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 a rewarding living in this growing industry.
There’s a lot to like about 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 to consider what it takes to start your own coaching practice. If you want to make a real go of it, it’s smart to get professional training, certification, and 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!
No Such Thing As A Free Ride
The coaching industry is unregulated. 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 get certified. So why choose to make the investment?
If you want to help people make meaningful change, you need to understand how the change process itself actually works. We're talking the science of Positive Psychology. Reputable coach training programs offer evidence based education and tools that will teach you how to deliver consistent results for your clients. A good program can also provide a firm foundation in business development to help you launch your own successful practice.
Certification also validates your practice. It offers your clients assurance that you have the skills and training necessary to do this work. While you don’t "need" to be certified, potential clients are going to look at your credentials as they decide whether they want to work with you. 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). This is the distinction that separates coaches from therapists. Therapy often focuses on processing the past and working with our feelings. In contrast, coaching looks toward the future. A good coach not only helps a client identify and overcome roadblocks, they also help the client to clearly articulate goals and take the steps necessary to achieve them.
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, setting agreed upon goals, and having 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. Nothing replaces learning from practitioners in the field, and having a professional network to call upon to help you work through ethical considerations as they come up.
If you’re planning to open your own coaching practice, then guess what? You’re about to become an entrepreneur! Not all coaching programs 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.
What Does It Cost?
Coaching programs are offered both online and in person. Costs can range from $1,500 to $8,000... 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 an example, JRNI Coaching offers two coach training tracks to fit the objectives, needs, and budgets of our diverse student body.
How Long Will It Take?
Time itself is one of the hidden costs in becoming a coach. There are a lot of 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. Programs range from 16 to 100 hours or more. Expect anywhere from a 3 month intensive to a 2 year course of study.
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 how to choose the best accredited program for you, 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, another necessary question to ask is if you really want to do this. 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 business. 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.