Originally published in October 2020, this blog has been updated by Team JRNI.
If you enjoy helping others reach their full potential, you may be feeling called to become a life coach. And why not? People just like you are making successful careers in this industry, and you can too.
There’s a lot to like about life coaching! In addition to making a positive impact for others, there’s professional freedom in it as well. Be your own boss. Travel and work from anywhere in the world. Decide your hours, and set your own priorities.
Who doesn’t crave that kind of freedom?
Before diving in, though, it’s important for prospective coaches to consider what it takes to start your own life coaching practice. If you want to make a real go of it, it’s smart to get professional life coach certification, and business startup support.
This is where you might be asking: “What does all that cost, and what can I expect to get in return?” Let's break it down!
The Real Cost to Become A Life Coach
As of right now, it's perfectly legal to call yourself a life coach with no training of any kind. You heard that right - you don’t need to be a certified life coach. The world of professional coaching is varied, and also unregulated. So why choose to make the investment?
If you want to help people make meaningful change, you need to understand how the human mind actually works! Reputable coach training programs offer evidence-based education in Positive Psychology, along with instruction on how to deliver consistent results for your clients.
Life coach certification programs that are accredited by the International Coaching Federation offer the strongest recognition in the industry. It gives your clients assurance that you possess the skills and training necessary to do this work. While you don’t "need" to be certified, potential life coaching clients will look at your credentials as they decide whether or not they want to work with you.
Certification validates your practice. No credentials = fewer clients.
What You’ll Learn
One of the most vital things you’ll learn in a coaching program is how to help a client move from where they are today ("Here And Now") to where they want to be ("Desired Future State"). There are many ways to do this, and a reputable life coach certification program will introduce you to evidence-based frameworks, techniques, and positive psychology interventions to help clients clarify their intentions, overcome obstacles, and take action toward achieving their goals.
When it comes to working with people, a solid grasp of professional ethics is essential. For coaches, this means clearly defining and setting boundaries between you and your client, establishing agreed upon goals, and articulating a clear plan for achieving them.
There’s a lot to unpack around ethics, and no amount of reading will prepare you for the real world situations that can arise in your practice.
If you’re planning to open your own coaching practice, then you’re about to become an entrepreneur! With that said, not all coach training schools will cover what this means thoroughly. If your goal is to set up your own business, be sure to choose a program that offers instruction and tools for doing just that. This includes marketing, advertising, sales and closing new clients, attracting an audience, refining your niche and message, and more.
Nothing replaces the experience of learning directly from other life coaches who are teaching in a coaching certificate program. You'll hear case studies, and workshop actual client scenarios. Joining a coaching community also gives you a professional network to call upon after graduation, helping to work through your own client scenarios, ethics and business considerations as they come up in the future.
Wondering how to choose?
Discover the best life coach certification programs for you in 7 Things to Look for in a Life Coach Training Program.
What Does It Cost?
Professional training programs are offered both online and in person. Costs can range from $1,500 to $15,000... and sometimes even higher. Each program has a signature style and unique way of teaching participants. Training programs vary in length and depth, and their costs usually reflect that as well.
Need strategies for asking your employer to help cover the cost? How To Ask Your Company to Pay for Life Coach Training
Curious about your potential ROI? Don’t miss the Ultimate Guide to Life Coach Salaries, and our three-part podcast series “Can I Make it As A Coach?” with JRNI co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux.
How Long Will It Take?
Time itself is one of the hidden costs in becoming a coach. There are a lot of educational programs that can get you accredited and provide the level of training you’re looking for. However, courses vary not only in price, but duration. Expect a well-rounded coach certificate program to take anywhere from 3 months to 1 yeary. For graduate programs, your course of study might be even longer.
If you want to do an entire coach training program in a weekend, you can find it! And while that may seem cost effective in the short run, the International Coaching Federation requires dozens of hours of learning in order to become an ICF credentialed coach. To perform well as a coach, there's a lot to learn!
When it comes to training, look for programs that include coaching practice hours. You want to come out of a program with sufficient confidence to begin seeing clients right away after graduation. You can only build up expertise if you’ve done a solid number of practice sessions and received feedback on your technique within a supportive training environment.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Am I ready to put in the hard work?
The costs of becoming a life coach are not fixed. You may find along the way that you need to apply extra effort and shift priorities in your life to get the work done. Aside from knowing what kind of training you need, you also want to make sure that you have enough energy for it.
Timing is everything! Before you enroll, make sure you understand the commitment and are prepared to maximize your investment. This will require setting aside enough time dedicated to classes, homework, practice sessions, and personal reflection.
Do I really want this?
While this may sound obvious, it's important. This means understanding not only what a life coach does, but also deeply knowing what motivates you to pursue it.
Sometimes, people will enroll in a coaching program because it looks like a great lifestyle, a way to make easy money, or because they know coaching is a trending field. To really be successful at this, it’s important to embrace coaching as a calling rather than a vocation.
Am I equipped to build my own business?
Are you ready to take risks and incur the costs associated with getting started? Obtaining a coaching certification is only the first step on this career path. Building a business can be demanding!
If you’re never been a entrepreneur, it’s wise to prepare yourself for what that will mean. Consider talking to alumni from the programs you are interested in to find out what their experiences have been like. A reputable coaching program should be willing to connect you with a few of their graduates to help you make an informed decision before enrolling.
Ready For The Next Step?
Launch your coaching practice right! Check out JRNI Life Coach Training - a program that's every bit as unique as you are. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, business instruction to prepare you for liftoff as an entrepreneur, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a collective force for good.