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How Long Does it Take to Become a Life Coach?

August 27, 2020
Life Coaching
Originally published in November 2018, this post has been updated to provide additional information about the substance and length of the coach training process.

I get asked a lot what it takes to become a life coach. If you've been the go-to in your group of friends for any kind of life, relationship, dating advice or whatever they need to process in their time of turbulence, then you've actually already been one. In a way. 

Yes, you're probably giving more advice than processing. But a safe space is being created. Trust is being built. New perspectives are being revealed. Insights are being sparked. There is a human exchange. A form of life coaching is happening.

Now, this doesn't mean you should run out to hang an "I'm a life coach!" shingle on your social media door and start charging people for sessions next week. Many actually do this and their "life coaching career" is short-lived because they haven't received any training or gained real confidence.

To deliver consistent results for clients, you need professional training, tools, and practice

Life coaching is distinct from business or career coaching. If you’ve created a successful business, you can probably draw from your own experience to coach someone else without further specialized training. But life coaching is something else entirely. 

Just because you have achieved a great life or have gone through some shit doesn't mean you will automatically know how to coach others through their own life transitions. I mean, you can. But without training you'll end up just giving advice based on how you’ve lived your own life, and that's not what life coaching is about.

john kim life coach
Me during a life coaching session ten years ago

So you need to get training. Which leads us back to the question:

How long does it take to become a certified life coach?

It depends on two things. The length of the certification program. And the time it takes to feel confident in coaching others. The process of putting those pieces together takes most people about a year. Here’s how the process shakes out:

Training Programs

Like any form of education, life coach training curriculum will vary. You’ll find everything from weekend training intensives (which I would stay away from because you will definitely need more than a weekend to learn how to help people with their lives) to two year programs. On the upper end, that’s about how long it takes to go to grad school! 

Most people who are serious about becoming a certified life coach are looking for the middle ground between these extremes. Not too short. Not too long. Just right.

Here at JRNI you can earn your coaching certification in about six months, depending on which route you choose to take. We offer two training tracks: Essentials and Signature. The Essentials program takes 20 weeks (around 5 months) to complete. Grounded in science, it features authentic instructors and fellow students who are dedicated to forging a unique path in the world of coaching. If you’re interested in pursuing International Coach Federation (ICF) certification, the Signature program clocks in at 28 weeks (just over 7 months) and provides even greater depth to help prepare you for that process. 

Not sure about the difference between credentialing and ICF certification? You can read more about it here.

Hands-On Experience

Both our programs are offered entirely online, and provide the structure needed to practice your emerging skills through peer coaching, instructor feedback, JRNI client matching, and live partner events. Guided practice throughout the program gives you the second ingredient you’ll need to succeed: confidence. 

Depending on how much work you're willing to put in, most new coaches will have the tools and experience they need to launch a professional coaching practice within six months after graduation.

Roughly one year. That’s what it takes. 

I don't say that to scare you, I say it to be honest and prepare you for what's ahead. An adventure that’s exciting and challenging, in turn. During that year, you’ll want to spin a few plates. Expect to:

1.  Get trained, get educated.

Training isn’t just something to stick on your resume. Remember to use the concepts you learn in a life coach training program on yourself first. Not only to apply the training for your own self-betterment journey, but also to experience the techniques first hand so you’ll understand them better. 

If possible, work with a coach yourself. Discover what it’s like to sit in the client’s seat. Why? Bear in mind that you're not only taking the training to become a life coach. You're taking the training to acquire tools to lead a better life yourself. This will naturally make you a better coach.

2. Practice more than you plan.

Practice. Practice Practice. Make sure you are always practicing whenever you get a chance. With your cohort, friends, strangers. Whoever. Whenever. Never turn down an opportunity to hone your craft. Remember, you’ll ultimately learn more in the actual “doing” than from any coaching course you can take.

3. Become visible, share your story.

Start sharing your story and post your revelations. That's one of the characteristics of a good life coach. People will either relate to you and your message. Or they will not. Don’t be concerned with the amount of followers you have. Use social media as a filter to attract who you are meant to help. The people who do not relate to you, your story, or your message are not meant to be your clients.That’s OK.

Worry about oversharing? Learn more about how to walk the line between transparency and TMI here

John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, life coaches
Myself and JRNI Coaching CEO Noelle Cordeaux in 2018. To hear us talk more about how long it takes to become a coach, check out Episode 40 of our Everything Life Coaching Podcast


It may technically only take you a year to become a certified life coach. But you will be one for the rest of your life.

Life coaching is not just about having a successful business. Life coaching is about living a certain way. What is produced from that new way of living becomes your practice. Coaching can come in the form of a one on one sessions. Or you might publish books, host a podcast, lead retreats. What it means to coach might look different for you than it has for me. 

This is a journey that starts with answering your passion to help others. Throughout the process, beginning with your life coach training program, you will learn to live a certain way. Hopefully with an amazing community, depending on the coach training program you choose. Eventually that way of new living will impact others. That is what makes you a life coach.

Ready to Take The Next Step?

If you’d like to talk with a member of the JRNI team about what it takes to become a coach, let’s make it happen! Click here to schedule a call for more information. Let’s get your questions answered, and explore how you can become a force for even greater good in the world.

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