Become NBCHWC certified: Steps and strategies for success

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Photo by Waldemar on Unsplash

From CFA to PHR to PMP, various professional certifications exist to enable practitioners to prove expertise and show credibility; the health and wellness coaching industry is not an exception. As a health and wellness coach, you have probably considered improving your career by getting additional certifications necessary for professional growth. Well,  the National Board for Certified Health and Wellness Coaches (NBCHWC) is an organization that has been established to ensure the quality and standardization of health and wellness coaching. The NBCHWC is dedicated to providing a rigorous certification program for health and wellness coaches that is recognized globally.

However, getting certified by the NBCHWC is not a wishful path. It requires meeting set strict standards by the body. By passing the NBHWC with flying colors, you can become a nationally recognized health coach, ready to help individuals achieve their health goals and live their best lives.

In this article, workee professionals will cover all you need to know about the NBHWC, why it matters as a health coach, how to get the NBHCW certificate, and most importantly, expert tips on some coach training courses.

What is NBCHWC?

The National Board for Certified Health and Wellness Coaches (NBCHWC) is a non-profit organization that was established in 2012 with the aim of promoting the health and wellness coaching profession. The organization provides a certification program for health and wellness coaches that are designed to ensure that individuals who hold this certification possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies to help their clients achieve optimal health and wellness.

To become NBCHWC certified, a health and wellness worker must meet specific requirements, such as:

  1. having an associate degree from a tertiary institution,

  2. completing a comprehensive training program from an NBWHC-approved education provider,

  3. accumulating a minimum number of coaching hours, 

  4. submitting the required documents, and

  5. passing a rigorous exam that tests the knowledge and skills in coaching.

Holding an NBCHWC certification demonstrates to clients and employers that a health coach has met the highest standards in the field and is committed to ongoing professional development.

1. Timing and duration of the exam

The entire testing session, including a test tutorial, lasts four and a half hours. You'll be given breaks throughout the exam.

2. Number and nature of NBCHWC exam questions

The NBCHWC exam questions comprise 150 multiple-choice questions divided up into different sections. 

Success tips: While taking the Exam, take your time, read each question carefully, and draw on all the knowledge and skills you've gained throughout your training. With these, you should do well in the Exam.

The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC), which is the body that manages the issuing of this certificate, sets high standards to only allow qualified people to access this certificate. As the national governing body for health coaches, the NBHWC wants only persons who meet the standard for excellence in coaching to have this certificate. So, to get this certification, you must work towards attaining these standards by investing in your education and training. Thus, many health and wellness professionals who do not know the proper path to follow end up hurt, frustrated, and give up on the process.

Why do NBC-HWC credentials matter?

The National Board Certification for Health and Wellness Coaching is super essential for these reasons:

  1. It shows that a coach has gone through a lot of training and has shown they know their stuff when it comes to helping people live healthy, happy lives.

  2. By getting this certification, coaches can prove that they're good at what they do and care about being the best they can be. It also helps people looking for a health and wellness coach feel more confident that they're choosing someone who knows their stuff and can help them.

  3. Additionally, many employers and healthcare organizations recognize the NBC HWC and think it's a big deal. Some even require that their coaches have this certification. So, it's worth it for health and wellness personnel to get certified to stand out in their field and show that they're serious about helping people be their healthiest and happiest selves.

How to get NBCHWC?

With over 8400 certified coaches, getting the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching credentials is attainable. However, it requires passing through some checks, meeting specific requirements, and passing the certifying exams. Here are the requirements for getting NBCHWC:

1. Submit training sessions logs 

Submitting your training session logs is crucial to demonstrating your coaching expertise and commitment to your clients. Here are some essential things to take note of:

  • Each coaching session must have lasted at least 20 minutes. That's enough time to connect with your clients and start making progress toward their wellness goals 

  • You can choose to have paid or free sessions; that's ultimately up to you. You select the option that is best for your clients and you. 

  • Your log sessions must show meetings with clients, not friends, family, or classmates. This log session detail shows that you're working with a diverse range of individuals and gaining valuable coaching experience.

  • The log can show your flexibility and capacity to facilitate different settings of coaching sessions - in person, over the phone, or via web conference. The record should attest that you know and can tailor your coaching approach to the individual needs of different clients from different parts of the world under different settings. 

  • Proof that you can or cannot work with clients from diverse backgrounds and climes.

  • You can include coaching sessions you conducted up to seven years before your test date. Your coaching sessions demonstrate your coaching skills and experience over time. 

Note that passing the Practical Skills Assessment (PSA) exam is also a requirement. You must pass a Practical Skills Assessment (PSA) exam through your training program before conducting your coaching sessions. Passing the Practical Skills Assessment (PSA) exam proves you're well-equipped to provide effective coaching and support to your clients. 

 2. An Associate Degree or at least 4,000 hours of work experience 

Earning an associate degree or higher in any field demonstrates that you have a solid foundation in academic knowledge and skills. It shows that you have completed a formal education and have a broad understanding of various subjects.

A degree related to health and humanity can benefit your career as a health and wellness career person. Knowledge of human biology, nutrition, psychology, and other related fields is beneficial when working with clients. 

The second option for meeting this requirement is to have at least 4,000 hours of work experience. This degree can be in any field as long as it involves working directly with clients or patients in a health-related capacity

3. Pass the NBCHWC Exam 

The NBC HWC exam is the final step to becoming a certified health and wellness coach. Here's what you need to know about the Exam: The Exam aims to evaluate your knowledge, skills, and competency in health coaching. It focuses on four broad and core areas: 

  • Coaching structure: This covers how well you prepare for and manages each stage of your coaching sessions. The coaching structure evaluates your organizational skill. This exam section assesses your readiness and capacity to guide/coach clients to success. 

  • Coaching process: This exam section evaluates your ability to use core health coaching competencies with your clients. It examines your active listening skills and competency in asking prospecting and direct questions to get the correct client input or feedback. 

  • Health and wellness: This tests your knowledge of health behaviors, chronic disease, and related topics. This section of the Exam tests your understanding of stress management, nutrition, exercise, and other things related to health and wellness. 

  • Ethics and legal considerations: This section covers the professional conduct required in the coaching profession. You must show that you understand the importance of ethical behavior and confidentiality in coaching relationships.

4. Proof of NBHWC-approved program attendance

By enrolling in an NBHWC-approved program, here are the benefits that you'll:

  1. Be trained according to the National Board of health and wellness coaching standards.

  2. Acquire expert knowledge from experienced coaches who are committed to helping you succeed.

  3. Learn the essential knowledge and skills for becoming a successful health and wellness personnel. 

However, choose a program that aligns with your personal goals and interests. Also, endeavor to study the study materials, submit assignments and coursework on time, take the Exam, and get your certificate.

Not sure how to properly manage your learning schedules while taking your NBC HWC-certified course? We recommend you subscribe to time/activity management tools that will help you achieve your daily goals, including work and studies. 

Workee is an industry-leading tool that helps professionals and coaches effectively manage their businesses and clients and get work tasks done efficiently. It's free to enroll. Signup here for free.


Being certified by National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching can significantly enhance your health and wellness career. First, it helps you get more clients. Second, it enables you to make more money as a coach. Hence, if you've been taking getting this certificate lightly, please sit up and get it as soon as possible. However, like anything else, the journey to certification might not be easy. It will require dedication, hard work, and passion from you. If you are ready to pay the price, you'll quickly become National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching certified. 

Ihor, CEO at Workee

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