The Top 7 Life Coach Certification Programs

Working as a life Coach

A life coach is a wellness professional who works with their clients regularly to help them navigate personal and professional roadblocks that may come up in their lives. A life coach can help people highlight their goals and identify their unique skills and abilities to overcome obstacles that may prevent them from achieving success.

To succeed as a life coach, you need to be personable and maintain a positive attitude to attract and instill confidence in your clients. It would be best if you were empathetic in order to connect as well as have a sense of humor and endless patience when dealing with potentially frustrating situations. Many life coaches can set their own hours, but you should realize that many clients will want to work with you outside of the typical 9-5 workday.

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A life coach can potentially find work anywhere in the world. Whether you would prefer to live in a rural or urban environment, you should be able to find clients.

If helping others succeed in their lives, be it business or personal, is attractive to you, working as a life coach may be a good fit.


Technically anyone can call themselves a life coach. There are no regulations requiring life coaches to become certified, but getting your certification will go a long way to earning the trust of your clients and building a successful business. Many life coaching organizations offer their own certifications, but the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has become widely recognized as the standard for certification of life coaches in the United States. One of the main reasons for this is their requirement of all candidates to complete a certain number of hours of live coaching under the supervision of a mentor coach. Attending a program accredited with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) allows you to apply for ICF certification once you have completed the program.

There are three levels of ICF accreditations that you can apply for once you’ve completed an approved program:

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

Becoming certified does more than simply add an acronym to you name, it connects you to a wide network of colleagues and resources.  

What to Look for in a Program

The list of available coaching programs is quite extensive, and it can feel like an especially daunting task to choose the right one. When looking at programs, the following criteria should help you make your choice.

  • ICF Accredited – As mentioned becoming certified with the ICF is the standard among most Life Coaches. The ICF requires that accredited programs meet a certain level of teaching so you’ll also feel confident that you are attending a quality program.
  • Length of Program – Shorter programs are not necessarily a bad thing as many people want to get their businesses up and running as quickly as possible. Still, shorter programs may try to pack too much information into a short period of time, or leave out critical information. Make sure to look at the amount of coursework vs. the length of the program to make sure that it will work with your schedule and study style.
  • Coach Training Hours – Many programs will require you to perform a certain number of hours spent practicing coaching others under supervision. The more hours spent practicing, the better prepared you will be to start coaching independently. These hours are listed as continuing coach education hours (CCE).
  • Business Training – Beyond coaching your clients, a life coach needs to understand how to run a business successfully. This includes managing your finances and learning to market your business to attract new clients.
  • Price – The price point is more a personal preference when choosing a program. It may seem that a more expensive program should provide more quality learning, but that is not always the case. It would be best if you also made sure that the course cost aligns with your budget so that you don’t start your career under a heavy debt load. Keep in mind that many programs offer payment plans, so if you have your heart set on a more expensive program, the organization will most likely work with you to figure out a plan.

Top 7 Programs

If by now you’ve decided that you want to become certified, the first step you’ll need to take is to complete a program that is accredited with the ICF. The list of accredited programs is still relatively large so even with that condition in place, it can still be an overwhelming decision to make. To help you with your choice, all of the programs listed below are accredited and have taken the above list of criteria into account

  1. Coach Training Alliance – 2020 recipient of the Global Excellence Award – Best Life Coach Training and Certification Provider – USA

Program Overview: An intensive online program with self-paced options that focuses on building skills in the following three areas: coaching, marketing and business, thereby giving students the knowledge to set up their business, create a website and market their services.

Students of the CTA program benefit from free website server hosting, one to two hours of live online sessions and access to a private Facebook group and forums for community support. All program faculty are practicing life coaches and the organization has been in business for over 20 years.

Students are required to perform 50 hours of continuing coach education hours.

Duration: The program takes six months to complete and requires five hours of organized study per week over a 22 week period. In addition to the five hours, students are expected to complete two hours of independent study.

Cost: The program costs about $3,497. Payment plans are available but will increase the cost a little bit.

Program Overview: A comprehensive program that offers students the chance to obtain the following three IPEC certifications upon completion: Certified Professional Coach, Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner and certification in COR.E Dynamics. Overall, students receive 320 hours of coach training and access a vast online library of tools and resources.

Aside from the live modules, all course material is completed via webinars, e-workbooks and self-study. The program is designed to be as flexible as possible for those with other work-life responsibilities.

Students are required to perform 64 continuing coach education hours.

Duration: The program consists of three modules spread out over a 10 to 12 month period. Each module runs for three full days and can be attended in person or online. In between modules, students complete five hours of online course work per week.

Cost: The program costs about $11,950 and payment plans are available.

Program Overview: This program offers students a completely self-paced curriculum that can be accessed 24/7. Students are taught a blend of Neuro-linguistic programming, ICF coaching competencies and Inner Dynamic Parts Work. Students receive two certifications upon completion, NLP’s Certified Life Coach and Master Practitioner. Students have access to a private Facebook group for networking and support and have unlimited access to training live sessions after graduation.

The NLP Center offers multiple specialized tracks, including but not limited to mental health coach, spiritual leader coach and life purpose coach. All tracks include modules on business and marketing skill-building.

Students are required to perform 60 hours of continuing coach education hours.

Duration: Most students complete the program within six to eight months but the course can be taken completely at their own pace.

Cost: The program costs $2,400 and payment plans are available.

Program Overview: Students build a strong foundation of coaching skills through a number of programs that are offered online through live instruction that can be taken at your own pace. The program is broken into phases. Phase one: Core Essentials and Phase two: Professional Essentials. Phase one graduates are eligible to apply for their Associates Credentialed Coach (ACC) and Phase two graduates are eligible to apply for their Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC) designation.

Students have access to a massive library of online resources. They can access course materials up to six months after graduation.

Students are required to perform 20 continuing coach education hours.

Duration: The program must be completed within 15 months, but most students finish in about six to twelve months. Six-day intensive programs are also available.

Cost: Phase one and two each cost $4,495. The fast track program for phase one costs $5,495. Payment plans are available but all fees must be paid in full before the commencement of the course.

Program Overview: A flexible program that offers students the opportunity to study online in small groups of no more than ten students. Two course options are available, but only the advanced certification track is certified by the ICF. The institute employs a step-by-step coaching method that they have been using since 1984. Students have access to one-on-one support outside of the classroom from certified coaches.

The organization provides students access to a “business in a box” resource package and lifetime marketing support through the institute’s alumni association and private Facebook group.

Students are required to perform at least ten continuing coach education hours depending on their chosen course

Duration: Students can choose from three different study duration options: A five-day intensive (occasionally given in person), or three and six-month online options.

Cost: The program costs $2,500, and payment options can be discussed.

Program Overview: This course is more rigid than others on this list but offers an exceedingly comprehensive program of a combination of theoretical and experiential learning for those looking for a more traditional college-like experience. The course is split into four modules, Foundations, Core Competencies, Coaching Skills and Coaching Ethics. Students must pass an exam to complete each module.

Students looking to specialize in a particular area of life coaching have access to elective courses at no extra cost but they do not count towards the base course.

Students are required to perform 130 continuing coach education hours.

Duration: On average,the program takes between 18 to 24 months to complete. There is a certain amount of flexibility in the length of time students have to complete the program but they are expected to complete four-five hours per week of training.

Cost: This program will run students approximately $7,700. There are no payment plans available, but students can pay for each module separately.

Program Overview: Students can choose from two programs on offer, the Erickson Coach Qualification and the Erickson Coach Diploma. Each program offers students the opportunity to participate in group and individual mentoring. Students must commit to at least five to nine hours per week, dependent on their chosen program schedule. Courses can be attended online or in-person in nine locations across the UK, Canada and the US

ECI has been in business for over 40 years and offers its students access to an international professional network.

Students are required to perform ten continuing coach education hours.


Coach qualification program: one time weekly takes six to seven months, two times weekly takes five to six months                   

Coach diploma program: one time weekly takes eleven to sixteen months, two times weekly takes six to twelve months

Cost: Coach Qualification: $5,250, Coach Diploma: $10,050. There are multiple payment plans available to students.

Choosing a program is ultimately a personal choice that takes into account your career goals, schedule and budget. The above programs are listed by multiple sources as quality programs, but it is not an exhaustive list. It would be best to research to find the best program to suit your needs.