8 Life Coach Requirements to Fulfill for a Successful Coaching Career

life coach requirements

If you’re considering a career change that’s both fulfilling and financially rewarding, life coaching might be the answer. As a professional coach, you can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives while designing your work life the way you want to.

However, breaking into this fast-growing field can be challenging. There are many ways to become a coach, but there are some requirements you can’t skip.

In this guide, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of becoming a successful life coach, from gaining the necessary skills to building a sustainable practice.

1. Acquire Core Coaching Skills

Whether you have formal training in coaching or not, there are a few essential skills that you need to work on with clients. Here are the most important ones:

  • Active listening: The ability to remain present in the conversation, listen to what your client is expressing (including their non-verbal cues), and reflect back to them what they’re saying. This skill guides their reflection and leads them to new insights.
  • Powerful questioning: Skillfully asking open-ended and close-ended coaching questions that encourage reflection, ideation, and deeper understanding.
  • Demonstrating empathy: Genuine understanding and compassion for your client’s feelings, experiences, and perspectives will create a supportive and non-judgmental coaching environment for them.
  • Goal setting: Collaboratively establish clear, specific, and achievable goals with the client in their focus areas to set the direction for the coaching process.
  • Feedback and reflection: Offering constructive feedback and facilitating reflective practices to help the client gain awareness, learn from experiences, and make meaningful progress towards their goals.

Besides these fundamental coaching skills, you’ll also need to be able to run your own business. This may involve running marketing campaigns or hiring and managing the right people for you.

2. Build Your Methodology

The more coaching models, exercises, and questions you have in your toolbelt, the more effectively you can coach your clients. Here are the five most commonly known coaching models:

  • GROW: Stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Will or Way Forward. It helps clients reach their goals by defining the objective, assessing the current situation, exploring their options, and determining the action steps to move forward.
  • TGROW: An extension of the GROW model, with the additional step to determine the Topic or Theme of the coaching process at the beginning.
  • OSCAR: Stands for Outcome, Scaling, Know-how, Affirm and Action, and Review. It helps clients achieve their goals by clarifying the outcome, scaling the current situation, identifying know-how and resources, affirming strengths, taking action, and reviewing progress.
  • CLEAR: Stands for Contracting, Listening, Exploring, Action, and Review. It starts with establishing a coaching contract, then actively listening to the client, exploring options, defining action steps, and reviewing progress toward goals.
  • CIGAR: It generally consists of Clarity, Insight, Goals, Action, and Review steps.

Even if you only use the GROW model in your practice, you can lead your clients to their desired objectives.

It’s better to start with a few tools and practice them until you can use them confidently than cluttering a coaching process with too many frameworks. Picking up more simply gives you more options to help various clients with distinct problems.

Here are other coaching tools you can use to help your clients:

  • The Wheel of Life: A visual assessment tool that helps clients evaluate and balance different areas of their lives.
  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): A personality assessment tool classifies individuals into one of 16 personality types. This is based on preferences in four key areas: Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving.
  • Coaching Questions: Open-ended inquiries are used by coaches to provoke deeper thinking, reflection, and insight in clients. They can be individual questions or inquiries organized into a coaching process.

Again, mastering one tool is better than knowing several in theory. Depending on your coaching style, you can build a methodology that best suits you and the type of clients you work with.

3. Gain Coaching Experience

Your first paid client shouldn’t be the first person you practice your methodology on. Putting in the hours to gain experience will make you more confident and prepared to deliver the transformation your clients invest in.

You can gain more coaching experience by:

  • Signing up for coaching training that includes practice hours;
  • Pairing up with another beginner coach for regular peer coaching hours; or
  • Offering coaching pro bono to a few initial clients (and being transparent about your current qualifications).

[ Read: 4 Free Life Coach Certification Programs You Can Take Online ]

If you currently work at a company and have a team to manage, you can also start incorporating coaching skills and tools into your regular one-on-one meetings with them. In this case, it’s important to let them know when you’re coaching versus managing and that you only coach them on themes related to their job scope.

4. Set up a Business

To be able to offer services legally, you’ll need to register a business.

If you’re not planning to hire people, you can set up a sole proprietorship under your name or an alternative business name (“doing business as”). If you plan to hire employees (people you pay a part-time or full-time salary to, not contractors), you can register a limited liability company (LLC).

An LLC also has the added benefit that you won’t be personally liable for the charges if your business ever faces a legal dispute. In either case, it’s wise to invest in life coach insurance to protect your business from unforeseen legal issues.

Once you officially have a business, make sure you sort your taxation. We always recommend working with an accountant unless you’re already highly experienced in doing your own bookkeeping. Here’s a cheat sheet you can use to deduct taxes as a coach.

Last but not least, you need a business plan. This is important so you can strategically plan your coaching business’s financial and business goals periodically, ensuring they align with your revenue and lifestyle expectations.

5. Choose a Niche

To establish yourself as an expert, choose a coaching niche that suits your professional interests and skills. Here are the most common coaching niches and what they focus on:

Coaching NicheFocus
Life CoachingAssisting clients in identifying and achieving personal and professional goals, enhancing overall well-being, and navigating life transitions.
Career CoachingSupporting clients in clarifying their career goals, developing job search strategies, advancing their careers, and finding fulfillment in their work.
Executive CoachingWorking with high-level professionals to improve their leadership, decision-making, and stress management skills.
Leadership CoachingHelping individuals develop leadership qualities like effective communication, building teams, and leading with authenticity.
Relationship CoachingHelping clients improve interpersonal communication, resolve conflicts, and cultivate healthier connections.
Health CoachingEmpowering clients to make sustainable lifestyle changes, improve their nutrition and physical activity, and achieve optimal health and wellness.
Spiritual CoachingHelping clients explore their own beliefs and values, find purpose and meaning in life, and developing practices for their spiritual growth.

Once you choose your coaching specialty, you can narrow it down to an area of life or coaching scenario you’re most interested in helping clients with.

For example, as a life coach, you can specialize in mindfulness or managing midlife crises. As a health coach, focus on improving the physical health of people with a sedentary lifestyle or helping busy parents create a healthy meal plan for their families.

6. Set up the Admin Side of Your Business

Many new coaches underestimate the work it takes to manage their practice. Even with the simplest business model, they need to do the following:

  • Have each of their clients sign a contract digitally and keep a record of it;
  • Manage bookings for their coaching sessions while blocking out time for the rest of their business activities;
  • Take secure payments for their coaching products and services;
  • Keep track of how many sessions they’ve offered and delivered to each client in order not to under or overcharge them; and
  • Store coaching logs and coaching materials for each client

Here’s the good news: Paperbell automates all of this for you and saves you several hours a week that you can spend on coaching or growing your business.

It’s an all-in-one client management tool specifically designed for coaches, and it’s free with your first client.

7. Establish a Brand

You can coach without a brand, but growing your business without it is hard. A clear brand identity communicates at a glance who you are to your target audience, makes it easier for the media and other businesses to feature your work, and helps you attract potential clients more efficiently.

Here are the fundamental steps to establish your coaching brand in the industry:

Make Your Business Recognizable

First off, choose a name for your business. It can be your own name if you want to build your coaching business around your personal brand. On the other hand, you can also give it a different name tailored to your audience.

[ Read: 3 Tips to Make Your Life Coaching Business Name Stand Out ]

For example, seeing BeWell as your business name, your health coaching clients will immediately think, “This is for me!” While Illumin8 would draw attention to your core value of finding clarity and inspiration and attract clients seeking more of these in their lives.

Optionally, you can also create a logo for your life coaching business. From choosing an elegant font for your name to designing a full-blown logo with complex symbolism, you can take this as far as you’d like.

[ Read: How to Create a Life Coaching Logo From Vision to Reality ]

As long as all your brand elements align with your business values and vision, it will position you as the coach your ideal clients need.

Create a Coaching Website

Your coaching website is your digital blueprint that shares essential information about who you are, what you offer, and how potential clients can work with you. It’s the perfect place to showcase your unique coaching philosophy, credentials, and approach to qualify your audience and earn their trust.

Additionally, you can feature testimonials from past clients on your website and use lead magnets to grow your email list. Blog posts and other free resources demonstrate your expertise while providing value to your clients concerning the area of life they seek help with.

Paperbell creates landing pages for your packages automatically so you can start taking bookings in a flash. If you want to build a more robust website besides your booking page, these easy website builders will do the job.

Design a Coaching Package

Charging per session or hour makes it hard to scale your coaching business. A better way to deliver a focused impact to your clients is to structure your services into well-defined packages.

These might include:

  • A number of sessions with a set frequency;
  • Additional group coaching sessions with similar clients;
  • Courses or educational materials;
  • Assessments and additional exercises; and
  • Support or accountability through a voice chat app in between sessions,

Your coaching package doesn’t need to have too many elements. It can be a series of sessions focused on a clear objective and a few journaling prompts to help your client achieve change. As long as it’s tailored to their desired outcome, its value will be easier to communicate.

If you need help designing your website and packages, check out our free template pack for coaches.

Set up Your Communication Channels

When reaching your audience, the trick is finding out where they will most likely hang out. This could be:

  • Facebook: Best for targeted ads, interest-based groups, and events
  • Instagram: Great for visual content that showcases your expertise while inspiring your audience to change
  • TikTok: The best place to share short and engaging reels with a younger demographic
  • LinkedIn: Your place to be as a career, executive, leadership, or business coach

Besides social media, you can also benefit from setting up your communication channels, such as:

  • Your blog where you can share expert advice for the queries your clients Google; and
  • Your email list where you can warm up your audience with a regular newsletter.

If you coach in person, don’t forget to explore the offline community spaces your clients visit in your area. A good old printed brochure can still work like a charm to attract local clients to your office, especially in more rural areas.

Marketing for coaches can be overwhelming without a team. Don’t jump into creating regular content for five different channels. Instead, start with one first and build from there as your business experience grows.

Get Featured

You can leverage other people’s networks with a solid website that communicates your brand essence and story.

Look for YouTube channels, podcasts, and magazines that your audience follows and that feature professionals similar to you. Pitch your unique coaching approach, philosophy, or mission to them and see if they are willing to get you on their show or interview you.

If writing is your thing, you can also pitch guest post topics to relevant blogs and magazines to get attention to your bio. In both cases, you must do your research on content creators and media that accept pitches and get familiar with their guidelines.

establish a coaching brand

8. Expand Your Business

Finally, craft a vision for sustaining and growing your coaching business in the coming years. If you want to save time on your day-to-day business activities, you can consider hiring a:

To increase your business revenue, you can also expand your products and services either:

  • Horizontally, by creating new coaching packages and offers for different audiences within your niche; or
  • Vertically, by adding courses, books, events, and other types of products to your portfolio

Think about where you want to take your coaching business in the long run, and write a business plan that supports your objectives.

FAQs About Life Coach Requirements

What Credentials Are Needed to Be a Life Coach?

Legally, no specific credentials are required; you can work with clients without being a certified life coach. However, credentials from a reputable coaching organization like the International Coaching Federation (ICF) can build credibility and help you prove your expertise.

What Do I Need to Start Life Coaching?

To start coaching people, you’ll need to establish a clear niche, develop coaching skills (ideally, through training or certification programs), create a business plan, and develop a solid online presence to get clients.

What Background Do You Need to Be a Life Coach?

While no specific background is required, studying counseling, psychology, human resources, or related fields can benefit coaches. Many successful life coaches come from diverse professional backgrounds centered around the human experience.

Is It Worth Getting Life Coach Certification?

Earning life coach certification can be valuable for building your credibility, enhancing your skills, and gaining confidence. Still, it’s essential to research and choose reputable certification programs which align with your goals and values before investing time and money.

Build the Coaching Practice of Your Dreams 

Following the steps in this article will help you build a stable and fulfilling coaching business one day at a time.

In the meantime, Paperbell can streamline the admin side of your business so you can focus on building your dreams.

It’s an all-in-one client management tool that handles your bookings, contracts, payments, and more.

Try Paperbell for free with your first client.

life coach requirements

By Annamaria Nagy
Annamaria Nagy is a Brand Identity Coach and Copywriter. She's been writing for over 10 years about topics like personal development, coaching, and business. She was previously the Head of SEO at the leading transformational education company, Mindvalley.
April 10, 2024

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