Becoming a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), also known as NBHWC Certification, should be part of your professional goals if you wish to stand out in the health and wellness coaching industry.

It is a crucial first step to secure the right credentials and expand your career, especially in the healthcare industry.
Having a certification in health and wellness coaching adds a lot of points to your status as a practicing coach. 

Who certifies Health and Wellness Coaches?

The designation of NBC-HWC is granted by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) in collaboration with the National Board of Medical Examiners.

The board is composed of sought-after leaders in the industry. Together with other certified health and wellness coaches, they develop the professional standards and criteria, validate trends through rigorous research, and facilitate the certifying examination known as the Health & Wellness Coach Certifying Examination (HWCCE). 

What does it mean to be a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC)?

Having the NBC-HWC designation entails that you have the necessary expertise in the field and can truly perform the functions demanded from the job. Likewise, it provides a sense of security for the clients as you become more accountable for your practice in acquiring a certain title or licensure requires a roadmap in which you will be equipped with the right knowledge and skills. Ultimately, the certification is determined through the NBC-HWC Exam.

Let’s dive into everything you want to know about the NBC-HWC exam including how to prepare before taking the test.

A.   Complete an NBHWC-approved course

1.    Find an Organization that Offers an NBHWC-approved Training Program.

Education is, indeed, an integral step to prepare you for the certifying examination.

Your first step towards getting that certification for health and wellness coaching is to make sure that you complete an NBHWC-approved course.
There are plenty of institutions and organizations that offer training on becoming a health and wellness coach.

Some of them even come for free. However, any education becomes inadequate if the competencies in the curriculum are not aligned with the standards of the NBHWC.

These standards encompass the required instructional time, synchronous and asynchronous activities, coaching activities, practical skills development, and evaluation. It also includes the faculty requirements to guarantee the qualifications of the instructors.

2.    Check how the Program Topics Correspond to the HWCCE.

The Health and Wellness Certifying Examination contains four categories:

  • Coaching structure
  • Coaching process
  • Health and wellness
  • and ethics/legal

Coaching structure involves the staging procedure, climate, and session routines before, during, and towards the end of the coaching period.

The coaching process contains the proper manner of conducting the session from start to finish highlighting the effective ways of establishing a client-centered relationship, communication strategies, and psychological techniques.

On the other hand, health and wellness cover the science in which the coaching underscores. It outlines chronic diseases, health risks, preventions, behaviors, etc.

Lastly, the ethics/legal component encapsulates the professional conduct, the confidentiality of clients’ records, federal and state regulations involved in the health and wellness coaching industry, and whatnot. 

Those who will undergo the HWCCE will go through a half-day onsite exam wherein they will go through the designed assessment involving the aforementioned content. Therefore, the right program should have a condensed instructional delivery of the topics involved to guarantee the success of their students.

3.     Look for a Program with Differentiated Instructions on Health and Wellness Coaching. 

True, the fundamental knowledge behind health and wellness along with coaching techniques that work in the field is the building block to start your career in the industry.
But it is the hands-on experience and practical knowledge that will allow you to get into the rhythm of conducting successful coaching sessions.

To guarantee both the theoretical and practical aspects of learning are secured, make sure you choose a program that offers diversified or differentiated instructions.

4. Learn how the Lessons are Delivered.

If a course only has one mode of instructional delivery, say a list of pre-recorded lessons that you can complete remotely that gives you access to a final examination, chances are you won’t be able to practice the right competencies in that program.

While a course that offers both synchronous and asynchronous learning sessions, with varied learning materials (videos, audio, written resources, etc.), and peer coaching sessions can supply not just the knowledge you need but the experience that should go along with it.

B.   Master the Health and Wellness Coaching Skills 

One of the requirements for taking the HWCCE is the coaching log.

After completing the NBHWC-approved course, you can proceed to record your coaching sessions on your coaching log.

50 coaching sessions written on your log is needed to qualify for the exam with a minimum of 20 minutes each and should focus on coaching facilitation.

It can be done face-to-face or through a virtual platform.

Some programs offer intensive hands-on activities on coaching and personalized evaluation to accurately gauge the skills required. This is critical as your first sets of coaching sessions are run through guided simulations.

If you wish to get ahead and be well equipped with top-notch coaching skills, find a program that employs an individualized approach in instruction and assessment.

After all, collaborative and personal interaction with your trainer is superior to general self-directed learning.

C.   Preparing to Pass the NBC-HWC Exam

You’re on your way to take the HWCCE. But how exactly do you prepare for it?

Similar to any other exams, you have to make sure that you review everything you’ve learned from the course.

To pass the HWCCE, you can do the following:

  1.     Take some practice tests.
  2.     Go over the NBHWC exam study materials.
  3.     Connect with Health and Wellness Coaches who successfully completed the HWCCE.
  4.     Regularly conduct coaching sessions.

While setting a particular time for studying the resources and answering practice tests are pretty much the standard for preparing for an exam, in the health and wellness coaching field, it gives you an edge if you are part of at least one virtual community of successful certified coaches.

Your network of coaches can be instrumental in gaining mentors and understanding industry secrets that can help you not just in acquiring your certification but most importantly in performing your job well.
Lastly, ensure that you are practicing your coaching skills by conducting regular sessions.

Whether it’s paid or pro bono, increasing your experience will give you a better perspective on different types of clients. In the same way, it will give a depth of understanding of the content outline of the HWCCE.

Not sure which NBHWC-approved course to take?

If you want a clear-cut direction toward becoming a certified health and wellness coach (NBC-HWC), then you can simply take the Pathway Program.

On top of being one of the NBHWC-approved programs, Health Coach Institute’s Pathway program offers effective coaching methodologies, real-time and differentiated learning experience, evidence-based practices and coaching trends, a professional community, and the avenue to achieve the holistic growth you deserve. 

Join Health Coach Institute to Become Fully Prepared to take the NBC-HWC Exam!

As the interest and demands for health and wellness coaches continue to spike, it is even more imperative to ensure that you get the NBC-HWC designation.

However, with emerging programs for Health and Wellness Coaching, it is critical to choose the path certified by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) and provides a learning process that goes beyond paper.

Unlock your full potential in NBHWC certification preparation with our Pathway program. Benefit from our exclusive Empowered Well-Being model, live coaching skills practice, and a supportive, diverse community. Stay ahead of the curve. Explore our Pathway health & wellness coach training program today!


Health Coach Institute provides aspiring Health and Life Coaches with the tools, training, and support to make a great living transforming lives.