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Education is changing rapidly on all fronts. Until relatively recently, students had to be in a physical classroom with a teacher to learn, and an extremely expensive college degree was the ticket to employment.
Now, thanks to technology, students can learn remotely (and on their own schedules) through institutions and organizations outside of a traditional school or university setting. People are creating amazingly successful careers with certificates, licenses, or no “official” documents at all!
But there is still some confusion about what’s considered “necessary” in terms of education for those who are interested in becoming a Health Coach. We get a lot of questions about Health Coach certification, accreditation, credentialing, and licensing, so if you’re not sure what it all means, you’re not alone!
The words accreditation, credentialing, and certification are often used interchangeably, so let’s break that down first:
Accreditation generally refers to the official authorization given by a governing body to schools and programs, which qualifies their graduates to coach professionally.
Credentialing and Health Coach certification (which, for our purposes, can be used interchangeably) refers to the process by which individuals who have completed a Health Coach training program are deemed able to coach professionally.
is completed by a government organization. Although there are state-by-state laws, in general, an educational provider needs to be authorized to operate within the state(s) in which it is located. (For example, Health Coach Institute is currently registered with the Idaho State Board of Education.)
Registered with the Idaho State Board of Education
The Become a Health Coach Program is accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the only globally recognized, independent credentialing program for coach practitioners, via their CCE program (Continuing Coach Education)
Recognized as an approved training provider by the following worldwide organizations:
Canada – Canadian Health Coach Alliance
UK – Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT)
Australia & New Zealand – International Institute for Complementary Therapists (IICT)
There is some confusion on a much larger level about who decides which schools get accredited and which coaches get certified. In an effort to eliminate this confusion, there is an organization called the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC), that is in the process of instituting national certification for Health Coaches.
On the surface, national certification may seem like a great idea. The thing is, the requirements they are asking programs to meet in order to be an approved training provider (thus enabling their graduates to take the national certification exam) can only be met by certain kinds of programs with specific kinds of curriculum.
That might not seem like a problem on the surface, but we believe it’s important for students to have access to a new model of education that not only allows them to learn skills they can put into practice right away but also teaches them how to make a living utilizing those skills.
At Health Coach Institute, we believe the business training component of our Become a Health Coach training program is just as important as the coaching training component. We want our students to be able to make a great living and thrive. In today’s economy, if you have coaching skills without business skills, you cannot thrive. It’s as simple as that.
Therefore, we feel that business training should be valued as highly as coaching training and nutrition information in a Health Coaching curriculum, and that that should be reflected in the national certification process.
It is and will always be perfectly legal to practice as a Health Coach without NBHWC’s particular version of national certification, just like it’s legal to practice as a Health Coach if you don’t have an academic degree in health sciences. There are different types of training to suit different needs, and that’s as it should be.
So what’s the bottom line? In the next seven years, the field of Health Coaching is expected to see a job-growth rate of 21.9%, so national standards about licensing and certification are beginning to emerge. But there is no need to be intimidated by this.
Whether you end up in an academic degree program, or a program that prepares you for taking the national certification exam, or state-licensure, you will be able to work—and thrive—as a Health Coach!
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