THE BLOG
05/18/2016 08:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Life Coach

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Are you interested in becoming a life coach?

In recent years, many people are deciding to change careers and become life coaches. Being a life coach is about empowering others in making the most of their lives and reaching the goals that they want to reach. Life coaching is an interesting and rewarding job and no two days will be exactly the same!

So, how do you know if you should become a life coach?

A good life coach will be:

• Good at listening
• Non-judgemental
• Empathetic
• Adaptable
• Good at creating rapport
• Interested in others
• Someone with life experience and the ability to overcome their own hurdles

There are many different ways to become a life coach, which I will outline here.

Advantages and Disadvantages of being a Life Coach

Advantages of being a life coach:

There are many advantages to being a life coach. Life coaching is about making a difference in others lives and as such it is rewarding and gives a good sense of job satisfaction.

Most life coaches are their own boss. This means you have control over your working hours and how you work. If you have the technology you can also coach also via Skype, as well as phone or email making location a non-issue.

Life coaching is a varied and interesting job. Each client will have a different situation and goals so it involves being adaptable and creative and doing your best to support your client in reaching their potential.

Disadvantages of being a life coach:

The disadvantages of being a life coach are low. Anyone that decides to become a life coach usually does so to make a difference and choose this path because it is something they really want to do. As most life coaches are self employed this also means there is a lot of flexibility and freedom in this job.

However, there are a few points to bear in mind. It has been found that many life coaches don't stay the course because of a lack of business building skills. You can be the best coach in the world but if you do not know how to market yourself and build a business, you may flounder. Many life coaching training courses do include sections on business building, but it is something to be aware of and factor into your plans. Many life coaches work alongside other jobs, particularly to begin with.

Getting Started

Experience being a life coaching client

If you haven't been a life coaching client yourself, it is worth doing this. It will give you a tangible experience of the life coaching process (and hopefully be useful to you in your own life). Also, if you have any misconceptions about what life coaching is this should help you to get your mind straight so you can decide if you definitely want to become a life coach yourself. Once you become a life coach it is really good to know what it is like for your clients and be able to put yourself in their shoes at the different parts of the process.

Accreditation

Currently, there is not an official governing body for life coaching. Many life coach training courses are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), which is an international organization.

Universities and colleges are starting to see the demand for life coach training and are beginning to offer courses and training in this field (and the related field of mentoring).

You do not have to complete training to become a life coach and it is possible to set up business without it. This is a hotly debated topic, as I am sure you can imagine and it can leave the field of life coaching open to difficulties. Whatever you decide to do, it is important that you feel confident in your abilities to practice as a life coach and that you are acting with full integrity for you and your clients. If you don't feel this way, whether you have had training or not, it is important to do whatever you need to do to feel competent before you practice. Obviously, one becomes more confident with experience but if you don't feel fully equipped to begin with it is important to complete training to do so. Training and / or accreditation can give clients a sense of security when choosing a life coach, though this isn't always the case. When you are deciding what to do, it is worth being aware of the pros and cons before you start.

Training

Life coach training courses can be found at this link.

Some of the well known life coach training coaching courses include:

Achievement Specialists

Achievement Specialists was founded in 1997 by Curly Martin (speaker, coach, trainer and author). Curly's book "The Life Coaching handbook" formed the basis for the Life Coaching Handbook Diploma.

Accredited by IIC&M (International Institute of Coaching & Mentoring) Level 7

Website: http://www.achievementspecialists.co.uk/

Coach U
Coach U is a company that trains coaches globally and students can participate by telephone from wherever they live. On average, training takes two years.
ICF accredited.
Website: http://www.coachu.com/

International Teaching Seminars
The ITS NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Coaching Certification Programme started in 2000, and offers a NLP Coach Certification Programme to be completed in 20 days.

ICF accredited.

Website: http://www.itsnlp.com/

Life Coaching Course at Newcastle College, UK

Newcastle College, in the UK provides work-based, flexible learning programmes including "The Certificate In Life Coaching". Newcastle College partnered with Fiona Harrold to create this programme. "The Certificate In Life Coaching" can be studied at a place, pace and time that suits you and you gain a recognized and accredited qualification. Available internationally.

Website: http://www.ncl-coll.ac.uk/

The Coaching Academy

The Coaching Academy training is very popular and comprises of live tuition and a supported, structured program that can be done in your own time.

Website: http://www.the-coaching-academy.com/

The Coaches Training Institute (CTI)

CTI started in 1992 and is the largest coach training school in the world that trains in-person. They teach CTI's revolutionary Co-Active Coaching model of coaching.
Website: http://www.thecoaches.com/index.html

Setting Up Your Life Coaching Business

Tax

If you are setting up your own business to trade as a life coach you will need to register as self employed. Depending on the country you live in, you will need to enquire about how to go about this. It is important to keep accurate details of your income and outgoings as soon as you start.

Insurance

When you are ready to set up business as a life coach, it is worth getting insurance to cover yourself in this role. Insurance is not a legal requirement when you are a life coach but it will help to provide peace of mind for your clients and also for yourself in your own practice, in the unlikely event that something went awry.

The insurance you need when practising as a life coach is "Personal Liability Insurance".
You may want to think about taking out other forms of insurance like insurance in the event of ill health or loss of earnings. You will need to ensure that any policies you take out cover all your needs as a life coach.

Where To Work

Life coaches can conduct sessions with clients in person, via the phone, via email and by Skype.

In Person

From Home

You could practice from home, in which case you would need to have an available professional looking room to meet clients in and ensure that there are no distractions. When working meeting clients at home you will need to ensure that you are safe and take any precautions as necessary (such as always ensuring there is someone else in the house). You will also need to make sure that your insurance covers you for seeing clients in your home.

In Public: Meeting clients in public spaces is a route chosen by many life coaches. Seeing clients in public reduces safety concerns (for both parties) and also means that you do not need a room in your home and the associated insurance and tax implications. Life coaches might meet their clients in a café or restaurant. When deciding on the venue, it is important that you know the venue fairly well and know that it will allow you the necessary degree of privacy. It is always worth getting to the venue with time to spare so you can sort out any issues and also having a backup plan in case something unexpected happens (a birthday party in the cafém for example)!

Skype
If you are conducting life coaching sessions via Skype you will to upload the software (free) and buy a microphone and webcam if you don't already have them. It is worth doing some practice sessions and making sure the quality is good enough before you start.

Phone
Some clients prefer face to face coaching and some prefer phone coaching, whereas on a practical level some may choose one over the other. Phone coaching can offer a sense of anonymity that can be empowering for some people and encourage them to be more candid. Phone coaching can also be practical for people unable to meet face to face, for whatever reason or people in other locations. It is important to be clear about who phones who before you start so that you both know what's happening and who incurs the cost of the call.

Email
Some clients will prefer coaching via email and this can work very well and overcomes any issues of location. However, it is important to check in advance that they feel they have the required discipline and ability to do the work without a conversation with you each time.

Advertising

Setting up a life coach is like starting most small businesses. You may decide to create some business cards and flyers. It is always worth trying to find free and cheap ways to advertise if you can and many waiting rooms and shops will be happy to display a flyer. You may want to pay out for advertising at some point but I always think it is worth seeing what you can do by yourself to keep your costs down to start with.

Get Online
A lot of life coaches do coaching and networking online work. You can create a web presence for free or with little cost, which can be a great way of getting the word out about your life coaching services and meet potential clients. Many life coaches also write a blog and e-books to connect with potential clients. There are lots of free social networks that you can join to get your name out there.

Testimonials

Testimonials are a good way to let clients know what they can expect to gain from working with you. When you have finished working with a client, you can ask them for feedback and also for a testimonial so that you can advertise the benefits of life coaching to future clients. It is worth letting them know it can be anonymous if they'd prefer.

Happy coaching!

Jen Smith is a Life Coach and Writer. She has written hundreds of articles and has been featured in a variety outlets both online and in magazines. Jen has also coached hundreds of people, helping them to achieve their goals and dreams. Get your FREE "Beyond People-Pleasing" eBook and find out more about Jen at www.jenmsmith.com.