So… you want to become a life coach eh?
The coaching industry is blowing up (in a good way!) and there is so much opportunity out there for coaches to build amazing businesses that help people while putting a pretty decent salary in the bank. Don’t listen to any of those stats about average life coach salaries being around $35k. If you know how to market you can earn way, way more than that!
But before you get all excited about making money as a coach, first you need to understand the process of becoming a life coach.
If you are interested in becoming a life coach, then this post is for you! It walks you through all the things you need to know about how to become a life coach.
Why did I write this post?
I worked as a life coach when I first started my business, and quickly learned I wasn’t a great coach. I
would much rather tell people what to do and teach, then coach people! But I was great at helping coaches market themselves — which is what I do now! I love helping life coaches start their businesses and get clients.
Here at Uncaged, I work with hundreds of coaches and have been through several trainings myself, have many colleagues and friends who have a successful life coaching business, and have even had coach trainers from some of the big schools take my Uncage Your Business program.
It is from all of them that this information has been pulled, and I wrote this post because one of the most common questions people ask me is “How do I become a coach”?
So, this post explains the ins and outs of becoming a life coach.
Why do you want to become a life coach?
The first thing you need to consider is WHY you want to become a coach. Your answer to this impacts everything else we talk about in this post.
Here are some reasons you might want to become a coach
- You want to build a full-time career for yourself that lets you work from anywhere (Uncaged, baby!)
- You want to coach part-time as a hobby because you love it
- You want to add coaching skills to your already existing business or career
WHY you want to coach matters because it impacts what kind of training you decide to do (more on that below).
It’s ok if you don’t know yet exactly why you want to coach or where you want to go with it. Just keep it in mind as you get started with your coaching since you might make different decisions about the type of training you need.
Do you need coach training?
It’s important to understand how coaching works as an industry. Currently, life coaching is not a regulated industry. This means that ANYONE wants can just go out there and call themselves a coach. This is both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, it means that you don’t have to go through the academic system and years of university or college in order to become a coach. On the other hand, it means that you get a lot of people out there slapping the label “life coach” on themselves and doing a very, very poor job of actually helping anyone.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the closest the coaching world has to a governing body. Y
ou pay them money, show them proof of your coaching hours, and you can use their stamp of approval and can label yourself an ICF coach.
I will say that, for various reasons, MOST coaches I know do not choose to get ICF accredited. When I asked them about this, they said it didn’t provide much value for them in their business (except for a few who said that sometimes if you wanted to coach in corporate they wanted to see an ICF accreditation).
However — the ICF does have a list of core competencies that they require their accredited schools to follow — which means that if a school is accredited with the ICF, it means they might have a better program with higher standards that other schools.
BUT — to make it more complicated, some schools still follow these core competencies in their training, but just don’t bother paying for ICF accreditation.
What does this mean for you?
If coaching is not regulated, and anyone can call themselves a coach, and coach trainings are all over the map in terms of quality, then why get trained?
Well, for starters, you need to have some idea of WTF you are doing when you coach. There is nothing more confidence killing than hopping into a call with a client and having no idea what the hell you’re supposed to do or how to help them.
Coaching is NOT the same as just giving advice to your friends (it’s nice that you can do that, but that is not coaching). There is a specific skill set that you learn in coach training that helps you uncover what is really going on for someone and helps you use your coaching to shift it.
When you’re coaching someone, some deep shit can come up, and you need to have the skills to learn how to navigate it with your clients (and not let your own shit get in the way). This is what coach training teaches you.
So the short answer is YES, if you want to know WTF you are doing and you want to actually learn HOW to coach, you should definitely do coach training.
However — do you NEED coach training to get clients? No. No one will ever ask to see your coach training certification. No clients are going to call up your coaching school to make sure you graduated. Unless you want to do corporate coaching — sometimes having ICF accreditation will help. But not always. And for personal clients, they will never ask.
So, should you get trained then?
My vote is YES. You should get trained so that you understand HOW to coach someone. I believe having solid coaching skills will boost your confidence tremendously! And higher confidence will impact your ability to get clients, your ability to get them results, and thus your ability to charge more money (hurrah!)
Even though I don’t work as a life coach right now, I am still SO glad I did coach training. I believe coach training can help ANYONE who offers services as a business. It helps you learn empathy, active listening, how to dig deeper into what your clients are really saying and what their fears and desires are, and just helps you communicate better overall as a human.
Even if you end up doing more consulting and less coaching, your coach training will pay off! I have done several courses and worked with many service providers over my time in business, and hands down, the ones who started as coaches or took a coach training program were SO much better to work with and had such better communication!
How to choose a coaching school
There are SO MANY coaching schools out there… some really, really good ones, and some super shitty ones.
Each coaching training program works a little differently:
- Some teach entirely in person
- Some teach entirely online
- Some are a blend of both
- Some are weekend courses
- Some are over a year long
And programs don’t vary just by length of time. Their coaching process also varies from school to school
- Some are focused on thought-work based
- Some are more mind-body
- Some more spiritually based
- Some have a more structured model
- Some are more free flowing
How do you choose??
Here is what I recommend:
Head over to the website of the training program you are interested in.
- Sign up for their email list.
- Read their blog posts.
- Listen to them on podcasts.
- Listen to them COACH.
- Hire one of their coaches.
Look for the people who are running the programs and see if their coaching helps YOU in your own life.
If listening to and reading their stuff resonates with you and helps you with your own life, then you will probably like learning from them and the training will be a good fit for you.
Ok, but there are so many training programs! How do you even narrow it down?
Because there is so much crap out there, here are some of the schools I can vouch for based on the experience of my colleagues and clients
There are thousands of schools out there and this is by no means an exhaustive list of the ONLY good ones. But I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the above.
Remember — go check them out first! Read their blogs, LISTEN to their coaching style, listen to podcasts and interviews, and see if the approach they take helps you in YOUR life. Better yet — hire one of their coaches (if you want to be a life coach you should definitely have your own coach or at least try out coaching to see what it’s all about if you haven’t already)
Choose the school whose approach resonates with you, not the one who has the fanciest credentials.
Should you look for a school that teaches business skills?
In short — no.
Why? Because MOST schools that teach business don’t do a great job. Their focus is on making you an amazing coach (so that’s the thing you want them to do really well). But the business side is a whole other ballgame and is often covered loosely by most schools but not in depth.
Remember how we talked about WHY you want to be a coach? Well, if you decide you want to make coaching your full-time job, then you should expect to pay for additional business training to learn how to run a business after your coach training ends.
The whole reason my business exists here at Uncaged is to teach coaches how to run a BUSINESS. I do this through my Uncage Your Business program, which teaches foundational business and marketing tools that every successful business uses.
(If you’re reading this as someone who is already in training or has completed training, come on over to Uncage Your Business and let’s help you get some clients!)
What happens after coach training?
This is where your WHY for becoming a coach becomes mega important.
If you wanted to start coaching because you love it and want to do it as a hobby or a side gig or for fun, then you should be ready to get out there and start coaching! You don’t have to worry too much about getting enough clients to pay the bills, so you can experiment with coaching all kinds of people on all kinds of topics.
However, if you went into coaching to make it a full-time career, you will have a lot of work ahead of you after you finish your training! It’s a good idea to get serious about learning the business side of coaching right away.
My Uncage Your Business program was designed to help life coaches find their niche, develop a strong brand message, and learn how to sell coaching.
Just because you are a good coach, doesn’t mean you will easily be able to get clients. There is a lot that goes into building a business that has nothing to do with your coaching skills (and everything to do with marketing yourself effectively). You can read more about what it takes in a post I wrote here.
One of the biggest things I can encourage you to do when you are first starting is to niche in and start coaching. The more practice you can get with the people/niche you want to work with, the faster your business will build. This practice will teach you exactly what these clients are struggling with and how they are talking about their problems, and you will then be able to use that to go back and focus your marketing in even more to help you get more clients.
Don’t be afraid to “beta test” and take on practice clients with no risk. I am all about working for free when you start to take the pressure off and to help you get practice. Once you have worked with a few clients and your confidence is up, you can start charging.
Do I have to wait til I finish training to start my business?
No! In fact, I work with a lot of people in Uncage Your Business who are in coach training at the same time as UYB! Yes, it means they are BUSY, but it also means they are getting a great head start on turning their coaching into a business and understanding how to SELL coaching, and they end up miles ahead of the other coaches in their cohort who graduate coaching school and then have no idea how to niche in or how to market.
Ready to start building your business as a life coach? Get my 3-Month Business Building Checklist!
I am so excited for you to begin your life coaching journey, and hope to see you when you circle back around and join Uncage Your Business to learn about the BUSINESS side of being a coach!