How to Become a Life Coach: Qualifications, Certifications & Accreditation
There is a lot of misleading or confusing information out there. We’re here to help!
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Most aspiring life coaches we meet tell us the same thing… they are passionate about helping people but they’re just not sure they’re qualified or capable of becoming a life coach, or what type of life coach certification is needed. We felt the same way when we first started.
We also hear stories of aspiring coaches being intimidated and shamed by other coaches who believe that only certain life coach training programs approved by specific “associations” are valid. Some even claim that without these expensive and time-consuming training programs, a coach doesn’t have “ethics”.
This is an unfortunate trend in the life coaching industry that ends up discouraging coaches, instead of empowering them. A field designed to improve lives has become commercialized and wrapped up with red tape. As a result, many potentially transformational coaches are locked out of the industry before they can even start. The truth is you can do this. You have everything you need to kick off your life coaching career off the ground, and in this blog, we’ll show you exactly how. If you still would like more information on life coaching, contact us today.
The truth is you can do this. So now that you know you’re ready for the life coaching career you’ve dreamed of, let’s go through some basics of starting a life coaching career.
What is a Life Coach?
A life coach is a wellness, mindset, and entrepreneurship professional that helps clients attain fulfillment in life by mastering challenges and achieving goals. Coaches often help their clients overcome some of life’s biggest hurdles: career roadblocks, family struggles, mental wellbeing, and more. Importantly, rather than providing immediate solutions for their clients, a life coach uses tools and techniques to help their clients solve problems for themselves.
As a life coach, you’ll work one-on-one with clients or in group settings, helping to clarify goals, obstacles, and other important features of your clients’ life progress. Once you and your client have identified the changes they want to make, you’ll work with them to craft a strategy that allows them to realize that change—and you’ll support them along the way.
How to Become a Life Coach: The 6 Steps
If you’re like most coaches, you’ve been doing this coaching thing for years and just not getting paid for it! Being a coach is something IN YOUR HEART. It’s who you are! And don’t, most of the most famous and successful coaches are not “certified” by anyone. Just look at Tony Robbins! You can do this. So let’s get into the steps to launching your successful coaching career.
Step 1: Determine if You’re Qualified to Become a Life Coach.
We’ll make this one easy for you… the answer is a resounding, “YES!” You are qualified to be a life coach. Life coaches come from all sorts of backgrounds like counseling, personal fitness, nursing, and business, etc. However, the majority of coaches do not have official backgrounds. Instead, they bring with them two things: life experience and/or work experience. Plus, you’ve probably been doing this your whole life!
In many cases, coaches target a specific niche in which they have unique knowledge and experience. For example, entrepreneurs might coach business start-ups, personal trainers become health coaches, teachers coach others on public speaking, etc. Life coaches enroll in training programs to hone their skills and learn strategies for growing their specific coaching practice.
These programs help establish a foundation of understanding about what coaching is, the psychology behind it, and the methodologies and processes used. Ultimately, what training you need in order to coach is up to you. There is no law that requires coach training of any kind.
Step 2: Identify Your Life Coaching Niche.
If you are an experienced entrepreneur, it probably doesn’t make much sense to go into health and fitness coaching. But, it would make sense to coach and help young professionals starting up their first business.
Life coaches typically focus on improving clients’ personal, romantic, or professional lives. Life coaches might also hone in on helping clients design better health and exercise regimens.
Although it’s true that you’ll have a major subject focus as a life coach, it’s likely that you’ll touch on more than one area of your clients’ life. For example, if you’re helping clients develop leadership skills in the office, you might have to address their home life issues first.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some jumping-off points you can use to guide your niche choice.
12 Major Coaching Niches:
- Goal Attainment
- Life Skills
- Industry Specific/Skills
Not targeting a specific life coaching niche is the #1 biggest mistake that most life coaches make. Set up your niche based on your background and what you feel comfortable talking to others about. It’ll be easier to sell and market yourself as a thought leader, mentor, and life coach with specialized training combined with your unique history and background.
Step 3: Research Life Coach Certification, Accreditation, and Training Programs.
Life coaching is a non-regulated industry, which means there are no laws that govern the field. This is the case in the United States and in all other countries as well. (It is recommended that any coach who is concerned regarding this matter seek advice from his/her state or country.) There is no degree required to be a life coach.
Unlike academic institutions (such as Universities), life coach training organizations do not need to be accredited by a governing body because there exists no accrediting institution in the field of life coaching. There is no license required to be a life coach.
This is because life coaching is dramatically different than therapy. Life coaches are not licensed mental health care providers or therapists and must not provide medical advice, engage in patient diagnosis, or treat mental illness or trauma.
See our video on the differences between therapy and coaching for additional information. There may be organizations that claim to be a legal “accrediting body”, however, this is false and misleading. They are simply “associations” that charge a fee for training organizations to receive their “rubber stamp of approval” (based on those programs meeting the association’s standards).
While these associations serve an important role in holding the coaching industry to higher standards and establishing a foundation of ethics and best practices, they do not hold any authority over the industry, other training organizations, or coaches.
Step 4: Structure Your Life Coaching Services.
There’s no one-size-fits-all life coach service. So, it’s important to figure out the types of services you’re going to offer. You can structure your services around helping people accomplish personal goals, assisting professionals navigating a specific career path, or assisting with specific personal or professional projects like a public speaking event.
You may also want to consider offering a range of different packages to your clients. For example, you can offer a 30-minute phone consult, a set amount of hour-long sessions, or one two-hour session. The breakdown of your services, the timelines, and the prices you set are up to you.
We highly recommend creating a signature life coaching package that focuses on your niche area. Your signature life coaching package should be designed to help your clients attain specific results. Not only is this type of coaching program the most effective, but it also makes it easier for you, as the coach, because:
- Clients pre-pay for the entire coaching package
- It takes the guesswork out of coaching, as you’re following a step-by-step process.
Step 5: Market Your Business and Get Life Coaching Clients.
Most life coaches absolutely love the idea of becoming a coach, but they hate the idea of marketing. And we don’t blame them. Unfortunately, most of the marketing advice in the coaching field tells you that in order to market your coaching you need a mountain of different things to be successful: a blog, logo, website, email campaign, marketing system, social media followers, Facebook ads… the list goes on. Accomplishing this list can become incredibly time-consuming (and expensive). It’s enough to make you want to hide in a cave.
So, here’s the good news: that couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t need any of these marketing methods to get started!
Instead of trying to figure out the labyrinth of marketing options available today, you can focus on the three marketing strategies that are NOT on this list. Our tried and true tactics have been proven over and over again to be what works for life coaches more than anything else. Learn more here.
Step 6: Invest in Continued Life Coach Training
The truth is that a life coach’s training never really stops. No matter where you find yourself on your life coaching journey, there’s always more to learn and explore. Even seasoned life coaches may benefit from learning new innovative techniques, or from refreshing information they may have learned years ago.
That’s why Transformation Academy is committed to providing training that is easy to pick up whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned professional. Keep up with our course list to determine whether there are any new offerings you think your practice could benefit from.
Common FAQs on Becoming a Life Coach
In our many years of life coaching and training thousands of students to become life coaches of their own, we’ve come across our fair share of questions on starting a life coaching career. Our most commonly asked question is always around qualifications, certifications, and accreditation. So we’ll dive into some answers here.
Do I Need a Degree or Go to School/University to Be a Life Coach?
Life coaching certifications are typically non-academic (not through a college or university) and are offered by private life coach training organizations, which are usually run by experienced life coaches and/or educators. These educational programs train life coaches in various aspects of coaching and offer a certificate endorsing the coach who has completed the training program offered by that organization.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Life Coach?
Building your life coaching business can take time as you network, build skills, and grow your client base. However, getting started is simple—Transformation Academy’s courses and certification programs take just 20 to 60 hours to complete.
Once you’ve been certified, it’s just a matter of building up your business and making the connections that will make your entrepreneurship goals viable. It’s also wise to spend time figuring out what your niche is, whether that’s specializing in entrepreneurship courses or teaching clients more about mindfulness.
Are All Life Coaching Programs the Same?
There are many organizations that offer certification programs, and there are many types of coaching certifications. Some programs focus on general coaching principles and methodologies, while other programs teach specific processes for coaching clients on niche topics. Many coaches study general methodologies and also complete training in a particular niche, depending on their interests. Some coaching programs are taught in person and others are available online. Some require “contact hours” with mentor coaches and practice hours with clients in order to earn the certification, while others do not. The cost of programs reflects the level of interaction and support.
How Much Does it Cost to Start Life Coaching?
Your business startup costs may vary depending on whether you offer online-only coaching, in-person coaching, an office space, advertising, and more. However, certification for life coaching can be affordable. Transformation Academy’s essential Professional Life Coach Certification costs just $197.
After that, it’s up to you to decide how to scale and grow your skills as your business develops over time. Some people dedicate enough time to their coaching practice to leave their full-time jobs. Others choose to start a side business coaching. Ultimately, you’ll get out of your coaching practice what you put in.
What Does it Mean to Get a Life Coach Certification?
Acquiring a coach certification means that you have completed a program offered by a Coach Training Organization.
Does My Coach Training Need to Be Accredited?
There are organizations that claim to be an accrediting or governing body for the life coaching industry, and therefore “accredit” other organizations’ certification programs. However as we mentioned above, these organizations hold no legal authority over the field or other organizations. So, taking a coach training program that is “accredited” by a particular organization is not required to become a life coach.
What are CEU/CPD credits?
In many industries, employees or practitioners are required to earn “continuing education units (CEU’s)” or “continuing professional development (CPD)” credits to meet requirements for their career path or maintain industry licenses. A number of organizations provide training that meets the requirements of these CEU/CPD credits. These organizations also approve coach training programs that meet their requirements and allow those organizations to provide CEU/CPD credits for students who complete their courses.
These CEU/CPD credits are only of value to students who are in a career field that requires or acknowledges them. They are also not required. (For example, Transformation Academy® is an accredited provider of continuing professional development with the internationally recognized CPD Standards Office. Provider number: 50134.)
If It’s Not Required, Why Get Certified in Life Coaching?
Other industries, such as social services, education, fitness, and speaking, to name a few, also offer certifications that are not legal licenses or accredited by educational institutions. The purpose of such certifications and training is to obtain specialized knowledge to further develop one’s career, increase the value of the services one provides, and establish further confidence and credibility.
Choosing the Best Life Coaching Program
Life coach training helps future coaches develop their skill set and cultivate the tools they will need to show their clients how to live a more productive and fulfilling life. In order to teach your clients the tools they will need, you’ll need to learn them for yourself first.
Most life coach training programs do a good job of covering industry standards and core skills. Where they differ is how much detail they get into related to the actual processes you will use with your clients (practical), whether or not they train you in a specific type of coaching (niche), and whether or not they help you understand what it takes to create a life coaching business. In addition, some programs offer in-person or live-virtual components to the training and others are 100% online and self-paced. Some require a certain number off hours meeting with a “mentor”, as well as practice hours with clients. Some programs costs thousands and take months, others are much less cost and can be finished at your own pace.
The best life coaching program will assist you in your development from start to finish. Whether you’re just learning the basic tools that life coaches use to make changes in people’s lives or you’re navigating how to get clients as a life coach, a solid certification program will show you the steps that you need to take.
What is best for you is 100% up to you.
Transformation Academy’s unique and innovative selection of course offerings is built to help coaches get started from the ground up and stay honing their skills for a lifetime. Sign up to learn how our courses can help you build your business no matter where on the journey you find yourself.
Become a Life Coach Today with Transformation Academy
Becoming a life coach is an exciting career path to pursue. However, we understand that it’s overwhelming to know where to start. That’s where Transformation Academy® comes in. We offer comprehensive life coach certification and training. There are more than twenty niche certifications to choose from! Plus, our life coaching business masterclass can help you figure out how to get clients and grow your life coaching business, whether you plan to offer to coach on the side or make it your full-time gig.
After you complete your life coach certification at Transformation Academy®, you’ll be able to fully realize your dreams and help your clients achieve their goals.
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Joeel & Nataile are co-founders of Transformation Academy®, where they train leading-edge entrepreneurs, leaders and life coaches how to master their mindset and create a purpose-driven business. They have started more than a dozen businesses, and trained over 500,000 coaches from 200_ countries and territories. Joeel is a former psychology professor with a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Education is currently completing his dissertation on eudaemonic happiness for a Ph.D. in Psychology.