Everything you need to know about becoming a life coach

Do you enjoy lifting other people up? Are you a wizard when it comes to leading by example and being a mentor to others? Do you think you can help influential entrepreneurs, business leaders, and innovators to bring their vision to life in an impactful way? Successful professionals across the board are hiring life coaches to light the way for their endeavors. If you answered “yes” to any of the aforementioned questions, you might just be suited for a career as a life coach.

What is a life coach?

A life coach is a professional hired to help people achieve goals, professional or otherwise. They use different techniques to help clients self-reflect, realize their goals and reach their full potential. “Coaching is like a personal trainer,” founder of New York Life Coaching Annie Linn admits. “A personal trainer trains your physical muscles and a life coach trains your mental, emotional and spiritual muscles.”

What does a life coach do?

Life coaches exist far and wide in work circumstances, even without the official title. Often referred to as a mentor, coaches help us conquer our career plans, relationship dynamics, and overarching life worries in a tangible and productive way. In fact, many people are leaning into life coaches as a means of self-help and career leadership instead of hiring multiple therapies and consulting professionals. Hiring a life coach is like purchasing a swiss army knife, as they often have therapeutic tools at their disposal to help you uncover your true self through a career-minded focus or process.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that life coaches work as school and vocational counselors, rehabilitation counselors and assistants, and personal care and service workers.

How do you become a life coach?

Becoming a life coach doesn’t always have a direct path. Many life coaches begin with a Bachelor’s in psychology, sociology, or communication studies, as many of the key teachings within those particular curriculums apply directly to personal and professional development and support. Because of the rapid industry growth around this career path, many universities and educational opportunities are beginning to incorporate life coaching courses, and even life coaching degrees, into their programs. While most undergraduate degrees specific to this career can be found internationally, Liberty University and American University boast niche programs and classes that are positioned to get you a leg up in the working world.

Depending on how the undergraduate experience is for you, you may even choose to pursue your Masters in Psychology, Executive Coaching and Organizational Consulting, Human Development, Marital, Couple, and/or Family Counseling, or a number of other subjects before beginning your work. As many undergraduate programs begin to incorporate more life coach-centered leadership programming into their curriculum, master programs are cropping up left and right as well. Stanford, Grand Canyon University, Avila University, and New York University all have lucrative programs if more concentrated formal education is something you are interested in pursuing.

Whether you pursue a formal education in a life coaching-related field or not, a study conducted by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) reveals that 89% of people within this occupation go through some form of accredited training through the programs they offer. After receiving a general coach certification, additional focus areas can be approached, such as relationships or careers.

Pursuing networking activities or mentoring options outside of your formal education can work wonders to move you in the right direction on your new career path as a life coach.

What skills do you need to become a life coach?

When choosing a life of coaching, certain skills and capabilities will stand out not only to potential employers but to clients on the brink of desperation in their personal or professional lives. It is important to remember that people often turn to therapists and coaches during points of desperation, or when a pain point in their life is glaringly obvious. A lot of this work requires an empathic and caring approach.

Good listeners who take incredible notes or have steel-trap memories can thrive juggling clients as a life coach. A certain degree of bravery is required, as life coaches aren’t afraid to work through things and help identify underlying issues with a third-party perspective. It is also imperative to have outstanding intuition-based communication skills and boundless curiosity. Your questions will be what uncover many obstacles and help people hit new growth points.

What is the average salary for a life coach?

Life coaches are often self-employed, and therefore have control of their schedule and their pricing. While some work short-term with a high volume of clients, others become almost gurus for long-term professional relationships. The average salary for a life coach in the United States is $59,630 per year. This rate is dependent on education, skills, years of experience, and continuing education and certification activity.

Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Tennessee lead the pack with the highest average annual salary, at just over $60k. Companies hiring entry-level life coaches to staff will often start as low as $25,000 per year.

What is the typical career path for a life coach?

The career path for a life coach varies drastically from person to person. As stated earlier, life coaches often undergo formal education before pursuing a niche in coaching, however, many people switch industries into coaching after working on the business side of things. Even more, people move into life coaching opportunities when they have established work as a therapist or psychologist.

Many coaches begin in entry-level jobs as occupational therapists or corporate mediators and then pivot into full-time life coaching for their own established brand after accruing a Rolodex of potential clients.

Anyone looking to advance in their career or personal life should consider seeing a life coach. Life coaching is a $1 billion a year industry, growing at a rapid pace. Get on board by perusing certification options and check out this article for frequently asked questions about this career path.