How to Become a Certified Life Coach: What You Should Know

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If you want to start a life coaching business but aren’t sure whether you should get certified, you’re not alone. Life coach certification is a crucial step for aspiring life coaches that adds credibility to your coaching practice.

Coaching is a fast-growing industry, and that can get chaotic pretty quickly. Enter certification! Coach certification is a differentiator that sets apart real professionals from grifters, amateurs, and those who aren’t serious about their business.

Certification programs equip individuals with essential skills best practices for life coaches. Renowned options range from the fast-track and affordable Certified Life Coach Institute to the year-long investment in iPEC‘s life Coach training program. Certifications provide extensive exposure to different aspects of coaching – including techniques, client management, ethics,  business setup, and client-facing hours.

The journey towards becoming a certified professional involves hard work but the payoff can be immense both personally and professionally.

Types of Life Coach Certifications

The world of life coaching is as diverse as the individuals it serves. Various types of certifications cater to specific needs, such as wellness coaching and relationship coaching.

You can get a Health & Life Coach certification for instance, to guide clients towards achieving their health goals by promoting positive lifestyle changes. If you’re passionate about a holistic approach to personal wellness that includes exercise, diet, and stress management, this could be the niche for you.

In contrast, relationship coaches focus on helping people navigate personal relationships effectively. They work with singles seeking love or couples wanting to strengthen their bond. If that sounds like you, the Relationship Coaching Institute certification program might be for you.

These are just a few of the options out there.Other specializations include career coaching, spiritual coaching and even happiness coaching. The right certification depends on your passion and the audience you wish to serve.

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Benefits of Life Coach Certification

Becoming a certified professional coach isn’t just about gaining a new title. It’s the golden ticket to developing your coaching skills and opening doors for potential career opportunities.

Achieving certification is like unlocking a chest full of treasures in the form of ICF accreditation, advanced techniques, and industry recognition. These are crucial factors that clients consider when choosing their life coach.

Certification provides an assurance to your clients; it tells them you’ve been trained, assessed, and deemed competent by recognized bodies in the field. This fosters trust and builds stronger client-coach relationships.

In addition, becoming certified equips you with diverse tools needed for successful coaching practice. You’re not just learning theory but also acquiring practical strategies which can be applied immediately.

Choosing the Right Life Coach Certification Program

Selecting the correct life coach accreditation can be overwhelming. There are many, many options for many different budgets. The first thing you need to consider is what type of coaching business you really want to start–what niche you will serve. We have a whole guide for how to become a life coach right here.

Factors to Consider

Your career path as a life coach hinges on choosing the right coach training program. If you put a lot of money into something with low return on investment or poor formation, you will slow your career growth and possibly worsen the results of your clients.

While nobody can stop you from coaching without certification, pursuing top tier professional education in your field will help you be a better coach and show your clients that you are committed to industry standards.  Let’s look at a few important factors that you should keep in mind as you research potential certification programs.


The first key factor is whether or not a program has accreditation from reputable bodies such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF). ICF accredited programs are recognized globally and add credibility to your certification. Limiting yourself to certifications with ICF accreditation will ensure you focus on the most reputable programs. Once you get certified by an accredited program, you can apply for credentials from the ICF that correspond to your level of experience. You can use the ICF’s coaching education search tool to find coaching certifications.

Becoming ICF credentialed lets you join a globally recognized community that values quality and high standards in coaching. It’s like having an international seal of approval on your skills as a life coach.

Apart from credibility, it opens up new career paths. For instance, many organizations only hire coaches who have received their credentials through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). With an ICF credential, you come across maximally employable not just to individuals, but corporations too…who often have bigger budgets!


Cost is probably up there at the top of your list of priorities. It’s no secret that certification programs get pretty expensive, especially those that boast hundreds of coach training hours. Factors like program duration, content depth, and the prestige of the training institution all play a role in determining the price tag. Certification from globally recognized institutes such as IPEC or Coach Training Alliance typically falls within a range of $5,000 to $15,000. However, other options like online coaching academies offer affordable alternatives with comprehensive life coach certification programs starting at around $1,000.

If your budget is limited, you might have to start with the most basic program available and save up for future more advanced certifications later on. If you have the funds but the price tag still makes you wince, remember that investment in your education pays dividends in your future success. Certification costs a lot of money because of the experts who took time to put a program together and lead you through it. Getting access to that elite tier of professional knowledge that gives you an edge over your competition is often worse the extra cash up front!

Keep in mind that while many credentials require continuing education every few years to stay up-to-date on best practices, the ongoing cost tends to be much lower than the initial investment.

The length of the course (i.e. time investment each week) matters a lot too. A comprehensive and accelerated course can kickstart your coaching career sooner rather than later. On the other hand, if you work a day job and want to get started coaching, a longer program that spreads out the coach training program over several months might better suit your needs.

The Best Life Coach Certification Programs

We can’t tell you which life coach certification program is the best because your experience, career goals, and personal passions will influence that. We can point you in the direction of a few good ones to help you start your search! All of these are ICF-accredited, of course.

iPEC (formerly the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) is one of the oldest accredited life coach certification programs. iPEC’s training focuses on helping you empower clients to make the best choices for their own life. They emphasize targeting thoughts, emotions, and energy to unlock your clients’ potential and overcome hidden obstacles. They offer both in-person and online modules and the program has two phases, totaling to about a year of training (you are not expected to wait till you’re done to start taking coaching clients, however). The reputation for excellence comes with a hefty price tag, as iPEC’s programs start at $13,395.

The Life Purpose Institute offers another reputable option focusing on holistic approaches to life coaching. Their master life coach certification covers various facets of personal development, from career path planning to emotional wellness strategies.

If your coaching practice is focused on wellness as well as personal development, an excellent choice is the Health Coach Institute’s life coach certification program. Known for its robust curriculum and experienced trainers, it equips aspiring coaches with essential tools to thrive in health coaching.

The Coach Training Alliance offers a more affordable (less than $4000!) option with 60 hours of coach-specific training as well as extra hours teaching you how to build your business.

And finally, the Certified Life Coach Institute offers a variety of shorter programs starting at under $1000 that let you dig deep into key skills in a short amount of time.

All these programs have unique offerings but share one thing. They provide quality education designed to mold competent, compassionate coaches ready to make an impact in their clients’ lives. And they’re ICF approved to boot!

After Certification: Starting a Life Coaching Career

Deciding what kind of coach you want to be and getting certified are just two pieces in the great endeavor of starting a coaching business. Being aware of next steps that you can take before, after, and during your certification program to really optimize your coaching business will help you get off on the right foot.

Setting Up Your Coaching Business

Starting your own life coaching business doesn’t have to be daunting. The essential steps are:

  • Establish your niche.
  • Get Certified (which we’ve just covered)!
  • Develop essential coaching skills.
  • Create a business plan.
  • Build experience and credibility.
  • Adhere to industry standards.
  • Consider virtual coaching.
  • Pursue continuing education.

You can read our longer article on how to become a life coach to learn about all these steps! For now, we’ll dive a bit deeper into developing coaching skills. Since certification programs exist to help you learn and hone these skills, it’s important to know what to look for when you read about the content of potential certifications to pursue.

Developing essential Coaching Skills

Facilitating client growth is one of the ICF core competencies. Helping your clients set and meet goals is one of the most important steps to their transformation. Learning the SMART goals framework can help you avoid wasting time during this process.

Developing the emotional intelligence required to build a relationship of trust and listen actively is also important. While this might seem like a skill that some people just have naturally and others don’t, you can actually target and improve in this area just like any other skill. Life coach certification programs rooted in up-to-date psychology will help you immensely, so keep an eye out for modules related to these matters when you research certifications.

To ensure success as a life coach, continually refining your techniques is key. That means pursuing continuing education through coach training programs, regularly self-assessing, and asking for honest feed back from your clients and mentors. The goal should always be improving client outcomes and enhancing their lives, but you will find great personal satisfaction in seeing their results and the results for your business.

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Are budget constraints are holding you back from becoming a life coach? Many of the programs we listed provide various free webinars, tools, and resources to get you a head start. (Speaking of, did you know we offer free webinars at The Speaker Lab? Check it out here). Taking advantage of such free resources allows you to explore different facets of coaching in a low-stakes environment.

Getting certified as a life coach will give your life coaching business the solid foundation you need to get clients fast, whether online or in person. Don’t let lack of time or funds hold you back from starting your life coaching business. Getting the business logistics (like setting up an LLC) on the road is always worthwhile. Use the tie before you get certified to fine-tune your website, market yourself, and acquire as many clients as you can. Your business will only flourish all the more when you get additional credentials.

With that in mind, don’t just jump into the first program you can afford. If you take the time to research the very best programs for your niche and your goals, it will be worthwhile to wait until you find the right one.

As you launch your life coaching business, you might start to explore other ways to get clients, like speaking. If so, The Speaker Lab can help you get booked and paid to speak–get in touch here.


What makes you qualified to be a life coach?

The basics: a compelling desire to help others transform their lives. Further Qualifications? certification from a recognized coaching program, hands-on experience, and skills like empathy and active listening.

What is the fastest life coaching certification?

The fastest certification will still take a few months. Remember, quick doesn’t always mean quality. It’s essential to ensure the program is reputable before diving in just because it’s fast. Accumulating coach training hours will help you secure a sure foundation in ICF core competencies and coaching best practices.

Is it worth getting life coach certification?

Absolutely. Life coach certification gives credibility and authority to your skills as a coach. It opens doors for career opportunities and helps build client trust.


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