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Interested in becoming a certified life coach? Good for you! With a rising interest in mental health and self-care, more people are drawn to personal development careers. According to MarketResearch.com, the personal development market was worth $9.9 billion in 2016. It is projected to grow 5.6% average yearly gains from 2016 to 2022. The market will be worth $13.2 billion. There is no better time to become a certified life coach than now! If you’re interested in this rewarding career, I will share with you 10 steps on how to become a certified life coach, to make the process seamless.

Before we begin, you need to know that the coaching industry is not regulated. Therefore there aren’t any set standards to become certified. Becoming certified would depend on the school you attend. The steps vary from one life coach training school to the next. Thus, the life coach certification process would depend on the requirements of the school. There aren’t any state or country regulations or requirements.

Life Coach Certification vs. Accreditation

As stated earlier, the coaching industry is self-regulated, and you don’t need a license, degree, or certification. Therefore, life coach certification and accreditation is voluntary.

If you choose to become a certified life coach, you will be certified by the school you attended.

If you choose to become an accredited life coach, you will become accredited through a self-accrediting organization, not an official accrediting body. One of the most well-known organizations is the International Coach Federation (ICF).

In almost all instances, you will become a certified life coach before an accredited life coach. The reason is that most self-accrediting agencies have requirements that generally lead to certification before the actual accreditation.

Why become a certified life coach?

As a coach trainer, I always tell coaches, 

“It’s not about the certification; it’s about the training. If you want to be an expert in anything, you should always want to continue your education. The certification is just a bonus!”

Why become an accredited life coach?

The answer to this question depends on the individual. Some people get accreditation because their employer may require it. Some people get accreditation because they love credentials.

The truth is most personal clients don’t ask about accreditation because they don’t know what accreditation is. However, they do want to know you are trained and maybe even certified.

I recommend becoming accredited if you want to contract with companies to coach their employees. This is called executive coaching and is in demand. Most companies will hire you as a contractor only if you are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF) or another well-known coaching organization.

In this post, I will give you some general steps to take to become a certified life. However, you will have to check the further requirements of the school you attend. I will also share the steps to become accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the largest organization within the coaching industry.

1. Decide if you really want to become a certified life coach

Coaching Definition: Coaching is a process in which a coach works with a client to enhance their quality of life or business. A life coach is not a therapist or adviser. A life coach works with clients to improve their quality of life through purposeful questioning, tools, coaching techniques, goal setting, and action planning. 

You must be an individual who likes to help people without imposing your own opinions on individuals. In coaching, there is an 80/20 rule. The client speaks 80% of the time. The coach speaks 20% of the time. This is because the client has the answers inside them, and a coach helps bring those answers to the surface. The client is the real expert in their own lives.

2. Decide what type of life coach you want to become. 

There are different types of life coaching niches, such as:

The best way to decide the type of life coach to become is to combine your passion with your experience and/or education. For example, suppose you have a passion for helping people thrive in their careers, and you have experience or education in career development, you may consider becoming a career coach.

3. Decide if you want certification or certification and accreditation

A good life coach training program will teach you coaching skills, tools, and techniques to help people transform their personal and professional lives.  

No, you don’t need certification; however, the coaching industry is growing quickly. Many people are calling themselves coaches who are not qualified and are not producing client results. People are getting scammed, and they are questioning life coaches’ credentials more often. Future coaches will be held to a higher standard and must produce real, measurable results, practical skills, and certification. 

When choosing a life coach training program, keep in mind that there aren’t any federal or state accreditation for life coaching. Therefore, schools that offer certifications are either self-accredited or accredited through self-accrediting organizations such as the International Coach Federation (ICF). An example of this would be a school like Universal Coach Institute. Universal Coach Institute is self-accredited and an approved International Coach Federation (ICF) provider.

The most important is to choose a life coach training school that provides adequate tools for practical application when coaching clients.

4. Choose a school for certification 

At the foundational level, a coach training school should teach:

  • Listening Skills – How to hear what your client is saying and not saying
  • Powerful Questions – How to ask questions that create an awareness
  • Basic neuroscience and psychology, such as the connection between thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors, this helps with the ability to motivate clients and help them overcome obstacles.
  • Goal setting and action planning for success
  • A coaching model to guide the session. This is really important for newer coaches.
  • Life coaching tools and exercises
  • Coaching ethics and standards
  • Personal development for the coach 
  • Business and marketing

If you only want a life coach certification, then the steps stop here.

However, if you want accreditation as well, then continue with the rest of this post.

5. Choose a school for certification and accreditation.

To become accredited means, you will be accredited through a self-accrediting organization such as the International Coach Federation (ICF). ICF is the largest organization in the coaching industry. 

They have 3 credentials.

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC)
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC)

For the rest of this post, I will give you the steps to become accredited through the ICF at the lowest level, Associate Certified Coach (ACC).

6. Attend 60 Coach-Specific Training Hours (Accreditation Requirement Only)

The life coach training school should be a school that offers a minimum of 60 ICF hours. Out of the 60 ICF hours, a minimum of 48 hours has to be live or live-online training. The other 12 can be self-study.

7. Conduct 100 hours of coaching (Accreditation Requirement Only)

You will need 100 hours of coaching from the start of your training. Out of the 100 coaching hours, 70 of those hours must be from paid clients with a minimum of 8 clients. Coaching hours can be 1-on-1 coaching, group coaching, or on-the-job coaching approved by your supervisor. 

8. Get 10 mentor coaching hours (Accreditation Requirement Only)

According to the ICF, mentor coaching for an ICF Credential consists of coaching and feedback based on an observed or recorded coaching session. Mentor coaching is meant to increase the coach’s coaching capability in alignment with the ICF Core Competencies. The mentor coach has to be ICF accredited. If the school you attend does not provide mentor coaching, you can find a mentor coach on the ICF’s website.

9. Take the Coach Knowledge Assessment (Accreditation Requirement Only)

Once you have completed the above and are ready to become accredited through the International Coach Federation, you will have to take the Coach Knowledge Assessment. This is a multiple-choice exam that measures your understanding of coaching knowledge and skills according to the ICF.

10. Final coaching exam (Accreditation Requirement Only)

The last part of the coach accreditation process is the coaching exam. The coaching exam is a performance evaluation. You will record a coaching session to be reviewed by an ICF assessor.

Take-Home Message

Becoming a certified life coach can be a simple process. The steps depend on the school you attend.

However, the life coach accreditation process can be a little bit lengthy. Please keep in mind there are other self-accrediting coaching organizations such as the International Association of Coaching (IAC), who have their own requirements. 

The first 4 steps are general steps to become a certified life coach. Each school is independent and have their own graduation requirements. Be sure to check the requirements with the school of your choice.

Steps 5-10 are the requirements to become accredited through the International Coach Federation, a self-accrediting organization.

So, where does the Universal Coach Institute fit in? 

Universal Coach Institute is an approved ICF provider. We offer up to 60 ICF coach-specific training hours. Upon completion of our life coach training program, you will receive a life coach certification. If you attend our live training classes, you will receive ICF hours and the ICF CCE logo on your certificate. To become an accredited life coach, you would have to ensure you comply with steps 7-10.

If you have more questions, check out our post Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming A Coach.

Let us know below… Do you want to become a certified life coach, or do you want to become certified and accredited?

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Life Coach Training, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities