Careers in Life Coaching: Exploring Options & Opportunities

If you’re drawn to the idea of becoming a life coach, but aren’t sure how to make a sustainable income, then friend - you’re in the right place! It’s natural when exploring a new path to wonder about prospective employment opportunities. Rest assured that there’s more ways to make a good living as a coach than you might imagine.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Life coach salaries and income potential
  • Running your own business 
  • Working for a company
  • Who’s hiring life coaches - yes, an actual list!
  • Other ways to generate revenue

Life Coach Salaries

“Is it really possible to make a living as a coach?” 

If you’re asking yourself this, you’re in very good company. It’s the #1 question most aspiring life coaches have as they enter this industry. So let’s knock this question out first!

Team JRNI analyzed a broad range of reliable data sources, and we’re here to take the guesswork out of income forecasting for you. According to the International Coaching Federation, the average annual salary for life coaches practicing in North America is $62,500.

How does the average life coach salary stack up against other professions? 

Pretty well, as it happens! Check out a few related points of comparison from the U.S. Bureau of Labor:

  • Marriage and Family Therapist = $50,090
  • Human Resource Specialist = $48,410
  • Fitness Trainer = $57,370
  • Real Estate Sales Agent = $56,290

In the United States, the average salary across all professions currently stands at $48,672. Comparatively speaking, it would appear that life coaches can make a pretty comfortable living, right?

Now before you take that figure to the bank, there’s something else that’s equally important to know. What average coach salary figures cannot tell you is whether or not YOU are likely to earn this amount in your own coaching business. 

Whether you aspire to part-time work, or intend to join the ranks of full-time life coaches, you’ll want to explore our in-depth industry analysis to learn what you, personally, might be able to expect. In this special report, we slice and dice the numbers by life coach hourly rates, coaching specialties, years of experience, and services offered:

The Ultimate Guide to Life Coach Salaries

Solo Coach Practitioner

When people think about the work of life coaches, self-employment is often what first comes to mind. And after talking to thousands of prospective coach training students, we’ve uncovered a set of common elements that many people are looking for from a career in life coaching. 

Do any of these resonate for you?

  • Autonomy to set your schedule 
  • Flexibility to work at your own pace
  • Working from wherever you want 
  • Doing your best work for even better pay
  • Deciding which clients you’d prefer to work with
  • Creative control over your workload, priorities and outcomes  

What this all adds up to is the freedom to design your own life. 

Now here’s an insider’s secret: life coaching in itself doesn’t provide these benefits. What actually makes those things possible is self-employment.

Coaching is just one way to ditch your 9-5 grind. And YES, it can be a very viable one... if you’re willing to put in the time and effort necessary to launch a solo practice. 

Striking out on your own requires courage, especially if this will be your first go at running your own business.

You’ll need to know more than how to be a good coach to thrive. You’ll also need some entrepreneurial skills. It may also mean sacrifice along the way, and facing down your own fears and uncertainty. And while it can be hard work to be your own boss and generate a sustainable income, it’s also deeply rewarding! Many coaches we know wouldn't have it any other way.

Need a hit of inspiration?

Check out these stories from JRNI coaches who’ve gone solo and are loving it!

How I Made the Transition from Side-Hustle to Full Time Life Coach

How To Build An Online Presence That Gets Results

JNRI Alumni Case Studies

PRO TIP for Solo Practitioners: To boost visibility and attract new clients, individual coaches often team up with regional businesses such as yoga studios, wellness clinics, and others that align with your chosen coaching niche. For even greater reach, you can also apply to join online professional collaboratives such as:

Working for an Employer

Guess what? Not all life coaches want to run their own business, and that’s OK! 

Serving as an in-house coach offers the benefit of a steady paycheck, which can be attractive if you don’t have an appetite for the risks associated with self-employment. What you may trade-off in terms of personal freedom could be worth it in terms of competitive salaries, health insurance, and amazing benefits!

There’s many reasons to consider working in a coaching capacity for an employer. Particularly for newer coaches, this can be a great way to gain further training and direct client experience... while getting paid. It can also serve as a stabilizing interim step as you transition from a prior career to launching your own coaching business.

Coaching niches that align nicely with what many employers are looking for include:

  • Wellness Coach
  • Fitness & Nutrition Coach
  • Career Coach
  • Financial Coach
  • Business Coach 
  • Leadership Coach
  • Management Coach

Who’s Hiring Life Coaches?

Like any other profession, there’s many ways to seek out information about how to land a job in the coaching industry. You can use a simple Google search, and run queries on Indeed, Flexjobs, Monster, and other job boards. 

Check out those job ads and explore what's available through industry associations. These searches will give you a taste of what’s out there… but know that it’s just the tip of the iceberg!

PRO TIP: Drill down and look at those companies that interest you most. Visit their career pages and job listings regularly.

The two types of opportunities you’re most likely to come across include:

  • Companies that hire coaches to serve their employees in-house
  • Organizations that serve external clients, where you’re assigned to consulting and coaching clients generated by the firm. 

Some companies will expect that you’ve already completed training and are a certified life coach. Others will offer training and professional development upon hiring. 

Ready to get started?

Check out these companies that regularly hiring coaches:

Universities, community colleges, and other educational institutions are also a great source for job leads, particularly if you’re interested in career or wellness coaching. Many also hire full-time employees to coach first generation students, and those pursuing careers in STEM. They may not be as likely to publish job ads, so go directly to an educational institution's website to search employment opportunities.

How to Be a Competitive Candidate

If you’d like to get hired, here’s what you’ll want to consider to rise to the top of the pack.

1) Complete Coach-Specific Training

Effective coaching is both an art and a science. A reputable life coach training program will provide you with frameworks, interventions, methodologies, and broad exposure to a variety of coaching techniques. In addition to hands-on practice, you'll also learn ethical considerations, and the full scope of responsibilities of a life coach.

With so many coach training programs out there, how do you know which is right for you? 

These resource can help: 

7 Things To Look For In A Certified Life Coach Training Program

How To Identify The Best ICF Coach Training Program For You

Why Choose JRNI Life Coach Training?

2) Earn Your Life Coach Certification

There’s a difference between taking a class and getting certified! Many, but not all, coach training programs offer certification. So when you’re researching training options, you’ll want to be clear about what you’re looking for.

Certification - be it for life coaches or other fields - typically means “authorized provider.” Individuals, agencies, programs, and organizations acquire certifications to demonstrate they've been credentialed through an outside process in order to provide specific services. 

In the field of coaching, pursuing a certification from an accredited training program allows you to genuinely (and ethically) call yourself a “certified life coach”. To be clear: you cannot call yourself certified if you’re not. This is just like getting a college degree - you can’t say you’re a licensed nurse if you earned a nursing degree but don’t have a license to practice!

3) Secure ICF Credentials

The biggest reason to become an ICF credentialed coach is the unique opportunities that are available to those who hold this credential. 

Since coaching is a largely unregulated and emerging field, the International Coach Federation is the closest thing we have to a governing body. Therefore, many employers and larger companies require an ICF credential to be considered for certain jobs. In fact, we’ve often heard JRNI alumni report that they were hired for coaching roles within larger organizations explicitly because of their ICF credentials.

Even if you plan to start your own business, this is still worth considering. 

If you plan to contract for companies, or will be serving clients whose employers pay your coaching fees, you might just need those credentials.

Other Ways To Make A Living

94% of coaches surveyed by the International Coach Federation do something else in addition to one-on-one coaching. And check this out: on average, life coaches that run their own business allocate just 44% of their time to 1:1 client coaching work.

What does this tell us? If you want to reach or exceed the average coaching salary through your own business, consider how you can impact your clients' lives in multiple ways.

Ways To Expand Your Coaching Revenue

Group Programs

Groups are an efficient way to bundle what you offer, while still meeting your clients' needs! In fact, this is one of the most common strategies life coaches use to increase their impact and income. Bringing a group of people together who are seeking a similar outcome is an effective means of delivering coaching content on a larger scale, while also building a community of mutual accountability and support. 

Podcasts & Public Speaking

With a dash of charisma and a message to share, your voice can be a core component of your practice. Podcasts are an effective way to deliver content, grow an audience, and enhance your creativity.

And lest you think you need to create a podcast of your own… think again! Many podcasters are seeking guests to join them for an episode, which offers an excellent way for you to get exposure to new audiences.

Live events are another way to widen your reach while earning revenue. And like podcasts, you don't necessarily have to plan and execute these yourself! Consider speaking engagements, guest teaching opportunities, and collaborating with other practitioners to support or co-facilitate programs they are offering.

Membership

Another method life coaches use to generate "evergreen" revenue is through hosting a platform that offers practical tools, guidance, and resources for your ideal client. Members might subscribe monthly or annually to gain access to your unique training, materials, content, and member services.

Workshops & Retreats

Use your expertise to facilitate memorable experiences! From international health and wellness retreats to financial planning workshops, there are many ways to profitably connect in-person (and remotely) with clients.

Publishing

If it worked for JRNI co-founder John Kim, it just might work for you too. If you’re a writer by nature, harness those skills to serve your coaching practice. From blog posts to books, there’s always an appetite for fresh and meaningful content. It’s also a great way to build an audience of prospective future coaching clients.

Ready to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you’re ready to step into your power and would like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

JRNI Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

[Free Guide] 6 Steps to Start Coaching Today

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