So you have discovered life coaching!
And now you are wondering how to become a life coach, and if you need to pursue a life coaching certification.
Also: Yay and welcome!
It’s a really wonderful career choice, but you might be confused as to the path to take to get there.
Do you become a life coach online?
Is there a life coaching certification process?
What IS a life coach? (And what do life coaches *actually* do?)
So, let’s dive in! I’m all about concrete steps.
How to become a life coach step 1: Understand what a life coach is (and what they do all day!)
A life coach is often confused with a therapist, because they can both see clients one-on-one in 50 or 60 minute sessions. But they are VERY different professions.
For example: While therapy is a licensed profession that helps individuals heal and process past hurts, life coaching starts with the idea that a person is already whole and complete, and focuses on the future. A life coach will help clients set and achieve goals so they can reach their full potential.
Life coaches cover many industries: Health, Career, Executive, Dating and Relationships, Divorce, Retirement the list is long and fun!
Fun fact: The term “life coach” comes from stage coach – i.e., something that helped transport you forward :).
Life coaches also aren’t licensed…yet. But a good life coach IS certified, and that certification is called a CPC, or Certified Professional Coach.
What this means is that a life coach attends an accredited life coach certification program, and passes a written and oral exam once complete.
As I mentioned, many life coaches see clients one-on-one, much like therapists. Though private coaching can happen over the phone, via Skype, or in-person – it doesn’t have to take place in an office.
But wait – there’s more! Coaches often also create group programs or retreats, and many expand into online programs or services, though these additional offerings often fall into “training” rather than “coaching.”
This makes coaching businesses a little more creative and dynamic than you might think – and you, as a new coach, can find a business modality that fits your personality and style.
Finally, many coaches will agree to coach someone for a predetermined package towards a specific goal. So unlike therapy, coaching isn’t usually completely open-ended. While someone may choose work with a coach for a long time, their progress is much more easily charted because it’s goal-oriented.
Here’s a cool free in-depth video training on why life coaching is a billion dollar industry, and what you need to know about getting started… if you enjoy a good video! 🙂
How to become a life coach step 2: Get some training and ideally get certified!
Now that you know you want to be a coach, a great place to start is with some training.
Coaching is a legitimate skill-set that differs from therapy, consulting, and social work (three related fields). So if you are thinking about becoming a coach, start reading up on the skill of coaching, and begin to explore the many training options out there for you.
It can feel overwhelming at first, as there are many schools around the world that will offer to train and certify you (and some of them are shady), but don’t fret: Here’s a great article breaking down how to find a good, non-shady coaching school in your area, and specific criteria to think about before you join a program!
If you are ready, choose a coaching school that is accredited by the International Coach Federation – so you know it’s not shady, and offers an in-person or mentoring component -so you get real feedback – and takes more than just a week or a weekend (because no).
And most importantly, choose a life coach certification program that feels good to you. All coaching schools teach the same basic coaching skills, but all do it from a different flavor. Find what flavor suits you!
If you are really serious about being a coach, don’t skip this step completely.
You can skip ahead and not get certified as a life coach if you want, but it’s important to learn some of the critical coaching skills at some point in your coaching career if you want to go down this path.
Here’s why: It’s better for all of us if those practicing coaching are trained and *ideally* life coach certified – this is formally called a CPC, or Certified Professional Coach. And it will help your confidence – and your future – to get trained and certified at some point.
Life coach certification will take about 6 months to a year, and it is a pretty involved process, so know that going in. But it’s also fun, challenging, and very VERY enlightening.
Let’s say you’ll learn a LOT about yourself :).
How to become a life coach step 3: Learn how to become an entrepreneur
You can do this step in tandem with step 2 if you want, there’s no reason not to start your business training at the same time as your coaching training.
I recommend business training as most coaches will end up working for themselves if they want to coach full-time, rather than for someone else. While many companies and organizations recognize the power of coaching, not that many employee full-time coaches on staff.
A great place to start learning the business side of life coaching is with this book, as it’ll help you understand exactly how life coaches make money, since there are several business modalities for you to choose from.
Life coaching is still a vastly misunderstood profession, and there are lot of people out there who enjoy making fun of it, which *rolls eyes.* This makes learning the business side even more important.
Many coaches get so excited about getting certified they forget that it’s also important to learn HOW to sell coaching because simply selling “life coaching” is, in fact, a *terrible* idea.
(Here’s a super helpful free article that will explain what successful life coaches really sell, plus how to structure your new coaching business. What you see on page 2 will surprise you!).
One last thing: Find out how much you can expect to make! Here’s the skinny….
Before committing to coaching, it’s always great to know *exactly* how much you can expect to make as a coach and why.
You need to be able to support yourself, right?
So here’s an extremely detailed free article on what life coaches can expect make in terms of income, and it’s your next assignment.
Plus it’s a helpful deep dive on the health of the industry, and should make you feel instantly better about choosing this as your future profession. No opt-in required!