Be a coach


Over the last 20 years, coaching has become a robust activity where both companies and individuals are engaging coaches for a variety of reasons. For retirees it can be a great way to leverage your career and life experience in helping others achieve their goals. It offers great flexibility and can be quite lucrative. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. As a professional coach, you will have an opportunity to create positive change and achieve extraordinary results with your clients. Whether you have decided to be a coach, or are considering it, the information on these pages will provide you with clarity and direction.

Am I right for this?

10 yes/no questions to help you determine if this is a good direction for you

Do I have the financial resources to invest in a coaching certification?

Am I willing to make the time and effort to go through a rigorous coaching certification curriculum?

Do I find that people tend to come to me and share things they may not typically talk about with others?

Have I had a role during my career for which mentoring was a part of my activities?

Am I interested in building relationships and working with others to help them reach their own potential?

Do I like to connect with people in a meaningful way?

Am I comfortable transferring my life experiences into value for others?

Am I a good listener?

Do I like or am I good at marketing and selling myself?

Am I self-directed?

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If your answer is “yes” to 6 or more questions, this is probably a good direction to pursue.

Coaching specialties

  • Leadership
  • Life transition
  • General performance
  • Career
  • Relationship
  • Women’s empowerment
  • Small business
  • Sales
  • Marketing  
  • Health and fitness  
  • Wellness  
  • Money  
  • Spirituality or life purpose
  • Retirement transition
  • ADHD

Ways to promote and build your coaching business

  • Personal network
  • Advertising
  • Social media
  • Website
  • Email campaigns
  • Search engines
  • Partnerships
  • Webinars

Traits of coaches

  • Objective
  • Supportive
  • Self-aware
  • Open to learning
  • Non-judgmental
  • Listening
  • Flexible

Top coaching and certification organizations

  • International Coach Federation (ICF)
  • International Authority for Professional Coaching and Mentoring (IAPC&M)
  • Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE)
  • International Association of Coaching (IAC)
  • Association for Coaching


Here are questions and answers that address common issues and concerns for those interested in becoming a coach.


How do I find a coaching certification program?


To ensure quality training, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) accredits coach training programs that meet the high standards set forth by ICF and ICF Coach Training. The search for a program is a highly individual process that depends on your preferences and goals. To find ICF-accredited training programs, use the Education Search Service (ESS) in the resources section at the end of this information. The ESS is designed to give you basic information about all ICF-accredited training programs.


What is the market outlook for new coaches?


According to the ICF, there are more than 71,000 coach practitioners worldwide. In 2015, that number stood at 56,100. That's a whopping double digit increase in coach practitioners over the past five years. Coaching is a multi-billion-dollar industry and demand for services is on a decidedly upward trajectory. With corporations spending more than $1B annually on executive coaching in the U.S., it’s clear that being a coach can be a lucrative post-retirement activity.


How important is it to be certified as a coach?


Certification demonstrates that you’ve studied your craft through a reputable organization, and that you are working from an evidence-based body of knowledge. Clients expect coaches to be certified or credentialed. Additionally, almost three in four coach practitioners (74%) said they currently hold a credential or certification from a professional coaching organization, up from 70% in 2016. Nearly all coach practitioners (99%) report that they have completed some coach-specific training. Increasingly, that is through programs accredited/approved by a professional coaching organization.


How much does it cost to get certified as a coach?


The cost of coach certification programs varies. Roughly, it can be between $3,000 and $12,000. It depends on which program you connect with the most and which one you feel will provide you with the best credential and skills. A good rule of thumb is to ask for a syllabus so you can see exactly what you will be learning, talk to others who’ve been through a given program, and do your due diligence around each certifying entity.


How much do coaches charge and how much can they make?


No one can guarantee a specific income or client volume. Income is a direct function of how much you want to work. The average rate for coaches is about $425 per hour but can range anywhere from $150/hour to $600-plus. Coaching rates are tied most directly to your specialty and years of experience. Personal reputation and market demand for what you are offering can also play a big role.


How many hours per week do coaches work and how is their time allocated?


According to the ICF, the average coach delivers 12 hours of direct client services each week. Beyond that, they spend their time doing marketing, handling business and administrative tasks, and managing other services they offer. As your coaching practice and reputation grows, these ratios may shift into less marketing and more client hours. But you’ll always need a dedicated amount of time promoting and marketing your practice.


Do coaches just coach or are there other dimensions to the work?


Many coaches do something in addition to direct one-on-one coaching. Most of these are closely related and supportive of their coaching business. These ancillary activities include:

  • Group programs: Bringing groups together who are seeking a similar outcome. An effective means for scaling your practice, while building a community.
  • Podcasts and public speaking: An effective way to deliver content, grow an audience, and enhance your market presence.
  • Membership: Offer practical tools, guidance and resources. Members may subscribe monthly or annually to gain access to your unique training, materials and content.
  • Workshops and retreats: Facilitate experiential coaching in group settings.
  • Publishing: Harness your writing skills to build your practice. From blog posts to articles to books, there is always an appetite for fresh and meaningful content.

Option Evaluator

Assess this option against the following eight criteria:

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Additional resources

Next steps:

Step 1

Determine if it makes sense for you to become a coach, based on the “Is this Right for Me” section.

Step 2

Consider if coaching is a good path for you.

Step 3

Select a certification organization and get certified.

Step 4

Determine your coaching niche and coaching delivery model.

Step 5

Define your marketing approach.

Step 6

Build and reach out to your network and start to promote your practice.

Step 7

Create an online presence via a website and social media.

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Get started

Talk to an expert. Explore the options. Dig a little deeper. See if this is right for you.