Since its inception in the 1980s, life coaching has grown tremendously.
From a small movement to the international juggernaut that it is today, coaching as a profession has finally earned the respect that it has always deserved.
If you are naturally drawn to helping others achieve their goals and have a gift for communication, coaching might just be the perfect career path for you. If you’d like to know how to become a life coach, follow these five steps and take the leap into a career full of purpose.
Step 1: Learn what it means to be a life coach
At its core, coaching is simple: it is understanding where a person wants to go in life and asking them the right questions so they feel confident and clear on how to get there. You’ll challenge clients to adapt, be a sounding board for their challenges and insecurities, and you’ll help them slowly build their self-esteem until they can take on future obstacles. Coaching is about being a support system for your clients so they can reach their goals.
However, coaching is not for everyone. It takes an endless supply of patience, quick thinking, and empathy to thrive as a coach. Not only that, but if you do choose to go down the entrepreneur path, the time and effort it takes to run your own coaching practice is enough to challenge even the most motivated individuals. Before spending $5000 or more on a coach training program, it helps to understand exactly the life you’re signing up for as a life coach.
If you’d like to read an authentic, first-hand account of what it means to be a coach, the most popular book on this topic is Walks of Life, written by Jill Fratto, a certified life coach with the National Coach Academy. This book has helped tens of thousands of aspiring life coaches learn the basics of this profession and is a perfect introduction to anyone looking to find out what coaching is all about.
Step 2: Decide on a niche
Figuring out your specialty is a decision that will narrow down the type of person you envision yourself helping. A great way to decide is to consider who you’ve helped so far that made you want to be a life coach in the first place. Maybe you feel comfortable talking to parents who need a better work/life communication. Perhaps you feel inspired by empowering young women to become high performing professionals. Think about the type of person you are motivated to help and research niches from there. Luckily, most coaching programs prepare you for general coaching if you’d like more experience before specializing.
Researching your niche is a great step to begin your life coaching certification search. Certification programs will usually all begin with a foundational program that teaches you the basics of behavioral habit change in the context you’ll need them as a life coach. Because there are so many available certifications, an effective way to narrow down your search is to research programs that include your specialty upfront. Some programs include a health coaching certification or a career coaching training as an add-on to their foundations. If you see your niche included right away, that’s a plus for any potential program you’re interested in.
Step 3: Find a legitimate training program and get certified
The key to finding a high quality certification is to ensure you are looking at coaching programs that are ICF accredited. Accreditation guarantees that you will learn the foundations of coaching techniques such as motivational interviewing, goal-setting, conflict resolution, and experiential exercises. You can also be confident that your ICF certification will help you stand out among your peers and offer a competitive edge whether you find a coaching job or open your private practice.
Researching certification also requires attention to detail and your own personal preferences as far as pricing, length, and learning style. You’ll be faced with options for in-person learning as well as online programs or hybrids with both. You can expect to invest anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000 in your coaching program and you can choose a program length between three months and one year.
One of the fastest growing training programs in recent years is offered by Coach Training Alliance. Not only is the ICF-accredited Certified Coach Program at CTA one of the most comprehensive and affordable life coach certification programs on the market, it has the added benefit of being 100% online, so you can complete your certification in a way that fits your schedule and lifestyle.
Step 4: Decide if you want to be a business owner or employee
As you immerse yourself in a coaching program, you’ll need to decide if you’d prefer working as an employee or coaching as a business owner. You may like the idea of working within a larger team or supporting employees of an organization as an in-house coach. On the other hand, you may prefer the idea of being your own boss, making your own coaching hours, and building a brand as you go. There is no “right” answer since coaching can be effective regardless of your work environment.
Other hybrid employment options may allow you to experience coaching as an in-house employee as well as doing individual projects. Many coaches are qualified to publish books, begin blogs, and even create movements on social media. You are not limited in the approach you take as you find your voice as a coach, so remain open-minded and explore projects that inspire you. Perhaps you even coach for an organization and begin working on your first novel on weekends. Keep a flexible mindset, but begin to ask which path feels right for you.
Step 5: Find your first client
Finding your first client is an exciting and intimidating experience. You may feel nervous despite having helped people before, but remember that open conversations lead to the most effective progress. If you feel insecure about finding your first client, know that most coaching programs include marketing advice and lessons with practice clients. If this is an area you need support with, narrow your certifications down to the ones who specifically help new coaches market their work. (Coach Training Alliance really excels at this part of the training curriculum.)
Life coaching is an incredibly rewarding career for the right type of personality. As you learn more about this field, explore all of your options and truly understand the work you will be expected to do. Once you’re sure this is the right choice for you, jump in and get certified! As you gain experience and help clients achieve their full potential, you’ll be proud of your decision to become a life coach.