How Long Does it Take to Become a Certified Life Coach?
Learn what it takes to become a professional life coach. How long does it usually take to train and build confidence before you're ready to see paying clients?
Originally published in November 2018, this post has been updated to provide additional information about the coach training process.
What Do I Need To Be A Life Coach?
by John Kim, Lumia Coaching co-founder
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 life coach certification, tools, and practice.
Is It Easy To Become A Life Coach?
Life coaching is distinct from business or career coaching. If you’ve created a successful business, you might be able to draw from your own experience to coach someone else without further specialized training. (NOTE: As consumers become more sophisticated about the coaching profession and the value of ICF credentials, this is changing).
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.
So you need to get life coach certification training. Which leads us back to the question:
How long does it take to become a 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. Let's take a look at how those steps usually shake out.
Life Coach Certification Courses
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.
The Lumia Path
Here at Lumia you can earn your coaching certification in 5-9 months, depending on which route you choose to take. We offer two training tracks: Essentials and Signature.
Graduates of the 35 week Signature Program are eligible to get their International Coaching Federation ACC Credential. Those who complete the 20 week Essentials Track will get their Lumia Life Coach Certification, but will not be eligible for ICF ACC.
Not sure what all those letters mean? Learn the difference between life coach certification and ICF credentialing in our guide: Becoming a Life Coach: What Credentials are Required?
Exploring Your Options
There are many reputable programs to choose from out there, so do your homework to find the best fit. For tips on how to decide, check out this podcast and accompanying guide: How to Choose the Right Life Coach Training Program for You.
Both of Lumia's programs are offered entirely online, and provide the structure needed to practice your emerging skills through peer coaching, instructor feedback, 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.
1. Get trained, get educated.
Life coach training isn’t just something to stick on your resume. Remember to use the concepts you learn 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.
One Final Note
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 For The Next Step?
Want to join our community of coaches? If you’d like to talk with a member of the Lumia team about what it takes to become a coach, let’s make it happen! Click here to schedule a call for more information. We'll get your questions answered, and explore how you can become a force for even greater good in the world.