What is the Best Life Coach Certification?
Life coach training schools are not one-size-fits-all. There are many different life coach schools and certifications to choose from. To find the best life coach certification it is important to do your due diligence and research.
Choosing the best life coach certification for you, means you want to start by having a good understanding of your direction in coaching and clarity on your goals. Someone wanting to just coach as a generalist life coach has different needs than someone that wants a job as a coach.
However, before you choose the right life coach certification and training school, it's important to consider a few different factors.
How to Choose the Best Life Coach Certification and Training School
Before you can choose the right life coach certification and training school, you'll need to consider what you want to do as a professional coach. Are you looking for a coaching job? Just a sideline business? Maybe a way to increase your value in your current job? Maybe even retirement or transition from your current job to become a professional coach?
These are important factors to consider before registering for any coach training program.
Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Life Coach Certification Program
1. Your Budget
Professional life coach certification training programs come at a cost. Yes, you can find some free or almost free programs however when it comes to coach training, you generally get what you pay for, at least to a point. However, this does not mean you need to go into debt for years or take a second mortgage out to pay the tuition. Some are more expensive than others for several reasons.
Schools that offer live in-person training requiring physical space are going to be more expensive just because of overhead. The same with schools that travel and offer live training in various cities have additional overhead including travel and hotel rental expenses. While your entire decision should not be made based on price, it is best to have a general budget in mind.
This is an important factor, as you want to get the right training, but you also want to stay within your comfort zone. Think of this as a bit of self-coaching. If you were coaching someone else, you want to ensure they make the best decision based on their needs and budget. Coaching someone to spend more than they can afford would be a breach of coaching ethics.
2. Type of Certification
The type of life coach certification you want will also factor in. These days your main choices are training programs that lead to ICF (International Coach Federation) certification or non-ICF schools. International Coaching Federation is the most well-known and largest organization for credentialing in the world. ICF certifications are considered the gold standard around the world and carry the highest level of credibility.
Schools that are accredited by the ICF also assure students that they are attending a top-rated school as the ICF accreditation process is extremely difficult. Their curriculum must meet certain standards, be taught mainly live, and include several mentoring hours.
Regarding coaching jobs, because there are no barriers for someone to call themselves a coach most organizations and governments that hire coaches require ICF certification. ICF certifications give some assurance that you have been well trained, and understand ethics. This gives organizations confidence against any potential legal liabilities.
Discussion about the ICF can get a bit complex as even with an ICF certification, there are three different levels. You can become an Associate Credentialed Coach, Professional Credentialed Coach, or Master Credentialed Coach. Each level requires a different amount of training and coaching experience. A Master Coach designation will take years to achieve.
For non-ICF accredited schools there are two choices. First are schools that simply offer a certification from their schools. So, if you attend “Joes Coach Training School” you will receive a diploma or certification endorsed by Joes Coach Training School. Now, these programs could offer a good training program, however out in the world, no one would have ever heard of that school or given it much credibility.
Other coaching organizations accredit coach training schools such as the CCA, (Certified Coaches Alliance). This is preferable to a simple certification as it is from an independent professional organization that has vetted the school. However, these certifications are still not held in the same esteem as an ICF school.
For our school, The Coach Training Academy we are accredited by both the ICF and the CCA. So our graduates receive professional certification from the CCA upon graduation but are also on the ICF certification track for the future.
3. Coaching Class / School Type / Time Frame
Next, you also want to consider the type of classes and learning style you prefer. Do you want to take your professional coaching course online or do you prefer to take them in person? More and more life coach certification programs are offered online but some still exist in person. A few exist in larger cities but most often require travel.
Generally, live in-person training is more expensive and shorter duration. Shorter might seem attractive but coaching like any other professional endeavor takes time to learn. You certainly would not want to hire a doctor that completed a two-week program. So while you might have a reason for a short program it should be based on your needs. Starting with a short program is fine as long as you understand you will not graduate with the skills and confidence of a program that you would in 3 – 12 months. That just is not possible. Our school also offers a short program we call the Fast Track. It is specifically for professionals needing a quick overview of professional coaching and quick certification. Interesting fifty percent of our Fast Track students also learn what they don’t know, and then join our longer full ICF program.
Other considerations, if you want to attend a local live, in-house school this will require a commitment to getting to the school every week. Do you have the time considering your work and family commitments? Of course with live schools, where you must travel you are going to miss work, pay for transportation, meals, hotels, etc.….. This can get very pricy even into several thousands of dollars.
For this reason, virtual, live online programs are becoming more of the standard. While they do not have that person-to-person contact which can be nice, they can provide excellent training plus be more cost-effective and offer time flexibility.
Understanding Certifications vs Coaching Niches
Certification titles and coaching niches are often misunderstood and cause a great deal of confusion. The most important thing to know is that all professional coach training schools need to offer a comprehensive program that allows you to coach in multiple areas or niches. So whether you want to be a wellness coach, executive coach, spiritual coach, career transition coach, etc…. you must have the skills to coach people in a variety of areas.
This might be confusing or against how some schools market themselves, but here is why you need to have broad-based skills. Human beings and the issues they want to be coached on are never going to be simplistic. All issues will encompass many areas of a person’s life. Eg… your client wants career coaching but their partner does not want them to change careers…. So now you are also a relationship coach. Let’s say your client wants wellness coaching but works in a toxic environment. Well, now you need to be a career coach.
So nothing we face or our clients face is going to be that simplistic. The coaching process is fundamentally the same whether you are coaching an executive or a teenager. Just the language and style will change.
This is one of the reasons attending an ICF-accredited program is the smartest thing you can do. ICF programs must teach the eight core competencies which will give you the skills to coach in many different areas.
A niche is an area where you want to attract clients to work with you. This should be with people you enjoy working with and on a subject or subjects that you enjoy or are intrigued to coach in.
Some coaches are very specific about gender. i.e. male or female. Some coaches are more age-specific ie. Kids, teens, millennials, baby boomers, retirees. Some coaches are more subject-specific, i.e. career, weight loss, grief, leadership, and relationship.
The niche or niches you choose are the ones that you want to attract clients from. If you consider a website or social media; you use these to connect to your audience and start a relationship. If you try to be everything to everybody you will not be able to make a connection.
If a person is having an issue in one area, they are going to search for a coach that has a background or is focused in that area.
There are over one hundred niches that coaches build their brand on. Here are just a few:
- 1Health/Wellness Life Coach
A very popular niche for life coaching is the health and wellness space. If you want to help clients improve their fitness, health, and well-being, this is likely the right life coach niche for you.
- 2General Life Coach / Life Coach
Some life coaches don't specialize, which has challenges. You can become a general life coach and specialize later or cover multiple niches. A general life coach can help people with interpersonal skills, gain more confidence, and achieve their goals. However, you may struggle to get clients as potential clients might have trouble identifying you as the right coach for them.
- 3Spiritual Life Coach
A very popular type of life coach, you can become a spiritual or faith coach. This type of coach will help clients better connect with their higher power or faith. Of course, you can specialize in a specific type of spirituality or religion, likely based on your specific beliefs.
- 4Career Life Coach
If you want to help people find the right career and become more successful in their careers, becoming a career life coach is for you. This is a great niche for those looking to help clients find their dream job and get promoted to the next level. This is also a good niche to add on extra services like resume development or interview training.
- 5Relationship Life Coach
Working with clients to help them establish better relationships is the job of a relationship coach. This type of coach can help clients develop deeper and better relationships. All coaching will have some element of relationship coaching. Some coaches will also specialize in sub-niches such as; dating coaches, divorce coaches, etc…
There are many other life coach niches to consider including:
Choosing a niche is important to make connections and attract your ideal client.
To receive top-notch professional coach training depends on several things. Finding the best life coach certification program isn't one-size-fits-all. If you consider the factors above and get clarity on your coaching niche, you should be able to find a good school and the right certification to support you in developing a successful coaching practice.