The 7 Best Life Coach Certification Programs of 2020

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching

Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching

Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching

The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) offers one of the most comprehensive life coaching certifications available: This International Coach Federation-accredited life coaching program includes a three-day, intensive live seminar and workshop series, plus nearly 400 hours of coaching education online.

You’ll earn three certifications in one—iPEC’s Certified Professional Coach (CPC) credential, along with two other credentials that can help set you apart from other life coaches. Aside from the three days of live classes, the entire course is delivered via webinars, e-workbooks, and self-study materials.

Once you complete the iPEC life coaching course, you can go on to earn additional specializations in areas such as sports performance, health and wellness, business leadership, couples coaching, and more.

This certification can take seven to nine months, and the full program cost is about $12,000. When you finish the coursework, you'll receive the CPC credential.

Best for a Career Change: CoachU Core Essentials Program

CoachU

CoachU


CoachU offers a comprehensive approach to life coaching, with the opportunity to refine your business into niche specialties.

The CoachU life coaching certification is ideal if you're considering a career change because the organization is very attuned to the fact that many life coaches work part-time around other job schedules until they can make the leap to full-time coaching. In addition, some life coaches only want their certification to implement strategies into their current job or business.

The CoachU Core Essentials program in particular is entirely virtual and only requires 77 hours of coaching education to complete.

Since the class length is limited, the CoachU Core Essentials program focuses on the essentials. You will learn all the fundamental knowledge it takes to be a successful life coach, as well as the ICF Core Coaching Competencies and the scope of practice and ethics standards for life coaches.

You can also opt for the CoachU Core Essentials Fast Track Program, which consists of six immersive, intense days of coaching education, plus pre- and post-program events. With either option, you’ll become an ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC).

This self-paced, six-month program varies in cost based on which course format you choose. For distance learning, expect to pay around $3,000 in tuition, plus the cost of books.

Best Intensive: Institute for Life Coach Training Professional Certification

Institute for Life Coach Training

Institute for Life Coach Training

If you’re looking for an extremely intensive life coaching program that will set you up for years of success and continued knowledge, look no further than the Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) from the Institute for Life Coach Training (ILCT).

Though this life coach certification program has fewer training hours (130) than some others, you’ll end up putting in much more time than that. The ILCT website specifies that most weeks require a time commitment of at least four to five hours.

This life coaching course also requires you to sign up for specific classes at specific times on certain days—the course structure is very much like a college program. It might help to think of the ACTP as an unofficial associate’s degree in life coaching: You’ll have instructors that expect you to show up to class for an attendance grade, and you’ll have to complete examinations at the end of each module with a passing score of about 70% or higher.

The Institute for Life Coach Training Professional Certification also offers seamless advancement into master coaching programs and specialty credentialing. This life coaching certification definitely isn’t the easy way out, but it’s worth it for life coaches who really care about their careers and their clients.

The program length is about 18 to 24 months, and tuition for this program is around $7,700. By the end of it, you'll earn a certification as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC).

Best for Personal Development: Life Purpose Life Coach Certification

Udemy

Udemy

It’s probably fair to guess that most people who seek a life coach certification are doing so because they want to coach other people. However, it’s often worth it to invest in a course for the sake of self-development.

If you’re looking to learn some life coaching skills and knowledge to apply to your own life, check out the Life Purpose Life Coach Certification on Udemy. This is a short, condensed course that focuses on you finding your life’s purpose. Discovering the answer to this question can spark inspiration, courage, motivation, and determination—all good qualities to have.

Plus, who knows? You might end up using this life coach certification to help others, too. This course lasts only one week and costs about $125. You'll get more than six hours of on-demand video with lifetime access and earn a life coach certification from Transformation Academy.

Best Advanced: Integrative Wellness Academy Master Life Coaching Program

Integrative Wellness Academy

Integrative Wellness Academy

If you already have a life coach certification, you can advance your career by earning a master life coach certification. In this advanced life coach training program from the Integrative Wellness Academy, you’ll build upon what you already know, apply high-level coaching techniques, and learn how to coach even the toughest clients.

The master course, which costs $2,500, covers five distinct areas: integrative life coaching, relationship and family coaching, career and finance coaching, health coaching, and spiritual coaching. You can choose one niche over the others for your final credential, but you’ll learn about all five nonetheless. You can complete the course in five days in-person or in up to six months online.

Note, that courses from the Integrative Wellness Academy are not ICF-accredited. Though ICF accreditation has become the gold standard in the coaching industry, remember that it is unregulated and that accreditation for coaching programs doesn’t necessarily hold the same weight as it does for universities and other professions, such as in the medical, mental health, and dietetics fields.

The Integrative Wellness Academy says that accreditation removes flexibility from training programs. Because the Academy is always developing new coaching techniques and educational material based on world changes, having to pass accreditation for every program alteration feels too limiting.

After completing the program, you will earn the Master Practitioner of Integrative Life Coaching Certification (MPILC).

Best Quick: Certified Life Coach Institute Life Coach Certification

Certified Life Coach Institute

Certified Life Coach Institute

For those looking to get certified quickly, the three-day life coach certification from the Certified Life Coach Institute offers about 33 hours of immersive education for around $995. You can choose from an online or in-person course, but either way, expect three full days of information and training.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn the ICF Core Competencies of being a life coach, professional coaching ethics and standards, and coaching scope of practice. You’ll also learn key coaching strategies and techniques, such as how to let your clients lead and how to listen attentively.

While you can certainly start your life coaching business with this quick certification, it’s wise to invest in longer-term training over the course of your career to ensure that you deliver a valuable service to your clients.

Best Health-Focused: Health Coach Institute Dual Life and Health Coaching Certification

Health Coach Institute

Health Coach Institute

There’s a difference between a life coach and a health coach, but the two coaching specialties overlap a great deal—after all, staying healthy plays a significant role in cultivating a happy, successful life. This self-paced dual life and health coach course from the Health Coach Institute brings the two certifications into one seamless experience, where you’ll learn the ins and outs of both professions.

The training includes four main pillars: nutrition, habit change, personal growth, and business education (so you know what to do when you graduate, right?). The course is primarily virtual, but there are two live training events each year. You'll mostly self-learn with recorded webinars, weekly mentoring sessions, online homework and activities, and hands-on training.

The course is self-paced and lasts about six to 12 months. You'll earn the ICF-accredited title of Certified Health and Life Coach (CHLC). Get in touch with a program representative to learn more about this program, and obtain the most recent tuition fee schedule.

How We Chose the Best Life Coach Certifications

There are hundreds of life coach certifications to choose from. From online-only and hybrid to completely in-person, university-based programs, there’s something out there for everyone. But to help aspiring life coaches narrow their options a bit, we did the heavy lifting to create a list of the best of the best.

We started with a list of more than 30 life coach certifications and a list of categories, such as “quick,” “intensive,” and “advanced.” Then, after reviewing the curriculum of each program, applicable accreditations, and real student reviews, we whittled down the list to what you see here.

A note on accreditation: One important thing to look for in any type of certification is a third-party accreditation. The International Coaching Federation has become the gold standard for accreditation in coaching professions, life coaching included.

However, the life coaching industry is not regulated by any governing agency, so don’t be too quick to brush off certification programs that don’t have the ICF accreditation. Do your research to determine which life coach certifications are best for your goals.

We picked one unaccredited life coach certification (the master life coaching program from the Integrative Wellness Academy) because we stand by their reasoning to withhold from accreditation.

What Is a Life Coach Certification?

A life coach certification is a document that signifies you’ve completed a life coach training program by an educational institution. Think of it like obtaining a personal training certification or a nutrition coaching certification.

A life coach certification enables you to coach others in specific areas of life (usually of the coach’s choosing), such as wellness, finances, career, and habit change.

It’s important to remember that a life coach certification is not a substitution for a health or medical license: If you want to coach and help people with a specific aspect of health, such as fitness, nutrition, or family life, be sure to seek the appropriate credential.

How Much Does a Life Coach Certification Cost?

The cost for life coach certifications varies, but you can expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The total cost depends on the length, delivery format, and intensiveness of the program you choose.

What Are the Qualifications You Need to Become a Life Coach?

There are no mandatory prerequisites to becoming a life coach. Life coaching is an unregulated industry and doesn’t require a college degree, work experience, or prior certifications. Anyone who wants to become a life coach can do so.

How Long Does It Take to Become Certified?

It can take anywhere from a few days to an entire year to become certified. The longer the program, the more equipped and confident you’ll be when it comes time to working with clients.

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