Becoming A Coach

Is Coaching A Viable Career?

There’s more than one way to make it as a life coach! In this guide, find out what steps you can take to succeed in the $4.5 billion dollar wellness industry.

Originally published in June 2022, this post was updated in November 2023 to include current salary survey figures from the ICF and US Bureau of Labor.

Can I Make A Living As A Life Coach?

It's a question that looms large for most aspiring life coaches. And if you’re thinking about making a career change into the coaching industry, it’s a reasonable thing to wonder.

It’s also a question that’s nearly impossible to answer until you take decisive action toward achieving it. This is why many people find themselves thinking about becoming a coach for months - and sometimes even years - before taking the leap to become one.

So, how do you know it’s worth taking that first step? 

What’s helpful to understand from the outset is that there’s more than one way to make it as a life coach. In fact, many successful coaches got where they are today in surprising ways. 

The path isn’t necessarily linear. But once you get started, opportunities you might not have predicted from the outset frequently can and do arise. 

How can you mitigate the risk, and fear of failure? 

The short answer is: you can’t. Not entirely. 

As human beings, we're wired to fear the unknown.

An ancient section of your brain, known as the limbic system, is charged with keeping you safe. That’s the part of us that calculates risk and wants to avoid pain. 

This is your fight or flight mechanism. It's that voice in your head that tells you to play it safe, and dreads the idea of “failure.”

If you’re found yourself thinking a career in life coaching would be too difficult to achieve, odds are that's your limbic system talking. It’s doing its job... and it’s also distorting the truth.

Now here’s the good news.

Just as one part of the brain avoids risk, another has the capacity to make connections, and generate creative solutions. That part of your mind, the prefrontal cortex, holds a much more expansive perspective!

This is the part of us that gets activated in the process of coaching. 

Coach training not only gives you the scientific frameworks, tools and techniques to overcome these fears for yourself… it shows you how to help other people do the same.

Acknowledge the fears, then consider the facts

If you’re interested in becoming a life coach, know that it’s just like launching any new business venture. And let's face it, that can be scary.

There’s no way to answer every fear, or shortcut the process. What you CAN do to make it feel less uncertain is to start mapping out the series of action steps needed to get there. 

So what do those steps look like? Let’s take a look!

Explore the Coaching Industry

The wellness economy is a massive global industry, estimated by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) at $4.5 trillion, and it’s on the rise! According to the GWI’s most recent study, they are projecting 9.9% average annual growth, with the wellness economy estimated to reach nearly $7.0 trillion in 2025.

There are eleven sectors in the wellness economy, and coaching fits into every single one of them. What this means for you is that as an aspiring life coach, you are entering an industry that’s positioned for massive growth.

Want to learn more? Explore our resource guide: The Wellness Economy: What Coaches Need to Know.

How much do life coaches make? 

According to the International Coaching Federation, the average annual salary for life coaches practicing in North America is $67,800.

How does the average life coach salary stack up against other professions? 

Pretty well, as it happens! Check out a few related points of comparison from the U.S. Bureau of Labor:

  • Marriage and Family Therapist = $56,570
  • Human Resource Specialist = $64,240
  • Fitness Trainer = $45,380
  • Real Estate Sales Agent = $62,190

Comparatively speaking, it would appear that life coaches can make a pretty comfortable living, right?

Now before you take that figure to the bank, there’s something else that’s equally important to know. What average coach salary figures cannot tell you is whether or not YOU are likely to earn this amount in your own coaching business. 

Whether you aspire to part-time work, or intend to join the ranks of full-time life coaches, you’ll want to explore our in-depth industry analysis to learn what you, personally, might be able to expect.

In our special report, we slice and dice the numbers by life coach hourly rates, coaching specialties, years of experience, and services offered. Check it out here: The Ultimate Guide to Life Coach Salaries. 

Get Coach Training

If you’re thinking about entering the field of life coaching, you’ve probably discovered that there are many possible pathways to achieve that goal. But how do you choose the one that’s right for you? 

The fact is that you don’t need any special training or licensure to become a life coach. But if that’s the case, why does anyone invest in an ICF accredited coach certification program? 

It comes down to impact. 

The best life coaches out there deliver consistent, meaningful results for their clients. To do so requires a strong grasp of how people learn, create, grow and change.

Those with visible and recognizable credentials are on the forefront of elevating the field of coaching, and will see a surge of job openings, especially as insurance is starting to cover coaching as a validated modality that bookends other health interventions.

Coaches trained in the art and science of motivating people … have been the missing link in both healthcare and wellness. Change is here: Training programs and standards are growing fast, new medical models are making the coach as central as the doctor, an explosion of digital health platforms are putting behavioral coaching at the center, and the wellness world may be slowly waking up to their power.” - Global Wellness Summit 2022

If you’re thinking about becoming a coach, now’s the time to consider making the investment in ICF accredited coach training. Doing so now is likely to pay dividends, opening up even more career opportunities in the years to come.

Practice Your Craft

Just learning how to be a coach isn’t going to make you a life coach. You have to get on the bike and ride it! This means practice. 

The process of becoming a successful coach requires more than a fancy website or engaging social media presence. It requires skill, which is only obtained through the pursuit of coaching mastery.

Keep repeating the coaching fundamentals in every relationship you have:

  • Build trust
  • Practice empathy
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Resist the temptation to give unsolicited advice
  • Avoid labels and judgements
  • Notice your own responses

Remember, you’re practicing. Even professional athletes understand the value of practicing their skills.

Naturally you want to help whoever you’re practicing on. But the bigger goal is to provide yourself with opportunities to experiment. Explore different techniques and ways in, find your style, and build confidence. 

Use Your Voice

The market share for coaching services is on the rise. So if you’d like to successfully tap into this growing consumer audience, it’s important to establish both your voice and credibility as a coach. 

Consumers are directing more of their attention (and buying power) to small brands because they’re looking for connection. People are seeking relatable, trustworthy, genuine voices, especially when it comes to the topics of personal and professional development.

Your lived experience is a form of expertise, so go ahead and use it!

As you begin to build your business, consider how you can thread storytelling across your social media platforms, in email newsletters, on your blog or website, and other mediums. Here’s some professional ways you might consider doing so.

1. Highlight personal experiences that changed you

Whatever the topic, look to your direct experience for storytelling material. Challenges faced, successes, failures, and the lessons learned along the way. Do life "with" your audience - particularly those parts that relate to why they’re following you specifically.

2. Talk about the people, teachers, and philosophies that shaped you

Each one of us stands on the shoulders of giants. Who influences and shapes YOUR path? Sharing what you’ve gained from your own circle of teachers, mentors, coaches and guides helps people better understand the ideas, influences and lineages that inform your point of view. 

3. Let your challenges be a learning laboratory

Perfection isn’t believable, or real. By sharing some of the challenges you personally face, you normalize the reality of being human. Again, this is about doing life with people, which extends beyond simply offering people general tips and strategies on “how to do it better”! 

4. Share client success stories

Another opportunity that provides a window into who you are and how you work is through your life coaching client successes. Consider how you might weave testimonials, case studies, and other examples of the impact of your work as a coach into your personal branding.

Find Your Unique Path

Coaching can take place anywhere, from in-person to over video chat, one on one to groups.

And there’s many different types of coaching as well. Performance coaching, skills coaching, career, personal or life coaching, creativity, business and executive coaching. We know coaches who specialize in outdoor adventuring, some who incorporate horses, astrology or creating art into their work.

Diversification is the name of the game if you want to build a sustainable coaching business. 

According to the most recent global research conducted by the International Coaching Federation, 94% of coaches surveyed do something else in addition to one-on-one coaching. We’re talking about related activities such as facilitating group coaching programs, consulting, teaching, hosting a podcast, or publishing. 

On average, these multi-hyphenate coach practitioners allocate just 44% of their working time to 1:1 client coaching. What that means is that the majority of successful life coaches balance a much more diverse body of work than you might expect.

Most life coaches don't do everything we’ve listed above. 

Instead, they focus on doing a few of those things exceptionally well. The key to success at this stage of the game is to not overthink it. If it helps, narrow your focus by starting with just one!

Bottom line? Consider how you can support clients in multiple ways! What follows are common approaches you might take to turn your coaching services into multiple revenue streams.

Additional Resources:

Ready To Become A Coach?

A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify adventurous coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. If you're ready to learn more, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training

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