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How to become a life coach in 7 steps

14 min

If you are good at active listening and are naturally compassionate towards people facing challenges, you already have the two main life coaching skills.

Life coaching is a fulfilling profession where you earn by assisting people in navigating life’s complexities — an endeavor aligned with your innate talents.

If the prospect of such a rewarding path seems interesting, this post is your roadmap. We’ll discuss how to become a life coach and get coaching clients in seven steps.

Let’s dive in!

What is life coaching?

Life coaching is a collaborative partnership between a life coach and a client where the coach aims to propel the client towards their personal and professional goals. To achieve this, life coaches employ:

  • Effective communication
  • Active listening
  • Motivational techniques to facilitate self-discovery, growth, and goal attainment

Life coaching is often confused with counseling, consultation, and therapy (and its latest forms like live-chat therapy). But it is a lot different from all three.

Life coaching focuses on the present and future with an emphasis on setting specific, measurable, and achievable goals. It aims for a positive gradual transformation of the client — which could happen over months or years — to equip them mentally and emotionally for success.

In contrast:

  • Therapy focuses on past problems and reworking behavioral issues from the roots
  • Counseling focuses solely on problems
  • Consultation is only a one-time session 

To understand life coaching better, let’s consider a real-life scenario. Say there’s a client seeking career development. A successful life coach would help them:

  • Clearly define and articulate career goals. This involves identifying the specific job roles, industries, or achievements the client is interested in.
  • Realize their strengths, skills, values, and passions by active listening and insightful questioning.
  • Identify self-limiting beliefs, fears, and external factors that are blocking their way.
  • Create a strategic action plan, stretching from new skills to acquire to applying for specific positions.
  • Stay confident and motivated throughout the process.

If you’re wondering what a work day looks like in the life of a life coach, check out Benjamin J Harvey’s process.

He’s a two-time BRW award-winning coach in Australia.

Is life coaching a good career?

The fact that you don’t necessarily require any formal education before you begin practicing makes many people skeptical about the scope of life coaching. Let’s clear the fog on that.

Here are some statistics that make life coaching a good career path:

  • The life coaching industry is estimated to reach $2.1 billion by 2030. 
  • Life coaches charge $150 – $244 per hour, depending on their niche and expertise. Also, life coaches with more than ten years of experience have an average of 15 active clients. Coaches with more than five years of experience have an average of five active clients at a time.
  • The average annual income of life coaches is $38,219 per year. The range for average income is $25,819 – $42,107, and some jobs can pay as high as $46,500 per year.
How much do life coach jobs pay per year?

Let’s get into the exciting bit now and see how you can become a successful life coach.

7 Steps to become a life coach

Successful life coaches distinguish themselves by specializing in a niche and acquiring relevant certifications and skills. Their success is also tied to effective coaching marketing, strong client relationships, and a commitment to ongoing self-improvement. 

Here are the seven steps to become a life coach.

1. Pick a niche

There are several life coaching sub-niches you can explore, including:

  • Career coaching
  • Executive coaching
  • Relationship coaching
  • Health and wellness coaching
  • Financial coaching
  • Spiritual coaching
  • Mindset coaching
  • Creativity coaching
  • Parenting coaching
  • Transitional coaching
  • Goal-setting and achievement coaching
  • Time management coaching
  • Mindfulness and stress reduction coaching

Amongst these, career and mindset coaching are the most popular ones. They’re not only high in demand but also pay the highest.

But does that mean those two niches will work for you too? Not necessarily. If you do not have relevant experience, skills, or an interest in these areas, you won’t be successful.

To find your perfect niche, reflect on your interests, passions, and strengths. Figure out what topics or areas you find most engaging. Also, evaluate your skills and knowledge. Consider both professional experience and personal interests. Your expertise will contribute to your credibility as a coach.

Once you have chosen a niche, research the market demand. Study current industry trends, growing demand, average salaries, top life coaches within that niche, and possible strategies for growing within that market. 

We also recommend analyzing your competitors and target audience in deep detail. This analysis will give you insights into the challenges you’re about to face. If these problems seem addressable to you, go ahead and focus on that niche.

2. Take the training

You don’t necessarily need formal education to start your career as a life coach. But lack of education and proper training will set you back from competitors.

Professional life coach training programs guarantee that you learn the basics of important concepts like:

  • Active listening techniques
  • Ethical coaching practices
  • Proven goal achievement methodologies
  • Relationship building
  • Effective problem solving

You will also go through case studies and learn how to approach a variety of situations in real life.

The training will usually take 40 – 160 hours, stretched over six to 12 months. This is way quicker than a bachelor’s degree. For example, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching offers a 7-month program that allows you to earn three certificates. 

The iPEC Coach Training Program.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Certified Life Coach Institute, which offers an immersive and intensive 3-day life coach certification program. 

Keep in mind that expert life coaches like Ghada Zakaria of the UAE are raising their voices against untrained and unqualified coaches. This means the general public is becoming more educated on how to choose the right life coach for themselves — so training and qualifications from a certified life coach institute can make or break your career.

3. Get yourself certified

Most professional life coaching training programs will offer a certification at the end. It’s a great idea to get this certification. Here is why.

The 2022 International Coaching Federation (ICF) Global Consumer Awareness Study highlights the importance of certification in this industry. According to 30,000 participants from over 30 countries, coaches with credentials delivered a more satisfying experience than uncertified coaches. 

Satisfaction of coaching experience.

The same study revealed that a certified life coach is more likely to be recommended compared to an uncertified coach — meaning credentials increase your chances of earning more.

Importance of life coaches' credentials.

The most recognized life coach certification programs include:

A. International Coach Federation (ICF) Credentials

This is the most renowned life coach certification program. Here are some types of credentials offered by the ICF:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC): Recognizing foundational coaching skills.
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC): Demonstrating a higher level of coaching expertise.
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC): Signifying advanced coaching mastery.

B. Board Certified Coach (BCC)

This is administered by the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE). It focuses on competence in coaching skills and ethical standards.

C. Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC)

This certification is offered by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and focuses on co-active coaching principles and interactive learning.

D. Associate Certified Meta-Coach (ACMC)

The Meta-Coach Foundation (MCF) grants this certification. It acknowledges proficiency in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) coaching.

E. Transformational Coach Certification (TCC)

This certification is provided by the International Association of Coaching (IAC) and emphasizes a holistic approach to coaching.

F. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Coach Certification

This certification focuses on proficiency in NLP techniques for coaching and is offered by various accredited institutions.

G. Gallup Strengths Coaching Certification

This certification aligns with Gallup’s strengths-based coaching approach (leveraging individual strengths).

H. Certified Professional Coach (CPC)

This certification is offered by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and emphasizes energy leadership and coaching skills.

Note that each certification program is widely acknowledged in the life coaching industry and demonstrates a commitment to ethical practices, professional development, and mastery of coaching competencies. We recommend researching each thoroughly and choosing one that aligns with your coaching philosophy and goals.

4. Choose a business classification

The business classification you choose will shape your work schedule and income. For example, online marketing businesses charge less but see lots of clients. On the other hand, one-on-one coaching is expensive but you’ll have fewer clients, as shown below. 

Business models of life coaches.

Here is a deeper dive into your options:

  • Individualized coaching

Launching a life coaching venture often begins with this model. It’s a direct method where coaches provide personalized sessions to life coaching clients, either in person or virtually. 

This model is ideal for beginners because it’s easy to market and plan. It also doesn’t force you to manage large groups or spaces.

  • Subscription-based coaching 

For coaches experienced in individual sessions, transitioning to a subscription model is a good next step. It involves clients paying a regular fee for group sessions, shifting from individual to communal learning.

  • Retreat coaching

Organizing group coaching in the form of retreats can be effective and fun. These events are hosted in appealing locations for several days. They require significant organizational skills and are usually scheduled a few times annually.

  • Mastermind coaching format

Focusing on mutual client support, this model involves facilitating groups where clients help each other with challenges and goals. It demands exceptional people skills and a hands-on approach to ensure success.

  • Collaborative business strategy

Identifying a target audience that overlaps with another business can lead to a collaborative approach. For instance, a wellness coach could team up with a nutritionist or a fitness center, enhancing client value and fostering mutual business growth.

  • Motivational speaking

This is suited for those who excel at public speaking. It involves paid engagements at various venues to inspire large audiences. You’ll need to have a different marketing approach, targeting venues instead of individuals.

  • Digital content coaching model

This involves creating digital resources like e-books or courses. It requires a strategic online presence and tailored marketing for digital products. You can also start and monetize a blog. But you’ll need to understand SEO and content planning for effective audience engagement.

  • Authorship-driven coaching

For coaches who prefer writing, publishing books is an excellent model. It involves creating self-help books for clients to follow independently and can be taken up as a complementary model to your main business.

  • Corporate engagement model

This model involves working with companies and providing coaching to employees to enhance their skills. It offers a direct audience but requires effective presentation skills to secure corporate contracts.

  • Professional thought leadership 

Targeting a more professional audience on platforms like LinkedIn, this model focuses on establishing credibility and networking among peers and clients. Tailoring content to this professional context is essential for your success in this area.

  • Influencer-based coaching 

Leveraging a large online following, this model involves using social media influence to market coaching services or partner with brands. Differentiation and authenticity are key in this crowded online space.

5. Select an insurance plan

A hot-headed customer, a jealous competitor, or general doings of fate can sometimes land you in legal trouble. You need an insurance plan to mitigate such potential risks and safeguard your practice against unforeseen legal challenges. 

Insurance will protect your coaching business against claims of negligence, errors, or omissions.

Some common insurance plans you should consider are:

  • Professional liability insurance (errors and omissions insurance): It protects against claims of professional negligence, errors, or omissions — covering legal expenses and settlements in the event of a lawsuit related to coaching services. We highly recommend this one because it’s essential to safeguard your business against potential professional liability.
  • General liability insurance: This insurance plan covers third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage during coaching sessions or events. It guarantees financial protection in case a client or visitor suffers harm on the coach’s premises.
  • Cyber liability insurance: If you’re running an online coaching business, this one is a must-have. It protects against legal complications due to data breaches, cyber-attacks, or unauthorized access to sensitive client information.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an all-embracing insurance plan that covers general liability and property insurance, and often includes business interruption coverage. It costs much less than what you’ll pay when purchasing individual policies. That makes it a convenient choice for small to medium-sized coaching practices looking for budget-friendly options.

Consider how you’ll run your business and the risks you’ll be exposed to then select the appropriate insurance plan.

6. Market your business

Once you’ve set up your business foundation, it’s time to reach out to potential clients. 

We recommend beginning your marketing efforts by defining your unique value proposition. Identify your unique strengths, coaching philosophy, and the specific benefits clients can expect from your services. Also, clearly define what sets you apart from your competitors. 

Next, create a professional coaching website. Make sure it is a user-friendly interface and showcases your expertise, services, and client testimonials. You can offer discounts in exchange for testimonials as a way to get started. Also, optimize your website for search engines and ensure your contact information is easily accessible.

Here’s an example from Claire Wasserman, a career coach.

Example of a life coach website from Claire Wasserman.

You also want to strengthen your digital presence by using platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Share valuable content, engage with your audience, and establish your expertise. These platforms will increase discoverability and become your gateway to leads.

It’s also a good (and quicker) idea to invest in email marketing campaigns to engage with your audience more directly. Use our email marketing tips to craft a compelling strategy with engaging messages that provide value to your audience. 

Finally, don’t forget to participate in both online and offline networking opportunities. Attend industry events, join relevant groups, and engage in conversations. Establishing connections within your industry can lead to referrals and collaborations.

Pro tip: Consider these coaching apps and coaching email templates if you want to run your practice efficiently without having to build your tech stack from scratch.

7. Start coaching

Above, we’ve talked about how to reach out to clients. Now, let’s check out how to close them and get your life coaching business running. 

When someone expresses interest in your services, reply promptly and offer a free or discounted consultation session. This will make them more comfortable and confident before making a bigger financial commitment. 

Once closed, onboard the client through a systematic process. Introduce them to your coaching style, tools, and platform. Provide resources that help them understand what to expect and how to maximize the coaching experience. 

Also, formalize the coaching relationship with clear contracts and agreements. Outline the terms of engagement, confidentiality clauses, and the responsibilities of both parties.

When it comes to payments, set up a hassle-free system. Your clients should be able to easily book sessions and pay you without unnecessary back-and-forth.

Here are some other tips:

  • Make your coaching sessions action-oriented. Provide tools, exercises, and accountability measures that empower clients to take meaningful actions.
  • Set measurable goals with clients and celebrate their achievements. Acknowledging milestones reinforces their progress and motivates them to continue their journey with enthusiasm.

Learn how Wenzes Wegener, a successful life coach uses GetResponse to grow her coaching business.

FAQs on becoming a life coach

Can I teach myself to be a life coach?

Yes, you can teach yourself to be a life coach. There’s no obligation to acquire formal education to become a life coach. However, formal training provides essential skills, frameworks, and ethical considerations that are important for effective life coaching.

Can anyone be a life coach?

Anyone can aspire to be a life coach. But not everyone can be successful. Success in this field depends on innate empathy, active listening skills, and a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development.

Do life coaches make money?

Yes, life coaches earn a living through their services (scroll up to see dollar figures). The exact income depends on factors like experience, specialization, and the ability to build a strong client base.

Is life coaching for you?

Life coaching is a rewarding and lucrative career. To become a life coach, start by choosing a niche and obtaining relevant training and certification. Then, choose a business model, get business insurance, and start marketing your business. 

With the right skill set, perseverance, and a good understanding of online marketing, your life coaching business will go to places in no time. Good luck!

Michal Leszczynski
Michal Leszczynski
Meet Michal Leszczynski, Head of Content Marketing and Partnerships at GetResponse. With 10+ years of experience, Michal is a seasoned expert in all things online marketing. He’s a prolific writer, skilled webinar host, and engaging public speaker. Outside of business hours, Michal shares his wealth of knowledge as an Email Marketing lecturer at Kozminski University in Warsaw. You can reach out and connect with Michal on LinkedIn.