Most life coaches have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, or other related fields from an accredited university or college. This is not mandatory, however. A degree is not required by many employers although it makes it easier for trained life coaches to get a satisfying and high-paying career. However, all certified life coaches must undergo additional training in life coaching. This training can be found at a traditional university, an online college, or one-on-one from a professional life coach.
In addition, certified life coaches must have a certification from a national accreditation organization. Most people in North America get this certification from the International Coach Federation. Students complete training requirements that include academic work and supervised client contact, then take an exam. When they have passed this exam, they may work as a life coach.
There are three levels of life coach that the International Coach Federation certifies. An Associate Certified Coach has had 100 hours of working directly with clients and 60 hours of additional training. A Professional Certified Coach has had 750 hours of client contact and 130 hours of additional training. The highest level of certification, with 2500 hours of working with clients, 200 hours of additional training, and 10 hours of mentoring from another Master Certified Coach.
As with many careers, getting more training and more supervised time working with clients will prepare you better for working successfully in this field. More training and experience also leads to higher pay in most cases. Many successful life coaches begin with an Associate Certified Coach certification, working for a corporation or other company, and then gradually work up to becoming a Professional Certified Coach with their own busy practices. However, many certified life coaches never reach the level of a Master Certified Coach.
Most people begin their life coach training with good social skills and an understanding of human psychology. These are essential skills for the field! The training to become a certified life coach builds upon these innate skills. Students learn how to help clients to identify their dreams, identify their barriers, and move past these challenges. They become adept at helping people find creative solutions and working through their emotions. Students learn these skills through direct training and also through working with clients under supervision. They gradually are given less and less supervision, so that they are competent working independently with clients by the time they seek certification.