The 7 Best Life Coach Certification Programs of 2021

Help others live their best lives

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products, and articles are reviewed by healthcare professionals for medical accuracy. You can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Life coaches help people identify goals, assist with lifestyle changes, and provide encouragement along the way. To get started in this career, you need to find a reputable life coach certification program that provides the necessary education and tools to earn a life coach certificate. The good news is several programs offer both online and in-person training. 

The best life coach certification programs will offer a well-rounded curriculum that covers the ins and outs of life coaching. Some may provide training in specialized areas such as business coaching or health and wellness coaching. They’re also accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Here, we explain the pros and cons of different life coach certification programs, factors to consider before signing up, and go over some frequently asked questions.

Best Overall : Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching


Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching

Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching

Why We Chose It

Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching is our top pick because it provides an in-depth education leading to three certifications.

Pros
  • Extensive library of tools and resources

  • Live sessions every three months

  • Earn three credentials through one certification program

  • ICF accredited

Cons
  • More expensive than other certification programs

  • Takes several months to complete

  • Not self-paced

The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) offers one of the most comprehensive life coaching certifications available: This International Coaching Federation-accredited life coaching program offers a three-day live seminar either virtually or in-person at selection locations, a workshop series, and nearly 320 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 10 to 12 months, and the full program cost is $11,950. When you finish the coursework, you'll receive the CPC credential.

Best Intensive : Institute for Life Coach Training Professional Certification


Institute for Life Coach Training

Institute for Life Coach Training

Why We Chose It

The Institute for Life Coach Training made it onto our list for its comprehensive program that takes students about 18 to 24 months to complete.

Pros
  • Most comprehensive and intensive coaching program

  • Elective courses at no extra cost

  • Teaches about the business side of coaching

  • ICF approved

Cons
  • Requires a commitment of four to five hours per week

  • More expensive than other programs

  • Takes 18 to 24 months to complete

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 Professional Certified Coach program from the Institute for Life Coach Training (ILCT). This program is an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

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. Additionally, the course requires 500 hours of coaching experience.

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 Professional Certified Coach program 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 Health-Focused : Health Coach Institute Dual Life and Health Coaching Certification


Health Coach Institute

Health Coach Institute

Why We Chose It

The Health Coach Institute earned the best health-focused certification since it brings two certifications -- health coach and life coach -- into one program.

Pros
  • Dual life and health coach certification

  • Focus on nutrition, personal growth, habit change, and business education

  • ICF accredited

Cons
  • No in-person classes or training

  • Payment plan is significantly more expensive than upfront payment

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 a 100% online program. 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 months. You'll earn the ICF-accredited titles of Certified Health and Life Coach. Get in touch with a program representative to learn more about this program. It costs $4,450 when paid upfront and $7,176 when paid over 24 months.

Best for a Career Change : Coach U Core Essentials Program


CoachU

CoachU

Why We Chose It

The Coach U Core Essentials offers a completely virtual, 77-hour program designed to teach you coaching skills, deepen your personal foundation, and learn practical practice development skills.

Pros
  • Self-paced program that typically takes 6 months

  • Offered as distance learning or in-person

  • Can take week-long intensive workshop

  • ICF approved

Cons
  • Does not offer business courses

  • Minimal continuing coach education hours

  • Not as much support as other programs

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

The Coach U 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 Coach U Core Essentials program in particular is entirely virtual via live online courses and only requires 77 hours of coaching education to complete.

Since the class length is limited, the Coach U 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 Coach U 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 $3,995 in tuition.

Best for Personal Development : Life Purpose Life Coach Certification


Udemy

Udemy

Why We Chose It

The Udemy Life Purpose Coach certification is an introductory class that allows you to add niche coaching focused on life purpose to your coaching business.

Pros
  • Costs under roughly $200

  • Often on sale for under about $50

  • Can be completed in one day

Cons
  • Focuses more on finding your life purpose than on coaching

  • Leads to a life purpose coach certification not in-depth life coach certification

  • Not accredited by a recognized certifying body

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 costs $169.99, but like most Udemy courses is frequently on sale for a small fraction of that price. You'll get more than seven hours of on-demand video with lifetime access and earn a life coach certification from Transformation Services.

Best Advanced : Integrative Wellness Academy Master Life Coaching Program


Integrative Wellness Academy

Integrative Wellness Academy

Why We Chose It

Integrative Wellness Academy offers a Master Integrative Life Coaching certificate to help current life coaches take their coaching practice to the next level.

Pros
  • Advanced level master certification

  • Teaches high-level coaching techniques

  • Covers life coaching, career and finance, relationship and family, self development and spiritual

Cons
  • Must have life coach certification

  • Requires learning about all five distinct areas

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 $2,499, covers five distinct areas: integrative life coaching, relationship and family coaching, career and finance coaching, health coaching, and self development 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 person or 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, the industry is unregulated. You are not required to take an accredited program to be a coach. Furthermore, accreditation for coaching programs doesn’t necessarily hold the same weight as it does for universities and other professional schools, 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

Why We Chose It

You can earn a certificate in three days with the Certified Life Coach Institute.

Pros
  • Short completion time

  • More affordable compared to other programs

  • International Coach Federation (ICF) approved

Cons
  • Not in-depth like other certifications

  • Must complete level one and two to join ICF

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 $995. Expect three full days of high quality information and training.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn the ICF Core Competencies of being a life coach, strategies to help establish and grow your business, 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.

Final Verdict

The life coach certifications on this list are all recognized by experts in the industry. That said, some are considered more rigorous than others. For example, the Institute for Life Coach Training Professional Certification  is one of the most intensive coaching certifications in the industry. With an average  completion time of 18 to 24 months, students know the commitment upfront and are willing to put the time in to pass the test. That’s because holding a credential from this organization can lead to a wide range of employment and career opportunities. But if you’re looking for a certification program with a shorter completion timeline, consider the Certified Life Coach Institute’s certification. Overall, there are many reputable life coach programs that prepare students to work with clients. All of the certifications on this list teach relationship-building skills, communication techniques, and other coaching skills.

Compare The Best Life Coach Certification Programs

Best Online Self-Defense Classes Cost  Length of Program  Speciality/Focus 
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching
Best Overall
Costs about $11,950 10 to 12 months Earn three certificates through one program
Institute for Life Coach Training Professional Certification
Best Intensive
Tuition is around $7,700  18 to 24 months  Comprehensive coaching program, prep for a master coaching certification 
Health Coach Institute Dual Life and Health Coaching Certification
Best Health-Focused 
Costs $4,450 paid up front or about $7,200 when paid over 24 months  About 6 months  Dual life and health coach certification, entirely virtual  
CoachU Core Essentials Program
Best for a Career Change
Tuition varies based on forma, distance learning is about $4,000  About 6 months  Designed for working individuals, entirely virtual 
Life Purpose Life Coach Certification
Best for Personal Development
Costs around $170  7 hours of video  Condensed course to help find your purpose 
Integrative Wellness Academy Master Life Coaching Program
Best Advanced
Program costs about $2,500  Self-paced  Master life coach certification
Certified Life Coach Institute Life Coach Certification
Best Quick
Tuition costs around $1,000  3 days of immersive education  Quick certification, core competencies of being a life coach 

FAQs

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.

Financial aid is available for a select few life coaching certification programs. The programs that do not offer scholarships or aid, often have a payment plan or financing that allows you to register and take the course, but pay the tuition in installments. The life coach certification programs on this list that offer a payment plan or financing include:

  • Certified Life Coach Institute
  • Institute for Life Coach Training (interest-free payment plans)
  • Integrative Wellness Academy 
  • Health Coach Institute 
  • Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching

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.

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.

Was this page helpful?