Q: So what kind of a living can you make as a wellness coach?
A: Today many employers, health plans and hospitals employ wellness coaches to work on-site or through vendors to enable access to their services by executives and employees. Physician practices are starting to employ health and wellness coaches to work with patients who have chronic diseases related to unhealthy lifestyles.
Major corporations such as Nike and Lands’ End employ wellness coaches, as do smaller companies, such as Aera Energy in California. Many coaches plan to eventually build private practices, once the field is more mature and the work of wellness coaches is widely understood. Many coaches combine wellness coaching services with other work, such as speaking, writing, group classes, therapy, personal training or other careers outside health.
Based on our discussions with hundreds of coaches in many settings, wellness coaches typically earn from $25 to $100 per coaching hour, or $50,000 to $100,000 a year depending on the setting.
Q: Do you need a background in nursing, medicine or other health-related field to become a wellness coach?
A: There are two paths. The most common is starting with a background in a health- or fitness-related area. The second is changing careers and building a background, not necessarily by getting a degree but by training in an area like personal training, yoga or another intensive program that provides knowledge in “lifestyle medicine.” The reality is that no wellness coach has expert credentials in all health and wellness areas. Most coaches come from one health and fitness field, and they don’t give advice where they don’t have credentials. So if there is a specific issue, the coach can help the consumer or patient find someone with expertise.
Q: Why is wellness coaching a good encore career?
A: You need a good level of maturity and breadth and depth of life experience to coach someone around his or her way of life. It’s just hard at age 27 to coach someone who is 50. As you age, you are more empathic, insightful, intuitive, creative, mindful, reflective and self-aware. You know more about what makes people tick. Once you get started in coaching, it is a career that you can do for a long, long time.
What do you think about wellness coaching as a career? Know anyone already working in the field? Click on COMMENT above to share your thoughts.
Marci Alboher, an internationally recognized expert on career issues and workplace trends, is a Vice President at Civic Ventures, a nonprofit think tank leading the call to engage millions of baby boomers in encore careers with social impact. A former blogger and columnist for The New York Times, she is the author of the book, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success.