From fitness boot camps to mental health apps, the health and wellness industry is growing. Americans are turning to wellness coaches, nutritional advisors, mental health counselors, and other professionals in this multifaceted sector to live healthy and purposeful lives. Workplace wellness programs now serve more than 50 million people in the U.S., reducing employers’ medical insurance costs and improving employees’ physical and mental health.
Want to claim your slice of the (organic, gluten-free) pie? A Master of Science in Health and Wellness degree will help you take advantage of many opportunities in the burgeoning field of health and well-being.
An MS in Health and Wellness program incorporates covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, exercise, integrative health, stress management, and nutritional sciences, preparing graduates for certification exams necessary to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC).
This degree program is a good fit for those with an academic or professional background in psychology, health education, counseling, nutrition, or other aspects of fitness and wellness. Working professionals can pursue this degree with ease; some MS in Health and Wellness programs can be completed in as few as nine months. Others can be completed online.
Master’s in health and wellness programs typically require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree, and some programs call for prerequisite coursework in psychology, physiology, and statistics.
Those with an MS in Health and Wellness can pursue a wide range of career paths ranging from managing a corporate wellness program to advising athletes on nutrition. Here are a few specific jobs you’ll find:
Wellness program manager: In this profession, you'll plan and coordinate fitness, health, and wellness activities for institutions such as gyms, health facilities, wellness centers, and corporations. They may also find opportunities to coordinate wellness programming in the public or nonprofit sector, such as with universities, governments, schools, and hospitals. According to PayScale, wellness program managers make about $55,000 on average, with the top ten percent making around $88,000 annually.
Nutritional counselor: Also called a nutritional advisor, you'll work with individuals and groups such as sports teams to promote health and wellness through diet. They see nutrition as an essential piece of a holistic approach to wellness and are able to offer their clients effective, actionable plans for improving their health through changes in eating. To become qualified, look for a program approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) and ensure that its graduates meet the requirements to take the Board Certification in Holistic Nutrition exam offered by the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that nutritionists make a median salary of $60,370 per year and that thefield is growing twice as fast as the average U.S. occupation.
Mental health counselor: These counselors work with individuals who need help restoring their emotional balance or managing behavior. For example, those they counsel may be face substance abuse, mental health, or relationship issues. Mental health counselors help them confront their issues, learn to cope, and engage more effectively. According to BLS, mental health counselors make a median salary of $44,630, while those at the top of the field pull in roughly $73,000. Jobs for mental health counselors are growing quickly, with an expected 23 percent growth in jobs by 2026.
Health educator: You'll teach people in a variety of contexts about how to cultivate health, engage with the healthcare system, and maintain wellness. You may teach children in schools, work with communities as part of outreach programs at non-profit organizations, or coach individuals in corporate wellness programs. You may also counsel people in healthcare institutions about preventative health or post-procedure recovery. BLS indicates that health educators make a median annual wage of $54,220, while those in the top ten percent of the field make close to $66,000. The employment outlook in this field is good; health educators’ jobs are likely to grow 16 percent by 2026, which is more than twice than the national average rate.
Community health worker: In this niche, you'll look at health issues within a specific community or demographic and find ways to improve outcomes. You'll work closely with health educators to engage communities on issues of health, uncover data and patterns regarding healthcare among certain groups, and find ways to collaborate with the healthcare community. According to BLS, the median annual salary for community health workers is almost $40,000, with those in the highest 10 percent of earners bringing in more than $66,000. This is a fast-growing field, with a 16 percent increase in jobs expected by 2026.
Wellness coach: This career path will require you to take a holistic view of clients' approaches health and wellness, and advise on ways to restructure their relationships, diets, and other factors to boost physical and mental health. To pursue a career as a wellness or health coach, make sure that the MS in Health and Wellness program you choose will prepare you for certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC). PayScale indicates that wellness or health coaches average $18 an hour, but there are a variety of ways to increase that number, from the potential for bonuses to opening a private practice.
Whether you are advising on diet choices, helping manage problematic behaviors, or addressing health disparities in communities, an MS in Health and Wellness will secure you a wealth of job opportunities. And no matter which you choose, you'll be turning your passion into a career spent helping people rethink their attitudes towards wellness and live balanced, healthy lives.
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