Becoming a Life Coach: What Credentials are Required?

June 10, 2021
Life Coaching

What does it take to become a life coach?

What if we said that you could stop reading right here because... there are no credentials “required” to become a coach.

Would you believe us and jet without finishing this article? 

Or would you wonder if maybe there’s more to the story?

Let's start with the basics:

FACT: Life coaching is an unregulated profession.

FACT: You don't need a license or certification to start a coaching business.

ALSO FACT: Good coaching is a combination of science, intuition, and experience

A coach who's the real deal transforms lives, and has clients raving to their friends and colleagues about it. (And they aren't just born that way.)

Technically, anyone can say they are a coach.

But we're guessing that you’re not here just looking for some easy money. In fact, we’re willing to bet that you want to become a life coach because you care about helping other people succeed. And that means offering real value to prospective coaching clients. 

Every week, we talk to a lot of people like you who are thinking about entering the coaching industry. You probably have a lot of the same questions that they do!

Questions like:

  • How long does it take to become a certified life coach?
  • What steps are required?
  • How much does life coach certification cost?
  • And finally… What credentials are needed to be a life coach?

In the following article, we've laid out the essential "Need To Know's" about entering the coaching profession. So let's get down to those burning questions!

Do I need training to be a life coach?

Yes, and here’s why.

As more life coaches enter the virtual marketplace, consumers are looking for guidance on which practitioners are most reputable. Yes anybody can do it, but how do you know if they're any good?

Let’s face it: personal development and “living your best life” are trending. Our social media feeds are filled with tips and philosophies for how to get the most from our “one wild and precious life” (props to Mary Oliver). From the guy next door to our former high school BFF, everyone’s got something to say about it. 

When hiring a coach, prospective clients want to know you will cut through all that noise and deliver results. 

Life coaching clients are savvy, and often shop around before deciding which coach they want to work with. They may even ask what techniques, methods, and processes you use. 

A reputable coach training program will prepare you to deliver transformative outcomes for your clients.

In the process of becoming a certified coach, you’ll gain broad exposure to research-based life coaching frameworks, interventions, methodologies, and techniques. You'll also “learn by doing”, with ample opportunities to test it all out in practice coaching sessions.

Need help figuring out which program is right for you? 

This short, step by step guide will walk you through it: How to Get Certified As A Life Coach

What’s the deal with coach training “accreditation”?

At this time, International Coaching Federation (ICF) coach certification represents the industry gold standard. And we don’t see that changing anytime soon. In fact, we believe the ICF seal of approval for life coach training programs will only continue to rise in prominence over the years to come.

Here’s what we’re seeing in the coaching industry today:

  • Many long established coach certification programs are applying for ICF accreditation. Why? Because they recognize that more and more coaching clients are looking to hire ICF credentialed coaches.
  • Human resource departments are vetting life coaching qualifications. Businesses are a leading employer of professional coaches. They are also among the highest paying "clients". Whether you want to land a corporate job as an internal coach, or are hoping to book more business coaching contracts… recognized credentials count.

Confused about the difference between coach certification, credentialing, and accreditation?

You’re not alone! For a no-nonsense breakdown, take a look at: What Certification Do You Need to Be a Life Coach? 

What life coaching qualifications should I care most about?

1) International Coaching Federation credentials 

As an unaffiliated nonprofit organization, the ICF is dedicated to overseeing the field of professional coaching. They also make industry-leading endorsements and recommendations for selecting a training program. Because of this, consumers have a safety net against fake programs... and practitioners who simply don’t know what they’re doing.

At JRNI Coaching, we're ICF accredited and offer a pathway to getting your ACC ICF Credential. If we’re one of the programs on your short list of options, check out: Why Choose JRNI Life Coach Training? 

2) Real-world coaching practice and feedback

Picture it: you’re ten minutes away from your very first paying session with a new client. This is it, the moment you’ve been waiting for! 

Are you ready?!? Facilitating an impactful coaching session is an art. It's also grounded in techniques that can be taught.

It takes practice to learn how to:

  • Build rapport and trust with someone you’ve just met
  • Choose the right question, at the right time, to stimulate client “a-ha’s”
  • Hold productive silence when a client is processing and making new internal connections
  • Inspire a commitment to take action and be accountable
  • “Get somewhere” by the end of an hour (it goes quick, friends!)

You’ll want to practice with a variety of people: rapid verbal processors, methodical thinkers, and everyone in between. It also helps to coach with peers and mentors who will give you direct, constructive feedback. Otherwise, how will you know if what you’re doing is actually working - not just in your head, but more importantly… in the mind of your client?

3) Continuing education in your coaching specialty

While it’s not required, many coaches choose to specialize in a particular area. Or as we call it in the industry, your “life coaching niche”. To attract clients within your chosen niche, you’ll need to be both knowledgeable and credible.

If you’re transitioning into coaching with existing expertise, you’ll have a leg up here. For example, if you’re a corporate management whiz you might decide to focus your practice in a business coaching specialty. But no matter how many years of experience you bring, you’ll want to stay current on new developments in the field you’re coaching within. If your clients desire keen insight into social media strategy, but you’re just coming out of a career in print media? Well, you may need to study up in some areas!

If there is very little overlap between your current background and your desired coaching specialty, further training in addition to your coaching certification may be advisable. Take someone with a career history in computer coding who wants to become a health and fitness coach, for example. In that case, additional training in nutrition and exercise may be just what the doctor ordered!

Like other certified professionals across diverse industries, ICF credentialed coaches are required to keep on learning. In order to have your life coaching certification renewed, you’ll need to log a certain number of continuing education hours each year.

What do I do next?

Become A Life Coach: The Quick and Dirty Checklist!

1) Research coach training programs

Resource: 7 Things to Look for In A Life Coach Training Program

2) Decide if ICF credentials are important to you

Resource: Why Become an ICF Certified Life Coach?

3) Run the numbers

Resource: How Much Does It Cost To Become A Life Coach? 

4) Asses program fit

Consider:

  • “Personality” of the program
  • Curriculum
  • Length of program
  • Tuition costs
  • Opportunities to practice and receive feedback 

5) Interview

If there isn’t a clear frontrunner in your mind at this point, narrow it down to your top 2-3:

  • Develop your questions - what’s most important to you?
  • Ask to talk with program staff and alumni 

6) ENROLL

Choose and commit.

What's the difference between dreaming about your future and actually creating it?

It’s simple: really. Those who succeed do so by taking imperfect action.

There is never a “right” time. Nobody can promise how it will all turn out. There are no guarantees in this life. There’s only right here, right now. 

Your capabilities. Your dreams. Your potential.

So... what will you do with YOUR one wild and precious life?

Ready to Get Started?

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 are ready to step into your power and you’d 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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