How to Become a Coach (2022 Guide)

In this article, we cover everything you need to know about how to become a coach and create a long-lasting career in the field, from the skills you need to succeed, training options for coaches, and how to know if this is the right career choice for you.

If you’re considering retraining to become a coach with the goal of using your skills to bring about positive changes in the lives of others, then you’re in the right place.  In this article, we cover everything you need to know to launch a successful and long lasting career in the field, from the skills you need to succeed, training options for coaches, and how to know if this is the right career choice for you. We’ll also be diving deep into multidimensional coaching, and how this holistic approach can provide significantly more value to your clients and future proof your career to boot. 

Ready to learn more? Then let’s get started.

What does it mean to be a coach?

Being a coach is about using proven experience and wisdom to support a client with hands-on guidance, advice, training, and exercises to help them achieve a specific personal or professional goal. The role of the coach is to facilitate learning, and to be the client’s go-to person for simplifying processes which enable the client to more easily and directly achieve their goals. 

They do this by: 

  • Providing tailored learning experiences which meet the needs of the individual client
  • Work closely one-to-one (rather than in groups) 
  • Work side-by-side, offering advice and guidance while the individual works to solve a problem 
  • Performing the role of a guide and ally (rather than teacher or instructor) that leads a client from one level of expertise or competency to the next 
  • Providing practical application of advice or techniques within the workplace environment
  • Analyzing and critiquing a client’s personal or professional weaknesses and strengths based on their time together and what’s happened in the past 
Business coach during a coaching session in a board room

How do you know if you're cut out to be a coach?

It can often be hard to ascertain your compatibility for a new role or career before you’ve had experience in the position itself. However, there are some steps you can take to determine if coaching is a good fit for your personality and background. Before jumping straight into learning how to coach, consider doing the following: 

  • Do your research into the role (reading articles like this will help!)
  • Speak to a coach about their experiences 
  • Speak to someone who has used a coach to help them 
  • Offer to shadow a coach for a day 
  • Figure out your 4 P’s – passion, personality, preferences (for work pace, type of work, work environment, etc.), and principles and see how they match to a career in coaching
  • Volunteer in a similar role 
  • Think about what you’re good at, what the market needs, and what you enjoy doing–coaching should be a combination of all three 
  • Draw up a list of your strengths and skills–do they match up with the attributes needed to coach? 
A business owner having a meeting with a business coach

What skills do you need to be a coach? 

While we all know that a desire to work with people and excellent communication skills will be essential in a coaching career, let’s take a look at some of the other specific skills, talents, and experiences you’ll need to excel in this role. 

Facilitation skills 

Facilitation skills such as objectivity, organization, and understanding the best ways to define and meet goals are all essential to a coaching career. While a coach works primarily with individuals and a facilitator with teams, the fundamental process is similar: asking the right questions and providing guidance which enable another person to solve a challenge or reach a specific goal. Keeping personal preferences and biases out of the picture, defining what success looks like for that person,and managing activities, sessions and timelines, are all requirements of both successful facilitators and coaches. 

We’ve spent years mastering the art of facilitation. Here are our top 5 tips.

Empathy 

The ability to relate to another person’s challenge and understand why it’s important to them is hugely beneficial in the coaching profession. Empathy also enables us to connect on a deeper level with our clients, see the problem from their point of view, and understand their approach so far (even if it’s different to our own). Empathy also helps to build trust between a coach and their client. 

Active listening skills

As a coach, active listening will be fundamental to your daily practice. Active listening differs from listening in that those who actively listen use eye-contact and body language which demonstrates their focus on the person they are in conversation with. Active listening is hugely valuable in the coach-client relationship as the coach is able to recognize nonverbal cues to fully grasp what the client is trying to express as well as the emotion behind it. This gives them a much fuller picture of the reasons behind what is being said than when nonverbal cues are not taken into account. Active listening also helps to build trust between the client and coach, as the client feels fully heard and seen and that their concerns or fears are being taken seriously. 

Diplomacy

Coaches work with people from all walks of life and with every kind of personal and professional background. What this inevitably means is that there will be times when a client approaches a problem in such a way that differs from what the coach would recommend. Managing a client’s expectations and opinions on the client-coach relationship, and guiding them towards an optimal result in such a way that might differ from their own process takes diplomacy, experience, and confidence. 

Assertiveness 

A sense of your purpose and confidence in yourself to bring about the best results for your client will be necessary to succeed as a coach. You’ll need to be clear about how you think the client should move forward and be able to clearly and assertively explain why that is (and why you’re an expert at this). Assertiveness and confidence will take time to build, and it can be easy to doubt yourself, especially in the beginning, but believing in your process and your skills at helping the client will transform your practice and instill trust in your clients in what you’re doing. 

Business coach sitting at this desk during an online call

What are the requirements to become a coach?

Generally speaking, there’s no specific training or education necessary for launching a coaching career although some locations may request that you obtain a certificate or license to begin coaching. Despite the lack of mandatory training required to start, the majority of successful coaches will cite a thorough education in the field for enabling a lasting career. As well as teaching you the knowledge and skills needed to coach, accreditation also boosts client confidence in your abilities, demonstrates your high professional standards, showcases a commitment to a strong code of ethics, and shows your dedication to your industry. 

We’ll be providing a comprehensive list of courses and tools that you can use to onboard the skills you need to become a coach later in this post, however, if you have a background in teaching, mentoring, organizational development, human resources, facilitation, counseling, psychology, or career development you are likely to be a very good fit for this career choice. 

A small business owner working on her laptop

How do you become a multidimensional coach? 

A one dimensional coach is a coach who typically has just one model, process, or idea about how to help their client solve a problem. They may have chosen this model because it made a big difference to them personally, or they saw it make a big difference to one particular client. 

However there are a few problems with one dimensional coaching: 

  • One model doesn’t fit every client or every problem
  • Clients pick up quickly on what the model is and feel they no longer need a coach 
  • It’s hard for one dimensional coaches to know whether or not the coaching they’re delivering is really making a difference 
  • Clients only stay for a few months 

A multidimensional approach sees a coach shift and adapt their process for each client’s situation and challenges, adopting a whole worldview that they can teach clients and use to coach them through multiple challenges both personal and professional. Rather than focusing on one niche, a multidimensional coach is a full-stack coach who is able to use their skills for multiple scenarios and adapt as challenges shift and change. 

The benefits of a multidimensional approach are: 

  • Clients stay longer as they see benefits in multiple areas
  • Clients request coaching for multiple issues 
  • The coach starts to expand within their client’s world, from helping them understand who they are as people, to navigating new challenges
  • Clients can trust the coach with both personal and professional challenges 

In this interview with coach Bryan Franklin, he explains the WISC system which enables a one dimensional coach to become a multidimensional coach. Instead of a one size fits all solution for coaching, the WISC system promotes deep understanding of a client’s motivations, specific actions to get results, implementing supportive and appropriate external systems, and creating a culture which promotes a system of rewards and consequences during collaborations. The more the WISC system is put into practice, the more multidimensional a coach’s work becomes and the more ways a coach can help their client in different aspects of their work and lives. 

Did you know you can charge a 4-figure day rate just by mastering a few “workshop recipes?”

Biggest misconceptions around coaching

There are many misconceptions out there about how to become a successful coach which are actually holding many individuals back from scaling their practices and transforming their clients’ experiences. Here are some of the most damaging misconceptions: 

Misconception 1: You have to find a niche to succeed 

Many people new to coaching are taught to narrow down their expertise to a very specific niche as soon as possible. Although this does help in terms of marketing your skillset and finding an audience, most coaches do not rely on marketing to find their clients. In reality, most coaches rely on word of mouth recommendations from people they’ve really managed to help. When this is the case, a niche isn’t necessary. 

Misconception 2: You have to be more successful than your clients at the thing you're coaching in order to coach them

As a coach, you are providing value by teaching change and in the development of the coach-client relationship itself. Your expertise needs to be in that, and not in the specifics of the business or industry of your client. Whatever the level of success of your client, if they are seeking your help to solve problems or create change in their organization or life, it is because they are currently not succeeding in that. That is where you as a coach come in. 

Business coach sticking a post-it note to a whiteboard during a strategy session

What training should you complete to become a coach?

As we mentioned, there are no formal credentials necessary to call yourself a coach. But an education in coaching will set you apart from your competitors, cement your skills and knowledge, establish trust with your clients, demonstrate your credibility, and prove your commitment to coaching. Here are some of the educational routes you can explore to get certification: 

An ICF credential

The only globally recognized coaching certification comes from the ICF–the International Coaching Federation. Students can choose from three different credentials, the ACC, the PCC, and the MCC. 

Associate Certified Coach (ACC) – Students complete 60 hours of coach specific education and 100 hours of client coaching

Professional Certified Coach (PCC) – Students undertake 125 hours of coach specific education and 500 hours of client coaching

Master Certified Coach (MCC) – Students who already hold a PCC Credential then complete a further 200 hours of coach specific education and 2,500 hours of client coaching 

A diploma or accredited course

Numerous higher education establishments and colleges offer both online and in-person accredited courses at either foundation or diploma level in coaching. Check out the coaching and mentoring courses from The OCM, The British School of Coaching, and the ILM

A business owner during a coaching call at his home office

Best books / free training to become a coach

Check out these free resources for learning more about coaching, improving your skills, and learning some coaching best practices. 

Top coaching books

1.) Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten

2.) Behind the Scenes: Secrets from the Top Coaches, Experts, and Consultants by Kim Walsh Phillips, et al.

3.) The Coaching Effect: What Great Leaders Do to Increase Sales, Enhance Performance, and Sustain Growth by Bill Eckstrom and Sarah Wirth

4.) 10 Steps to Successful Mentoring by Wendy Axelrod

Top coaching podcasts 

1.)  The Coaching Life Podcast

2.) The Art of Coaching Podcast 

3.)  Excellent Executive Coaching Podcast

Recommended webinar 

Bryan Franklin - Lifetime Trusted Advisor

A life coach greeting her clients on a coaching call

What makes a good coach? 

A good coach will embody all of the traits and skills we’ve discussed in this post: empathy, active listening skills, facilitation skills, diplomacy, organization, positivity, assertiveness, and confidence. A good coach will also have undertaken training, conducted their own research into the field, and built up experience with a variety of clients. 

For those looking to future-proof their coaching careers, bring more value to their clients, and promote change in more areas, it’s worth considering a multidimensional approach to coaching. A multidimensional coach will be there for the long haul, as clients realize how valuable this approach can be in their personal and professional lives, and the significant changes it can bring about. 

Although a multidimensional approach won’t be for everybody, it is a good option for those who want to up their coaching game and provide value over the longterm to their clients. 

Longtime coach, Bryan Franklin, has created a unique system for multidimensional coaches  called WISC, to bring about optimal results for clients. 

WISC stands for: 

Workable action 

Workable action is about knowing what works and what doesn’t. This is typically a set of actions which the client needs to take to get the outcomes they want from the coaching. 

Internal motivation 

Internal motivation is all about personal intentions and drive. The coach seeks to understand why someone behaves the way they do and takes the steps they take. It also involves uncovering why someone hasn’t already achieved their result. This is a crucial stage as identifying internal motivation and roadblocks is what will enable a breakthrough:  if you’re mistaken about a client’s motivations you’ll keep hitting a brick wall. 

Systems

External systems are systems which support the coach and the client to the outcomes that they want. 

Culture

Culture focuses on how it feels to work together. Multidimensional coaches create a system of rewards and consequences for all the behavior that happens during the collaboration to keep motivation levels high and to ensure accountability on all sides.  

Find out more about Bryan’s approach to coaching in his webinar

Business coach working on her computer and sitting on a white sofa

How much money does a coach make?

Salaries for coaches can vary widely depending on location, experience, training, and type of employment contract (freelance or in-house). However, to give you a general idea of how much you can earn in the field, here’s a brief rundown of average salaries for coaches in some major cities around the world. 

London: £87,478 per year (for an executive coach) 

Berlin: €60.895 per year (for a coach) 

New York: $123,892 per year (for an executive coach) 

Sydney: $218,999 per year (for a business coach) 

Lisbon: €38,100 per year (for a life coach)

Paris: €55,319 per year (for a coach) 

What are the different types of coaches? 

Although to become a successful coach you definitely do not need to specialize, there are different coaching avenues you can explore if you are looking to work with a specific client base. If however, you choose to take a multidimensional approach to coaching, you would work with all types of clients to help them achieve their goals. 

Executive coaching - an executive coach tends to work with C-level employees with an organization to increase efficiencies, draw up goals, and help with company strategy. 

Life coaching - a life coach works with an individual to help them fulfill personal goals or overcome challenges or recurring issues. 

Health coaching - a health coach helps their client reach health, diet, and wellness goals. Promoting behavioral change plays a large part in health coaching. 

Business coaching - a business coach works with clients or business owners who are looking to boost their company’s performance or reach specific targets. 

Employee coaching - an employee coach works to identify strengths and weaknesses of employees and boost the performance of teams within a business setting. 

Relationship coaching - a relationship coach works within both professional and personal relationships to improve communication and bring about conflict resolution.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our rundown on how to become a coach in 2022. Want to find out more about changing careers and learning new skills? Check out some of our other articles, below: 

What is continuous learning? The importance, benefits, and tips on how to never stop learning

Where Could a Career in Facilitation Take You? Freelance vs. In-House

The Ultimate Facilitation Training and Courses Guide

How to Make the Career Shift Into Workshopping

Rosie Allabarton