Life Coach Qualifications
Do I need a certification, accreditation, license or degree?
“Without the Transformation Academy courses I could not have even dreamed of becoming a coach – I did courses with a baby in the wrap and when i had time and energy (i have a chronic illness). So, thanks Natalie and Joeel – without you I’d have been kept out!”
Most aspiring life coaches we meet tell us the same thing… they are passionate about helping people but they’re just not sure they’re qualified or capable of being a coach. We felt the same way when we first started.
We also hear stories of aspiring coaches being intimidated and shamed by other coaches who claim that only certain coach training programs approved by specific “associations” are valid. Some even claim that without these expensive and time-consuming coach training programs a coach doesn’t have “ethics”. There is an unfortunate trend in the life coaching industry to discourage coaches, rather than empower them. A field that is meant to help people help people has become commercialized, wrapped up with red tape, and in the end it locks many potentially transformational coaches out of the industry. The most unfortunate thing is that it is all based on misinformation.
The truth is you can do this. You were made to do this. If you’re like most coaches you’ve been doing this coaching thing for years and just not getting paid for it! Being a coach is something IN YOUR HEART. Its who you are!
Plus, most of the most famous and successful coaches are not “certified” by anyone. Just look at Tony Robbins!
And so, below, we will tell the TRUTH and demystify the whole life coaching qualifications, accreditation and certifications thing.
Is there a life coaching degree, license or accreditation required?
Life coaching is a non-regulated industry, meaning there are no laws that govern the field. This is the case in the United States and as far as we are aware in all other countries as well. (It is recommended that any coach who is concerned regarding this matter seek advice from his/her state or country.)
There is no degree required to be a life coach. Unlike academic institutions (such as Universities), life coach training organizations do not need to be accredited by a governing body because there exists no accrediting institution in the field of life coaching.
There is no license required to be a life coach. Unlike licensed therapists, mental health counselors or psychologists, in the life coaching industry there exists no governing body or regulations requiring an official license or certification. This is because life coaching is dramatically different than therapy. Life coaches are not licensed mental health care providers or therapists and must not provide medical advice, engage in patient diagnosis, or treat mental illness or trauma.
There may be organizations that claim to be an official or legal “accrediting body”, however this is false. They are simply “associations” who charge a fee for training organizations to receive their “rubber stamp of approval” (based on those programs meeting the association’s standards). While these associations serve an important role in holding the coaching industry to higher standards and establishing a foundation of ethics and best practices, they do not hold any authority over the industry, other training organizations, or coaches.
What qualifications do I need to be a life coach?
There are many life coaches that come from a background working with people, such as counseling, personal fitness, nursing, massage, etc. However, the majority of coaches do not have official background. Instead, they bring with them 2 things: life experience and/or work experience. Often coaches coach in a specific niche, in-which they have unique knowledge and experience. For example, entrepreneurs coach business start-ups, personal trainers become health coaches, teachers coach others on public speaking, etc.
In most cases, coaches enroll in training programs to hone their skills and learn strategies for growing their coaching practice. This gives them a foundation of understand about what coaching is, the psychology behind it, and methodologies and processes used. Ultimately, what training you need in order to coach is up to you. Again, there is no law that requires coach training or any kind.
What are life coaching certifications?
NON-ACADEMIC: Life coaching certifications are non-academic (not through a college or university) offered by private life coach training organizations, which are usually run by experienced life coaches and/or educators. These educational programs train life coaches in various aspects of coaching and offer a certificate endorsing the coach who has completed the training program offered by that organization.
TYPES OF COACHING PROGRAMS: There are many organizations that offer certification programs, and there are many types of coaching certifications. Some programs focus on general coaching principles and methodologies, while other programs teach specific processes for coaching clients on niche topics. Many coaches study general methodologies and also complete training in a particular niche, depending on their interest. Some coaching programs are taught in person and others are available online. Some require “contact hours” with clients in order to earn the certification while others do not.
EARNING A CERTIFICATION: Having a coach certification simply means that you have completed a program offered by a Coach Training Organization and have acquired the knowledge that organization teaches.
ACCREDITATION: There are organizations that claim to be an accrediting or governing body for the life coaching industry, and therefore “accredit” other organizations’ certification programs, however like we mentioned above, these organization hold no legal authority over the field or other organizations and, therefore, taking a coach training program that is “accredited” by any particular organization is not required.
CEU/CPD CREDITS: In many industries, employees or practitioners are required to earn “continuing education units (CEU’s)” or “continuing professional development (CPD)” credits in order to meet requirements for their career path or maintain industry licenses. There exist a number of organizations that provide training that meet the requirements of these CEU/CPD credits. These organizations also approve coach training programs that meet their requirements and, therefore, allow those organizations to provide CEU/CPD credits for students who complete their courses. These CEU/CPD credit are only of value to students who are in a career field that requires or acknowledges them. They are also not required.
PURPOSE OF CERTIFICATIONS: Other industries, such as social services, education, fitness, and speaking, to name a few, also offer certifications that are not legal licenses or accredited by educational institutions. The purpose of such certifications and training is to obtain specialized knowledge to further develop one’s career, increase the value of the services one provides, and establish further confidence and credibility.