Can I Become a Life Coach without a Certification?

Life coaching can be a rewarding career. Coaches provide guidance, motivation, and empowerment. As a coach, you will help people set and meet goals to improve their lives. If you’re looking for a meaningful career that doesn’t require a college degree, this could be it. There is, of course, the question of certification. While certification is not a requirement for working in this career, it is strongly recommended.

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What Are the Requirements for Being a Life Coach?

This is not a regulated industry. There are no official or legal requirements for education, training, or credentials for someone starting relatively recently in this career. Technically, you can call yourself a life coach and begin working with clients immediately.

What Are the Benefits of Certification?

While you don’t have to get certified to work as a life coach, there are many good reasons to achieve a credential:

  • Certification requires taking some courses to teach you how to be a coach. Education gives you the skills needed to succeed and help your clients. You don’t need a degree, but taking some classes is beneficial to your career.
  • A credential establishes you as an expert in this industry. It is a sign that you have trained as a coach and know what you’re doing.
  • Clients are more likely to hire coaches with certification. When faced with a certified and an uncertified coach, that credential is often the deciding factor.
  • Certification makes you a lifelong learner. To maintain it, you must take continuing education credits to stay updated on the industry.
  • Certification connects you to other professionals for learning, mentoring, and networking.

How Do I Get Certified as a Life Coach?

The most widely recognized and most respected credentialing agency for life coaches is the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The ICF offers three levels of certification: Associate, Professional, and Master Certified Coaches (ACC, PCC, MCC).

The ICF allows for a few different pathways to get certified. Still, the most common is by starting with accredited coursework. For instance, to get the first level of credential, ACC, you need 60 hours of training. You can find ICF-approved schools and courses with a search tool. Many of these offer virtual programming, so you can still meet requirements if you can’t find a school in your area.

In addition to the training requirements, you also need work experience to get certified. Once you have 100 hours of experience, you can take the ICF test and apply for certification. You’ll begin working as a coach without certification.

What if I’m Not Ready to Get Certified?

Certification is not necessary for you to begin your career as a coach. If you’re not ready to take that step, you can start working without a credential. If you decide you’re serious about this as a career, you can then work toward certification. Here are a few things you can do to get started without a credential:

  • Find an experienced coach willing to work with you as a mentor. They may let you shadow their sessions, with client permission of course, so you can learn the trade.
  • Offer free sessions to friends and family to practice.
  • Begin networking in the industry by attending events and meeting more coaches through your mentor.
  • Set up a website and social media profiles to promote your business and reach new customers.

Although certification may not be a requirement for this as-yet unregulated industry, it is important for professionalism. Consider working toward certification by taking classes or learning from an experienced coach. If you plan on making life coaching a future career, earning a credential elevates your credibility and earning potential.