A life coaching course will enable you to confidently build your own coaching business and work with a variety of clients, giving you the knowledge and skills required to thrive in this rewarding industry. However, not all courses are created equal, so how do you know you’re choosing the coaching course that’s right for you and will give you what you need to become a successful life coach?
‘Life Coaching’ is a broad term, which can make it difficult to know whether the course you’re looking at will provide a suitable qualification and the best value for money. The process of selecting a life coach training course may leave you feeling overwhelmed or confused, but we’re here to help make it easier.
Through our years of experience in the life coaching industry, we’ve learned that choosing the right course becomes much simpler when you follow a key set of steps. This guide will take you through those steps and help you gain a clear understanding of what you’re looking for, so you can move forward with the course that’s most suitable for you, your career, and your life.
5 Tips to Help You Select the Right Life Coaching Course
1) Know Yourself
As “life coaching” as a concept varies enormously, your first step in selecting a life coaching course is to have some degree of personal insight into who you want to be as a coach.
This doesn’t mean knowing exactly what you want before you begin your coaching course — we often find that this evolves as students go through their life coach training journey — but knowing what is important to you can be incredibly helpful when trying to identify the right coaching course for you. A few questions that can be helpful to ask yourself within the early stages of research are:
How might I like to work as a professional life coach?
There are few limits as to where you can take your coaching once you’re qualified, particularly if your life coaching course is accredited (an important factor that we will look at shortly). Not everyone knows exactly what they’d like to do with coaching at the start of their journey, and that’s completely fine. Part of your journey through training and starting up is often about finding what you enjoy and identifying the kind of client you want to work with.
If you’re open to what lies ahead, a broad-based curriculum would be the way to go. This ensures you’re introduced to the core coaching skills and key approaches that would work in various contexts.
It’s worth noting that some of the more simplistic approaches to coaching (represented by a primary focus on the GROW model) are perfectly suitable for basic performance coaching sessions in the workplace. However, they rarely meet the complex needs of personal coaching or indeed clients in the workplace who would benefit from deeper work as a means to improve performance.
For the ability to coach clients at a deeper level, a more integrative and psychologically-grounded life coach course like our Accredited Diploma in Transformative Coaching is likely to be more suitable for you.
The flip side is that you may want to work in an area where there are specific requirements around accreditation and credentialing, either formally or from a reputational perspective. A classic example is coaching within organisations and corporations, which often require the coaches they hire to have been through training that has been accredited by a reputable industry or professional body. If this is the case, it’s essential to ensure that the life coach course you choose has the necessary accreditation for you to fulfil at least some of these criteria.
What’s important to me in a training environment and learning journey
Think about the best and worst learning environments you’ve been in. Each coaching school will have a distinct training style, some of which may be better suited to you. Things to consider include:
- The size of the group. Our typical group size is around 12, but we know some training organisations that have over 100 people in a room. Do you like bigger groups and the buzz and energy that comes with them, or do you prefer a more focused and personalised learning environment?
- Is the training virtual or live-classroom based? Is there is a blended approach that includes some of both? With recent shifts, many courses now deliver their training virtually, so it is worth considering if an online life coaching course is suitable for you.
- Will there be a lot of writing or private study? Is the course predominantly academic or more practical and reflective?
- Is it chalk and talk, or do you get to practise, reflect and experiment with ideas?
Thinking about what you want from your life coach training experience is vital in helping you choose the right life coaching course. At Animas, we’ve developed our course over several years and believe our more focused group sizes, unique support structure and focus on real-life practice and reflection provide a positive learning experience that embeds fundamental life coaching skills. You must decide for yourself whether these training features are right for you personally — learn more about our accredited coaching course to get a better sense of what your learning journey would look like.
What training or skills do I have already?
Are you starting life coach training from scratch, or are you looking to build on skills learned in previous training? Perhaps you already have some professional coaching experience and want to become credentialed, or you’re interested in becoming a qualified supervisor to help others become more effective coaches.
Our life coaching course is aimed at people who are new to coaching or have a basic understanding that they want to build on. If you’re already at an advanced level, perhaps what you’re looking for isn’t a core coaching course but specialist coaching skills training, which is often shorter and less expensive than a full programme.
Similarly, more and more often, we have potential students approach us who have professional training in areas such as Psychotherapy, Psychology or Counselling. Given that coaching often draws on approaches originating in other psychological interventions and utilises these from a different perspective, it’s likely that if you have a background in one of these professions, the content you learn may not be entirely new.
In this case, the main question to ask yourself is whether the investment in this course provides you with enough benefit. You may still find it helpful learning how to approach similar concepts from a different perspective, require accreditation or be particularly interested in our support network.
2) Understand accredited life coaching courses
Returning to the idea that not all coaching qualifications are created equally, another essential factor to consider is whether the course you’re looking at is professionally accredited.
In the UK, we recommend choosing a life coaching course accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the Association for Coaching (AC), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. These are the three leading professional bodies governing the self-regulated coaching profession. Any life coach training course accredited by these bodies will have gone through a rigorous quality assurance process, ensuring you receive excellent training and life coaching qualifications that will make it easier to develop your own life coaching business.
To find life coach training courses accredited by the ICF, use the organisation’s Education Search Service (ESS). Life coaching courses accredited by both the ICF, AC and EMCC are very rare, but our Accredited Diploma in Transformative Coaching is one such training programme.
3) Research Life Coaching Courses
Once you have some insight into your coaching goals and understand ICF and AC accreditation, it’s time to do your homework and look at the various life coach training courses out there. Here are some key areas to think about:
Whichever course you choose to become a life coach, it is likely to cost you a fair amount of money in the short term, but the right course will pay for itself over time. To ensure you’re getting more for your money, it’s essential that you choose wisely.
A quick online search will provide you with a bewildering amount of life coaching courses, all quoting different fees. Some courses will cost in the region of £9,000, while those focusing on distance learning may be cheaper (some being less than £500!).
No matter the cost, you’re investing a significant amount of both time and money into your life coaching qualification, so you need to do your homework and check what you’re getting for the fee. This means ensuring you have a clear understanding of what the different life coach courses cover.
If cost is a defining factor for you when selecting a coach training course, some schools such as our own will offer payment plans, allowing you to spread the cost across several months to make the commitment more comfortable for you. At Animas, we allow the cost to be spread over up to six months, depending on how far in advance you register.
Programme delivery and content
Earlier, we asked you to consider what’s important to you in your learning journey. When researching courses, be sure to prioritise these factors and find a programme that aligns with what you’re looking for. Consider group sizes, how the training will be delivered, the balance of theoretical and practical learning, and the level of support you’ll receive outside of the classroom. It’s worth bearing in mind that many courses may have pivoted to deliver their training entirely online, so you’ll need to consider whether this is a good fit for you.
All of these elements will play a big part in your enjoyment of the course, so make sure you have a good grasp of how you’ll be learning as well as the course content. Here are some things that we feel are essential when looking at a coaching course if you want to feel confident that it’ll prepare you for a successful career:
- Requires Real-Life Client Work – Coaching is something you do, not just something you know. It’s a skill that requires honing. Just as you wouldn’t expect to learn to drive merely by reading a book, you shouldn’t expect to become a coach without practising it — a lot. Be sure that any course you choose includes the need for you to actually get out there and practise with real-life clients, not just in a training environment.
- Includes Observation, Mentoring and Supervision – Following on from the above, if you want the best learning experience, you’ll want to be sure that you have the opportunity to be mentored and for your coaching practice to be observed. Ensure the course includes some form of mentoring, supervision and observed practice if you want to become a skilled coach.
- A Rigorous Qualification and Assessment Process — It can be difficult to know for sure when you’re ready to move from training into becoming a professional coach, but a thorough assessment process will help you identify when the time is right. If simply turning up to training is enough to pass, that doesn’t say great things about the quality of the coaches being produced. Be sure that the school you choose assesses you using recorded or live sessions, reflective practice, and a client log. If they’re not checking on you, then they’re not checking on anyone!
- Support and Community, Both during and after Training — Becoming a great coach is a journey and it doesn’t end as soon as your training finishes. Ask yourself how strong a course provider’s support network is, both in terms of formal support from the training organisation and additional support from current and former students.
It’s difficult to overstate how helpful a good support network can be, and this is something we’re enormously proud of at Animas. Unlike other coaching schools, we provide the opportunity to receive guidance and ideas from graduates and current coaches in training. Our unique support network is something our students consistently mention when talking about the biggest impacts on their coaching journey.
4) Speak to people
Embarking on a life coaching course — and potentially career — is a big commitment. Talking to people who have undertaken the training you’re considering will help reaffirm whether it’s right for you.
There are several different ways to do this. You could try joining an online coaching forum such as the Coaching and Mentoring Network and ask the opinions of qualified coaches or take a look at testimonials from former students on the website of your chosen training provider.
At Animas, as well as being able to speak with one of our Coach Consultants to explore your aspirations for coaching and find out anything you’d like about the course, we are also more than happy to introduce you to people who have done the training so you can hear about their experiences firsthand. Many of our graduates have gone on to become successful life coaches with thriving businesses and enjoy spending every day making a lasting impact on people’s lives.
5) Choose a Life Coaching Course That Works for You
Considering all of the above, we want to reiterate the importance of selecting a life coaching course that works for you, your lifestyle and your personal and professional goals.
The majority of people choosing to train on our course become life coaches as a secondary career, which means there are still bills to be paid and restrictions to work around.
You should choose a life coaching course that suits your specific needs and can be flexible if flexibility is something you require. At Animas, we provide the option of both weekday and weekend training, along with a mix of online and offline input, so students can learn in a way that works for them.
About the Animas Accredited Diploma in Transformational Coaching
Find out more about our course or sign up for our free virtual Introduction to Transformative Coaching event to get a taste of our ethos, values and training style. Our professional coaches will answer any questions you may have and help you figure out whether life coaching is the right path for you.