Health coaching is part of the foundation of health and wellness management. It’s the basis for valuable University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management classes such as Physical Activity and Nutrition for Wellness Managers, Stress Dependencies and Addictions, and Understanding and Effecting Health Behavior Changes. Regardless of your ultimate career goals, health coaching is a valuable tool in your health and wellness arsenal.
The main tenets of health coaching
So what is a health coach, exactly? According to The Institute for Integrative Nutrition—the largest nutrition school in the country—a health coach is “a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices.” Theresa Dionne, professor of Health Coaching for Wellness Managers within the UW Health and Wellness Management curriculum, explains that “health coaching can address specific health-related concerns, such as smoking, diet, or sleep; or it can address broader concerns such as time management or work-life balance.”
Jessica Waytashek, UW Health and Wellness Management alum and practicing health coach, says her daily duties might include activities such as:
- Assessing client lifestyles and current health concerns
- Determining clients motivation and readiness to change using motivational interviewing techniques
- Developing customized dietary care plans for clients
- Devising and implementing a fitness program specified to client needs
- Providing continuous coaching to reduce or eliminate high-risk behaviors in clients
- Creating and distributing health education materials to inform and motivate clients
- Coordinating with clients’ other healthcare providers to fully understand and address concerns
- Creating and conducting seminars in a corporate or community setting, or online, to educate those interested in health and wellness
What to expect as a professional health coach
Waytashek performs health coaching for Omada Health, a digital therapeutics company that provides a dedicated, full time health coach to corporate partners in a principally online setting. But you can find health coaching roles in a variety of industries and environments, from medical centers and luxury spas to insurance providers and major corporations. Across all industries, demand for health coaches is increasing; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10-year growth trajectory of 13% for health educators of all kinds.
A major boost in demand paired with a shortage of qualified practitioners is creating a positive professional experience for experts in the field.
According to PayScale.com, the median salary for health coaches in the United States is $45,000 with salaries in the top 25% nearing $70,000. Additionally, survey respondents reported feeling “Extremely Satisfied” with their job satisfaction levels.
Standardizing health coaching as an industry
In January 2016, the first national certification for professional health and wellness coaches was implemented.
Developed by the National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches (NCCHWC), the certification addresses the need for national standards and reduces the confusion regarding the role, background, and education for skilled health and wellness coaches.
How health coaching and health and wellness management support each other
According to Dionne, supplementing your corporate wellness role with a firm knowledge of health coaching practices is beneficial. “Health coaching can give you the solid foundation in cultivating relationships that can enhance a wellness management career.” Because wellness management often doesn’t allow the time or capacity to focus on one-on-one relationships as well as program implementation, corporations may split the roles into two separate focuses—making an education that emphasizes both areas even more valuable.
Few people understand this affiliation better than Waytashek, who began her career as a health and wellness coordinator for Mills Fleet Farm. She enjoyed the creative challenge of developing a fledgling wellness program and the positive differences she saw in her coworkers’ lives as the implemented program gained traction. But while she enjoyed large-scale program planning and development, she craved the personal connection that comes with hands-on practice. Luckily, her education prepared her to shift gears and move into a practitioner role. She says, “The skills I needed as a health and wellness coordinator, like a strong understanding of behavioral change techniques and in-depth knowledge of HIPAA requirements, play a huge part in my day to day duties as a health coach.” Waytashek believes that both her experience and education maximize her competitiveness in the job market.
How to learn more
Not sure which field you’d prefer? Dionne advises, “The best way to figure out your skills and preferences is to experience each. Shadow professionals, or learn from the experiences of your instructors and fellow students.” To explore various wellness roles and learn more about their growth potential, check out the Health and Wellness Management Jobs and Health and Wellness Management Careers Outlook pages.