Here’s Exactly How to Become a Certified Life Coach

You have heard the saying, “if you can dream it, you can do it,” right? If you dream of becoming a life coach so you can impact others’ lives, we’re here to help you do it.

Ready to follow the yellow brick road to building your life coaching business? Put on your ruby slippers, and let’s go!

In this post, we’ll cover exactly how to become a certified coach, from choosing the right training program to starting your own business. Once you’ve read this blog, you’ll know everything about the exact steps you need to become a certified life coach.

how to become a certified life coach

With all dreams pursued, having passion is only part of the equation. To reach a destination, certain researched and calculated steps need to be taken to make those dreams a reality.  

You may be wondering if you need a college degree or what certification programs are required. And, of course, how much do life coaching certification programs cost? Can I do it online, and how long does it take? And legitimacy, let’s not forget that one!

Take a breath, drink some lavender-infused tea, and let us calm the questions floating around in your head. Give us a few minutes, and you will get even closer to doing what you love: coaching others toward a better life.

What is a certified life coach?

A certified life coach is a professional coach who has completed a training program and earned certification from a reputable organization or association in coaching skills. This certification verifies that the coach has met certain standards of education and experience and has demonstrated proficiency in coaching techniques and ethics.

A certified life coach has the skills and knowledge to guide clients through a process of self-discovery and provide support and accountability as they work toward their goals.

Is a college degree needed to become life coach certified? 

Most coaches don’t become coaches until after they have lived a little, experienced a lot, gone through the muck to figure things out, and gained valuable experience to help others. No college degree is needed for a career in coaching. 

I mean, who thinks of this when they are 18 and entering college? Practically no one. So, yay! No more formal schooling is required. 

But you do need some superpower skills to win that “coach of the year” award you are aspiring to. This is where training and certification programs come into play. Life coaching is a non-regulated industry, meaning there are no laws that govern the field. There is also legally no license required to practice as a coach and no education requirements.

Yes, anyone with life experience and a desire to help others can call themselves a coach and you don’t need to be a licensed life coach to practice. But when it comes to starting a life coaching business the better practice is to be trained and certified. Credibility will also play a significant role in your confidence to excel as a professional certified coach.

[ Read: Life Coaching 101: Exactly How Much Does It Really Cost To Become A Life Coach? ]

How to become a certified life coach: How to choose the right coaching accreditation

how to choose a coaching program

Choosing between the different life coach certifications can be a challenging task, as there are so many options available.

The right program can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a successful life coach, while also ensuring that you have the credibility and credentials to attract clients.

While you should do your own research, here are some tips to help you make a decision about how to get certified as a life coach.

1. Get a life coach certification accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF)

If you are getting a little punch-drunk and dizzy by all of the different certification programs out there, you are not alone! You want us to point you in the right direction, and we will, but there are things to consider before investigating the three top certification programs we recommend. 

If you don’t have an official background in coaching or therapy, that’s OK! All that is needed is a sincere desire to support your clients navigate their challenges and some good hard-learned skills. But “How” to coach is a whole different flavor of vegan enchilada.

That is where the life certification programs come into play. Sure, you could wing it. But that is a significant risk, and we cannot advise you to take your life coaching clients’ life and happiness into your own well-meaning hands without proper training. 

What is the ICF, and why is it so important? 

When it comes to coach education programs, this is the holy grail of acronyms to look for. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization that certifies coaching programs. They are the gold standard that other programs are modeled after. By choosing an accredited program, you can rest assured they are meeting the high standards set forth by the ICF. 

But wait, it gets better! By attending an ICF-accredited program to become a life coach, you will join a worldwide network of trained professional coaches. How’s that for a perk? 

The ICF has over 1000 accredited coach training programs offered around the globe. Yes, they know what they are doing when it comes to coaching. With an ICF-accredited program, you can take a breath and relax a little bit. You are getting the right balance of value, reputation, skilled instructors, and real-world applicability. 

But it’s not just about becoming an effective and transformational coach. You are running a business, and that is where ICF hits a sweet spot. Not only will you join an echelon of high-quality coaches, but you will also learn to launch, build, and grow a successful coaching business. 

2. Choose a program that teaches coaching

If you were panicking because you can’t find a life coach certification program that teaches banjo plucking coaching skills, don’t fret! You don’t have to choose an industry-specific program that fits your passion. You can bring your experience, talent, empathy, and key focus area to any certification program. 

The important part is choosing a program that speaks to you, fits your budget, and can be attended and attained in a method that fits your schedule and learning style. 

Choose a certification program that focuses on coaching skills, active listening techniques, business practices, ethics, and how to build a clientele. Through these training tools that end with a piece of paper you can provide your clients, you will develop the skills and strategies for growing your coaching practice. 

3. Check out the course material and curriculum

Your life coach training program should cover all aspects of being a coach. From communication skills to coaching techniques and how to deal with common coaching problems. Assess how the material will be delivered, are there various mediums for lessons? A great program will offer videos, group sessions, lectures, and written material. It may even offer some in-person sessions.

Is there an opportunity for flexibility, and will you have the option to meet your classmates and network in real life if that’s what you want?

4. Is mentorship part of the package?

Ongoing support and mentorship are important aspects of becoming a coach. You want to feel supported as you start your journey in a new industry, and many courses will offer mentorship as part of the package.

Being part of a community that can give you feedback and helps you grow as a life coach as you progress in your journey can be crucial for your success. So look for a course that offers continued support after you finish the program. It could be integral to your success.

5. Does the program give you the option to gain practical experience?

You can learn all the theory, but unless you get the chance to put it into practice, you’ll be very nervous about taking on your first coaching client. Great coaching programs give you the opportunity to practice your skills, whether it’s with your fellow course buddies or volunteer coachees.

Look for programs that give you the chance to practice what you learn straight away.

6. What is the time commitment?

Are the hours required for the training manageable, and will you be able to fit them into your schedule? Or does the course seem way too demanding for your current capacity? Some life coach certification programs will demand the same amount of time as an actual degree, so you’d need to focus full-time on it. If you can’t commit to such an intense program, find one that is self-paced.

7. Check reviews from previous students

Reading testimonials from others is one of the best ways to choose the right program for you. Reading reviews can usually give you a general idea about the way the program is delivered and whether or not it will suit you.

Of course, getting real-life referrals from someone you know who completed the course is even better, but if you don’t know anyone else who would like to be a life coach, rely on the online reviews.

What is the best life coach certification program?

You want to be the best life coach you can be, right? We want that for you too! 

You may not like this open-ended answer, but the best life coach certification is the one that resonates the most with your calling. There is no one-size-fits-all coaching program. Of course, we certainly have our favorites for you to consider, to help make your search a bit easier….such as those from:

Here are the building blocks of reputable and effective life coaching certification programs:

  • Focuses on teaching you how to coach, not how to help. You already know how to help people through empathy and experience. But coaching is a skill you need to learn. 
  • Your program is from a certified life coach institute and accredited by the ICF. Check the program you’re interested in has these credentials first before reading any further. 
  • The life coaching course matches your value system and speaks to your soul. Yes, this is important. You will be spending several months of your life in this program. It’s vital that you feel comfortable and inspired to keep going. 
  • Differentiates between coaching and marketing. Say what? “Don’t I need to know marketing?” you ask? Yes, but there is more to coaching than selling the dream of a more fulfilling life. 

Beware of marketing-heavy coaching programs 

To elaborate on that last bullet point…yes, marketing is a crucial part of building your life coaching business. And it’s easy to be seduced by hearing fellow coaches touting their “$20,000 month” on social media. But too many of these high-priced “I’m going to turn you into a 7-figure earning coach if you buy my program” don’t teach coaching; they teach sales!

These training programs might be appropriate for learning how to grow your coaching business after you’ve trained as a coach but don’t mistake them for programs that teach you how to coach. Remember, the life coaching industry is very unregulated, so you will find many coaches trying to sell courses with false promises.

This is just another reason why choosing a life coaching course with full credentials should be your top priority. 

How to get a life coach certification

Once you decide which course is the one for you, you will want to decide how you are going to study. This could be in person, online, or a combination of both.

You’ll sign up, pay the fees and then start attending the sessions your chosen course offers. You will usually get assignments that you need to complete on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Often programs will also include group sessions and a chance for you to share what you learned with the other students in your cohort. If your course is mainly self-study, it’s nice to take the time to connect with the rest of your group so you can ask questions and challenge what you’ve been learning that week.

At the end of your course, you will usually have some type of assessment or exam to check you’ve understood and taken on all the content from the program.

Accredited life coach certification FAQs

Can you get your life coach certification online?

It seems everything happens online these days, and getting your life coaching certification is no different. It’s easier than ever to become a certified life coach online. Given the thousands of available life coach certification programs to choose from, you are sure to find one that you can attend in your PJs. Yes, life is good that way!

You will find that many of the courses you come across are available online and this doesn’t mean they are worse than in-person courses. Many of the fully online courses are offered by reputable institutions and are perfect for busy people to fit around their life.

How much do life coaching certification programs cost? 

Sure, it would be great to find a coaching program on Youtube for free, … but you get what you pay for, and your certification is no different. Reputable and accredited programs by the ICF can run anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000 and up. The good news is that you can find a program that fits your budget. If you need to save, scrimp, and bypass your daily latte (gasp! What a travesty), then do it. Where there is a will, there is a way. You can have all the mocha lattes with extra non-dairy whipped topping you want once your goal is achieved. 

How long will it take to become a life coach? 

I think you will be delighted to know that you could be stepping into your new career and calling as a life coach within six months. Of course, that varies depending on the program you choose. You can expect to have the basics covered within six months and continue building upon those skills for another 12-18 if you choose to. 

Get ready to start your new career

So, what do you say? Feel better about moving forward? Have we illuminated some of the mysteries of how to become a life coach? Oh, good.

Whether you want to start coaching full-time, or do it in addition to your current job, we hope you now feel more comfortable about the steps you need to take to get certified as a life coach.

And once you’re certified, you can start marketing your business. One of the first steps would be creating a website with the perfect .life domain name. With a .life domain, your clients will instantly know you operate in the health and wellness industry!

At Paperbell, we look forward to being your resource for all things coaching and can’t wait to see where this takes you. Now go out and change the world! 

Do you have any more questions about how to become a certified life coach? Share them in the comments below!

certified life coach pin

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.
May 11, 2023

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