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What Does a Career in Health and Wellness Entail?

When you take a look at the daily duties, as well as the outlook for this career, you’ll notice something interesting. This job came about thanks to employer concerns about their employees’ health, the increasing costs of healthcare, and how recent healthcare legislation is affecting the healthcare we’re offered. Health and wellness professionals assist us to develop healthy lifestyles and offer health services to those who might not need heavy medical intervention but could use advice on how to live a better life. If they succeed in their efforts to make U.S. society healthier through community health initiatives and public health education, we may be able to slow the inevitable increase of our health insurance premiums. Businesses hope to see improvement in employee attendance, productivity, and other real-world measures, even with those who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses.


Components of a Successful Career in Health and Wellness

You can expect that your role as a health and wellness specialist will expand as the number of wellness programs available increases. As a health-fitness professional, you’ll work in community health and health education agencies, universities, colleges, fitness clubs, medical settings, worksites, government institutions, country clubs, hotels, and recreation programs as you meet with your clients and act as a public health educator.

If you work in corporate wellness, you’ll strive to prevent illnesses in managers and employees of the company. You may work with government and public industries, which may be fighting to expand working opportunities for health and wellness, as well as community health and fitness professionals.

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How to Earn an Online Degree in Health and Wellness

No matter where you’re at in your education—associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s—you can earn a degree online in a health and wellness field. You’ll be in school for 12 to 24 months for an associate’s in health and wellness, four years for an online bachelor’s, and about two years for your master’s.

It’s said that the health and wellness fields are perfect for those who want to begin working within their vocation, advocating for healthy living and pursuits for the people they work with. If you’re already working within the health industry, you’ll easily be able to broaden your healthcare management and wellness experience.

Typical Health and Wellness Degree Requirements

Once you reach your final semester, you should have about 108 credits. You may need 120 to graduate. Other programs require you to have closer to 128. This all depends on the institution you chose to attend. Thirty of the credits earned should be in the health and wellness degree major. In addition, students in this major are expected to complete a healthcare setting internship once they complete all prerequisite courses.

If you are in an online Master’s program, you’ll need about 36 credits.

Typical Health and Wellness Certifications Needed

If you want earn a certificate rather than a health and wellness degree online, several colleges across the U.S. do carry certificate programs. You’ll have to take multiple courses; if you take more than one at a time, you’ll earn your certificate earlier.

In this online certificate program, you’ll take about 18 credits, plus 15 electives. To make the most of your time and take the right electives for your career plans, consult with an advisor.

As a post-baccalaureate student, you may also choose to earn a graduate certificate in a health promotion field or another health and wellness program option. At one university, you can also choose to transfer the credits from your certificate program into a health promotion master’s program if you decide to return to school. In a certificate program, you’ll need to complete about 15 credits.

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Academic Standards for Health and Wellness Degrees

No matter which degree option you’re pursuing, your academic standards will be high—you’ll be working with clients’ health and wellness concerns. Your courses will focus on natural healing, nutrition, and spirituality.

You’ll be expected to be able to identify and evaluate evidence to guide decision-making for you and your clients; demonstrate leadership skills within the organization where you work; integrate knowledge of client culture and develop an appreciation for diversity in both planning and evaluating healthcare; and use a systematic approach, along with higher-order thinking as you respond to health issues and the needs of society. These issues and more will be evaluated by your professors as you prepare for graduation.

Exam/Experience Needed for Health and Wellness Degrees

exam_experience_needed_for_health_wellnessOnce you graduate from your health and wellness degree program, prepare to take exams for your state certification, state board, and national board. These exams are required by your state of residence and employer so that you can work as a full-fledged Health and Wellness professional.

Read through the catalogs of each university in which you are interested—not every university’s program will meet your state’s certification or licensure requirements. If you’re looking for a licensure-track program, you need to live in a state that offers such online classes or find an online program that offers licensure-track health and wellness program.

Any experience you may have in providing guidance in health-related activities, such as Yoga, Pilates, water aerobics, spin classes, Zumba, or Jazzercise will help to back you up as you learn your class materials. If you’re embarking on a new degree path, any experience you have gained from your past career will also help you work as a health and wellness, public health, community health, or health education professional.

Online health and Wellness Degree Options and Courses

In this field, you have three degree options: Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Bachelor of Science (BS), and Master of Science (MS).

Online Health and Wellness Associate Degree

The AAS helps you to gain more skills and knowledge in the health and wellness domain. You’ll study about the different ways of approaching health and wellness topics, then learn about the topics, concepts, and applications of the different areas of health and wellness. When you graduate, you’ll have a solid foundation you need to begin entry-level work in the health and wellness field. At this level, you’ll be at the edge of a new health movement which consists of integrative and collaborative healthcare. You may begin to work in a pharmaceutical company, college health services, corporate wellness, or insurance agencies.

(AAS) After taking your general education courses, you’ll begin working on your core courses:

  • Introduction to Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Stress Management and Emotional Health
  • Personal & Community Health
  • Physical Activity & Wellness
  • Holistic Pathology & Protocols
  • Wellness Coaching & Communications Skills

and electives:

  • Introduction to Aromatherapy
  • Aromatherapy Chemistry
  • Botany & Plant Identification
  • Introduction to Business
  • Marketing
Read More About a Health and Wellness Associate Degree

Online Health and Wellness Bachelor’s Degree

The Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness degree program is designed to focus much more on preventive healthcare and opportunities within wellness-related industries, such as community health or public health. As you begin working on this curriculum, you’ll soon recognize the opportunities available to you after you graduate. As a professional in this field, you’ll encourage clients, help support them, and provide an education to those who are trying to lead healthier lives and prevent unneeded injuries and illnesses. When you graduate, you’ll know how to evaluate scientific literature in research, health psychology, exercise science, and both complementary and alternative medicines. You’ll be able to educate both communities and individuals.

Some Example BS in Health and Wellness Courses Include:

  • Complementary and Integrative Medicine
  • Models for Health and Wellness
  • Contemporary Diet and Nutrition
  • Stress - Critical Issues in Management and Prevention
  • Creating Wellness - Psychological and Spiritual Aspects of Healing
  • Health and Wellness Programming - Design and Administration
  • Bachelor’s Capstone in Health & Wellness

Bachelor’s Degree Concentrations: Food and Nutrition, Current Trends in Exercising and Fitness, Aging Well Across the Lifespan, Public Health or Community Health Education, and Stress Management and Wellness

Read More About a Health and Wellness Bachelor’s Degree

Online Health and Wellness Master’s Degree

In the Master of Science, you’ll learn about supporting healthier lifestyle choices as you help corporate or company employees to improve work-life balance and well-being. By now, you should have some real-world experience in making healthy choices and avoiding the mistakes that lead to health problems. In a Master’s program, you’ll learn much more about corporate wellness and health promotion; you’ll ready yourself for higher-level leadership job positions. At this level, you’ll be focusing your learning on the decisions and work that someone in a higher-level position would hold in a company.

Example MS in Health & Wellness Courses:

  • Writing for Graduate Students
  • Personal Development for the Health and Wellness Coach
  • Advanced Lifestyle Medicine
  • Health Behavior Modification
  • Nutrition & Exercise for Chronic Disease
  • Stress and Sleep Management
  • Research Methods and Program Design
  • Advanced Health and Wellness Coaching
  • Capstone in Health and Wellness Coaching

Concentrations with a Health and Wellness MS include: Physical Education Leadership, Herbal Studies, and Health and Wellness Management

Read More About a Health and Wellness Master’s Degree

Health & Wellness Careers and Salary Guide

  • Health/Wellness Coordinator—A professional at this level should have at least a bachelor’s degree in Health & Wellness. These individuals meet with clients and companies, then design specialized programs to help employees to live healthy lifestyles.

  • Wellness Specialist—In this occupation, you should hold a bachelor’s degree. You’re going to work in one of several settings, from spas, gyms, medical settings, corporate settings, and community centers. You’ll complete screenings for individual clients, so they can focus on improving their overall wellness.

  • Wellness Coordinator—In this role, you should hold a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. Expect to work indoors or outdoors depending on the venue. You may work within a healthcare setting, university, or college helping to promote healthy living.

  • Wellness Coach—If you work in this occupation, you should have your bachelor’s degree in health sciences or another health-related field. On the job, you’ll provide wellness counseling to individual clients, helping to identify health concerns. These may include exercise, stress reduction, and nutrition.

  • Health Coach with Health and Wellness Skills—In this profession, an associate’s degree will give you the knowledge and skills you need to work with individual clients, helping them to improve their health and maintain a healthier lifestyle. You’ll develop dietary plans, healthy exercise routines, and monitoring systems. Over time, you’ll assess the progress of each client and make any needed adjustments to their plans, so they continue to make progress.

  • Health Promotion Coordinator with Health and Wellness Skills—In this position, you need a bachelor’s degree in one of several health fields: physiology, exercise, nutrition, or another field related to health. You’ll use several methods and incentives to help promote healthy lifestyles to your clients. You may work within a private company or for a public institution. You’ll set up health screenings, educational programs, incentive programs, and fitness activities.

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Health & Wellness Salaries by Occupation

  • Wellness Specialist
    In this profession, you need a bachelor’s degree to work well in your job role. Your specialized work with health settings and clients means you’ll be influencing their health; you’ll be isolating their health needs, as well as their preferences, such as for weight loss, as you determine how they can best meet their needs. Expect your annual salary to be on par with other health & wellness specialists.

  • Wellness Coordinator
    As a wellness coordinator, you’ll work in one of several settings as you promote healthy working environments. Your goal will always be to have a positive impact on the lives of clients, using healthy nutrition and regular exercise. While your early pay may be lower than other health & wellness professionals, it will exceed the pay of these professionals in your late career years.

  • Wellness Coach
    You’re going to provide counseling to your clients, discussing which areas of their health and healthcare can be improved. Because you’ll be working on exercise, nutrition, and lowering unhealthy stress levels, you should have a degree in health sciences or a closely related field.

  • Health Coach with Health and Wellness Skills
    In this profession, an online associate’s degree in a health & wellness field will be sufficient for your work. You’ll coach clients as they work to improve their nutrition and health. Even with an online associate’s degree, your salary will be similar to those who need a bachelor’s degree for their work.

  • Health Promotion Coordinator with Health and Wellness Skills
    While you should hold, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree for this profession, a master’s degree may equip you more thoroughly for your work. This degree should be in exercise, nutrition, physiology, or another health-related area. All through your career, your annual salary will be higher than for other health & wellness professionals.

Salary by Occupation

Occupation Entry-Level Salary Range Mid-Career Salary Range Late-Career Salary Range
Health/Wellness Coordinator $42,300 $51,200 $52,800
Wellness Specialist $37,200 $50,100 $62,200
Wellness Coordinator $41,700 $52,100 $61,400
Wellness Coach $39,700 $46,800 $65,000
Health Coach w/Health and Wellness Skills $39,900 $53,400 $58,600
Health Promotion Coordinator w/Health and Wellness Skills $47,300 $56,800 $72,800

Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Health and Wellness Bachelor’s Degree Online?

In one program, you will be required to earn 180 credits—33 will be core credits, 80 will be credits for your major and 87 will be electives. This program is constructed so that each course lasts 10 weeks; you’ll have to put in 15 to 18 hours of study per week to earn acceptable grades.

Because you begin and complete each class within a 10-week timeframe in this type of program, you’ll be able to get through your program more quickly—expect to graduate in 18 months to 2 years.

How Much Does an Online Health and Wellness Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

At the same university where you earn 180 credits, you’ll pay $371 per credit hour. Thus, your estimated overall bill for every credit you take will be $66,780. This is a significant amount, so you’ll need to find ways to save money. Financial aid could take a large chunk of the financial responsibility off your shoulders.

If you are or were in the military, you can receive tuition deductions that help decrease your bill. You can also apply for grants that help defray some of your tuition bill. In addition, if you went to a different university, then transfer credits could kick in, which also decreases the number of new credits you have to pay for.

Does the School Have the Major You’re Considering?

You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing that it’s mechanically fit and will operate well. It’s the same with school. While you check tuition, career services, and cost don’t forget to check and see if the health and wellness degree you want is offered. After all, why apply to a school that doesn’t have any of the degree programs you want?

Call the admissions offices of every school you’re interested in and ask about this major. You can also pull the undergraduate or graduate catalogs up and check the different degree programs.

How Many Students Graduate “On Time,” in Four Years?

Fewer and fewer students are graduating within four years of taking their first class. Currently, fewer than 50% of freshmen will graduate with their online bachelor’s degree within four years, which starts them on a very expensive road. Some scholarships run out after four years; this makes students liable for their tuition or requires that they apply for student loans or get help from their parents.

To prevent yourself from becoming one of these statistics, you can take a few steps that shorten your time in your online bachelor’s program. First, add one 3-credit course to your course load each semester. By doing so, you add an additional 24 credits to your transcript in four years. Take a few summer session online classes so you’ll reach your required course load earlier. Try to work the minimum number of hours you can; by doing so, you’ll leave yourself more study time. Take work-study, which allows you to work and receive financial help for school.

What Kind of Accreditation Does the Online Program Hold? How is It Regarded in the Field?

Your university and degree program should both be accredited. Regional accrediting agencies focus on entire colleges and universities, providing accreditation of their academic programs, practices, and faculty. Seeing proof of accreditation tells you that the university and degree program are both of the highest quality.

For health and wellness online programs, the accrediting organization is the National Wellness Institute (NWI). NWI reviews programs across the state and around the world, assuring you and other students that, when you enroll in an accredited university and health and wellness program, the faculty and course offerings are both of the highest quality.

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Software, Technology & Skills Needed

You’ll need a diverse range of skills while you’re in school and once you graduate and begin working.

  • Mind and body balance— Be physically fit, manage stress well, practice good nutrition
  • Health and safety— Sexual assault prevention, CPR, alcohol and drug education, self-defense, first aid
  • Living skills— Financially literate, negotiation skills, career development, team building, crisis management

While you’ll take classes in each of these skills, if you know something about just a few, you’ll find it easier to learn more and add more skills to your repertoire. You’ll find that you’re using these skills in your personal and professional lives, so learning sets you up for a more satisfying life.

Health & Wellness College Scholarships

Many Health & Wellness scholarships are provided by schools with Health & Wellness online programs, so be sure to check the scholarships available from your school options.

  • Charles B. Corbin and Robert P. Pangrazi Scholarship Endowment
    Amount: Varies
    Deadline:February 1

    This scholarship is intended for students in the Exercise Science and Physical Education Department of Arizona State University. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply for this scholarship, as long as they are majoring in wellness or exercise and teaching physical education.

  • Exercise and Wellness Program Scholarship
    Amount: Varies
    Deadline: February 1

    The amount of this scholarship varies from student to student and year to year. Eligible students should be residents of Arizona. They should be enrolled full-time. They may be students of any academic level and financial need may be a criterion that will be considered.

  • ACHS Adult Scholarship
    Amount: Up to $1,000
    Deadline: Varies

    One-time scholarship in the amount of $1,000. Criteria include: Must be 19 years or older, with a state-approved high school diploma or GED; be accepted to a program that holds at least six semester credits; have a demonstrated record of academic success.

  • Ottens Foundation Emergency and Success Scholarships
    Deadline: April 27

    Students at CNM who are enrolled in a Native American tribe are eligible for this scholarship. The student must be enrolled in a health-related field.

  • Soma Weight Loss Health & Wellness Scholarship
    Amount: $1,000
    Deadline: March 31, September 30

    Eligible students should be majoring in a healthcare field. If the student is majoring in a field that promotes achieving and maintaining a healthy weight (dietician, exercise physiologist, weight loss counselor, or nutritionist), they will be considered. If they are chosen, they will receive a scholarship of $1,000. Students can be freshmen - seniors, or transfer students. Students applying should write a 500 to 1,000-word essay that explains why they are in this field and what good health means to them.

Professional Organizations

Healthy People 2020 provides only science-based long-range national objectives aimed at improving the health of all Americans. Over the past 30 years, Healthy People has created benchmarks and monitored progress. The organization encourages collaborations across communities and sectors.

  • WCA
  • IHPM


Wellness Council of AmericaWellness Council of America

Wellness Council of America (WCA) is one of the country’s most respected associations which help to build high-performing healthy workplaces. WCA has a deserved reputation for helping business and health professionals to improve employee well-being and creating organizational cultures that emphasize good health.



Institute for Health and Productivity Management

Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) is a worldwide enterprise that promotes the full value of employee health as an economic asset and investment. In short, healthy employees are a wise financial investment.

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Choosing an Accredited College

As you search for universities or colleges that provide a Health & Wellness degree, don’t forget to check for evidence that the school is accredited. The entire university should carry accreditation, as should your intended degree program.

Accreditation lets you know that the material you’ll learn is guaranteed to be high quality. Based on standards set by accreditation agencies and reviews of your planned program and intended university.

Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid

Each version offers you different advantages and contains its own disadvantages. Online classes mean you have flexibility for studying and test-taking. You don’t have to worry about the costs of a commute or room and board.

On-campus classes mean you attend classes based on a schedule established by the university. If you live on campus, you have to pay room and board; off-campus living means you’ll have to commute to your classes.

Hybrid classes are a blend of both of the above types. While the great majority of your classes will take place online, you will either attend “residence weekends,” where you’ll attend several class sessions in person or you can choose to take a few classes on-campus; perhaps the most hands-on classes, so that you can have a better chance of succeeding in those courses. The amount of time you spend on campus depends on the university or program you join.

Once you get closer to graduation, you may need professional assistance and counseling that allows you to find the right job for your interests and skills. At a Career Services office, you’ll receive resume assistance, work on your interview skills, and take part in job fairs. You may also be able to work on salary negotiation skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

What health and wellness skills can I expect to gain from my education?

You should gain all the skills you need to succeed in a well-designed health and wellness program. These should include healthcare compliance and a basic understanding of the law, biomedical diagnostic skills if you plan to work in that field, skills in health and patient care such as taking vitals and other important functions, an understanding of mental health challenges faced by people, the creation and implementation of health and wellness plans, and holistic health practices. This last item may cover diet, exercise, stress relief, and more.

What can you do with this degree?

The possibilities of what you can do with your degree partially are defined by exactly what type and level of degree you earn. For example, a master’s degree in mental health and wellness might allow you to work as a counselor in some states. With a general bachelor’s or master’s degree in health and wellness, you might be able to work as a corporate wellness manager, a wellness coach, or a community health worker or educator.

Why You Need to Consider How the Rating of your University Can Affect Your Salary

Choosing the right university and degree program isn’t easy. Even side-by-side comparisons don’t make your choice that easy. You look at available majors, accreditation, costs, financial aid availability, admissions criteria, graduation rates, class size, internships, academic support, career services, and job placement rates.

Knowing about graduation rates, internship opportunities, academic support resources, and admissions criteria you may be able to choose the school with the best numbers. Rankings can help you here. If you find that several of your choices seem to be tied towards the end of your selection process, national school rankings could help you pick a winner.

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