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A nutrition coach, also known as a health coach or wellness coach, is a trained professional who works with clients to improve their health through dietary changes. There are several things these coaches can do for their clients:
Educate them about nutrition and food and how these relate to health and fitness
Provide individualized meal plans and tips for shopping and preparing healthy foods
Help set and achieve health and wellness goals
Interpret and simplify confusing health and nutrition information
Motivate them to make important, lasting changes for better health
These are valuable services that can be life-changing. A good coach uses a client's strengths, evaluates their challenges, and provides individualized strategies and plans for making real, positive changes. So, what is that worth to clients?
Deciding what to charge your nutrition coaching clients can be difficult. Do some research, find out what competitors charge, consider the value you provide, and avoid underselling yourself.
Not totally sure nutrition coaching is the job for you? Here's a rundown of what these coaches actually do to help you decide.
If you're just considering getting into this career, it's important to understand the current state of the industry. Health and nutrition careers are growing rapidly throughout the U.S. as more people take an interest in making lifestyle changes (1).
Salaries, though, can vary quite a lot by location and based on other factors: credentials and education, experience, and services offered. Ziprecruiter.com reports that health coaches earn an average of $46,352 per year, while Payscale.com reports an average hourly salary of $24.57 (2, 3).
Averages are useful, but they represent a wide range of actual salaries. To really nail down an appropriate price for your services, keep these figures in mind but also consider all the individual factors.
What is the biggest mistake new coaches make? They undercharge. It is difficult for most people to charge what they are really worth. You're not alone if you struggle to do this. Comparisons to competitors is so important in deciding your worth to clients.
Use local coach fees as a baseline, but don't be afraid to charge more if you think you have more to offer: better credentials, nice services or a greater variety of services, a more hands-on approach, or more years of experience.
Even if you're new to the industry, avoid the instinct to undercharge. You earned your credentials; you are knowledgeable; and you provide a valuable service. A free initial evaluation is reasonable and can help get new clients in the door, but then charge a fair price for services going forward.
Everything else here is important to consider, but you absolutely must earn enough to make a living, right? So, the first thing you should do when pricing your services is consider what you actually need to earn. List all your expenses:
Advertising and marketing costs
Rental space in a gym or your own facility
Any software you use to work with clients
With all your expenses lined up, ask yourself how much you want to make. Do some math to figure out what you need to charge clients and how many clients you need to earn that salary.
Doing your research is truly the key to finding the right rate for your health coaching services. Compare your offerings to competitors and find a balance between what you offer and what clients will pay. Consider competitors, your credentials, your target market and location, and services you'll offer.
Sit down at your computer and search for nutrition coaches as if you were a prospective client. Search for the websites of individual coaches, search through social media, and look at local gyms and spas that hire nutrition professionals.
If their sites don't list their fees, email or call to find out. Ask questions, but don't feel like you have to pretend to be a client. You can be honest. Other coaches will most likely be happy to give you a few minutes to discuss how they price services.
As you do this research, keep in mind the distinction between coaches and dieticians/nutritionists. The latter are generally more credentialed professionals. They probably have a four-year degree and some type of licensing. Their fees will be higher than yours, so the comparison isn't valid.
By researching other coaches in your area, you will start to get a better sense of the target market. Who are those other coaches targeting? Local gyms can also be a source of information about the kinds of people interested in your services. Are they busy working moms? Seniors? Young professionals? The people you target will partly determine what you can charge.
Use the average fees you see nutrition coaches charging in your area as a baseline for your own service fees. Scale that number up or down based on what you have to offer compared to those competitors. If you have more credentials, charge more per coaching session. If you have additional services or experience in related jobs, charge more. If you are new and have no experience with a health coaching business yet, charge less, but not too little.
If all you offer is basic nutritional coaching, service pricing will be simple. But if you offer other coaching services, you will have to determine if you want to charge for those separately or include everything in one package. If you can show clients that your basic fee includes more than what the competitor offers, you can charge more.
Setting your prices for consulting as a nutrition coach applies to freelancing or starting your own business. While this is the route many coaches take, you can find work as an employee. Some of the benefits of this option include job stability and benefits. On the downside, you don't get to set your rates. It's up to the company to do so. Employers that hire nutrition coaches include:
Weight loss companies
College and university athletic departments and health centers
Spas, gyms, and wellness centers
Large companies of any type that have employee wellness programs
Community and public health organizations
A smart way to offer services is to bundle sessions into an extended coaching package. You should have a set rate for individual, hour-long sessions as well as package deals, which will naturally cost less per session. For example:
$100 per hour for one session
$540 ($90 per hour) for a package of six sessions
$960 ($80 per hour) for a package of 12 sessions
You will earn less per hour with a bundle, but it's usually worth it. When a client pays for a month or more of services, you have a set source of income for that period of time. Hour-by-hour clients may drop out at any time, along with your salary. Another way to bundle, if you're also a personal trainer, is to offer a discount for nutrition coaching and training together.
Many coaches offer online services, either in addition to in-person coaching or as the focus of their business. There are some benefits to working online, including low operating costs and a bigger reach. But pricing can be a little complicated as your market expands.
Working as an online coach, it's a good idea to focus your target market since location is not a limitation. For instance, maybe you will target new moms or clients looking to lose weight. When you have a niche, pricing will be easier because you will be able to better determine what that ideal client is willing to pay. In general, fees for online coaching are less than for in-person services, as in the same with online personal training vs in-person.
Starting an online coaching business isn't as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of pitfalls. We can help you avoid them and start a thriving online nutrition consulting business.
If you were seeking out services from a fitness or health professional, or any type of professional, would you pay the same price for a certified as a non-certified coach? Of course you wouldn't. Certification and other credentials prove that an individual has been educated and trained to provide a particular service. People will pay more for that assurance.
To earn more helping clients make better, healthier food choices, consider getting certified in nutrition. Learn everything you need to know and get support starting your business with the ISSA's Nutrition Certification Program.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, April 10). Dietitians and Nutritionists. Job Outlook. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm#tab-6
ZipRecruiter. (2020, May 6). Nutritional Health Coach Salary. Retrieved from https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/How-Much-Does-a-Nutritional-Health-Coach-Make-a-Year
PayScale. (n.d.). Average Nutrition Coach Hourly Pay. Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Nutrition_Coach/Hourly_Rate
By becoming an ISSA Nutritionist, you'll learn the foundations of how food fuels the body, plus step by step methods for implementing a healthy eating plan into clients' lifestyles.
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