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How to Become a Life Coach

Responsibilities, working hours, what to expect and qualifications needed

Career guides » How to Become a Life Coach

What does a Life Coach do?

A life coach’s role is to help and empower people (clients) to make decisions to improve their personal and professional lives. They will use their motivational skills to assist their clients in setting, achieving and exceeding their goals. If there are obstacles, life coaches will help identify them and advise on ways to overcome them.

Life coaches can work with individuals, couples, groups or organisations. They can also provide generalised advice or specialise in specific areas of life coaching, such as careers, business, addiction, diet & fitness, health & well-being, relationships, divorce, financial and mental health, etc. Therefore, what life coaches do will depend on who they work with and their specialisms.

A life coach’s aim is to provide advice, support and encouragement so clients become the best version of themselves and feel happier and more stable. The improvements from life coaching should see clients progress and take control of their lives. It isn’t about fixing people’s problems and is not counselling.

Life coaches will carry out many tasks, including speaking to clients, meeting with clients, discussing their situation, identifying their attitudes/values/beliefs, questioning and listening to clients, assisting clients in setting and achieving goals, supporting clients with solutions, helping clients to overcome barriers/setbacks, etc. The role also encompasses administrative work, such as keeping client records up to date and self-employment tasks.

Life coaches tend to work alone from their own homes, rented spaces or clients’ homes or businesses. They may work with other life coaches and colleagues in certain situations. They can also liaise with various external stakeholders, such as clients of different ages and backgrounds, groups of people, industry contacts, counsellors, insurance providers, government departments, mental health professionals, other experts, etc.

Most life coaches are self-employed or freelance, but there are some opportunities to work for companies. For example, they could work for large organisations, such as the NHS, prisons and universities or for smaller ones, such as businesses and community projects.

Responsibilities

A life coach’s responsibilities will depend on many factors, including who their clients are and their specialisms.

Some examples of their day-to-day duties may include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Speaking face-to-face with people or over the telephone and online.
  • Agreeing with clients on the number of sessions and cost.
  • Meeting with clients to discuss their situations and challenges.
  • Building relationships with clients.
  • Questioning clients and listening to them to identify the areas of their lives they want to develop or change.
  • Identifying their clients’ attitudes, beliefs and values to understand their needs and to identify how they impact their progress.
  • Assisting clients to set and achieve goals and make positive changes in their lives.
  • Continually reviewing clients’ progress and finding alternative approaches where necessary.
  • Supporting clients to develop self-awareness and come up with their own solutions.
  • Helping clients overcome setbacks and barriers to improvement.
  • Using their motivational skills to boost clients’ confidence and help them remain committed and motivated to improve.
  • Offering clients various coaching tools and self-help techniques, e.g. meditation and mindfulness.
  • Keeping client and coaching practice records up to date.
  • Conducting business administrative tasks, including marketing, if self-employed.

Working hours

A life coach’s working hours are highly variable as they set their own hours and may work part-time or full-time. The number of hours they work also depends on how many clients they see during the week.

Some life coaches may work unsociable hours, such as evenings and weekends, to offer client appointments. If they speak to clients overseas, they may have to work early mornings or nights to account for different time zones.

Travel may be required for life coaches if they visit clients at their own homes or businesses and attend conferences and events. There may also be a need to spend nights away from home.

Overseas opportunities may be possible, e.g. if they have international clients, but these are uncommon.

What to expect

There are many positives to being a life coach, especially if individuals have a passion for working with and helping people. It would suit those who are people-orientated and have the ability to motivate. It is not really a job for introverts.

Being a life coach is extremely rewarding. They help people achieve their goals and assist in making positive changes to their lives. Seeing clients happier, successful and with improved health and well-being can be worthwhile and fulfilling.

Life coaches do not need specific qualifications to enter the role, which can be a good option for those who do not want the time and expense of attending university. However, clients are more likely to choose life coaches with qualifications and accreditation and those with relevant experience and positive reviews.

It is a good fit for those who do not want or cannot do physical work. Life coaches spend most of their working time inside offices, at home, or at clients’ homes or businesses. Working from home can also be a perk for some and give them a decent work-life balance.

Being self-employed with your own business or working freelance and having an opportunity to be your own boss can be attractive. It can give individuals the independence to take charge of their working day and overall career progression. The start-up costs can also be low; in some cases, individuals may be able to do it as a side job.

Boredom will never be a problem for life coaches, as each client will vary and they will have different issues, challenges and backgrounds. There are also many specialist areas to work in and various motivational techniques and tools available.

Even though there are positives to being a life coach, there are challenges and cons, e.g.:

  • Bad clients – not all clients will be pleasant to deal with. People may be challenging, have poor attitudes and may be resistant to change. Life coaches may face verbal and even physical abuse from clients. Some clients are unable to progress, which can be frustrating.
  • Mental demands – being a life coach can be mentally demanding, as their role can be fast-paced and the workload can be high. If they are self-employed or freelance, they will have the responsibilities and additional work that comes with these employment types, which can be stressful. Also, some clients may have experienced trauma, injuries, abuse and other serious issues, which can be hard to listen to and emotionally draining.
  • Unregulated industry – life coaching is not a regulated profession in the UK. Therefore, anyone can become a life coach. While this opens up more opportunities for people, there may be significant competition in certain areas and saturation within the industry. It is a rapidly growing area. Therefore, individuals must stand out to be successful.
  • Variable salaries and no guaranteed income – as most life coaching roles are self-employed or freelance, salaries can vary significantly and will depend on the number of clients an individual sees. Also, the jobs tend to be part-time, so individuals may need alternative work to supplement their income. On the positive side, experienced life coaches with good reputations can earn up to £200 for a 90-minute session.

 

Every career choice has pros and cons, and individuals must know what to expect before deciding whether it is for them. The role is mentally demanding, and life coaches may deal with bad clients. The industry is also unregulated, the salaries are variable, and there is no guaranteed income. However, there are many positives too, and those who become life coaches love helping their clients and seeing them progress in their lives.

When considering whether to be a life coach and the type of role, individuals should look at the pros and cons. They should also ensure they have the right personal qualities to carry out the role and responsibilities required.

Personal qualities needed to be a life coach

Some of the personal qualities a life coach requires will include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • A passion for working with and helping people.
  • Knowledge of psychology.
  • Knowledge of equality and diversity.
  • Knowledge of the theory of life coaching.
  • Knowledge of confidentiality, data protection and the GDPR.
  • Optimistic, friendly and approachable.
  • Confident, assertive, extroverted, intuitive and articulated.
  • Having a caring attitude, sensitivity, empathy and understanding.
  • Having patience, tolerance and a reassuring manner.
  • Non-judgemental.
  • Counselling skills.
  • Active listening skills.
  • Customer service skills.
  • Presentation skills (working with groups).
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Verbal communication skills.
  • Being motivated and committed to helping people.
  • Being positive.
  • Being open-minded.
  • Being thorough and having attention to detail.
  • Being flexible and open to change.
  • The ability to keep people’s information confidential.
  • The ability to work well under pressure and remain calm in stressful situations.
  • The ability to challenge people positively.
  • The ability to be resilient in emotionally demanding situations.
  • The ability to gain people’s trust, respect and confidence.
  • The ability to be resilient in emotionally demanding situations.
  • The ability to gain children’s trust, respect and confidence.
  • The ability to develop relationships with clients and build rapport.
  • The ability to accept criticism.
  • The ability to understand people’s reactions.
  • The ability to work well with others and alone using their own initiative.
  • The ability to use a computer and relevant software packages proficiently.

Qualifications and training

Qualifications

There are many routes to becoming a life coach. Individuals could go to university or college, enrol on a private training course, do an apprenticeship or apply directly. They could also do work experience to help them enter the role.

University

An individual does not need a degree to become a life coach, and there are no specific educational requirements because it is an unregulated profession. However, having a degree can help individuals stand out and attract more clients.

The degree topic needed will depend on the type of life coaching an individual wants to offer.

Some examples of subjects that may be helpful are as follows (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Counselling.
  • Psychology.
  • Business.
  • Human resources (HR).
  • Social care.

 

Once an individual has an undergraduate degree, they can apply for a postgraduate course in coaching.

The entry requirements and the number of UCAS points needed will depend on each university, and individuals should check before applying.

They will typically require the following:

  • A minimum of 1 A Level for a foundation degree.
  • 2 or 3 good A Levels for an undergraduate degree.
  • 2:1 or 2:2 relevant undergraduate degree subject for a postgraduate degree.

 

Some institutions may also invite applicants for an interview as part of the selection process.

College/private training courses

Undertaking a course can help individuals become life coaches.

It is better if individuals choose one accredited by a coaching body, such as the:

 

The entry requirements can differ between course/training providers.

It may also be worth enrolling on low-cost online short life coaching courses to see if a career as a life coach is suitable. That way, if not, it will save an individual a lot of time and trouble.

Courses and qualifications do not guarantee success as a life coach. However, it will demonstrate to clients an individual’s commitment to high standards and may give them a competitive edge when applying for jobs. Always check the entry requirements.

Apprenticeships

There is an apprenticeship route to help individuals become coaches within organisations, e.g. coaching professional higher apprenticeship. Individuals usually need four or five GCSEs, grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and A Levels, or equivalent.

Opportunities are on Government’s Apprenticeships, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Indeed.

Applying directly

As life coaching is unregulated in the UK, individuals can start work if they have the required skills and qualities.

Individuals working as coaches for organisations usually need GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent qualifications, including English and maths, and relevant experience, such as customer service. Roles are on various job websites.

Life Coach Meeting

Work experience

Relevant work experience, either paid or voluntary, can help individuals stand out and build their knowledge and skills.

To gain experience, individuals could (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Work as a trainee life coach in an education setting, such as a school or university.
  • Apply for roles in psychology, management, counselling or teaching.
  • Work or volunteer with charities that help/support people or involve customer service.
  • Shadow experienced life coaches to find out more about the job.
  • Become a mentor in an area in which they want to life coach.

 

Training and experience may be necessary for some jobs and volunteer opportunities.

Jobs are on various websites, and there is information on volunteering and local opportunities on Do-IT, NCVO and Volunteering Matters.

Life Coaching Consultancy

Training courses

Learning does not stop with experience or once someone becomes qualified. Attending relevant training courses and having additional certifications can help individuals enter the profession, enhance their employability and give them a competitive edge. Many colleges and accredited private training companies can provide relevant training courses.

We have many examples of approved courses that may be useful for individuals looking at a career as a life coach, including (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Office health and safety.
  • Health and safety for homeworkers.
  • Lone working.
  • COVID-19 awareness.
  • Workplace first aid.
  • Equality and diversity.
  • Understanding GDPR.
  • Customer service skills.
  • Safeguarding.
  • Complaints handling.
  • Time management skills.
  • Resilience training.
  • Workplace stress awareness.
  • Unconscious bias.
  • Mental Health Awareness Online Courses.

 

Professional bodies and associations, such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Association for Coaching, EMCC UK, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the Association for Professional Executive Coaching & Supervision (APECS), the Coaching and Mentoring Network, and other organisations, can also advise on reputable training courses. Some also provide memberships, events and support to help individuals become life coaches and give those already in the profession the means to continue their professional development.

The type of training required will depend on an individual’s specialisms and employment type. If an individual wants to be employed by a company instead of self-employment, they could look at several job advertisements to identify the training they need, especially for specialist roles. Jobs are on websites such as GOV.UK Find a Job Service, Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Life Coach Jobs, CharityJob.co.uk, and many other sites. Not all opportunities are advertised. Therefore, it may be worth contacting businesses, charities and public bodies to see if they have any roles.

The type of training required will depend on an individual’s specialisms and employment type. If an individual wants to be employed by a company instead of self-employment, they could look at several job advertisements to identify the training they need, especially for specialist roles. Jobs are on websites such as GOV.UK Find a Job Service, Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Life Coach Jobs, CharityJob.co.uk, and many other sites. Not all opportunities are advertised. Therefore, it may be worth contacting businesses, charities and public bodies to see if they have any roles.

Criminal records checks

Life coaches may need a criminal record check, as they could work with vulnerable adults or people under 18.

The organisation that holds criminal records will depend on the country within the UK, for example:

 

Professional accreditation

Individuals may want to consider professional accreditation to stand out and increase their chances of success. The Association for Coaching offers coaching accreditation schemes. There is a fee, and accredited status lasts for three years. Individuals will need a certain number of hours of training, experience and CPD.

Individuals may apply for APECS Membership & Accreditation. They may also choose to become ICF Credential-holders.

Being self-employed or freelance

Individuals can choose to become freelance life coaches. They can set up their own website offering their own services or join Life Coach Directory or Life Coach Near Me, where clients can find life coaches.

If an individual decides to be self-employed, they will have additional responsibilities. They must:

  • Have a business plan.
  • Have the correct insurance, i.e. specific life coach or business. If employing anyone, employers’ liability insurance will be required.
  • Register with HMRC.
  • File tax returns.
  • Register with the ICO to hold personal data (to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR).

 

They will also need to factor in certain costs, such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • IT and office equipment.
  • Utilities.
  • Professional memberships and accreditation.
  • Joining a network.
  • Training and CPD.
  • Certifications.
  • Supplies, e.g. office.
  • Insurances.
  • Marketing and advertising.

 

Further advice and guidance on being self-employed can be found on GOV.UK.

Driving

Some life coaches may drive as part of their role, e.g. if they travel to clients’ homes or businesses. Therefore, they may need a full, clean driving licence.

Life Coaches Business

Where do life coaches work?

As mentioned, most life coaches will be self-employed or work freelance, which allows them to be flexible regarding their locations.

They can work from office-type spaces, such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Their own homes.
  • A rented space.
  • Clients’ homes or businesses.

 

If life coaches are employed, they could work in various premises, such as:

  • Healthcare settings, e.g. hospitals and care homes.
  • Education settings, e.g. schools, colleges and universities.
  • Businesses.
  • Public buildings.

 

Life coaches could work for the NHS, charities, universities, community projects, prisons, health and well-being or professional support services, etc.

Work-life Balance through life coaching

How much do life coaches earn?

A life coach’s salary is highly variable and will depend on their role, qualifications, experience, geographical location, employment status (self-employed/freelance/employed), working hours, specialist area, etc.

Some examples of average earnings include the following (these figures are only a guide):

  • £45.30 per hour (Payscale).
  • Beginners £30 to £60 per hour, practitioners >3yrs £100 to £150 per session, life coaches >10yrs £200 upwards for a session, and executive coaches £1,000 or more (Indeed UK).
  • Private practitioners £40 to £60 per hour, experienced £100 per session and coaches with extensive experience £200 per 90-minute session (Prospects).

 

As an apprentice, the salary will depend on an individual’s age and how long they have been in their apprenticeship. Apprentices must earn at least the current National Minimum Wage (NMW). Some employers will pay more than this. However, it will depend on the organisation and role on offer.

Life Coaching Career

Types of life coaching to specialise in

There are many life coaching roles in which individuals can specialise. Some examples include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Addiction coaching – also known as recovery coaching. Coaches help clients with addictions, e.g. drugs and alcohol, and support them with sobriety and recovery. It requires coaches to have additional knowledge and skills.
  • Business coaching – coaches help business owners and managers reach their business goals and become more successful.
  • Career coaching – coaches help people to explore new career opportunities and match their skills to roles. They can help if people are stuck in a rut job-wise and don’t know how to move forward.
  • Diet and fitness coaching – also known as nutrition coaching. Coaches help clients meet their personal diet and fitness goals and support them in making lifestyle changes.
  • Divorce coaching – divorce can be painful and stressful for some people. Divorce coaches help their clients by providing emotional support and practical guidance/tools to make better decisions when dealing with a breakup.
  • Financial coaching – finances can be a worry for some people. Coaches look at a person’s current financial situation, help them meet financial goals and improve how they manage their money.
  • Health and well-being coaching – coaches can work with people with physical/mental issues, long-term conditions and those wanting to meet goals, such as weight loss or fitness improvements. They help individuals to change their behaviours and lifestyles to improve their health and well-being.
  • Mental health coaching – coaches help people with non-clinical mental health issues. They help their clients with self-awareness and provide advice and tools so they can better manage their challenges. They give clients support and encouragement to manage their emotions and meet goals relating to their mental health. They do not diagnose or treat mental health conditions.
  • Relationship coaching – coaches usually work with individuals or couples. They help people improve their relationships with one another and set goals for happier, healthier, more stable relationships.

 

Life coaches can also specialise in coaching individuals one-to-one, couples and groups.

All specialist life coaching roles require differing knowledge, skills, experience and qualities. All life coaches must have a passion for helping people, exceptional motivational skills and the ability to build relationships. Any additional areas of expertise will depend on the type of role a life coach wants and their intended specialist areas. Further training may be necessary for specialised jobs.

As the industry is unregulated, there is a risk of individuals offering life coaching without the correct experience or skills. Life coaches not correctly carrying out their roles can result in incorrect advice, clients not getting the help and support they need, and wasted money. In some cases, offering life coaching services in certain areas, such as addiction and mental health, can have serious consequences for clients if life coaches are incompetent to offer services they are not trained to provide.

Whatever the type of role, life coaches must have the necessary competence to carry out the work professionally, ethically and correctly. They should also know the limits of their competency, i.e. asking for help when something is beyond their expertise.

Lifestyle and Career Life Coach

Professional bodies

Standards, techniques, tools, technologies and people’s challenges are changing regularly. Therefore, life coaches must keep ahead of the latest developments and changes to carry out their roles effectively and correctly. Continuing professional development (CPD) gives life coaches the knowledge and skills to keep up to date with these changes, understand their responsibilities, and progress in their careers.

Joining a professional body or association (as previously mentioned) can help prospective and current life coaches enhance their skills and overall career. These may offer different levels of membership, CPD, support, access to industry contacts and networking events.

There is an opportunity for career progression for life coaches. With more training and experience, they could specialise in a specific area of life coaching, such as relationship, career, business or finance. They could move from a freelance role to starting a business and employ other coaches. Alternatively, they could offer more services to clients or work with large organisations.

Knowledge, skills and experience gained from working as a life coach can also lead to a career in different areas. For example, they could work in mentoring, motivational speaking or train others in coaching. If they do further qualifications, they could move into counselling or psychotherapy.

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