Frequently Asked Questions

All About Wellness Coaching

What is Wellness Coaching?

One-on-one coaching is a proven, effective tool to help people make positive changes and keep them. Wellness coaching is a collaborative conversation between coach and client that shines a light on a client’s unique skills, strengths, and resources. Coaching helps clients define goals that are important to them and uses science-based strategies to help them achieve those goals.

Wellness coaches don’t provide the answers or create plans for their clients to follow. Instead, coaches help clients determine how to take wellness into their own hands by guiding each client to explore their own reasons, desires, ability, and needs for making change.

This includes helping clients: imagine a preferred future, define 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.

Wellness coaches motivate clients to set and prioritize goals and then follow them through to completion. Wellness coaches help clients build confidence and self-esteem to make changes and create new healthy habits. Their presence in a client’s life can provide organization and structure. With a wellness coach, a client has someone to be accountable to– the expert—who will also inspire them to succeed and be the best they can be.

Wellness coaching draws on the principles and methods of motivational interviewing, positive psychology, solution-focused approaches, the transtheoretical model of change, cognitive-behavioral approaches, structured journaling, and newer approaches, including the work of BJ Fogg, Gollwitzer and Oettingen, Langer, and Dweck. Many of these approaches are part of the US National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

What will make Wellness Coaching so impactful for my clients?

History reveals that most of us simply can’t make major changes alone, be it for lack of organization, lack of confidence, or lack of motivation. For many reasons unique to each person, we don’t finish what we started and we’re back to “square one.” A Wellness Coach’s presence in a client’s life can provide organization and structure. With a Wellness Coach, a client has someone to be accountable to–the expert–who will also inspire them to succeed and be the best they can be.

Wellness Coaches put the client at the locus of control. They don’t force anything on their clients. Many professions teach people to give their clients solutions, but disregard the well-established data that sustained change comes from within a person. All change is really self change. Imposing solutions on people may deliver some temporary benefit, but sustained change won’t happen unless the person “owns” the process of change.

Rather than teaching, advising, directing, or prescribing what another person should do, Wellness Coaches act as guides to help others forge their own unique path toward greater well-being. This is done through empathic conversation and employing science-based tools and techniques to support the self-change process.

The Wellness Coach’s role is to provide support: Change is a highly individual process. Each person is unique, and change is an ongoing process.

Wellness Coaches use an approach that is person-centered, relationship-focused, and strength-based.

This means that the person being helped is in the driver’s seat making their own decisions about what works and fits for them. It’s relationship-focused because Wellness Coaches are partners in the change process. They become a trusted guide within a collaborative partnership to help people make the changes they want, the changes that achieve the right results for each person and that fit with the person’s values, interests, needs, and preferences. The approach is strengths-based because it focuses on the skills, strengths, and resources a person already has, what they’ve already been able to achieve–no matter how big or small the achievement–and the skills they want to develop. It’s not about blame, deficits, or what went wrong in the past.

Wellness Coaches help people tap into all of their personal assets and build on even the smallest successes because that’s the fuel that nurtures change. When change is done this way, people not only enjoy the benefits of the change, but they develop a rich set of competencies that can help them in other areas of their lives.

What career opportunities will I have?

Wellness is one of today’s fastest growing industries and IWE’s Certified Wellness Coaches are perfectly positioned to make a difference. The industry is growing, and so is the demand for Wellness Coaches. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation is projected to grow 25% more quickly than the average occupation over the next several years.

With more than 75% of healthcare costs due to preventable diseases related to lifestyle behaviors1, individuals, employers, and community organizations want and need solutions now.

Individuals want help from people they can trust, people who make them feel heard and understood, and who can help them reach goals they define as important, not some kind of expensive clinician or expert who has their own agenda about what’s right for the person. Employers want a solution for improving the well-being of their employees.

Communities, such as faith-based groups, schools, and other local organizations, want to make sure that they are serving their members. A big part of that service is helping members achieve optimum well-being because that’s what helps create a vital, thriving community.

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 to help patients adhere to prescribed regimens for treatment and prevention

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

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.”


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.

LocationPay Period2013
United StatesHourly$9.96$12.91$16.64$21.78$28.31
New YorkHourly$9.71$12.39$17.04$22.73$32.30


“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


What benefits do I get by becoming a Wellness Coach?

A Career with Great Flexibility and Opportunity

You can work in many different settings:

  • on your own as an independent consultant
  • as a staff member on a wellness team
  • as part of your existing job

You’ll also enjoy:

  • setting your own hours and fees
  • developing a unique niche
  • choosing your clientele
  • establishing a comfortable, convenient environment for yourself and your clients

You’ll never run out of potential clients because everybody can benefit from effective support now and then.

If you dream of working in a medical setting, becoming a Wellness Coach has another benefit. That benefit is that you can become a certified Wellness Coach in a fraction of the time it would take to become another kind of healthcare professional, such as a physician, nurse, or pharmacist. You’ll still get to be on the healthcare team. And, you’ll still be able to make a difference in people’s lives.

You’re standing on the cusp of a new age that’s sure to open the door to many more opportunities for caring people to make a difference.

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.

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

Is Becoming a Wellness Coach Right for Me?

What professions or individuals benefit from obtaining Wellness Coaching certification?

Wellness Coaching can be dedicated occupation, but it doesn’t have to be. Anyone in a position to help and influence others can serve as a Wellness Coach by incorporating the science-based tools of wellness coaching into what they already do.

For example, many organizations, such as health clinics and health and fitness organizations include Wellness Coaches on staff. In other cases, individuals who already have positions within an organization cross-train so they can add wellness coaching to their skill sets.

These individuals include clinical professionals such as nurses, therapists, and medical assistants; teachers; social service  and public health administrators; and professionals in the helping professions, including massage therapists, yoga teachers, and personal trainers.

Community members also have a role to play. Whether it’s at home, at a faith-based organization, with the scouts, or just family and friends, wellness coaching skills makes people effective, empathic facilitators for sustainable change.

Are you the type of person that will enjoy Wellness Coaching?

Sometimes life presents opportunities right in front of us but we don’t always see them. Take helping others improve their health and wellness, for example.

People who enjoy being Wellness Coaches are often already enjoy “doing” it informally—people come to you for help—and you’re ready to take the next step to become a professional wellness coach.

Ask yourself whether you:

  1. Enjoy being the person people naturally come to when they have problems or need someone to talk to
  2. Enjoy listening to others
  3. Are passionate about helping others
  4. Consider yourself friendly, outgoing, approachable, and patient
  5. Have strong core values and commitment to your own goals
  6. Establish relationships easily and nurture them

If the answers are “yes,” you’re already on your way!

What qualities are necessary to be a Wellness Coach?

Wellness Coaches need strong personal and interpersonal skills including:

  1. Good critical thinking
  2. Sound judgment
  3. Emotional stability and maturity
  4. Excellent communication
  5. Respect and concern for others
  6. Desire to work independently and cooperatively with others
  7. Adaptability, creativity, flexibility
  8. Comprehensive follow-through
  9. Astute listening
  10. Positive, can-do attitude
  11. Ability to energize and instill confidence
  12. Respect for others’ perspectives and “expertise” about their own lives
  13. Desire to work in a collaborative way with others

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.

What special populations benefit from this profession? [For Veterans, disabled]

For Veterans & Wounded Warriors

Becoming a Wellness Coach may be an attractive training and employment option for veterans, including wounded warriors, and a solution to the significant employment challenges they face.

Recent data indicate that since 2002, well over half a million military personnel have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with life-altering injuries, including severe physical injuries (amputation, spinal cord injury, burns, and visual impairments), post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, in addition to injury, a significant number of veterans lack the education or training needed to transition into good civilian employment. The top barriers include mental health issues (33%), lack of education (24%), lack of physical capability (23%), inadequate pay (19%), and lack of self-confidence (17%).

On the other hand, veterans, including wounded warriors, possess invaluable skills that would serve them well as Wellness Coaches. These skills include adaptability, leadership, flexibility, accountability, personal integrity, respect for procedures and processes, ability to learn new concepts and technologies, perseverance in the face of adversity, and strong interpersonal relationships and communication.

Both the Wellness Coach training program and the occupation itself fulfill many needs veterans have and mitigate some of the challenges:

  1. All the training is done via distance-learning, including real-time interaction and collaborative practice. This overcomes problems of mobility and access.
  2. The pacing of the coursework is completely individualized and flexible, so veterans can schedule training to fit their unique needs.
  3. Wellness Coaches focus on identifying and marshaling people’s strengths in the interest of achieving their goals for a preferred future. The training is rigorous and requires significant self-reflection and skills development through practice. It is not intended to be therapeutic, but it can have very positive effects on trainees, if not being transformative.
  4. Participants who successfully complete the Coach training program will be certified as Wellness Coaches by the Department of Labor through its Registered Apprenticeship Program, which confers the credibility of a nationally recognized standard of competency.
  5. Once certified, Wellness Coaches can practice in many different ways and settings, even offering telephone support or brief sessions, if mobility, endurance, and attention are challenges.
  6. The employment outlook for Wellness Coaches is very promising due to the emerging shift from a disease model of healthcare to a model of health promotion and maintenance and the influx of tens of millions into the system as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The personal and professional qualities of veterans trained as Wellness Coaches will make them valued members of the healthcare team.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 17, 2011) Team Navy/Coast Guard member Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Angelo Anderson participates in the 200-meter wheelchair event during the second annual Warrior Games. The Warrior Games is a Paralympic-style sport event among 200 seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Released 110517-N-CD297-007

US Department of Labor 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