My goal with this post is to bring transparency on what it really takes to become a life coach or any type of coach for that matter. There is so much bull-shit marketing out there, this post will help you ween through it.
There is much, much more to becoming a life coach than just going through a life coaching certification program.
You will risk failure if you don’t understand what it really takes to become a coach. I will touch on this after I talk about what most people want to learn about…life coaching certifications.
With life coaching, and coaching in general, becoming a more and more recognized and sought-after profession, there are more people than ever wondering how to become a life coach. However, before you wonder HOW, I want you to make sure you know WHY.
In my opinion, there are one too many life coaching programs and certifications that are marketing life coaching as a prestigious job that can pay you $200/hr, while allowing you to work whenever you want, from wherever you want.
Although there is truth to that statement, what they fail to tell you is that you need much more than just a certification. The work that needs to be done behind the scenes is rarely talked about. Why? Because you are being sold a lifestyle that caters toward getting your emotional buy-in. Getting your emotional buy-in makes them money.
If you knew what it took to become that person who makes $200/hr+ and works whenever, and from wherever they want, they might not get your money.
Firstly, Is A Life Coach Certification Necessary?
The short answer…no. Anybody can call themselves a life coach, or any kind of coach.
Is it recommended to get certified through a high-quality and reputable certification program? YES
The coaching industry as a whole is not regulated. The International Coach Federation has put together an attempt to regulate the coaching industry but has not succeeded thus far. They have made strides toward establishing non-obligatory standards but have not established a governing body of standards that MUST be met.
From the ICF website:
“The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.”
“CF also accredits programs that deliver coach-specific training. ICF-accredited training programs must complete a rigorous review process and demonstrate that their curriculum aligns with the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.
Today, ICF is specifically recognized among coaching professionals worldwide for:
- Developing coaching core competencies
- Establishing a professional code of ethics and standards
- Creating an internationally recognized credentialing program
- Setting guidelines through accreditation for coach-specific training programs
- Providing continuous education through world-class events, Communities of Practice (CPs) and archived learning.”
Just because a life coach certification is not accredited through ICF does not mean that it is a low-quality program, although it can be an indicator worth digger deeper into.
Here’s a list of some of the most sought-after coaches in the world that are not ICF accredited:
- Tony Robbins
- Michael Neill
- Brian Tracy
- Marshall Godsmith
- Jack Canfield
Now, this is not to say that you should just start calling yourself a coach and asking for clients. It will become evident within the 1st few minutes of a conversation with a client that you are not who you claim to be.
5 things to look for when searching for a high-quality life coaching certification program:
1. Research the person(s) who is teaching the program
You want to make sure that whoever is teaching the curriculum practices what they preach. Search their full name on Google.
Check out their social profiles, what type of content are they sharing?
If they are a professional coach they should have their own personal website that offers their services. Browse their website, look at their about page, their services page, and look for testimonials.
For example, one of the top online Life Coach certifications available—Coach Training Alliance—has several instructors who each have their own personal coaching practice and corresponding personal websites:
For more details on their amazing certification read my Coach Training Alliance Review
2. How long is the program?
Any program that advertises that you can become a life coach by taking their weekend certification is utter bullshit.
Whether the program is online or in person, if it is condensed into an immersive experience, say 8 hr days over 5-7 days, it is not conducive for a life coaching certification and here’s why.
It is one thing to learn the material, it is another to BE the material. You need to use what you learn to transform your own life before you have any hope of transforming the lives of others. This my friend, takes time.
I think the minimum length to look at when researching for a life coaching certification is 6 months. This allows time to use the teachings on yourself, to become who you will coach others to be.
3. Do you get to participate in practice coaching sessions with feedback?
Coaching is a very interpersonal experience. It is unpredictable, you never know what will show up. Yet, through it all, you need to be able to remain present, hold space, and respond from your highest self.
No matter what gets thrown at you, you need to be on top of your game. This takes practice and lots of it.
4. Is there a live classroom session either by way of video or phone (minimum 1x/wk)?
This allows discussion on the current topic between students and teachers. Students rarely don’t have any questions regarding any particular topic. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions you wouldn’t otherwise get answers to. It also allows you to hear answers to other questions you may not have thought of.
5. Do they integrate “inner work”?
In other words, is a condition of you graduating dependent upon having done a certain amount of inner work with yourself?
This means, using everything you learn about yourself as a form of personal development or personal growth to be the person that you will be coaching others to be.
This leads me to the most important topic of this entire article…
If You Don’t Do This You Will Fail…
As the old saying goes, “practice what you preach”.
Life coaching is one profession that you will absolutely not get away with not living by this. You MUST practice what you preach.
I’m not talking about practicing here and there, you must live it every single day of your life, with every single breath you take.
Some call it inner work, but I don’t like to call it that. The word “work” tends to insinuate it’s a J-O-B. I like to look at it as a way of living, a journey. So, for the sake of this article, I will refer to “inner work” as an “inner journey” instead.
For example, I am confident in waking people up from their old way of thinking to a new understanding of how the mind works. I can do this with a high degree of success, empathy, compassion, and understanding because I have done this for myself.
Now, this doesn’t mean that if you’re going to be a relationship coach that you need to be in a relationship, although having success in your own relationship is extremely beneficial. What you do need is a fundamental understanding of how relationships work and what makes them successful.
If you’re going to coach people on how to master their stress then you have better master your own stress.
If you’re going to coach people on how to be more mindful then you better be mindful yourself.
If you’re going to coach people on how to find peace then you better have found peace yourself.
If you’re going to coach people on how to meditate then you better meditate yourself.
If you’re going to coach people on how to wake up then you better have woken up yourself.
I think you get the point.
You Must Be What You Are Selling
If you graduate from a high-quality life coaching certification then you should be prepared to take on your first clients. This is because high-quality coaching programs understand that you are the product, that you are what you’re selling.
Because they understand this, you will have plenty of homework to do for yourself.
How To Know When You’re Ready To Coach
If you’ve ventured on your inner journey, and continue to do so, you will know based on a feeling of knowing. This only happens if you are in touch with your highest self and intuition.
When you’re not in touch with your highest self, this is when you tend to get confusing messages. You become unsure of which thoughts and feelings to believe and focus on. Some call this the ego.
Knowing who you truly are, without confusion, is what will guide you to know when you’re ready. Just wait for the feeling, this feeling is your green light.
The Journey Doesn’t Stop There
Becoming a life coach is just the beginning of a lifelong journey. Your inner journey is infinite.
Always keep learning!
For example, here are 6 things I do every day:
- Read a minimum of 45 minutes per day
- Listen to podcasts whenever I’m driving
- Meditate every morning for 15-20 minutes on gratitude, intentions, various life topics, and teachings from Sydney Banks
- Journal every morning in The Daily Stoic
- Writing on my blog is a form of learning for me. It keeps me in touch with my zone of genius, flow, and creativity.
- Learn from every experience I have throughout each day
How To Find A High-Quality Life Coaching Certification Program
To save yourself A LOT of time and get answers to all your potential questions, you may want to check out the comparison review I posted comparing 5 affordable online life coach certifications.
Check out these posts for more info on books and podcasts I recommend:
Best Books for Coaches
Top 10 Personal Development Books I read in 2017
7 Best Life-Changing Podcasts I’ve Listened To
Check out this post for a side-by-side comparison of some affordable online life coach certifications:
Online Life Coaching Certifications
I truly hope this helped you with understanding what it really takes to become a life coach. If you have any questions or feel there are other important factors I should touch on please comment below.