ICHWC is a volunteer team of U.S. leaders who pioneered science-based training, education, and research of health and wellness coaches over the past 15 years. Since 2010, our team has consulted widely, developed a broad consensus, created national standards, and formed a partnership with the National Board of Medical Examiners in May 2016 to launch a National Board Certification for Health & Wellness Coaches in September of 2017.
The objective of the National Board Certification for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBC-HWC) is to provide a minimum standard and measure of foundational competencies: the knowledge, tasks and skills essential to the practice of health and wellness coaching. The application of coaching knowledge is assessed by the HWC Certifying Examination. Development and assessment of practical skills are provided by ICHWC approved health and wellness coach training and education programs. Eligible individuals can apply to become a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) during the application windows (see below).
Breaking News: Congratulations to the first ever 1,000+ National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches (NBC-HWC’s) who passed the September 2017 HWC Certifying Examination. This is a major landmark for the field of health & wellness coaching!
National Board Certification of Health & Wellness Coaches:
- Please review the Bulletin of Information for details about the exam.
- We will begin to accept applications for the second exam beginning January 2, 2018 through March 15, 2018
- The second examination is scheduled for June 15 – 30, 2018, and will be administered at over 340 Prometric sites throughout the United States, and internationally.
- In 2018 and beyond, applicants will be able to register for the examination twice a year.
- Effective January 24, 2018 health & wellness coaches who have completed an ICHWC-approved program and intend to sit for an exam during the transition phase, must meet all eligibility requirements by June 30, 2020 (formerly June 30, 2019). This modification indicates that HWC Certifying Examinations 1 through 7 all fall within the transition phase.
|Application Period||Exam Dates|
|First Exam||February 1 – May 15, 2017 (closed)||September 1 – 16, 2017 (closed)|
|Second Exam||January 2 – March 15, 2018||June 15 – 30, 2018|
|Third Exam||May 1 – June 30, 2018||November 1 – 15, 2018|
|Fourth Exam||January 2 – March 15, 2019||June 15 – 30, 2019|
|Fifth Exam||May 1 – June 30, 2019||November 1 – 15, 2019|
To Prepare for the examination:
- Attend an ICHWC-Approved Transition Program or meet the eligibility requirements via the Portfolio Pathway
- Review the HWC Certifying Examination Content Outline for information on the content of the examination and Healthy Lifestyle Basics (updated to include resources on May 9, 2017).
- Review the ICHWC Code of Ethics.
- Review the Health & Wellness Coach Scope of Practice.
- Review the Health and Wellness Coach Practice Exam
Why should you become a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC)?
With an explosion of health and wellness coaching programs, it is difficult to determine the expertise and quality of coaches. Without agreed upon standards for the training and practice of health and wellness coaches, the public and healthcare professionals are confused about what to expect from coaches and how they complement other professions. National standards and certification are the first steps in advancing consistent training, education, and assessment of competencies.
The National Board Certification of Health & Wellness Coaches is based on extensive research. First, practicing health and wellness coaches gathered for three days to identify core competencies that are vital to effective coaching. Through a rigorous Job Task Analysis (JTA), the tasks, skills and knowledge to be mastered by a competent coach were identified and then validated through a survey completed by more than 1,000 practicing health and wellness coaches. Then in 2016, facilitated by the National Board of Medical Examiners, a comprehensive examination blueprint was developed which expanded upon the JTA.
The national certification is accelerating the professionalization of this emerging field, and enabling the growth of an evidence base. Reputable coach training and education programs have joined this endeavor. The national certification allows proficient coaches to stand apart from coaches who have not received adequate coach training or assessment of their coaching skills and knowledge. For more information, please visit our Credentials for Individuals.
How can our health and wellness coach training program become approved? (Note: The approval process for transitionally approved programs and new health & wellness coach training programs is projected to open in the spring of 2018.)
Please visit the Organizations page to learn about national standards for the training and education of health and wellness coaches.