Originally published in October 2020, this blog has been updated to include new information.
The Real Cost to Become A Life Coach
If you're thinking about becoming a life coach, you're in good company! It's a rapidly growing industry, and there's never been a better time to get started. It's a career path where your existing skills and experiences are transferrable, and the start-up costs to launch a coaching practice are reasonable.
In this article, we'll take a brief look at what's required to become a coach along. You'll get the answers you need to questions like:
- Do I need credentials to be a life coach?
- What will I get out of a life coach training program?
- How much does life coach certification cost?
- How long does it take?
- What does it cost to start a coaching practice?
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 in training?
Know-How: 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.
Legitimacy: 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, many 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.
For more on this topic, check out The Everything Life Coaching podcast episode: Coaching Ethics - Do They Matter?
If you’re planning to open your own coaching practice, then you’re about to become an entrepreneur! With that said, not all life 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 coaching clients, attracting an audience, refining your coaching 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.
What does life coach certification cost?
Professional life coach training programs are offered both online and in person. Costs can range from $1,500 to $15,000... and sometimes higher. Each program has a signature style and unique way of teaching participants. Coach certification programs vary in length and depth, and their pricing usually reflects those differences.
Need strategies for asking your employer to help cover the cost? How To Ask Your Company to Pay for Life Coach Training
Wondering how to choose?
Discover the best life coach certification programs for you in our guide: 7 Things to Look for in a Life Coach Training Program.
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 Lumia Coaching co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux.
How Long Will It Take?
Time itself is one of the hidden costs in becoming a life 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 life coach certificate program to take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year. 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.
Coaching Business Start Up Costs
Once you've gotten your life coach certification, you're ready for liftoff! If you plan to launch your own coaching practice, it's possible to build your business with only a modest up-front investment. Some expenses you'll want to plan for include:
The basic tools of the trade include a computer, phone, and internet connection. With these three things, you can see clients virtually from home.
For many life coaches, operating as a sole proprietor is a sound approach. You may never decide to incorporate your coaching business, and that’s OK. This decision looks different for everyone, and has a lot to do with your financial circumstances, local laws, and personal tax status. Regardless of which direction you go, make sure you understand your location’s laws regarding small business operations. Even if you don’t legally incorporate, it may be necessary for you to obtain a business license.
Much like homeowner’s insurance, liability coverage is a form of protection for your business that you hope you’ll never need to use. While life coaches practicing in the United States are not currently required to have it, investing in coverage can be a sound business strategy.
As a life coach, there's a dizzying array of tools out there to help you work smarter. From organizing projects, scheduling calls, to connecting with your audience, odds are there's a product or service that can handle it for you. The trick is in researching which are best for your situation, and selecting your Must-Haves.
For a run down on some of the options that are available, come explore our resource guide: Tools of the Coaching Trade.
Ready For The Next Step?
Launch your coaching practice right! Check out Lumia 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.