The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In PART 2 of this 3-part series, we take a closer look at the different pathways for being a life coach, finding clients and making a good salary.(Check out Part 1 here.)
“Where can I find solid intel on life coach salaries?”
You asked, and we’re here to answer! In the first episode of this series, we dug deep into the findings from the most recent International Coaching Federation Coach Salary report. If you missed it, here’s the topline:
According to the ICF, the average salary of a coach practicing in North America is $62,500.
Now here’s where things get tricky. While that’s the coach salary average… it’s not what the typical life coach a make per year.
Reality? More than half of the coaches surveyed by the ICF are earning closer to $30,000 annually. Now don't hit the panic button just yet - there's a logical explanation for this. It’s simple, really: many of these coach practitioners are not running a full time coaching business.
Whether you're hoping to build a satisfying side-hustle, or a coaching empire, know that there's a place in this industry for you. Regardless of your personal income goals, we'll explore a variety of coaching pathways to help get your there.
Key factors that influence coach salaries include:
1. Specialized markets
The type of coaching business you’re in drives demand, and accounts for the biggest differences in coaching income potential. In other words, the nature of your client base will heavily influence the rates you can charge. If you are an executive coach, you’ll make more than most life coaches… often 2-3 times more.
A successful coaching business is usually built upon more than one offering. Many coaches diversify their revenue streams, expanding their services beyond 1:1 coaching. We're talking related activities such as group coaching, membership programs, and online courses.
3. Years of experience
Establishing a successful coaching business takes time. Like most professions, the longer you’ve been working as a coach, the more you’re likely to earn according to the ICF data. And here’s what we also noticed in that report: 67% of coaches with 10 or more years of experience diversify their income streams. In contrast, only 34% of coaches with less than a year in the industry offer multiple services.
FINDING YOUR PATH: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
#1 - Not everyone who becomes a life coach intends to make it their full time job.
This reality has a huge influence on how many people actually break the $60,000 average coach salary mark. The fact that it’s OK that they don’t is often overlooked. Earning $5k-$25k a year from a side-hustle or part time gig is exactly where many life coaches want to be! YOU get to set the benchmark for your own success.
There’s also a large group of people who earn their life coach certification in order to take and apply those skills to another industry. In JRNI’s coach training program, we see business executives, nonprofit managers, therapists, personal trainers, yoga teachers, and other professionals layer coaching into their existing career path. There's more than one direction to take your coaching skill set.
TIP: When setting salary expectations, it’s important to be clear about what you want to do with your life coach training and certification.
#2 - You can build a successful life coaching business in ways that might surprise you.
Here’s the real deal: 94% of coaches surveyed by the ICF do something else in addition to 1:1 client coaching. On average, multi-hyphenate coach practitioners allocate just 44% of their time to 1:1 client coaching work.
Common ways life coaches expand their offerings include:
- Group coaching programs
- Podcasts and public speaking
- Membership programs
- Workshop and retreat facilitation
- Publishing articles and books
TIP: If you want to reach or exceed the average life coach salary, consider how you’ll serve clients in multiple ways.
#3 - Authenticity and boldness are your greatest assets.
We need diverse voices in the coaching space, particularly in the traditional (and highest paying) corporate sector. While the coaching industry is dominated by women, white male business coaches command the highest salaries... by far. Clients are increasingly looking for diverse perspectives and expertise, and that spells OPPORTUNITY.
The sky's the limit for talented practitioners - rest assured that across all fields, there are many coaches out there making well beyond six figures. The data shows that a good living can be made in just about any niche you can think of.
What also counts are those things that make you unique, and how you use those attributes to stand out from the crowd.
- What sets you apart?
- What parts of your story shaped who you are today?
- In what areas do you have insight or expertise?
- When choosing a coaching specialty, consider your interests and expertise.
- How might you tap these qualities to serve your clients?
To build a successful coaching business, you’ll want to pull directly from your authentic self as you hone in on the niche that will be lucrative for you.
TIP: Set income goals that are aligned with your specialty, industry expertise, and where you’re at in your career right now. Manage expectations within your chosen niche - if you’re a life coach just starting out, don’t look to executive coaching rates as your benchmark.
Wondering what life coach jobs are out there?
In Episode 3, we’ll talk about the value of an entrepreneurial mindset, and the current market outlook for new coaches. Missed Episode 1 in the series? Check it out here.
Ready to start a career in life coaching?
Grab your copy of our guide: 6 Steps To Start Coaching Today!
This free publication, written by JRNI Coaching co-founders, will give you the tools to discover your niche, find clients, and get started on your path to becoming a successful coach.
Plus, when you sign up -- we'll keep you up to date weekly with coaching techniques, and the occasional much-needed kick in the pants to keep you motivated on your coaching journey.
So, what're you waitin' for? Let's get started!