Are you interested in becoming a life coach? If so, you should know that there are a number of ways to train and prepare for a career in this highly versatile field. Read on for some critical information about life coaching and what it takes to succeed as a professional life coach.
What Is Life Coaching?
As a field of practice, life coaching focuses on helping others overcome personal and professional obstacles to make positive life changes and achieve a specific and clearly identified set of objectives. While they differ significantly from therapists and counselors in many respects, life coaches offer similar frameworks of support and guidance while encouraging clients to assume responsibility for their own lives and the progress (or lack of progress) that they have made.
Specific forms of support and guidance offered by life coaches include the clear identification of personal strengths and weaknesses; the development of constructive, relevant, and attainable goals; and the creation of valid action plans that can help clients lead better lives. Objectives that clients of life coaches and their clients commonly pursue together could range from changing jobs to losing weight.
How Is Life Coaching Different From Therapy or Counseling?
Many different professionals, ranging from psychologists to social workers, strive to help people address undesirable elements of their lives, reach important life goals, and optimize their overall well-being. In fact, therapists and counselors might take some of the same approaches and employ some of the same techniques as life coaches. However, life coaching differs considerably from therapy and counseling in terms of its general areas of emphasis, comprehensiveness, and practice requirements.
While therapists and counselors often focus on underlying psychological and emotional issues, life coaches tend to concentrate on specific future goals and the life changes and ongoing work that are needed to reach those goals. This limited purview typically causes life coaches to focus on issues related to skill enhancement, professional development, and getting the absolute most out of life. In this sense, life coaches are markedly different from therapists and counselors, who often concentrate on serious mental health disorders ranging from clinical depression to substance abuse issues.
Life coaches’ overall focus is highly goal oriented. For this reason, the scope of life coaching is considerably smaller, and the typical duration of life coaching for any given client is more limited. Life coaching generally consists of a restricted number of sessions during which clients progress toward and hopefully reach one or more desired outcomes.
Life coaches also face far different professional licensing and training requirements as compared with therapists and counselors. While the fields of therapy and counseling are highly regulated by the government, there are relatively few official barriers to launching a career as a life coach. However, life coaches may find difficulty obtaining work if they cannot demonstrate both academic and professional proficiency in their chosen areas of practice.
Types of Life Coaching Niches
Different areas of practice in this vast and diverse field come with different life coach requirements. In fact, you can break the life coaching sector down into dozens of niche segments in areas that range from career guidance to general health and wellness.
Career coaching involves helping clients investigate a range of professional objectives and then tailor their lifestyle and behavior to make these objectives more attainable. Career-oriented life coaches can assist clients who want to make professional transitions or advance in their current roles.
By contrast, health and wellness life coaching concentrates on promoting physical and mental stability while helping clients reach greater levels of happiness and contentment. Priorities of life coaches and clients in this area might include stress reduction, mindfulness, and healthy diet and exercise regimens.
While some life coaches concentrate exclusively on client work in either the professional or personal arenas, many take a more holistic approach that recognizes the profound effect that professional life can have on the personal life and vice versa. After all, niches such as relationship coaching, financial coaching, and performance coaching can lead to improvement and optimization both at work and at home. Other niches in the life coaching sector include grief coaching, anxiety coaching, executive coaching, confidence coaching, life purpose coaching, and women’s empowerment coaching.
What Skills Do Life Coaches Need?
To become a life coach and succeed in the profession, you need a wealth of knowledge and skill, but you do not necessarily need to meet a particular set of regulatory requirements or jump through a number of administrative hoops. Life coaches who want to go into business for themselves, however, will not only need to have a strong command of administration and management principles but obtain all relevant business licensure before they can practice independently.
Both self-employed life coaches and those who work for others should hone their leadership and organizational skills to operate an effective and efficient practice. Other highly desirable skills for life coaches include patience, communication, networking, decision-making, and problem-solving. Because some life coaching problems demand ingenious and innovative solutions, creativity is also a highly desirable trait in the life coaching field.
How Much Does a Life Coach Make?
Perhaps more than most professions, life coaching can lead to a wide range of salary levels and job benefits. The variables that affect compensation for life coaches include education, experience, location, professional focus, and client base.
Do I Need a License or Certification to Become a Life Coach?
As mentioned above, there are no specific licensing, degree, or certification requirements that officially restrict entry into the life coaching profession. However, this certainly does NOT mean that degree and certification programs cannot be highly beneficial as you travel your life coaching career path.
A wise aspiring life coach will let their unique professional goals dictate the type and amount of life coach training they undertake. The right education and credentials could open doors to employment and help you stand out from the competition in a job sector that is becoming increasingly popular among people interested in health, wellness, and optimum living.
There are many industry certifications available to life coaches, and each individual should view these certifications through the lens of their professional wants and needs. For example, the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the nonprofit membership organization, offers three different credentials at different levels of commitment and expertise: the Master Certified Coach (MCC) the Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and the Associate Certified Coach (ACC).
Life Coach Education and Qualifications
In a similar vein to certifying bodies such as the ICF, many colleges and universities offer courses and degree paths that are directly related to the life coaching profession even if they do not offer a designated life coaching degree. In fact, most educational institutions recommend that prospective life coaches pursue coursework in counseling and other fields closely associated with their chosen life coaching niche.
There are no overarching government or industry regulations that demand an academic degree or a training certificate for all practicing life coaches. But life coaches could struggle to get much work if they do not have the proper combination of educational and professional experience, and may have difficulty obtaining liability insurance. In fact, ambitious life coaches could prepare for their careers with an advanced graduate degree such as a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or a Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services.
Depending on their areas of interest and expertise, aspiring life coaches may want to complete studies in disciplines such as counseling, therapy, psychology, or social work. Even after securing a college degree, a wise life coach will continue to learn while practicing as a professional. Many diverse educational opportunities exist for life coaches looking to further refine their skills and stay up to date with the latest advancements in their chosen field.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Life Coach?
While there is currently no standard requirement of education or experience for life coaches, countless paths of education, training, and practice could lead you to a fulfilling position as a life coach, and the relative lengths of these paths can vary dramatically. Most bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs typically take four years of full-time study to obtain an undergraduate degree in a field related to life coaching.
Furthering your career prospects with a graduate degree will generally take several years longer. For example, both a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services will likely take two to three-and-a-half years to obtain. Of course, students pursuing these degrees part-time could take twice as long to graduate.
Tips for Becoming a Life Coach
While the lack of barriers to practice in the life coaching field can be attractive for several reasons, the lack of clearly identifiable and universal paths of preparation can be a bit daunting to anyone looking for firm structure and guaranteed results. But do not let the ambiguous academic and training recommendations of life coaching prevent you from working toward a rewarding career in this sector. By adhering to some simple guidelines at the beginning of your academic and professional journey, you can significantly improve your chances of success. These three tips are a great place to start:
Choose Your Niche
We have already discussed the broad spectrum of niches that are available to practicing life coaches today. Because the steps that you must take to find success in any of these niches will be specific and unique, you will benefit immensely from selecting your chosen niche early and remaining committed to that niche for the long haul. However, you certainly should not rush into this decision. Although you should give a lot of upfront thought to your chosen life coaching niche, you should not rule out changing directions as you evolve in your training and practice.
Invest in Your Business Skills
Because life coaching enables you to work independently and establish a private practice with little difficulty, many life coaches choose self-employment over a paid position with an existing company. While statistics detailing the exact number of independent life coaching practitioners are lacking, it is safe to assume that a significant percentage of life coaches are self-employed. To make the most of your work as an independent life coach contractor or small life coach business owner, you will want to invest heavily in crucial business skills such as operational management, growth strategy, budgeting, accounting, and marketing.
Build an Online Presence
Like most career sectors in the digital era, life coaching generally requires a robust online presence to engender success. While this is undoubtedly true for self-employed life coaches who are trying to promote themselves and their contract work or small business, it is also true for life coaches who are employed by others. Most people live much of their public and private lives online these days, and you simply must meet them where they already are. Furthermore, the vast majority of consumer research and comparative shopping for life coaches is conducted through the internet. For all of these reasons and more, establishing a strong presence online can do wonders when it comes to boosting your visibility, outreach, credibility, networking, and client engagement efforts.
Get More Information
Aspiring life coaches who want to learn more about the various training and career paths to success should get in touch with an informed authority to find the right path for them. At Post University, we offer two programs that can provide a foundation for students who look forward to working in this expansive and growing field. Both our Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and our Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services could be options for individuals pursuing a career in life coaching.
Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!