Health and wellness is a major that’s growing in popularity. Between the aging population trying to stay healthy, and others who are trying to regain health, professionals in this industry are needed in all areas. Fitness, nutrition, lifestyle assistance, and encouragement coaches are all important roles you can hold to help people on their health and wellness journey. On the employer side, an increasing number of companies are offering health and wellness programs to their employees. This has opened up another area of health and wellness, financial management. So, if you don’t want to be a coach or counselor, working the business side of programs is also an option. If helping people live their best lives is of interest to you, we’ve compiled some information below that will help you succeed in you health and wellness career.
Top Resources for Health and Wellness Students
Getting a degree in health and wellness is a commitment of time, energy, and finances. Getting a degree from a school that is accredited is important for many reasons. First, to attain licenses and certifications, you must graduate from a school that is at least regionally accredited. If the school you graduated from isn’t accredited from a recognizable source of legitimate accreditation, landing a job could be a problem. This is why it’s important that the school you attend, as well as the health and wellness programs if possible, are approved by a regional accreditation agency.
There are seven regional accreditation bodies that oversee accreditation for colleges and universities in the United States. They are:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
These accrediting bodies oversee schools and programs located in their geographic locations. These are the accreditation bodies recognized by the US Department of Education. Without this recognition, schools are not allowed access to Title IX funds such as Federal Pell grants or Federal student loans.
Questions About Financial Aid
Funding an education takes time, patience, and sometimes elbow grease. If you are willing to research, fill out applications, and write essays, you may be able to find the money you need to pay for your education without accruing too much debt.
- There are three general avenues for paying for college:
Grants, loans, and scholarships. Federal grants, such as the Pell grant, offers students who meet income requirements a grant that can be applied to tuition, room and board, or general needs. Grant money does not have to be repaid, and students can apply for the Pell grant annually. The application process is part of filling out the FASFA, or student financial aid form for the Department of Education. You should also keep your eyes open for other grants which might be available from your state or school of choice.
- Another option is student loans. There are several types of student loans:
Federal, private, loans that parents can take out and be responsible for, or those that are solely the responsibility of the student. Federal loans are typically easier to get because there aren’t the same level of income or credit score requirements. Private loans can be trickier to get and might involve repayment terms that could be problematic for a student just graduating. However, if you or your parents/cosigner have excellent credit, you might find that personal loans could be paid off more quickly. As much as income-based repayment is alluring, know the facts of how long it will take to pay off if you pay the minimum every month before you sign up for that debt.
- The third option is scholarships:
There is a scholarship for everything, including for specific education categories, so if you have a decent GPA or meet the requirement for scholarships in other ways, you should apply for as many as possible. You can find some health and wellness specific scholarships here.
- Scholarships are usually merit based:
What merit based means is they expect you to have excellent academics to prove you deserve to receive the scholarship money, but many of them focus on providing money for schooling for those who are on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale or a specific race or gender, without as much weight given to your scores. Your school counselor or college advisor should have a list of available scholarships so you can check out which scholarships could work for you. You can also search the Department of Labor’s scholarship database for possible scholarships.
Health and Wellness Associations for Students
Joining an organization that is focused on your area of study is a good way to get a foothold into the industry before you graduate. Many organizations in health and wellness allow students to join either for free or at a student discount. We’ve listed several such organizations below.
- Home | American College Health Association (ACHA):
This organization was founded to be a voice for students studying to become part of the health and wellness industry. The objective of the ACHA is to improve and protect the health and wellness offerings on college campuses around the world.
- National Wellness Institute:
The National Wellness Institute helps those working in and studying to enter the health and wellness field. They offer networking opportunities, job postings, continuing education, and a wealth of information on the health and wellness industry. There are several membership levels and members, including students, can choose the level that best suits them.
- Healthcare Financial Management Association:
This is an organization dedicated to helping health and wellness workers who work on the financial end of the industry. The HFMA keeps its members abreast of industry standards and offers guidance and support for financial initiatives that keep health and wellness expenses in check while ensuring the quality of care remains above reproach.
Student or Open Access Journals
People read journals and magazines regarding their profession for several reasons. These publications are a good way for professionals to keep up with what’s going in their industry. Classes, certification information, and continuing education opportunities are often published in these magazines, as well as various career opportunities for professionals of all levels. For students, these publications provide a glimpse into their chosen profession. Knowing what’s going on in one’s chosen profession even before entering it can be an advantage when it’s time to graduate and the job interviews start. Job candidates that can talk about what is happening in the industry currently look more prepared and seem more likely to take the initiative. A few examples of publications for health and wellness professionals include:
Health and Wellness Study Resources
Studying is a part of going to school for everyone but finding time to study can be a challenge. This is why having tools and sites that can make studying easier and more convenient is so important. Online resources can allow you to study anywhere you have a browser and internet access. If you have a long commute, you can study. Waiting for the kids at practice? Get some study time in. Here are some tools that can make getting in study time much easier and don’t forget to keep your eyes open for apps that can help keep you focused while you study, or were created for specific courses you may take.
- Health and Wellness Study Guide Flashcards:
Flashcards are an excellent learning tool. Health and wellness flashcards can help students learn new terms and memorize processes and procedures. You can choose flashcards from a variety of courses and subjects.
If you’re struggling with studying by yourself, get a study buddy or two. Trello is a collaboration tool that makes communication with group members easier. You can form study groups and trade resources, quiz each other, and offer encouragement in real time.
- Simple Mind Pro:
If you’re having a hard time figuring out the best studying techniques for you, mind mapping can help. Simple Mind Pro allows you to organize your thoughts in a way that matches your mind’s thinking processes.
Students might not frequent libraries the way they used to, but research is still required for papers. On top of that, more and more students are juggling school, work, and family obligations. Between textbooks, professional journals, and notebooks from there courses, that’s a lot of balls to keep in the air. Below are some apps that will help students save money and stay organized.
- Campus Books - Textbooks for health and wellness frequently change, and therefore students are constantly paying for new editions. This means they are also paying new edition prices and don’t always have the opportunity to sell back those books and recoup their money. Campus Books lets students comparison shop so that they can find the cheapest prices on the books they need.
- Feedly - As a health and wellness major, you have to read articles, web pages, journals, and magazines. Keeping track of all of it can get complicated. Feedly is a news aggregator that can help you keep your reading materials in a logical order and format.
- Turbo Scan - Need 20 pages from reference books at your local library? Turbo Scan will let you scan the pages using your cell phone.
- WunderList - Get organized with this note and to-do list app.
Most health and wellness programs require an internship of some sort prior to graduation. Many programs have agreements with local agencies and facilities for students to intern with them. But if you’re interested in doing additional internships or you’re tasked with finding your own to fulfill program requirements, there are websites that list internships in the health and wellness field. Internships can be found all over the world, so narrow down the type of internship you want to do, figure out a geographic location that interests you, and search away. We’ve included several websites that list health and wellness internships below.
Resources for Students and Professionals
Health and Wellness Certification Options
Getting a degree in health and wellness is a great first step on the journey to become an expert in the field. But as we mentioned, it’s the first step. As you work in the field, there will be continuing education course requirements, license renewals and exams, and of course obtaining degrees beyond the one you just attained. Along with degree requirements, certifications in your chosen field are also available and, in many instances, are desired or even required to work with certain groups or agencies. To compound the issue, these certifications often have various levels. So, you could realistically be working on obtaining an advanced degree and a certification at the same time. This might sound challenging, but many certification programs share requirements with degree programs, so you could be propelling yourself forward in both areas at the same time. As we discussed above, it is important to make sure you study with schools and organizations that are accredited and recognized in the industry, Here are some examples of areas in which you could obtain certification:
- ACE Fitness Health Coach
- AFPA Health Coach
- Adapt Health Coach
- Duke Integrative Medicine Health Coach
Certification Study Resources
Studying for a certification can take time, but it is a necessary step in the process, no matter if you’re new to the field of study or you’ve been working within that field for years. Certification exams can be extremely challenging, so it’s important that you put extra work and care into studying the materials offered during the certification course and don’t rely on your past experience. Most courses have study aids such as flash cards and sample exams, and you should take full advantage of these study aids. If your general test taking skills need a refresher, you can find help with that as well. To make things simpler, each certification offers its own assistance for exam prep. For example, ACE Fitness offers a study program for its certifications, as does Duke. Check with the program you’re interested in certifying in and see what study aids are available.
When it’s time to start looking for a job in the Health and Wellness field, using a site that is dedicated to these types of jobs can make the job search infinitely easier. Here are some of the more popular job search sites where you can upload a resume and start your job search within the health and wellness arena.
For those who are just getting into the health and wellness work force, you might want to consider using a temp agency to get your foot in the door. This is also a good idea for those who are having trouble switching into this sector from another healthcare field or those who are professionals who might be looking for a change. You may not want to make this your main source of work, as the positions are usually short-term, but if you’re having trouble finding a position, or you want to experience several different positions within the field before settling on one, it’s definitely an option.
Resources for Health and Wellness Professionals
Professional Health and Wellness Associations
Professional organizations are important for those who want to advance in their careers. It is often through these groups that people learn about job opportunities, companies that are thriving and dying, and other industry information. They are ideal for networking and making connections. Belonging to a group or association can also be seen as a status symbol as well, especially if someone becomes an officer in the organization. There are many different associations that health and wellness professionals can choose from. We’ve listed just a few options below.
Popular Health and Wellness Journals
Staying up to date with the happenings of your profession is important. One way to do this is by reading health and wellness journals. These publications offer information about the latest trends, dangers, and trendsetters. Readers can also get information about upcoming classes and conventions and changes coming to the industry. Some publications also offer job listings and are available in print or online, so there’s an option for everyone regardless of their preference. Below is a sample of some of the publications that those who work in health and wellness might be interested in.
- Health & Fitness Journal - Presented by the ACSM
- International Journal of Health, Wellness, & Society - Published by the Health, Wellness and Society Research Network
- Drug Safety Journal - Published by International Society of Pharmacovigilance
- Journal of Adolescent Health: Home Page - Published by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM)
- American Public Health Association (APHA)
Industry Conferences for Health and Wellness Professionals
Like most professions, the health and wellness industry has plenty of conferences for professionals to get together to network and learn what’s new in their field. These conferences can be found around the world and are hosted by various agencies. Here are a few conferences that are held annually.
- Integrative Healthcare Symposium Annual Conference:
A two-day conference for traditional and non-traditional healthcare professionals. The symposium brings healthcare professionals and holistic, medical, and wellness experts together for classes and presentations.
- WELL Summit - WELL Summit:
A conference for those who work in, write about, or strive to live a lifestyle of health and wellness. Experts and enthusiasts will gain information to live well and teach others how to do so.
- National Wellness Conference:
Gain evidence-based foundational knowledge while exploring leading-edge techniques with like-minded professionals, thought leaders, and champions from around the world.
- 2020 Conference:
Meet health and wellness leaders as well as emerging scholars at this annual conference hosted by the Health, Wellness & Society Research Network.
- Rocky Mountain Wellness Coaching Retreat & Symposium:
Join other health and wellness coaches at this Catalyst Coaching Institute retreat designed to help you connect, recharge, and grow your business.
- Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo - FNCE |:
A conference for dietitians, dietitian professionals, and other experts in food and diet.