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How to Become a Life Coach

Last updated on July 16, 2024

Thinking about becoming a life coach? For many, it’s a profession that’s both deeply satisfying and highly lucrative—which helps explain why the industry is growing so rapidly. In this article, we’re covering everything you need to know about how to become a life coach, so you can join the fun.

While it’s recommended that you get trained and certified as a coach, you can become a life coach without certification. There are absolutely no requirements for becoming a life coach.

Right now in this moment, if you decide you’re a life coach, you are. Congratulations!

But before we get too carried away, a better question to consider might be how to become a life coach and get paid for it? To answer that, let’s start with the basics of being a life coach.

What Is a Life Coach Anyway?

So what exactly is a life coach? And what does a life coach do? Merriam-Webster defines a life coach as “an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems.”

The Guardian phrased it pretty well when they said, “Unlike therapists, life coaches don’t diagnose or treat anything—and unlike supportive friends, they charge money to listen.”

According to that assessment, a coach can be thought of as somewhere in between a therapist and a supportive friend. The difference between a coach and a supportive friend, though, is what makes coaches able to charge their clients money.

Life Coach - Woman on Video Chat
Most life coaching is done online through video calls

So why can a life coach charge money to listen? This is the million-dollar question (quite literally for a growing number of 6- and 7-figure-earning coaches in this booming industry). And the answer really comes down to two things: coaching skills and business skills.

The most successful coaches have the ability both to help their clients and to market their services effectively. To be a successful coach yourself, you will likely need both as well.

How to Become a Life Coach and Get Paid

Getting paid to be a life coach is a wonderful opportunity. For thousands of coaches around the world, it’s a dream job—you get paid to talk to people and help them live better lives. Let’s go over what you can do to make this dream job your reality.

What Are Some Life Coaching Skills?

First things first—if you’re going to be a life coach, you need to be able to run a coaching session. But what does a coaching session look like? One good way to find out is to get coached yourself! You can find coaches all over social media who are offering free initial coaching sessions. Or you can go so far as to hire a coach.

A typical coaching session will be done via 1-on-1 video call. As a coach, you ask the client questions, the client answers, and you guide the client through a journey of self-discovery, self-awareness, and empowerment. To that end, here are some examples of skills a great life coach will want to develop:

  • Conversation skills – ability to rephrase, clarify, and guide the conversation
  • Active listening – ability to ask good questions and understand and interpret answers
  • Balancing empathy with objectivity – helping your client feel heard and understood while also offering an outside perspective
  • Curiosity – to get to the root of clients’ thoughts and behaviors
  • Setting boundaries – to avoid being overwhelmed by your clients’ emotions and problems

As you can see, being an effective coach largely comes down to good communication skills. As a coach, you must be able to ask good questions, actively listen, and help clients to make changes in their lives.

If you’re wondering if coaching is a good fit for your personality, try taking a life coach aptitude test like this online quiz.

Life Coaching Skills - Active Listening - Two Men Talking
Listening skills are critical to being a successful life coach

Developing the skills to become a great life coach is one reason why so many coaches choose to take part in coach training and certification programs. A good coach training program can help you learn what questions to ask, how to ask them more effectively, how to run a coaching session, and other helpful strategies that will improve your ability to create change in your clients’ lives. Some training programs specialize in a particular methodology, such as iNLP Center‘s neuro-linguistic programming model, while others are more general or use a blended approach.

Many coach certification programs will also help you with the business side of things. For example, Coach Training Alliance uses a “three-legged stool” training approach: coaching skills, marketing skills, and business skills—everything you need to become a successful coach.

The Business of Life Coaching – Getting Clients

Most life coaches run their own coaching businesses. Unless you get a job at a coaching organization, then like most life coaches, you will be self-employed. And since you’ll most likely be starting your own business from scratch, the question becomes, how do you get life coaching clients?

If you’re just starting out, one great way to get your feet wet is to offer free coaching to friends and family. Simply let them know that you are getting started as a life coach, and tell them you’d like to offer a free coaching session.

You can also find clients through social media or by creating a profile in life coach directories. Learn from other coaches who are doing what you want to be doing. You will find there are plenty of coaches who are willing to help and offer advice on how to get your first coaching clients.

Choosing a Coaching Niche

When you decide to offer your services as a life coach, it can be very helpful to narrow down who you want to work with. It’s not required, but most experienced coaches will recommend this clarifying practice of choosing a niche to newer coaches—something you can do to get some clarity and traction as a new coach.

To choose a coaching niche, think about your ideal client—someone you would love to work with and help. Who are they, what are they doing, and what do they need or want? You might decide you want to be a life coach for stay-at-home moms, working moms, recent empty nesters who are navigating a new chapter, youth or millennials who want to find the right career, or small business owners.

There’s an endless number of narrow and broad coaching niches you could choose and equally as many certifications for them, such as the 35+ niche trainings offered by Transformation Academy. In fact, deciding on a niche can become a sticking point for many coaches, commonly referred to as ‘niche drama.’

The good news is, you can always change your mind later, and almost any experienced coach will tell you their business evolved over time.

How to Get Started Now

Now that you have a better sense of what it takes to become a life coach, here are some ideas for things you can do right now to get started as a life coach.

Sign up for a coach training and certification program. While it’s true that you don’t need to be certified to become a life coach, completing a coach training is an excellent way to get started as a coach. You can read our article on the best coach certification programs, or take this quiz to find the best one for you.

Download and study free coaching tools & resources. You can find free resources like those offered by the Coaching Tools Company, and look up information online about how to use them.

Get coached yourself. One great way to get experience with life coaching is to be a client yourself. You can find coaches who are offering free coaching sessions, or you can hire a coach if you find one that resonates with you.

Offer free coaching sessions to friends and family. The best way to become a better coach is to do more coaching. If you are serious about becoming a coach, offer your services to friends, family, and your social media followers. Start with a free session or two, and go from there.

If being a life coach sounds like your dream job, then there’s nothing standing between you and becoming one. With all the free resources, courses, and coaches sharing tips and information online, there’s never been a better time to become a life coach.

And if there’s never been a better time, then what are you waiting for?

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Life Coach

Here are a few questions that might come up as you look into becoming a life coach.

Is certification required to be a life coach?

No. While it is recommended, you do not need a certification to be a coach. There is currently no government regulation of the coaching industry. So what qualifies you to be a life coach? Your own life experiences, your integrity, and your decision to become a coach. You can further qualify yourself with trainings, certifications, and learning from your own coaching experience.

How many clients do life coaches have?

The number of clients a coach works with can vary widely. An average coach offering 1-on-1 coaching might have anywhere from 5 – 50 clients and meet with them weekly or monthly. Naturally, if they offer group coaching, the number of clients a coach has will likely be much higher.

Is life coaching a pyramid scheme?

Life coaching is not a pyramid scheme. Like many industries, there is the potential for these kinds of behaviors and tactics. But to be a coach, there is no requirement that you get other coaches to “sign up under you” or anything like that. While many coaches do end up coaching other coaches, which can feel like a Ponzi scheme, there’s no limit to who you can coach.

How much does it cost to become a life coach?

As we said earlier, there are no requirements to becoming a life coach. But if you want to be a certified life coach, the cost of certification programs can range anywhere from $200 to $20,000 or more. Most comprehensive programs cost around $2,000 to $4,000. You can also find much cheaper options.

For more information about becoming a certified life coach, check out our article on the best coach certification programs, or take this quiz to find the best program for you.

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