How To Choose the Right Finance Coach Certification For You

financial coach certification

You’ve always had a knack for numbers and helping others with their finances. Financial literacy is your second language.

After countless hours of research, you’ve finally decided to become a financial coach by turning your passion for finance into a profession.

Making an impact with your knowledge and skills is what you dream about!

Your excitement bubbles over as you imagine setting up your own practice or working for an established firm.

The anticipation is palpable – this could be the start of something truly rewarding!

But then reality hits…

Do you have to get a finance coach certification to become a financial coach? 

How are you supposed to choose from all the existing financial coaching certifications?

And how do you know if you have the credentials to start your financial coaching business?

No worries – we’ve got you covered! Keep reading to find out:

  • What certifications can I take to become a financial coach?
  • Can you be a financial coach without certification?
  • 3 types of certification you can take and what they cost

What Certification Do I Need to Be a Financial Coach?

Certifications are important if you want to gain credibility in financial coaching. These credentials aren’t required but are highly respected and recognized in the industry.

Let’s look at two different kinds of certifications you can take to get started in this field.

Financial Counselor Certification: AFCPE® Programs

AFCPE (Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education) offers top-notch certifications, like AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor).

This prestigious designation includes online lessons on personal finance topics from debt management strategies to retirement planning and money management. With continuing education and support, their program keeps professionals up-to-date on industry trends.

Obtaining an AFCPE® counseling certificate lets you provide unbiased advice instead of selling specific financial products. Therefore, clients can trust your recommendations aren’t driven by commissions but by what’s best for them.

Alternative Education: Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach Training

When Dave Ramsey started his practice, he offered one-on-one financial coaching services. Then, he decided to develop his own financial coach training. The course teaches individuals:

  • Budgeting techniques
  • Wealth-building strategies
  • Client communication methods
  • Strategies to make money management practices more effective

This course teaches you how to become a confident and successful advisor and fulfill your professional requirements.

These certifications provide valuable credentials, but they’re not a requirement for becoming a life coach specializing in finances. 

Whatever you do, remember that a rewarding career takes effort, determination, and resolve. If your interests and abilities are aligned with your career goals, you can become a respected and trusted professional in this field, helping people make informed financial decisions.

Can You Become a Financial Coach Without Certification?

financial coach certification

In a nutshell, yes. You can start your career as a financial coach (or financial fitness coach) without formal credentials. Financial coaches can boost their credibility by having formal credentials and certifications, but it’s up to them if they choose to.

To provide some context:

Getting credentials like AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor) from a respected certification provider like AFCPE® can boost your credibility in finance coaching. Training like this covers all facets of personal finance in its curriculum and offers continuing education for graduates to further enhance their careers.

Sometimes, convincing potential clients that you’re good can be tough without these recognitions. The financial world is complex, and potential clients want to feel safe in your hands.

Financial coaching requires a solid understanding of personal finance principles. Even though real-world experience lends valuable insights, structured learning provides a more comprehensive understanding that’s hard to match.

Full-time financial coaches deal with complex situations like debt management and retirement planning, where certifications can make things much easier. The lack of proper training may lead to inadvertently giving out inaccurate advice due to misunderstandings.

Think of the consequences of that. Misguided coaching could literally ruin someone’s entire life. And that’s not being dramatic.

Though Dave Ramsey’s journey is publicized as a rare rags-to-riches story, he started out as an entrepreneur while studying finance and real estate at university. After that, he started coaching people on their finances and eventually turned his method into a certification program.

Things could have gone very wrong if he didn’t know what he was doing.

You can gain the required skills and qualifications through academic education, job experience, or professional training. The important thing is that you have the right frameworks and knowledge to confidently guide your clients on their financial decisions.

Pursuing a Coaching Career Without Certification

If you don’t get certified, you might miss out on essential resources certifying bodies can provide.

Besides their core curriculum, these training providers also offer educational materials, networking opportunities, and job placement help. All of these will be helpful if you start a career as a financial coach.

In short, it will also give you the tools you need to develop better financial planning opportunities for your clients.

Finding Your Unique Value Proposition

Not all financial coaches are created equal. The more specialized you are in the area you know best, the better you can help your clients. Finding your coaching niche within the financial sector can be a great start to defining your coaching brand more specifically.

Here are a few ways you can do that:

  1. Identify areas within finance that genuinely interest you: Choose a niche aligned with your passion.
  2. Reflect on your skills and expertise: What financial topics are you well-versed in?
  3. Research current trends in financial coaching: Look for gaps or underserved areas where you can offer unique value.
  4. Study other financial coaches and their niches.: Identify what they offer and where there might be opportunities for differentiation.
  5. Build a target audience profile: Determine the demographics and characteristics of your ideal client, e.g. age, income level, financial goals, and challenges.
  6. Pilot your niche: Start with a small group of clients or offer workshops within your chosen niche to gauge interest and gather feedback.
  7. Learn from your market research: Tailor your niche to address specific pain points or challenges your target audience is facing.

Here are a few examples of financial coaching niches you can specialize in:

  • Helping young adults manage student loan debt
  • Working with artists to develop better money management techniques
  • Guiding aspiring entrepreneurs on business budgeting and financial planning
  • Educating first-time property buyers on real estate investment opportunities and risks
  • Helping new parents save for their children’s education and future expenses
  • Guiding couples through the financial aspect of their divorce proceedings
  • Working with senior citizens to plan ahead for their retirement years and achieve sustained financial stability

Remember, pick the specialization that best aligns with your passions, knowledge, and current market needs.

3 Types of Financial Coach Certification Programs and What They Cost

If you’re interested in becoming a professional financial advisor, the first step is to get familiar with the available certifications. Let’s break down some of these.

AFCPE® Certification Programs

The Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®) offers highly recognized certification programs. They include online lessons and provide professionals with ongoing education and support.

At the time of this writing, the cost of the AFCPE® certification program is $1,300 for existing members and $1,500 for non-members. This covers all study materials and exams but excludes annual recertification fees and optional review courses.

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Coach Master Training

Inspired by the story of how Dave Ramsey rose to success? Then, his Financial Coach Master Training might align with your career goals. 

The cost is approximately $4,000 (higher than most other certifications) but also includes marketing tools and mentorship to help establish your practice quickly once certified. Make sure to check their site for the latest pricing. 

Certified Personal Finance Counselor Program

This hands-on course focuses heavily on practical application rather than theoretical knowledge, making it ideal for those who prefer hands-on experience in financial coaching.

The CPFC program comes at a lower entry fee compared to others, costing about $600-700, including exam fees. This is the price as of 2023. Please do check their site for the latest pricing information. 

You might have to pay extra if you need additional study materials or if you fail your first test. Always factor these expenses into your overall budget when considering different options, so you don’t get any surprises later.

The Cost of Becoming a Dave Ramsey Financial Coach

The Financial Coach Master Training is a popular program that offers great credentials. Based on our latest information, it will set you back around $2,295. To apply, you must fill out the form on their website and talk to Ramsay’s team.

According to graduate students, there is an annual fee you need to pay to access the educational materials on their website in the future. This is currently priced at $129.

What Does the Financial Coach Master Training Include?

  • Training lessons: Access to 15 guided lessons and financial coaching and marketing your practice, plus additional course materials.
  • Group coaching sessions: These online training events are held by Dave Ramsey’s team.
  • Membership access: Membership in the Dave Ramsey Coach Community, providing ongoing support and networking opportunities with other coaches.
  • Certificate of completion: A certificate of completion to show you’ve completed the course.

If you commit to building a financial coaching practice, these expenses will become investments contributing to the long-term success of your business.

However, you do need to factor in potential additional fees.

Potential Additional Expenses: Membership and Other Study Materials

Besides the primary enrollment fee, you might need to buy recommended reading materials not included in the base tuition price. 

After you start practicing professionally, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of various aspects of personal finance management, ultimately improving your service quality. 

Actual amounts vary based on individual preferences but generally range from $100-200 per year.

You’ll also need to keep paying a yearly membership fee (currently $129) to access the materials within Dave Ramsey’s program.

Plus, keeping up with Dave Ramsey’s team requires continuous learning even after earning a certificate via periodic sessions held each year.

Gaining Hands-On Experience

The key to being a good financial coach isn’t just theoretical knowledge, it’s also practical experience. Once you complete your initial education, you can start offering financial coaching sessions to clients and apply what you’ve learned.

Initially, you can offer a few free sessions or practice with another coach to get more confident in your practice. As such, you become better equipped to handle challenges that arise during client interactions later in your career.

It’s also important to stay up-to-date on regulatory changes in the financial sector. You can do this by attending webinars and participating in communities where experienced professionals share their best practices, helping you learn and grow further.

FAQs About Getting a Finance Coach Certification

What Certification Do I Need to Become a Financial Coach?

You don’t necessarily need to be certified to become a financial coach, but it can help you acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and frameworks to start your practice. A Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) or Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) credential is typically recommended, although not required, for financial coaching.

Can You Become a Financial Coach Without Certification?

Yes, but having a recognized certification like CFEI or AFC enhances your credibility and can attract more clients.

You’ll also gain additional coaching skills that you wouldn’t have without the certification. Remember that being good with money and knowing how to coach someone to achieve success are not the same thing.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Dave Ramsey Financial Coach?

Dave Ramsey’s Master Training program currently costs $2,295, which includes training materials, live lectures, and a certificate of completion.

How Much Does it Cost to Be a Financial Coach?

The total cost varies depending on the course you choose. It ranges from a few hundred dollars to $2,295 for comprehensive programs like Dave Ramsey’s.

Financial Coach Salaries: How Much Do Financial Coaches Make?

According to Glassdoor, financial coaches make $59,738 per year on average in the US. This can vary greatly based on how much you charge for your coaching sessions and packages, how many clients you have, and what additional products you sell. If you can maintain a great flow of client relationships, you can easily make your training fees back within a few months.

Become a Certified Financial Coach And Start Your Business

Now, you have a better understanding of how financial coaching works and what it takes to succeed in this field. 

Hopefully, you’ve also gained some more clarity about which finance coach certification is right for you.

Keep in mind that financial coaches are different from financial advisors in several countries, including the US. If you’re looking to become a financial advisor, know that the requirements are much stricter than for financial coaches.

Need help streamlining the admin side of your financial coaching business? With Paperbell, running a coaching business online has never been easier! Try it for yourself by claiming your free account.

financial coach certification

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2023 and has since been updated for accuracy.

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
December 26, 2023

Are You Undercharging?

Find Out In This Free Report

Ever wondered exactly what other coaches are offering, and ​for how much? Find out if you’re charging too much or too ​little by benchmarking your own rates with this free report.

Subscribe to our updates for instant access: