: 2016HY
    Training Term: 2,000 hours
    Type of Training: Hybrid

    Registered Apprenticeship is a training system that produces highly skilled workers to meet the demands of employers competing in a global economy. A proven strategy, Registered Apprenticeship ensures quality training by combining on-the-job training with theoretical and practical classroom instruction to prepare exceptional workers for American industry.

    The process of apprenticeship program registration with Federal and State government agencies is designed to ensure that working apprentices, program sponsors, and the general public can gain a clear understanding of the training content and the measures that are in place to ensure ongoing quality.

    At the time of writing, the Institute’s Certified Wellness Coach is the ONLY Wellness Coaching course that meets the Department of Labor’s apprenticeship criteria.

    The DoL Bulletin announcing the Wellness Coach Apprenticeship

    Details of the Department of Labor apprenticeship scheme are available at

    What is the expected salary for a Wellness Coach?

    Right now, the term “wellness coach” and the job are both so new that little data exists about comparative salaries. Other terms are often used to describe the job, or jobs inherently similar. Currently, Wellness Coaches are loosely classified by the Department of Labour under SOC code 21-1094.00 which is in the same category as Community Health Workers.

    Occupation Description for O*NET-SOC Code: 21-1094.00  (from

    Assist individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Conduct outreach for medical personnel or health organizations to implement programs in the community that promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health. May provide information on available resources, provide social support and informal counseling, advocate for individuals and community health needs, and provide services such as first aid and blood pressure screening. May collect data to help identify community health needs.”

    For example, The U. S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics rates the median annual salary for this category of workers at US$34,600 with a range between US$20,700 and US$58,900.

    Location Pay Period 2013
    10% 25% Median 75% 95%
    United States Hourly $9.96 $12.91 $16.64 $21.78 $28.31
    Yearly $20,700 $26,900 $34,600 $45,300 $58,900
    New York Hourly $9.71 $12.39 $17.04 $22.73 $32.30
    Yearly $20,200 $25,800 $35,400 $47,300 $67,200


    “Employment of Community health workers is expected to grow by 20-28% percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people about healthy habits and behaviors.”

    Summary Report for SOC Code: 21-1094.00 – Community Health Workers

    National Wages for SOC Code: 21-1094.00


    Where do I start to become a Wellness Coach?

    Congratulations! You’ve taken your first major step by visiting us online here at the Institute for Wellness Education. Next?

  • Decide if you really want a career in which you help people.
  • Check out all of the institute’s courses.
  • Try out a course. If you like it, move ahead to obtain a Wellness Advocate, Wellness Facilitator or Wellness Coach accreditation from us.
  • Join fellow wellness coaches in discussion groups. Get to know more about the industry.
  • Discuss and get help from other course members.
  • It’s time! Change your job scope with your existing employer or start a new business.

    US DOL approved

    IWE created the competencies and curriculum for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wellness Coaching Registered Apprenticeship Program.

    Participating in IWE’s Wellness Coaching training courses may count toward fulfillment of the Registered Apprenticeship Program requirements. Department of Labor: Certified Wellness Coach Bulletin and Curriculum Institute for Wellness Coaching programs are US Department of Labor approved