How to Become a Certified Life Coach

LearnHowToBecome Team
Lara Vukelich
Updated July 28, 2022

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Life coaches help people tackle personal and professional goals. You may want to explore this career if you are good at identifying obstacles, developing plans, and helping people. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says people in this field earn an average of $42,080 per year. You can get a certificate for $10,000 or less, which is much less expensive than the average $35,000 a year you'd pay for a bachelor's degree.

Learn more about how to become a life coach and find resources below.

What Does a Life Coach Do?

Life Coach Career Basics

Life coaches use organization and people skills to help their clients identify obstacles to their goals, then overcome those obstacles. They focus on future desires rather than the present.

How to Become a Life Coach

Step 1
Choose a niche

Coaching is a vast field, so professionals have many niches to choose from. This helps coaches market their services to a specific type of client and gives potential customers confidence that the coach has expertise in helping people with their unique challenges. Some of the possible areas of specialization for life coaches include:

  • Business
  • Career transition and job search
  • Romantic relationships
  • Academic issues
  • Spirituality
  • Aging
  • Work-life balance
  • General wellness
Step 2
Complete a training program

Helping people improve different areas of their life is a big responsibility requiring specialized training. During training, prospective coaches learn the psychological principles of coaching, how to conduct a coaching assessment to determine clients' needs, ethics in coaching, and communication skills.

To get the best results from their training, students should find a program accredited by industry associations like the International Coach Federation (ICF). This process takes about 18 to 24 months. Depending on the program you choose, you may pay between about $2,500 and $12,000.

Step 3
Get a credential

You can apply for certification after you complete your training program. Credentials provided by professional associations like the ICF and the International Association of Coaching (IAC) require expertise and demonstration of high work standards. The annual membership fee for the ICF is $245 per year. The IAC's annual fees range from $169 to $319 per year.

For example, the ICF offers a Professional Certified Coach certification requiring 500 hours of coaching experience—450 of which must be paid—as well as at least 25 clients. You also need to pass a test.

Step 4
Set up a business classification

To get certain legal protections as a business owner, life coaches can get a business classification, such as a Limited Liability Company or Corporation designation. The process of setting up an official business varies by state. You will need to file articles of organization, reserve a business name, get a business license, and pay applicable fees (some states also require additional steps).

Filing fees for your paperwork are usually under $300, plus you'll pay ongoing LLC fees assigned by the state where you incorporate your business.

Step 5
Obtain business insurance

Although life coaches don't need insurance, getting coverage can help protect their business and give clients peace of mind. General liability insurance may be as low as $60 per month.

Step 6
Get to Work

Getting the word out is important for any business, especially one that is in its early stages. Placing ads in targeted publications can help life coaches get the exposure they need to boost their business. You should also attend networking events geared toward people in your niche — this may allow you to meet the types of clients you want to work with.

Sharing positive feedback from clients can also help life coaches gain the trust of prospective customers. Life coaches should ask regular clients to write a testimonial for the website and in promotional materials.

Life Coach Salaries and Job Growth

The BLS does not collect data for life coaches specifically, instead including them in the rehabilitation counselor data. As mentioned above, the average salary for that category is just over $42,000 per year. Also, note that life coaches can often earn more by working with professionals — CEO coaching and similar services often fetch a higher price.

State

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Projections Central, a U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored website.

Top 10 States With the Highest Job Growth

  1. New York: 30.3%
  2. Connecticut: 28.8%
  3. Arizona: 28.6%
  4. Colorado: 20.3%
  5. Texas: 18.7%
  6. Tennessee: 17.8%
  7. Georgia: 17.3%
  8. Arkansas: 17.2%
  9. North Carolina: 16.6%
  10. Utah: 16.2%

Courses in Life Coach Training Programs

Learning how to be a life coach requires covering diverse coursework. Classes in a life coach program may include the following:

Coaching Ethics

Leadership Theory

Cognitive Behavioral Coaching (CBC)

FAQs on Becoming a Life Coach

How do you become a life coach?

Find an industry association to get initial training and certification to become a life coach. To grow your coaching business, you'll need to market yourself to potential clients. With more experience, you can gain advanced credentials through ICF and earn the title of master coach.

How much does a life coach make?

Life coaches reported average salaries of $49,840 on Payscale.com. Your earnings as a life coach may vary depending on your specialty, rate, clientele size, and credentials.

How long does it take to become a life coach?

Your first training courses as a coach can take 20 to 120 hours of coursework. Advanced credentials, such as ICF's professional coaching certification, can take six to twelve months to complete and require logging at least 500 hours of coaching experience.

How much does it cost to become a life coach?

Programs to earn coaching credentials can cost between $2,500 and $12,000.

Are there life coach programs online?

Yes. You can find several online, in-person, and hybrid programs to become a life coach. Find all ICF-approved programs using its Education Search Service.

Components of a Successful Life Coach Career

Skills
Life coaches should be familiar with organization apps and tools that help the clients in their particular niche. For instance, if you specialize in business coaching, you'll need to know about the project management tools your clients may need. Life coaches should also be familiar with motivation techniques, leadership skills, and conflict resolution methods.
Traits
Life coaches need patience, communication, and great organization skills. You will need to outline detailed plans for your clients and remain in regular communication. Not only will you organize your client's lives, but you need to be able to keep on top of your own follow-up schedule and hold yourself accountable for tracking each client.
Tools
Life coach tools may include computer programs, books, and workbooks.

Related Careers at a Glance

Related careers include:

Therapist

Become trained to counsel individuals, couples, and families through a variety of issues.

Social Worker

Help people navigate challenges and (sometimes) work with social services programs to improve their lives.

Nutritionist

Guide people toward their health goals and learn to eat healthy for their specific needs.

Become Team
Lara Vukelich
Contributing Writer

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