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How to Be a Life Coach: Get Certified to Help Others

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Do your friends, family, and colleagues tend to always turn to you for advice regarding everyday challenges? If you enjoy helping others on a regular basis, you might think about turning this passion into a career. We’re here to talk about how to be a life coach.
If you’ve ever had someone who helped you along the way, you completely understand the profound impact their guidance had on your own life. It could have been a mentor, a coach, a teacher, or a friend who gave you invaluable advice that stuck with you throughout the years.
Well, here’s your chance to pay it forward. Life coaching can be a fulfilling and rewarding career. It allows you to give back to others and see firsthand how people can take control of their lives and better their situation.
We’re going to show you how to become a life coach and start helping others on a full-time basis. We’ll go over whether or not life coaching is the right career for you, the steps you can take to get certified, and how you can land your first clients.

What Is a Life Coach?

Small plant in person's hand
A life coach is a certified expert who advises others across a range of professional and everyday areas. Life coaches are there for people who are trying to better their lives and become the best version of themselves they can be.
When some people need advice in certain areas of life and business, they will turn to a life coach for guidance. In a way, a life coach is like a counselor or therapist and will provide guidance, insight, and actionable advice to their clients.
Life coaches also help people navigate major life events and decisions. More and more, people are turning to a life coach they can trust to help them confidently handle anything life throws at them.

Should You Become a Life Coach?

Before you get too far ahead of yourself, it’s important to know if becoming a life coach is right for you. Life coaches are understanding, empathetic, and are experts at giving valuable advice. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then keep reading on.
You may be a good fit if you’ve overcome some sort of obstacle in life and want to help others break down similar walls. Typically, life coaches will specialize in a certain area. If you think you have plenty of life experiences in a particular area, you can use this to your advantage when becoming a life coach.
You should fully understand what you’re getting yourself into before embarking down this career path. Like many other careers, you’ll need training, education, and on-the-job experience to become a life coach.
This includes taking a paid certification course that takes up a substantial amount of time and money. We’ll touch more on this below, but first let’s look at how you can become a certified life coach.

How Do You Become a Certified Life Coach?

How to Be a Life Coach: women looking at a laptop
If you want to become a professional life coach, you’ll need to go through training, receive a certification, specialize in a certain area, and get some experience under your belt. After you’ve met these criteria, clients will be more than willing to trust and pay for your services.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) is a good resource for life coach professionals to educate themselves and seek out training opportunities. Since 1995, the ICF has led the advancement of the life coaching profession. The ICF website can be a great place to start your journey toward becoming a life coach.

Get a Life Coach Certification

Before you become a life coach, you’ll need to get some training under your belt. Life coach training will prepare you for all of the obstacles ahead and will equip you with the skills and know-how to help others.
The ICF has a training program search service that connects you with training opportunities around the world. These training programs allow you to hone your coaching skills and are known as Accredited Coach Training Programs — or ACTPs.
You can use the training program search function to find training near you. There are also many online webinar options you can sign up for.
The types of training and certifications vary depending on what you’re looking for. Some programs are full-on life coach certifications, while others specialize in areas like marriage or health coaching.
The price of life coach certifications varies widely. On the lower end, some courses are around $3,500, while others can be as much as $20,000. Most courses will generally fall between $5,000 and $10,000 for the complete certification.
These pricey courses shouldn’t scare you away, though. A life coach salary can be upwards of $100,000. According to a 2016 study, the national average salary of life coaches in North America was $61,900. As long as you’re confident about your career choice, then several thousand dollars could be chalked up as a wise investment in your future.
Completing one or more of these life coach training programs will enable you to start coaching clients, but if you want to set yourself apart, you can take it one step further by specializing in a specific area.

Specialize in a Life Coach Area

Specializing in one aspect of life coaching could help you become a better coach and secure more clients as a result.
Having a specialization allows you to dig deep into one subject. It lets you get to know the ins and outs of that subject, which can be a competitive advantage. A client is often much more willing to work with someone who specializes in what they’re interested in as opposed to working with a general life coach.
There are many different types of life coaches out there. Popular life coaching subjects that clients frequently look for include the following.

  • Business or organization
  • Career transition
  • Coach training
  • Creativity
  • Executive
  • Health and fitness
  • Leadership
  • Life vision
  • Personal organization
  • Relationship
  • Small Business
  • Spirituality

It will be up to you to decide which type of life coach you want to be depending on your interests and strengths. Once you decide on a specialization, you can seek out additional training and certifications within that particular area. These training programs can be found at the same site mentioned above.
When you feel like you’re ready to start mentoring others, it’s time to secure your first clients.

Start Coaching Clients

Now that you’re certified, it’s time to start coaching clients. Finding clients may seem like a daunting task at the beginning — so here are a few techniques you can use to jumpstart your career.
A great way to get your name out there is to establish an online presence. This typically includes a website, social media channels, and online ads. Starting a website involves a few steps, but it’s worth it for the added level of professionalism and outreach opportunities. You can highlight your expertise, services, and pricing all in one place.
You can also start writing articles discussing topics within your industry. Creating a solid blog will show that you’re a thought leader and can be trusted for guidance. The articles you write can help you rank higher in search results and bring more people to your site.
These articles can also be shared across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These social media outlets are great networking venues. You can interact with other professionals and join groups where you may be able to find clients.
You can also leverage in-person networking to meet potential clients and spread the word about what you do. You may choose to attend industry-specific events to rub elbows with people who may be interested in the subject area you specialize in. If you feel confident enough, you can even do speaking engagements at events in your area.
Whichever way you use to find new leads, you should try to collect their contact information so you can send them e-newsletters and relevant updates they might care about. This will help establish a relationship and will allow you to close more deals further down the road.

Get ICF Credentials

After you build up a client list and have some experience to work with, you can look into getting credentials from the ICF. Getting certified through the ICF will help show potential clients that you have experience and can be trusted as their coach.
Receiving credentials from the ICF is slightly different than going through training and receiving your initial life coach certification. Think of it as an industry-recognized badge that you can throw on your resume.
ICF credentials show potential clients that you’re part of an elite community of life coaches and can be trusted to give them guidance. You must be an established life coach with plenty of training and experience on your resume before you can pursue this.
The ICF has three different coaching certification programs for life coaches of various levels. Each level of certification will require a certain amount of training and coaching experience before signing up.

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC)
    • 60+ hours of training
    • 100+ hours of coaching experience
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
    • 125+ hours of training
    • 500+ hours of coaching experience
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC)
    • 200+ hours of training
    • 2,500+ hours of coaching experience

The price of these coaching programs ranges from $100-$900. If you’re serious about taking your life coaching practice to the next level, these credentials can bring in more business. These credentials will also list your coaching services on the ICF’s coach finder where new clients can find you through their coaching database.

Start a Successful Life Coach Career

Becoming a life coach can be a rewarding career that enables you to give back to others. It’s a great option for those who seek meaningful work and would rather not just punch in and out.
It’s also a great option for solopreneurs who want to start their own business and make money on their own terms. You could even do life coaching on the side if you’d like.
If you think you have what it takes, do a little research and sign up for your first life coach training program. After some hard work and a little elbow grease, you can be on your way to changing people’s lives while making a great income.

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