I know what it’s like to want something so badly but not have any clue where to start or where to turn. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives sharing what I’ve learned from all that I have overcome. Like you, I have wisdom learned from going through the battles and a heart to help others work through their battles.
Life coaching seems like an ideal business to bring what I know to the people who need it. But where do you even begin? How do you tell the scams from the legitimate schools? Can you really make money at it?
First of all – welcome to life coaching! The world needs you. We need more people with loads of compassion and caring for others. I started in 2014 and it’s been exciting to see the field grow and gain credibility.
Along with the growth in the industry has come plenty of people trying to take advantage of the heart-led, compassionate givers who are drawn to coaching. I want to help you avoid the dark holes and wasted money so you can get started on the path to your fulfilling life coaching career.
What I wish I knew when I got started:
What is a life coach?
The ICF definition of coaching is “partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Being a life coach means being in partnership. You are not the expert in the client’s life or career. You are an expert in helping them explore their thinking, identify their potential, invoke awareness of their reactions and unconscious thoughts, help them brainstorm options, create action plans and develop accountability methods.
Taking on the role of a life coach means committing to the highest good of the client and following professional ethics.
Here are the 21 qualities of a great life coach
A successful coach attends to both the needs of the client and the needs of a growing business. It means wearing many hats and a willingness to learn the mindset of both a professional coach and an entrepreneur.
Is Life Coaching Legal?
The idea of “legally coaching” infers there is some regulatory or licensing standard which must be met before taking on clients. There is no government standards or licensing at this time, so the idea of life coaching being legal or not doesn’t apply.
It is neither legal nor illegal. It’s sort of like asking “is it legal to be a parent?” Having kids makes you a parent, not some government permission. Performing the duties of a life coach makes you a life coach.
It IS illegal to wander into acting as a therapist or counselor for your clients. It’s very important to understand the difference between what a life coach does and what a counselor does. A professional coach will create a coaching agreement form to share with their client which spells out the differences between coach and therapist.
Do You Need Certification to be a Life Coach?
The short answer is no, you can be a life coach without certification.
The long answer is you should seriously consider it. The path to certification requires going through a life coaching program which has been accredited by one of the many life coach associations, such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF) or Board Certified Coach (BCC) through the Center for Credentialing and Education.
Certification includes completing an accredited program, earning their certificate of completion, then applying to an association like the ICF to obtain their credentials. Learn more about ACC, PCC and MCC credentials
Becoming a certified coach brings with it both advanced knowledge in coaching skills and techniques, plus the credibility. Once you earn the certification you can put the various badges on your website, business card and marketing materials.
Being certified builds confidence and equips you to rise above a crowded field.
How do you Become a Life Coach?
The ideal way to become a coach is to:
1- start coaching anyone who is willing to volunteer as a client
2- read the best life coaching book
3-find and complete a quality life coaching program
4-Get certified from your coaching school, then complete the client coaching hours required to apply for ICF or BCC accreditation.
5-Market your business
How Long Does it Take to Be a Life Coach?
You are a life coach the moment you declare yourself a coach. Of course that’s sort of like declaring yourself to be a rock star.
Hey! Why not be both? The best life coaches ARE rock stars in my estimation.
Just because you say you are a coach, and you can legitimately, legally claim that you are one, doesn’t mean you are qualified to coach. I’m not trying to be mean or discouraging, but in my experience, people who don’t have the time or interest in learning how to be a great coach, never become even a good coach with long term, successful businesses.
Coaching takes having the heart to help, education, and practice. The more you have of each, the more qualified you are.
How long does it take to be qualified to coach is a better question. That’s a process:
Working on developing the qualities of a great coach, reading the best life coaching book (see above) and practicing on friends and family is a great start toward being qualified.
Completing a 3 day intensive coaching program moves you even closer to being well qualified to coach.
Becoming a fully qualified, certified coach depends on the life coach training school you attend. Some can be completed in as little as a few days. Others take 6 to 18 months.
Getting ACC accreditation with the ICF requires 60 hours of approved course work from an ICF accredited school plus 100 hours of actual coaching practice.
Is Life Coaching a Real Job?
Life coaching is a real job in the sense you get paid to do it. Unlike many jobs however, life coaching can be a lifestyle that is joyful, fulfilling and impactful.
Most people who are life coaches have the heart of a coach. It’s not what they do, it’s who they are. They are naturally wired to be good listeners, empathetic, and compassionate. Caring about the success of others is more important than their own success (which tend to come anyway as a natural result of helping others) As Zig Ziglar said ““You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Life coaching is business, more than a job, because of both the types of responsibilities and the mindset needed to succeed. You have commitments to your clients, you have appointments to show up for, you have to do the billing and setting of appointments, you’re responsible for the taxes, you need to market your business, maintain a website, network with other professionals, and keep up with your professional education.
The path to success as a life coach includes learning the mindset of a business owner instead of thinking like a worker.
How Much do Life Coaches Make?
How much do you want to make? Part of designing your life coaching business model is to determine what kind of lifestyle you want.
Your goals, drive, business model and type of coaching niche will all factor in to how much you make.
Adding coaching courses, selling ebooks or assessments, providing resources, supplements, books and other products can increase income.
Statistically, the average full time coach nets around $35,000 a year. That’s an average between those who make next to nothing and 6 and 7 figure business owners who coach high end clients and sell products.
I know life coaches who specialize in working with former addicts who are eager to rebuild their lives. This is coaching done for (usually) altruistic reasons of giving back to the community. Unless they are hired by a community resource center for typically nominal pay, they often make nothing.
On the other end of the spectrum are professional executive coaches who work with high end CEO’s, politicians, actors and sports stars. They can charge tens of thousands of dollars per month, per client.
One of the true gifts of a life coaching business is the ability to determine for yourself what success looks like and design the perfect business to match.
What are the Different Types of Life Coaches?
There are at least 50 different types of life coaching niches that I can think of off the top of my head.
No matter what your background, skills and experience, there is a coaching niche for you.
Even if you can’t find anything that seems to fit for you in that master list of coaching niches, that’s okay! The goal is not to fit into a pre-determined box and be like everyone else. If you have a heart to help a specific group of people with a specific issue, create your own niche.