I’ve been meaning to write this post for months. Ever since starting my health coaching practice (nearly two years ago now!) I’ve received emails and questions about pursuing health coaching as a career path, so I want to address the questions and offer a few suggestions to help you decide if it’s for you.
Note: I went through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, so that is the only program I can comment on but I know there are many others out there as well.
1) What is Integrative Nutrition’s program like? How long did it take you to complete? How much time does it take each week?
It’s a one year, part time program. They estimate that it will take you about 5-7 hours of work each week and I’d say that’s about right. It differs from many traditional nutrition programs in that the emphasis is natural and holistic health including the energetics of food, how to determine the best foods for your body type, an overview of superfoods, studying over 100 dietary theories, counseling skills and much more. Teachers include some of the best current researchers and doctors such as Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr Andrew Weill, Dr. Walter Willett, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Bernie Seigel, and so many more.
2) Did you graduate feeling prepared to take on clients?
I did! There is always this element of “do I really know what I’m doing?” with a new job but I was given a lot of resources to get started. I forced myself to jump right in and I’m glad I did.
3) Did you graduate feeling prepared to start your own business?
Yes. Thankfully, IIN spent a good amount of time preparing us to be entrepreneurs with guidance around website development, marketing, newsletters, business/accounting suggestions and more. It was a bit overwhelming but I chipped away at all the pieces throughout the course and had them in place by the time I was able to begin coaching.
4) Is it possible to make a decent income?
Obviously it takes time to grow any business so I wouldn’t quit your job and expect to start off with a regular income. However, if you are determined to grow it, you can. There is definitely a need for health coaches! I have been working part-time from the beginning so that I could balance it with caring for our girls. I probably put in 10-20 hours each week. I met my income goals for my first year and doubled them my second year. I’m on track to double it again for year 3. If you want specific numbers, email me and I’m happy to talk about it and share the business plan that has worked for me.
5 Tips to Know if Health Coaching is for you
I would love to see the world explode with health coaches- we need to counter all the savvy marketing and misleading information out there! However, I know a few people who thought they would love health coaching and found it wasn’t for them. So these are my tips:
1) You have to love what you do!
Although there are a few health coaches out there with a 6 figure income, I don’t think anyone goes into health coaching to make money. You have to love it! As an entrepreneur, you may find yourself work all sorts of odd hours. I heard a speaker say once that when she found herself working all the time but hardly thinking of it as work she knew she had found her calling. That’s true for me! I often do client sessions in the evening hours or find myself working on a project over the weekend but I don’t think of it as “work”- I really love it.
2) You have to enjoy working alone
The switch from an office job with co-workers to working alone at home can be tough for some people. Make sure you know that you can handle lots of quiet time and being your own boss. It sounds great but it isn’t for everyone.
3) You have to be able to be productive as your own boss
There’s no one looking over your shoulder! Again, this sounds great but not everyone can be productive without deadlines and accountability. You have to know that you can get yourself to do what you need to do to push your business along.
4) You should have good listening skills
So much of coaching is about one-on-one conversations. Some coaches choose to do group programs or online programs but again, you need to know yourself and your strengths. Do you enjoy listening and counseling? Are you energized from one-on-one conversations?
5) Be willing to take risks
Ultimately, I think if your gut tells you this is the right thing to do you just have to go for it and take the leap. The ability to take risks is key for an entrepreneur. You don’t really know what will work in your community until you try it! This goes for marketing, teaching workshops, online programs, etc. Not everything will work, but you have to start somewhere and be okay with failing at one thing in the process of moving forward and growing.
You can also learn more in this guide:
I hope that’s helpful. I’m happy to chat more over email if you have additional questions. IIN is always sending me tuition discounts to share with others as well, so if you’re serious about it check in with me before registering so you can save a little money.
PS… IIN did not ask me to write this post. I really loved the course and I believe that we need more health coaches (and registered dieticians, and nutritional counselors, etc.) to make change happen.
Have you ever considered a career in fitness or nutrition?
Have you ever used a health coach?