How to become a life coach

Authored by Hiscox Experts.
6 min read

The life coaching industry is a serious business, with an estimated 71,000 coaches worldwide, according to the 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study[1]. But what exactly does the job entail and what are the key life coach skills to consider? Read our guide on how to become a life coach to find out all you need to know.

What are the routes to becoming a life coach?

There are several avenues you can take if you’re considering a life coach career. The government-run National Careers Service (external link) outlines the main options across higher education, professional training and workplace learning for life coach training[2]:

  • Get a university qualification. You could get your undergraduate degree in psychology, for example, and go on to apply for a postgraduate coaching qualification
  • Take a professional course. You can usually find these through professional coaching bodies. These could also help you gain access to certain college courses and provide you with a coaching membership
  • Apply for an apprenticeship. You can apply for an apprenticeship any time after your GCSEs. They are usually a mix of practical work and educational study.

What do life coaches do?

The National Careers Service says the role of a life coach is all about ‘supporting people to make informed decisions[3]’ in their home or working lives. Careers site Prospects (external link), meanwhile, explains that a career as a life coach is about helping clients ‘identify their personal strengths and areas for development’[4]. But how does this translate to your day-to-day role?

As a life coach, you will:

  • Talk to clients. Your day-to-day will often involve being in contact with many people. Much of your time will be spent talking to your clients. Whether that’s coaching people face to face, over the phone, or on a video call
  • Ask questions. When talking with your clients, you’ll likely ask them questions – using techniques learned in your life coach training – to help establish any problems they’re experiencing or goals they want to achieve
  • Help find solutions. By listening to your clients talk about their values and beliefs, you can steer them towards finding their own solutions to these challenges, say experts at the National Careers Service
  • Keep clients motivated. Another everyday task is helping your clients to stay motivated. This is especially important when any setbacks hit. When such barriers appear, you can try to help them overcome these
  • Maintain client records. Besides coaching, you will also keep records of your clients and coaching sessions. You’ll need to keep an organised (and secure) record and stay up to date with GDPR law.

What makes a successful life coach?

We’ve compiled some top life coach skills, from careers professionals to life coaching experts, to help show what makes a good life coach.

These include:   

  • Listening skills and empathy. Careers site Prospects[5] says you should have ‘excellent listening and observational skills’ as well as the ability to empathise with your client’s situation without showing judgement
  • The ability to build rapport. In a post for LinkedIn Pulse (external link), Mayur Gupta, founder of Career Accelerator, says building rapport by ‘matching’ your client’s movement, posture, or voice is a key ability
  • Being sensitive to people’s reactions. The National Careers Service says key life coach skills include being able to understand how your client is reacting to the situation when you’re in a session
  • Understanding of theory. Dr Patrick Williams (external link), of the Institute for Life Coach Training, cites the importance of understanding the theory of life coaching. For example, the role of behavioural and humanistic psychology (external link) in life coaching[6].

What qualifications do I need to become a life coach?

There are no specific requirements to become a life coach as it is not a regulated industry (external link)[7], but there are various life coach qualifications you can take. These apprenticeships, college courses and university qualifications will all have their own entry requirements.

  • Apprenticeships. The entry requirements for apprenticeships (external link) vary depending on the level, but they’ll usually require GCSEs in English and Maths[8] and even A-Levels in some cases
  • Colleges. There are no specific entry requirements for college coaching courses. However, you may be more likely to be selected if you already have a coaching qualification or a coaching organisation membership
  • Universities. An undergraduate degree will require you to have specific GCSEs and A-Levels (or equivalent), while a postgraduate degree, or postgraduate award in coaching, will require a relevant undergraduate qualification
  • Coaching associations and online courses. There usually aren’t strict entry requirements for these courses. However, some may require you to be an association member (external link)[9], which may have individual requirements.

Professional courses for life coach training

As well as taking an academic route through university to begin your career as a life coach, you can also consider training from a professional organisation, such as an official industry body.

These include:

How long does it take to train as a life coach?

The length of time life coach training takes depends on the qualifications and training courses you choose. For example, if you decide to go through university, this will take between three and seven years[10][11], depending on course choices. Meanwhile, an apprenticeship can take around 14 months[12]. This doesn’t account for any extra professional training and accreditation, which you might decide to do alongside your study.

Do I need DBS checks to become a life coach?

Some of your clients may be classed as vulnerable adults and you may even work with people under 18. If this is the case, by law, you will need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate (external link)

Tips for starting your career as a life coach

Seek work experience

Even if you have relevant qualifications, gaining work experience as part of your life coach training helps illustrate your capabilities further and prepares you for the ‘real-life’ responsibilities and challenges you could face as a coach.

Begin to freelance alongside work

As you work towards becoming a life coach, you may need to maintain a steadier salary while you build your business. For a while, you might see life coaching as a ‘side hustle’ as you grow your client list.

Join a professional body

While you do not need qualifications to become a life coach, some training associations require you to be a professional training body member before you begin. Being a member of such an organisation also helps boost your credentials in an occupation that isn’t as regulated as others.

Do I need insurance to become a life coach?

If you decide to set up on your own as a life coach, you may choose to take out business insurance. One example you could consider is the Hiscox life coach insurance policy.


[1] (external link)

[2] (external link)

[3] (external link)

[4] (external link)

[5] (external link)

[6] (external link)

[7] (external link)

[8] (external link)

[9] (external link)

[10] (external link)

[11] (external link)

[12] (external link)

At Hiscox, we want to help your small business thrive. Our blog has many articles you may find relevant and useful as your business grows. But these articles aren’t professional advice. So, to find out more on a subject we cover here, please seek professional assistance.

Hiscox Experts

The Hiscox Experts are leaders valued for their experience within the insurance industry. Their specialisms include areas such as professional indemnity and public liability, across industries including media, technology, and broader professional services. All content authored by the Hiscox Experts is in line with our editorial guidelines.