Life Coach Certification and Courses

Life coaches help people overcome obstacles so they can achieve short- and long-term goals. Find out about the training that's required, and look into voluntary certification programs for this profession. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the requirements for a life coach depend on your employer ( Some employers require education or training past the high school level. However, most employers simply require training in human services, social sciences or life coaching, which can be earned through certificate and associate degree programs at many colleges and universities. You might also consider earning a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, psychology or counseling to gain specialized positions or demonstrate credibility.

Degrees Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees in Social Work, Psychology, or Counseling
Certificates Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach and Master Certified Coach are awarded through the International Association of Coaching; the International Association of Coaching awards life coach certification through several competency tasks.
Training Program requirements will vary, but will typically include a practicum or internship that prepares you for certification or professional settings.

What Kind of Certification Do I Need?

There are a number of certifying bodies offering voluntary life coach certification, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the International Association of Coaching (IAC). You can earn one of three credentials through the ICF, including an Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach and Master Certified Coach ( You can apply for an associate or professional certification after either passing an approved training program or supplying acceptable recordings of your coaching sessions. The master's level requires that you demonstrate your coaching ability with recorded sessions and written and oral exams. You'll need to renew your credential every three years.

If you elect certification through the IAC, you'll be tested on the nine coaching masteries as defined by the organization ( Masteries include establishing a trusting relationship, offering support and providing active listening. You'll first need to pass an entry-level exam that establishes your understanding of the masteries, ethics and standards of coaching. You're then required to practice and excel at implementing the masteries in 30-minute sessions and become a member of the organization before taking a second, online exam to earn your certification.

What Can I Expect from a Training Program?

Training programs can prepare you for direct entry into the profession or for certification exams. The focus of your studies depends on the type of program you enroll in. If you find a program specific to life coaching, the courses typically draw on many disciplines to teach you how to deal with a multitude of problems, such as financial or bereavement issues. You'll usually have a practicum or internship opportunity that allows you to practice with your peers or in a real-world setting. If you choose a different academic avenue, relevant coaching topics you can take include career counseling, rehabilitation, communication and behavioral psychology.

Can I Learn Online?

The ICF provides a list of approved training programs for potential life coaches, many of which are offered entirely online. Online programs typically cost the same as on-site programs, but they allow you the flexibility to work at your convenience. You can enroll in a general life coach training program or focus on a specific discipline, such as corporate or adolescent coach training.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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