Your whole life, people have been coming to you for guidance. Whether you are someone’s #fitnessgoals or your friend’s go-to dating guru, you are someone who gives out a lot of insight for free and enjoys helping people. Turns out, there’s a market for that type of talent.
It’s time to put a price on advice.
How much can I make as a life coach?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, life coaches make around $62,000 per year,1 with the top 10% earning $97,910 annually.2 How much you make as a life coach can depend on where you live, the type of clients you serve, your level of expertise, and how you choose to price your services (more on that in step 6, below).
The outlook for life coaching as an industry is extremely positive. Between 2015 and 2019, the number of professional life coaches in North America grew by 33% in North America.3 Healthy industry growth signals good things for aspiring life coaches like yourself: your services are in demand more than ever.
By becoming a personal life coach, you can fulfill your passion for helping people with your creative problem-solving skills and natural insights, all while making a living! But how do you do it? Lucky for you, we wrote you a nifty guide to help you out with your success.
Let’s dive in.
How to become a life coach
Life coaches capitalize on their immense empathy, intuition, and problem-solving capabilities to help improve people’s lives. This profession can come in many forms, from dating coaches to spiritual guides.
No matter what you are interested in, there are seven basic steps to turning your talent for guiding others into a full-blown business and rewarding career:
- Choose your specialization
- Complete a training program
- Earn a credential
- Acquire a business classification
- Get insured
- Price your services
- Market yourself online
While your focus is coaching clients through difficult processes, this guide is here to walk you through the path to becoming a professional life coach. Keep reading for a detailed how-to.
Step 1: Choose your specialization
This might sound like advice you’ve given to other people already but, you can’t do it all. Even life coaches have to pick and choose what they focus on. That’s why you’ll want to choose a specialization for your coaching programs.
Not convinced? Here are some benefits to specializing:
- It builds trust with clients and ensures that you are an expert in a certain field
- It gives you authority in that specific area
- It allows you to hone in on particular skills and certifications
- It helps you focus your marketing strategy to one area or industry
Some possible life coaching niches are:
- Dating and romance
- Professional growth and career transition
- Academics and pedagogy
- General wellness
- Health, fitness, and nutrition
- Interpersonal skills
Even though the options for types of life coaches are virtually endless, you’ll know what type of life coach you’ll want to be based on your skills, talents, and personality. Think about what life areas interest you the most, and what type of advice you typically find yourself giving. After some intense pondering, you’ll find your natural fit!
Step 2: Get to training and finish a program
While your natural capacity for guidance was great for friends and family, you’ll need some more official coach education to get you going as a professional life coach. Not only that but helping people find their life purpose is a massive responsibility. This requires education and training beyond your insight and personal experience.
Coaches-in-training learn about the psychology behind client communication and life improvement. Training programs also teach coaches how to conduct initial client assessments, the ethics of life coaching, and vital communication skills.
When searching for a training program or coaching school, be sure to find one that is officially accredited by associations in the industry like:
- The International Authority for Professional Coaching and Mentoring (IAPC&M)
- The International Coach Federation (ICF)
- The Asia Pacific Alliance of Coaches (APAC)
- The Association for Coaching
- The International Association of Coaching (IAC)
- The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC)1
How much does life coach training cost?
All in, you can expect to pay $3,000 to $15,000 total on life coach training, with individual courses costing $1,000 to $5,000.
Life coach training costs depend on several factors, such as the length of the course, whether or not the course is accredited, and if you’re taking the course online or in-person. How much you’ll spend on life coach training also depends on your personal goals and how many accreditations or training programs you wish to complete. Shorter courses cost less, while accredited training programs take several months and cost more. Graduate-level programs cost most of all.
To make things more affordable, many programs offer payment plans, although you may get a discount if you pay the entire cost upfront.
Step 3: Get yourself a credential (or two)
On top of a college degree and training certificate, earning an official credential from an industry association (like those listed above) can help skyrocket your professional reputation and attract more clients.
Credentials are different from training program certificates because they prove that you are an expert in the field (beyond having the basic qualifications of any life coach). Associations like the IAC or ICF offer professional certification credentials that require hundreds of hours of experience and a minimum number of clients.
For example, becoming ICF accredited requires 500 hours of experience and at least 25 clients, on top of the successful completion of their Coach Knowledge Assessment.
Many of these professional assessments will test the following:
- Understanding of ethical guidelines
- Goal-setting skills
- Active listening skills
- Understanding and fulfillment of coaching agreements
- Communication skills
The IAC’s Master Masteries Coach (MMC) designation requires that coaches complete rigorous tests and record their sessions with clients to fully evaluate their mastery of the craft. While that sounds intense, that is what successful coaching takes. You can do it.
Step 4: Structure your business
Life coaches may also be interested in gaining more legal protection beyond that of a private contractor or freelance worker. To do so, life coaches should get a business classification to gain more rights and protections as a business owner.
Possible business classifications include:
Limited Liability Company (LLC) – An LLC combines the benefits of a corporation with the freedom of a partnership or sole proprietorship. It protects you from personal liability should your LLC face any lawsuits or bankruptcy. LLC members are still considered self-employed and will be required to pay self-employment taxes like Social Security and Medicare.
Corporation designation (C corp) – A C corp is a legal entity separate from the business owner. While this designation offers the business owner more protection from personal liability than an LLC, it is also more costly and complicated to maintain. C corps also have to pay income tax on their profits.
Step 5: Get small business insurance: you need it!
With life coaching, you are putting your insight and reputation on the line by helping clients. It is an inherently vulnerable career path, especially if clients mistakenly bank on your service to solve all of their problems. Should something go wrong during one of your sessions and your client gets litigious, you will want a solid insurance policy to protect your career.
You’ll want to look into:
General liability insurance – If you are interacting with people or going to your clients’ residences, you’ll need this insurance. It covers any claims of third-party bodily injury and property damage that may result from your services.
Professional liability insurance – Also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O), this type of policy can cover claims of negligence due to financial loss, like if your career advice causes a client to lose a big promotion.
With small business owners like yourself, the price of insurance may be prohibitive. However, with Thimble’s Life Coach Insurance, you can get on-demand, flexible insurance that’s on when you’re working, and off when you’re not.
Not only can you receive as many Certificates of Insurance as you want, but you can also add Additional Insureds for free. Do clients often cancel? No problem. You can cancel your policy penalty-free up to an hour before your coverage is set to begin.
You have your client’s back. We have yours.
Step 6: Price your services
Life coaches may charge anywhere from $75 to over $1,000 per hour. That’s a large range. If you’re wondering where you fit within that range, consider the following:
- What are your qualifications? If you have an impressive list of certifications under your belt, clients may feel more comfortable paying more for your services.
- How many years have you been coaching? The more experience you have, the more you can charge.
- What kind of clients do you serve? If C-level executives represent the majority of your clientele, they can afford, and may expect, to pay more for your services.
Also consider how you want to charge for your services. You may charge an hourly rate, or offer package pricing for clients who book a certain number of sessions with you. You may have different pricing for in-person sessions vs. online-only coaching.
Step 7: Market yourself to future clients
By now, you’ve got a lifetime of experience behind you. You’ve completed your certifications. And you’ve made your business official and purchased insurance.
There’s only one more thing you need to be a true life coach: clients.
Before you can build a healthy roster of life coaching clients, they first need to know you exist. That’s where marketing comes in.
- Start by defining your life coach brand. Who are you? What services do you offer? What makes you uniquely qualified to coach people in your niche? The answer to these questions will help you define your messaging, color scheme, and overall branding. It can also be helpful to connect with a designer or marketer to help you nail down these elements. You’ll want to present something polished and cohesive to the world.
- Build your business website. Using your brand as a guide, build a life coach website that lists your services, shares your background, and promotes your credentials and experience as a life coach. Establish trust by including testimonials from clients, and posting your certifications. You might also consider starting a blog where you can regularly post guidance and tips to share with existing clients and attract new ones through SEO (search engine optimization).
- Post on social media. Those tips can be repackaged into social media posts. Use a free graphic design tool like Canva to create eye-catching posts for Instagram. If you work with business professionals, engage your community on LinkedIn. Remember: as a life coach, your business is all about relationships. Help people get a sense of what it’s like to work with you by posting videos on TikTok and Instagram Stories. Invest in a ring camera to give your videos a professional touch.
While becoming a successful life coach isn’t easy and requires emotional intelligence and talent, it also isn’t impossible. Just like you’ll be taking clients through step-by-step processes, let’s reiterate ours:
- Choose your specialization
- Finish a training program
- Earn a credential
- Structure your business
- Get insured
- Price your services
- Market yourself online
Once you’ve fulfilled those basic steps, your next goal will be to build a solid client base and keep learning. Continue to hone your craft, set new goals, and gain insights from the people you admire. With your passion and intuition, you’ll be on a steady path changing lives and thriving as a small business owner.
Now get to work!