Originally published in August 2019, this article was updated and expanded in March 2023 to provide additional references and resources.
Choosing the right life coach training program is the biggest decision an aspiring coach can make. And while you may be raring to go, it will pay dividends in the long run to do your research first.
If you don’t shop around, you might just end up investing big bucks in a program that doesn't align with your needs and professional aspirations. We see this all the time when students enroll in Lumia's program to fill in the gaps after already having done a round of coach training elsewhere.
All programs are not alike. And each is right for someone!
As you evaluate prospective coaching schools, the aim is to identify which ones will best prepare you for liftoff. Whether you’re making a career transition into coaching, plan to incorporate coaching skills into your current job, or looking to add coaching in as a side-hustle, there’s a program for you.
But how do you know which one is right?
A quick search of the International Coaching Federation’s directory of accredited life coach training programs yields hundreds of results! With so many options available, you may be left wondering what's most important for you to consider.
In this blog, we'll take a look at seven factors to support you in confidently choosing a coaching school that fits your learning objectives, professional goals, values, and personality.
How To Choose A Coach Training Program
1. Well rounded curriculum
If you want to deliver consistent results as a coach, you need evidence-based training in a variety of coaching modalities. There are hundreds of coaching techniques you can potentially gain exposure to, which means there's no one "right way" to train aspiring coaches.
A strong coach training curriculum will include how to work with clients, positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, strengths-based approaches, the art of asking questions, and ethics.
Beyond that foundation in core coaching competencies, look for programs that support YOUR end goals and vision.
- What do you want your coaching practice to look like?
- Is there a specific niche or specialization you’d like to concentrate on?
- Are you looking for a broad set of coaching skills?
As you consider these factors, ask yourself if the curriculum offered provides the knowledge and tools you’ll need to succeed.
Checkpoint: How long will it take?
Some programs span years, while others give a taste of coaching over a single weekend. Choose a program that's robust enough to deliver the goods relative to your personal goals and circumstances.
Checkpoint: Who are the instructors, and what are their backgrounds?
It’s possible to learn how to coach from just one or two people. That's a legitimate training model, particularly if someone has developed a unique set of coaching techniques to share with their students.
The Lumia philosophy is that there’s strength in numbers. There’s more than one right way to coach, so why not draw from diverse perspectives?
In our experience, coaching students benefit from haivng instructors that represent different specialties, perspectives, and identities. It broadens your mind to the possibilities, and gives you a wider range of connections from within the coaching industry.
Here at Lumia, our unique approach to coaching is reinforced by world-class coaches and instructors who represent more than 25 academic disciplines, with skills that translate across education, law, nonprofit, technology, consumer goods, and corporate sectors.
If you'd like to learn more about the people behind Lumia's program, come take a look at our instructor profiles.
Checkpoint: What will you need to launch your coaching practice?
There’s more to running a successful coaching practice than what happens in the client session. If you'd like to launch your own business as a coach, look for programs that include entrepreneurship, sales and marketing, and interpersonal skills in the curriculum.
WHAT TO ASK:
- What is taught during this training?
- Who are the instructors?
- What will I have learned by the end of it?
- How will I be prepared to work with clients?
- Will I gain the practical knowledge and tools to launch my coaching practice?
2. Reasonable promises
Some life coaching programs make awfully big promises. You know what we mean… a six figure income in your first year. Effortless client acquisition. Everything you need to get started for just $49.95.
Pay careful attention when it comes to such promises. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Examine each program you’re considering with an optimistic but critical eye. Does what’s being offered square up with the program price, and length of training? Do the promised outcomes represent a reasonable return for your investment?
If what’s being offered sounds like too much to achieve over the course of one weekend, trust your gut. Life coach training is a long-term investment in yourself and your future. It’s not the place to cut corners!
WHAT TO ASK
- Is what’s being offered realistic and achievable?
- What will I come away from this program having learned?
- What tangible opportunities will be available to me upon completing this program?
- Is there evidence supporting what the program promises to deliver?
3. The best life coaching program for your lifestyle
Yes, your preferences are something that should be considered!
With so many programs out there, it’s possible to find one that fits your specifications and needs. Many coaching programs are flexible, offering online classes on nights and weekends for those who have careers, families, and other commitments to juggle.
That said, many programs are demanding in terms of time and dedication required to complete them. So assess your lifestyle - how much time can you set aside for classes, homework, and practice sessions? Do you have a full-time job? Or maybe two jobs? Are you the parent of two young kids? Do you usually go out every weekend, socializing with friends?
These considerations may seem insignificant at first. But for most people, going back to school is a balancing act that requires some sacrifice. Here’s a checklist of factors to consider as you think about starting a coaching program.
Wondering what Lumia's program looks like in specific terms - including schedule, homework, and the hours required? We break it down in this resource guide: An Inside Look At The Lumia Student Experience.
WHAT TO ASK:
- When does the training take place? Where? How?
- What is the weekly time commitment necessary to graduate?
- Is there flexibility if you need to take an unexpected break?
4. Positive, independent testimonials
What is the student experience REALLY like? Will you be prepared to coach at the end of it? What are alumni from this program actually doing with their training?
Ask a graduate!
It’s one thing to read a program’s marketing materials, visit their website, attend a webinar, or talk to someone in admissions. These are all important steps, but you may not want to stop there.
If you're torn between programs, consider speaking to a few people who’ve gone through them. Investigate what their experience was like, and how they are using what they learned today.
Find out if the programs that interest you walk the talk. Ask to speak to some graduates.
What some examples? Check out these reviews and alumni case studies for Lumia’s Coach Training program.
WHAT TO ASK PROGRAM ALUMNI:
- What were you hoping to get from the program? Did it meet your expectations?
- How did the training affect you as a whole person?
- How did what you learned apply to what you’re doing today?
- What ongoing support is available to you as an alumni of this program?
- If you could do it again, would you still choose this school?
5. Accreditation and certifications
Do you need coach credentialing or certification? It all depends on what your professional goals are!
Certification is the first step in your coaching journey. From there, you can consider credentialing as a possible next step if it’s relevant to what you want to do.
The largest and most well known accrediting body in the coaching industry is the International Coach Federation. The ICF is a global organization that performs a rigorous review process to make sure every coach and coaching program meets international standards. The ICF is quickly becoming the gold standard among coaches - it’s a meaningful point of distinction to attend an ICF accredited program.
Want to learn more about the difference between coaching accreditation, certification, and credentialing? Check out this article for all the nitty gritty details!
Wondering if you should pursue your ICF credential? Learn more about what that entails: ACC vs PCC vs MCC - What’s the Difference Between ICF Coach Credentials?
WHAT TO ASK:
- What are the graduation requirements?
- How does the certification work?
- Is this program accredited by the ICF? If not, does this matter to me?
- Do I need an ICF credential to practice in the area I’d like to specialize in?
6. Assistance in launching your practice
The question that’s top of mind for many coaching students is this: “How will I get clients after I graduate?” A good life coach training program should provide you with insight on ways to build your client base.
Becoming a successful coach is not an overnight process -- it takes time, support, effort, and practice to build up a clientele. You need a team behind you, rooting for you every step of the way.
Coach training is only the beginning. You’ll need to do the hard work. And yes, it will take time. A reputable program will be straight with you about this.
At Lumia, we train our students in real world business skills to help make this process easier. We cover how to identify your ideal client, define your unique coaching niche, and make tactical plans around how to grow your business.
Not every program provides business and entrepreneurship training alongside learning how to be a coach. Consider your goals, and if this is something you might need.
WHAT TO ASK:
- Do I plan to start my own coaching business?
- What expertise and experience do I have that prepares me to be an entrepreneur?
- Where do I need to augment my existing knowledge?
- What business development skills are taught in this program?
7. A community that will support you for the long haul
Coaching is not an overnight gambit! It takes time and grit to build and sustain a successful coaching practice. No matter where you are, there's always new things to learn and fresh opportunities to uncover. That’s why a close-knit coaching community is worth its weight in gold.
You'll need people alongside you through the good times and the bad, the triumphs and the struggles. Our families and friends may not always understand the details of what we're going through professionally, but our coaching community does.
Wondering what ours looks like? You can learn more about student and alumni benefits and support in this blog: Lumia Coach Training: Support, Connection and Community.
At Lumia, we’ve graduated more than 1,800 coaches who are committed to helping one another, collaborating, and succeeding together. As you consider programs, don’t overlook the value of the alumni network.
Find a program that’s in it for the long haul. You deserve to graduate from a program that will be there for years to come. Your coaching community will serve as a touchstone for you as you grow your practice.
Ready to Get Started?
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. If you’d like to talk to someone about our programs, click here to schedule a call with one of our team members to get your questions answered and see how we can help you become an even bigger force for good.