If you enjoy helping others and seeing them reach their full potential and achieve their goals, life coaching might be for you. Life coaches can help clients overcome personal and professional obstacles to help them achieve their goals. They empower clients to identify personal strengths and weaknesses, and they assist clients in building confidence. Studies have even found that working with a life coach can improve self-esteem. So what exactly do life coaches do, and how do you go about becoming one?
Four Steps to Becoming a Life Coach
From the outside, it can seem like becoming a life coach requires little more than compassion and the ability to encourage others. In reality, it takes a little more effort than that. It’s a business, after all, and includes all the decisions and challenges that come with running a business or becoming an entrepreneur.
1. Find your niche.
Before you commit to jumping into this career, you should figure out what service(s) your life coach practice will offer. Life coaches can help with a wide range of things, from financial coaching, relationship advice, and spiritual guidance to leadership training and general family life issues. You could say that life coaches take a holistic approach to life – just as Health Coaches do in their own work.
Defining your niche allows you to target exactly who you are looking to help. Using language that accurately explains your services allows clients to feel more comfortable seeking you out. If you advertise yourself as someone who helps clients “get back on track,” potential clients may shy away because they’re not sure if that offering meets their specific needs.
2. Gain certification and credentials.
After you figure out exactly what kind of life coach you want to be, begin researching certification programs. Since life coaches are often self-employed, there’s actually no formal education experience required – just the “school of life.” However, clients may feel more comfortable working with someone who has a background in whatever niche you offer, be it finance, business, psychology, or something else.
Programs like IIN’s Health Coach Training Program offer structured education on a wide range of topics that aspiring life coaches may find helpful. These programs often include lessons about and resources for running a business as well.
3. Build your business.
Life coaching is an extremely flexible career option, and you can choose to work in an office, remotely, or a hybrid. Before starting your life coaching business:
Being thoughtful about your goals is key before beginning any new endeavor. Look at successful life coaches you know or follow online and note what you find interesting about their work and online presence. How do they interact with their followers? How do they connect with current and potential clients? Be inspired without imitating them.
Starting a new business without a business plan can cost money, lead to mistakes, and impact relationships. Starting with business goals, financial objectives, marketing strategies, and other targets helps keep your brand and business on the path forward. You may even consider hiring a business coach or someone who is knowledgeable in building a business to help you as you get started. This is often cost-effective as it’s saving you time you could otherwise be spending getting new clients!
When creating your business plan, be sure to build in time and money to register your business with the appropriate state and/or federal agencies. Setting up a limited liability company (LLC) separates your business assets from your personal assets should you ever be involved in a lawsuit.
Online networking opportunities are crucial when you first start your business. Most of the time when client-based businesses struggle to get clients, it’s because of a lack of clear communication. Having things like a unique niche in wellness, an elevator pitch, a good web presence, and a little creativity can go a long way while networking.
The most successful life coaches offer introductory workshops, attend virtual networking events, or align their coaching practices with complementary offerings, such as newsletters or blogs. Ensuring existing clients have the best possible experience is crucial – word of mouth is the most effective marketing tool you have!
4. Invest in continuing education.
Just as we continue to develop ourselves over time, life coaches should stay up to date on current trends and data to best assist their clients. This can look like continuing your education with specialty courses, taking classes from other coaches, staying informed on psychology research, or keeping up with trends on social media.
Your day-to-day responsibilities as a life coach will at least partially depend on what area you focus your coaching practice on. It may also depend on whether you’re working for yourself or someone else as a consultant or advisor. Your day may include:
- Meeting with new clients to determine if you are a good fit for their needs
- Guiding clients to set actionable, goal-based plans
- Working on social media, a blog, or email marketing to expand your potential client base
- Checking in with current clients and encouraging them to keep moving forward
- Keeping on top of “back-end” documents, like taxes, time cards (if you have employees), and office work
Salary and Job Outlook
While life coaches, like many independent coaches, are typically self-employed, it’s becoming more common to see life coaches working with and for large organizations to provide advice and support to employees.
Life coaching is a growing field as more people seek assistance in improving aspects of their lives. Since you would be your own boss, you can set your own salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (who include life coaches in the same category as Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors) shows that life coaches earn a median salary of $58,120 per year, with an overall range of $35,620–$97,910. Your salary as a life coach will depend on:
- The number of clients you have at any given time
- Overhead costs
- Whether you work full- or part-time
- Your geographic location – larger cities usually have a higher cost of living but also higher wages
- Whether you’re self-employed or you work for a company or corporation
- Your coaching niche or specialty
The Bottom Line
For people excited about the idea of being their own boss while helping others achieve their goals, becoming a life coach may be a great career choice. Life coaches are entrepreneurs with the opportunity to take charge of their own careers and futures to forge personal (and financial) independence.