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Qualifications for Being a Life Coach

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Life coaches provide guidance to individuals or groups to reach personal, career and organizational goals. To qualify for life coach certification, students must earn an undergraduate degree, and some programs require applicants to have a master’s or doctoral degree. Life coach certification programs prepare graduates to secure certification from the International Coach Federation (ICF), which improves your credibility as a life coach.


Students in life coach education programs learn to work with clients to set and achieve goals and maximize clients' potential in various aspects of life. Education programs consist of both classroom and fieldwork experience, and commonly meet the certification requirements of the ICF. Certificate programs typically take 9 to 18 months to complete. The program curriculum teaches students a strong foundation of training in employee engagement, performance management, motivational speaking and leadership.

Educational Prerequisites

Aspiring life coaches who seek a life coach certification must first earn an undergraduate degree, or higher in some cases. Additionally, international participants must have an appropriate visa and must speak English proficiently.


Life coach certificate program coursework includes courses in marketing, pricing, developing materials and choosing a specialty, as well as general business classes. Courses may include professional life coaching, leadership techniques, professional practices, coaching dynamics and positive psychology. These classes help students learn the fundamentals of coaching other people towards specific professional or personal goals.

Career Options

Once individuals meet all requirements and become certified life coaches, they can choose various specialty careers in the field. Coaches may choose to pursue a position as an executive coach, life skill coach or a spiritual coach. Other field careers include small business coach, leadership coach and life skill coach. Life coaches often start their own business, though some choose to work for an established life coaching service.

Additional Certification

Life coaches who graduate from a life coach certification program may pursue additional certification through the International Coach Federation. The ICF offers designations of Professional Certified Coach and Master Certified Coach, as well as Associate Certified Coach. To become certified in ICF designations, students must meet ICF education and experience stipulations, pass exams for the specific designation and submit satisfactory reference letters.


Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.