How to Become a Life Coach in California

If you’re good at listening to people’s problems and frustrations, and have the desire to help them improve themselves, becoming a life coach could be great for you. Life coaches are paid to help individuals through transitions or challenges in their lives successfully. They learn about clients through listening, motivate them and track their progress. Clients may seek the help of a life coach during tough life events and transitions, such as divorce, choosing a career path or solving financial problems.

It’s important for life coaches to become very close with their clients, learning as much about them as possible, so they can help each one with their unique goals. Because people and their lives are so different, there isn’t just one method of life coaching that works for all clients. Instead, life coaches must be well-rounded, prepared with multiple strategies and ready to think outside of the box to help their clients succeed. They may also specialize in specific niches such as family, spirituality or health coaching.

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What it Takes to Become a Life Coach

To begin a professional life coaching career, you should at least finish high school or earn your GED equivalent. There are no legal requirements to become a general life coach in California, so the best way to show your legitimacy to clients is by receiving certification from an agency. The best-known certification agency is The International Coach Federation (ICF), which offers different levels of life coach certification. All ICF certifications require you to complete a life coaching program accredited by the organization.

Life Coach Training Programs

Life coach programs vary in length, because they depend on the level of certification you’re pursuing. Generally, expect to study at least 60 hours, with advanced certifications requiring more than 200. Programs may be broad in scope or focus on specific specialties in life coaching. Some programs are available online, while others are available in person.

Here are a few options for those in California who want to study life coaching:

  • Life Purpose Institute. Located in San Diego, this school is accredited by the ICF and offers a 145-hour Life Coach Certification program. Classes at this school are small, which allows students to work in close contact and improve their counseling skills. Life Purpose Institute has been in the life coaching industry since 1984.
  • Academy for Coaching Excellence. The Coach Training Program at this Sacramento school lasts 174 credit hours. This university takes an active approach to enforcing diversity and inclusivity for everyone. The curriculum is rigorous in order to prepare you with professional skills you’ll use when building your business and coaching. Classwork takes place both online and in person.

Certification and Credentials

ICF offers three levels of credentials to those seeking certification. They all take around four weeks to process and require more credentials than named:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC). Requires at least 60 hours of training and 100 hours of practice after completion of training.
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Must have at least 500 hours of coaching experience with at least 25 clients.
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC). Two hundred hours of coach-specific training required, 2,500 hours of coaching practice and the possession of a PCC credential.

What’s Going On in California?

According to, California life coaches made an income comparable to that of life coaches across the U.S. in 2019. The website reports that California life coaches earned an average annual income of $64,861 while those in other states earned an average of $65,271 annually.

In a world where mental health and personal well-being are becoming more valued, life coaches can expect to see growing business in the future. California’s large population of health-conscious people definitely make it a good state to find work in the field.

Choosing a Place to Get Started

If you’re looking for the best place to practice as a life coach in California, remember that larger cities will allow you to attract more clients. Where can you make the most money? reported that in 2019, the median income for life coaches in Los Angeles was $61.04 per hour. In San Diego, the median was lower, at $45 per hour, and Fresno life coaches pulled in a median of only $29.36 per hour. It looks like location matters regarding your earning potential, but experience is also a big part of the picture. The more experience and credentials you gain as a life coach, the more money you’ll be able to earn wherever you choose.