7 Steps to become a life coach

Last updated: May 14, 2024
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7 Steps to become a life coach
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Being a life coach can be extremely rewarding and lucrative.

Not only do you get to do something you love, but you also get to help people live happier, more fulfilling lives.

But what exactly is a life coach? How much can you expect to earn? And, most importantly, what steps do you need to take to become a life coach?

In today’s article, we’ll look at what a life coach is and how much they earn. We’ll also give you the step-by-step guide you can follow to become a life coach so you can start making money fast.

What is a life coach?

A life coach is someone who wants to help change people’s lives for the better by advising them through personal or professional difficulties.

They ultimately help people reach their goals, such as the following:

  • Improve their relationships

  • Be more confident in their careers

  • Reframe the way they see and manage their finances

  • Incorporate more health and nutrition into their lives

  • Discover the path to personal development

Whether they start their own business or work as a contractor for other businesses, life coaches have several day-to-day tasks. This includes coaching sessions with clients and completing necessary administrative work.

For life coaches to help their clients, they need to have vital soft skills, such as communication skills, active listening skills, and more.

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Life coach responsibilities

Coaches may be required to adjust their counseling based on the client’s goals. For example, a career coach may have one client interested in improving productivity while another is interested in improving their self-confidence in the workplace.

Thus, life coaches are often expected to take the “frame” of their coaching program and personalize it on a client-by-client basis.

Here are a few examples of what coaches generally do:

  • Meet with clients in-person or on video calls for 1-on-1 or group coaching sessions.

  • Listen to clients’ struggles and help them work through mental roadblocks.

  • Help clients determine their goals and explore different opportunities.

  • Teach clients emotional and behavioral techniques.

  • Collaborate with clients to create action plans based on their ambitions.

  • Encourage clients throughout each step of the process.

Who can become a life coach?

There’s no regulatory authority for the coaching profession. Therefore, anyone can technically become a coach.

However, the life coaching industry is becoming increasingly flooded. This means prospective clients are comparing coaches and experiences, and they’re opting for the most qualified ones.

In other words, they’re looking for coaches with certificates, degrees, or experience. This is why so many coaching programs showcase social proof in their sales pages and marketing material.

For example, Camille Plews, who is a business coach, showcases testimonials on her sales page.

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Aside from having qualifications or experience, becoming a life coach also requires you to have certain qualities to make you someone that people can trust and feel comfortable approaching, including:

  • Empathy

  • Openness

  • Friendliness

  • Curiosity

How much do life coaches earn?

According to nearly 500 salary profiles recorded on Payscale, life coaches earn an average of around $35 per hour or $63,800 per year. This is substantially higher than many other professions, making this an excellent career to consider.

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However, your salary can depend on many different factors — including, but not limited to, experience, location, and skills.

Experience

Life coaches with more experience tend to earn higher hourly wages. For example, those with 10–19 years of experience can make over $50 more per hour than those with less than one year of experience.

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Skills

Life coaches who have specific skills can also earn higher salaries.

  • Those with problem-solving skills can earn 39% more than average.

  • Those with professional coaching skills (either qualifications or experience) can make 36% more.

  • Those with public speaking skills can earn 30% more.

  • Those with counseling skills can earn 13% more.

  • Those with mentoring skills can make 6% more.

  • Those with verbal communication skills can earn 4% more.

Location

Their salaries can also be influenced based on the area they live and work in. Life coaches in some cities earn far higher wages than those in others.

For example, those who live in New York can earn up to 181% more than average. Even more impressive, those living in Houston, Texas, can make up to 275% more.

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On the other end of the spectrum, life coaches who live in Sacramento, California, earn 44% less than average, and those living in Richmond, Virginia, earn 56% less.

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Thus, starting a life coaching business is a great option if you live in a high-paying city.

How to become a life coach in 7 steps

As mentioned earlier, you technically don’t need any qualifications to become a life coach. However, below are the steps you can follow to achieve more success faster.

1. Choose your coaching niche

Before becoming a life coach, it’s essential to find your niche.

What is a niche?

A niche is a segment of a larger market with a unique set of preferences that needs a particular product or service. Your niche should consist of five elements:

  • You should find it professionally or personally satisfying.

  • There should be high-income potential.

  • It should solve a need that people have.

  • There should be people who are interested in the offer.

  • The market shouldn’t be too saturated so that you have too much competition.

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Undoubtedly, as a coach, you’ll touch on more than one area regardless of your program’s central focus.

However, choosing a niche will help you build your authority online, get clear on your ideal clients, and help you sell more.

Here’s a list of different niches you can consider:

  • Business

  • General wellness

  • Work-life balance

  • Confidence in the workplace

  • Health and fitness

  • Mindset and accountability

  • Spirituality

  • Romantic relationships

  • Academic issues

  • Mental health

  • Career transition

  • Aging

  • Parenting

2. Get certification

This step is optional.

However, being a certified life coach will help you gain more clients — especially if you’re in a somewhat competitive niche. This is because you’ll be able to prove that you’re more qualified for the job than your competitors who don’t have a certificate.

Qualifying could also help you implement the best coaching practices from the start so you’ll be able to get clients and results faster.

You should find an accredited program, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), to get the best results from your training.

ICF offers great coaching programs — having thousands of students enrolled yearly. In fact, the company saw an increase of 25% in members from 2020 to 2021.

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Depending on your chosen training program, the process will take 18–24 months to complete.

After you complete your training, you can apply for certification. Credentials provided by professional associations such as the International Association of Coaching (IAC) and ICF require you to demonstrate high work standards and experience to obtain the certification.

For example, the Professional Certified Coach certification offered by ICF requires 125+ hours of coaching education and 500+ hours of coaching experience.

3. Set up your coaching business

After you have your niche and certification, your next step is to become a small business owner. Thus, you must take several steps to set up your business.

Step 1: Register your business

You’ll need to determine your business entity type — sole proprietorship, LLC, creative partnership, corporation, etc.

If you choose sole proprietorship, your business doesn't require registration. However, if you select another option, you'll need to register your business with your state officially.

Step 2: Plan your startup costs

Next, you need to plan your business startup costs. From the cost of your certification program (if you choose to get one) to any overhead costs such as office supplies, accounting fees, etc.

Step 3: Create a marketing plan

In order to coach clients, you first need clients. For this, you must create a marketing plan consisting of the platforms you plan to be on, the marketing strategies you want to implement, and more.

As a life coach, you must get familiar with self-promotion strategies. Since you're the face of the brand, you'll likely need to create many marketing materials — such as Instagram reels, Facebook videos, and more.

4. Choose your coaching model

As you learn to become a life coach, you'll refine how you offer your coaching.

In the beginning, you'll likely start with 1-on-1 coaching, where you have sessions with one client at a time and provide dedicated attention to them. Later, you could expand your coaching model to group coaching, where you coach several clients simultaneously.

You’ll also be able to decide whether you want to offer your coaching services on a monthly retainer basis, single sessions, or others.

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Remember that your coaching approach will change as your business grows. So, don’t get overwhelmed by this step. The best practice is to offer 1-on-1 coaching sessions in the initial stages of your business and grow from there.

5. Price your coaching services

It isn't easy to put a price on the value you're offering clients through your coaching program. However, you must remember that your coaching business is exactly that — a business.

This means you need to keep the same things in mind when determining your pricing as service-based businesses would.

While there are many ways to determine your pricing, you could start by pricing your coaching services by the hour.

For example, let’s say you’ve determined that you’ll be charging $50 per hour. If you’re offering four monthly 1–hour sessions to your client, this means you’ll charge them $200 for those four hours.

6. Promote your business

Now that you already have your business registered, your coaching offer figured out, and a rough marketing plan, it’s time to start promoting your services.

There are many ways to promote your business, from advertising, social networking, content marketing, email marketing, and more.

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The best way to start is to choose one social media platform, start marketing your coaching services vigorously, and, once you’ve got the hang of that platform, you can move on to another.

Also, try gaining email subscribers as soon as possible to provide value to prospective coaching clients continuously.

As you start to gain clients and help them achieve results, you can showcase your testimonials on your social media platforms, in your emails, and on your website.

7. Invest in continuing your education

It’s important to continue to learn so you can provide your clients with the most relevant and up-to-date tactics.

This means you’ll have to continue investing — both time and money — into tools, courses, and more to make sure you can help your clients get the best results from your program.

For example, Instagram marketing coaches may need to spend a lot of time determining how new Instagram features work as soon as they’re released so they can teach them to their clients.

This goes for all life coach niches.

Ready to become a life coach?

If the main reason you want to pursue a career as a life coach is the freedom and flexibility it offers, you can always consider other popular work-from-home jobs. See our list of the best work-from-home entry-level jobs.

However, if you’ve decided that being a life coach is the perfect career for you, start by choosing a niche. Next, get a certification if you’re in an extremely competitive niche. From there, set up your business and start marketing your services.

Find out what other people are asking about coaching in our Resource Center.

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