10 Best life coach certifications to launch your coaching career
By Rhonda Bradley January 18, 2024
As a life coach or aspiring life coach, you’re deeply committed to transforming lives for the better. Chances are, you go above and beyond for your clients on a daily basis.
With so much time invested in helping others, it’s easy to let your own passions slide. So how can you feed the love you have for coaching while sustaining your motivation to change lives?
A good life coaching certification program helps you develop a network of mentors, peers, and educators who support you for life.
In many cases, earning a certification means that you’re never alone on your coaching journey because you have an entire community of professionals who will support and inspire you for years to come.
Life coaching certifications also boost your credibility, often adding the added trust factor people need to commit to your coaching services.
As a result, most life coaches see their incomes rise, sometimes dramatically, after earning their certification.
If you’ve considered a life coach certification in the past but set it aside because of the cost or time investment required, it might be time to reconsider.
Many of today’s certification programs are offered as online courses, and some are self-paced. Financing and payment plans can make accredited programs more affordable. And new programs have popped up that offer affordable, or even free, life coaching certifications.
In this guide, we review ten life coaching certifications, including accredited programs, affordable online certifications, and free certifications.
Best life coaching certifications
- Do you need a certification to be a life coach?
- How to get a life coach certification
- Best life coaching certifications accredited or approved by the ICF
- Best non-accredited online life coaching certifications
- Best free life coaching certifications
Do you need a certification to be a life coach?
As demand for life coaches continues to rise, aspiring and beginner coaches may find themselves asking “Do you really need a certification to be a life coach?”
Because life coaching is not regulated, you do need a certification to start a life coaching practice. You do not need any particular training or certification to become an effective life coach who transforms lives.
However, 85% of coaching clients say that certification and credentials matter and that it’s “important or very important” that the coaches they hire have one or the other.
What are the benefits of earning a life coach certification?
Earning a life coach certification can open doors to a network of coaching professionals and positively impact your ability to guide and support clients.
Most certification programs also teach you how to market your coaching services so you can also reach your full income potential.
While certification isn’t required to work as a life coach, achieving a life coach certificate can help you earn a higher income more quickly and improve your ability to change lives for the better.
Is a life coaching certification worth the investment?
The right life coaching certification can be well worth the investment. You’ll gain skills, credibility, and communication techniques that enhance your effectiveness and income for many years to come.
How to get a life coach certification
Life coach certification programs vary widely from one program to the next. The number of hours, type of training, course requirements, and type of exam required depends on which program you choose.
Most life coach certifications offer online training, and many allow you to work at your own pace.
Look for a certification program that aligns with the style of life coaching you’re interested in. Review the program requirements, costs, and length to discover which are a good fit for you.
If you plan on enrolling in an accredited program, talk to someone in admissions and perhaps some former students before making a commitment.
How long does it take to get a life coach certification?
Most accredited certification programs take 6 – 12 months to complete, but some are quicker. For example, the Certified Life Coach Institute offers an immersive 3-day certification program and iNLP offers a 3-month certification program.
How much does life coach certification cost?
Most accredited life coach certification programs cost between $1,000 – $15,000. Non-accredited certifications cost less, often between $0 – $400.
When should you get a life coaching certification?
If you are committed to starting your own coaching business, consider enrolling as soon as possible so you can begin training for your certification before or as you launch your business.
However, the best time to get your certification is when you’re ready to commit your time and resources to earning it.
Best life coaching certifications accredited or approved by the ICF
Below are six of the best life coaching certifications from institutions that have been accredited or approved by the International Coaching Federation. ICF, often referred to as the “gold standard” of the coaching industry, is globally recognized as a leading authority in coaching.
Whether you’re looking for a life coach certification that focuses on real-world experience, cognitive behavioral techniques, mental health, lasting change, or a well-rounded education, the selection below provides something for almost every niche.
#1. IPEC: comprehensive certified professional coach training
The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) Certified Professional Coach (CPC) program was one of the first programs accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) nearly twenty-five years ago.
IPEC training is known as one of the most comprehensive life coach training programs in the world.
IPEC Graduates earn three industry-recognized certificates: 1) Certified Professional Coach (CPC), 2) Energy Leadership™ Index Master Practitioner (ELI-MP), and 3) COR.E Dynamics™ Specialist
Why we like IPEC professional coach certification:
- Accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
- Allows you to start working with clients as you earn your certification.
- Named Best Life Coach Certification for support after graduation by Forbes Health.
- Ranked “Best Advanced Coaching Certification” by Life Coach magazine.
Type of training: Online and in-person training available
Length of program: 10 – 12 months
Cost: $13,995 in the U.S. (with payments as low as $169/month)
#2. Coach Training Alliance: “Learn while you earn” certified life coach program
The Coach Training Alliance (CTA) Certified Life Coach program focuses on preparing you for real-world coaching success. Its “learn while you earn” approach lets you start coaching and earning income before you complete your training.
CTA’s approach to life coach training covers a balance of coaching, marketing, and business skills.
Why we like the Coach Training Alliance certification:
- Approved by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
- “Learn while you earn” approach to training.
- Emphasis on real-world application.
- Rated Best for Group Classes by Forbes Health.
- Ranked one of the top 3 life coach certification programs by Lifecoach Path.
- Recommended by Life Coach Magazine.
Type of training: Online training 60-90 minutes a week; Self-study 2-5 hours a week
Length of program: 6 months
Cost: $3,897 (inclusive), payment options available
#3. Certified Life Coach Institute: Immersive 3-day life coach certification
The virtual Certified Life Coach Class (Coaching 101) by the Certified Life Coach Institute gets you up and running quickly with its immersive, 3-day certification program.
Within 72 hours of starting the class, you’ll have what you need to begin working as a Certified Life Coach. The Institute also offers a Master Certified Life Coach certificate (Coaching 102) that provides in-depth advanced training.
Why we like the Certified Life Coach Institute certification:
- Accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
- 3-day immersion program offers rapid certification.
- More affordable than many other ICF-accredited programs.
- Ranked one of the 3 best online life coaching certification programs by Business Insider
- Rated Best Life coaching certification program for Quick Completion by Forbes Health
Type of training: Virtual online classes
Length of program: 3 days
Cost: $995 (financing available)
#4. Health Coach Institute (HCI): Dual life & health coaching certification
The Health Coach Institute (HCI) stands out for its dual focus on life and health coaching within a program that applies the habit change coaching approach.
At HCI, you’ll learn to master your own habits before coaching others.
HCI provides optional weekly live mentorship sessions and opportunities to engage with peers, plus a business toolkit to help graduates get their coaching practice started. The program is a compelling option for people who are passionate about long-lasting health and lifestyle changes.
Why we like Health Coach Institute’s life coaching certification:
- Approved and Accredited by the International Coaching Federation, Health Coach Alliance, and Federation of Holistic Therapists.
- Strong focus on health and wellness through sustainable lifestyle changes.
- Covers coaching, marketing, and business development skills.
Type of training: 100% online training, learn at your own pace
Length of program: 6 months (longer if you prefer)
Cost: $5,950 (payment plans available)
#5. iNLP: Life coach certification and neuro-linguistic programming
The internationally renowned iNLP center specializes in life coach training and neuro-linguistic programming. Its method draws on principles from neuro-linguistic programming, neuroscience, and integral theory, which encompass diverse philosophical and spiritual influences.
The iNLP life coaching certification program blends Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), Inner Dynamic Parts Work, and ICF Core Competencies for a psychology-based approach to cognitive behavioral change.
Why we like iNLP:
- Accredited by the International Coach Federation.
- No exam is required; experiential assessments only.
- Self-paced, online learning with weekly live Zoom training sessions.
- Unlimited peer coaching.
- Unlimited marketing training.
Type of training: 100% online, self-paced
Length of program: 3+ months
Cost: $3,900 (installment plans available)
#6. CreativeMind: Jungian life coach certification
CreativeMind Jungian Life Coach Certification offers a unique path for coaches seeking to work with clients on a deeper, more advanced level.
Blending Jungian psychology, Eastern spirituality, and practical coaching tools, CreativeMind aims for a transformative experience in both personal growth and client guidance.
Why we like CreativeMind’s Jungian Life Coach certification:
- Accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).
- Includes business, marketing, and success mindset training.
- Students undergo a personal transformation journey before coaching.
- Includes live demonstrations, coaching labs, and hands-on coaching practice.
Type of training: Self-paced online learning and live calls
Length of program: One year
Best non-accredited online life coaching certifications
#7. IAP College Online: Life coaching certificate course
IAP College life coaching certificate course is a part-time online program that teaches you how to become a life coach. It covers step-by-step training to help you get started working as a life coach.
The IAP College certification is not accredited or approved by the ICH, but it does have a 4.9 Trustpilot rating from over 1,900 reviews. Reviewers, especially those with busy schedules or young children at home, praise its self-paced progression and structured, high-quality content.
Why we like IAP College Online Life Coach certification:
- Highly rated by former students.
- Excellent for people with busy schedules.
- Structured, straightforward teaching style.
Type of training: Self-paced online training
Length of program: 6-weeks part-time
Cost: $377 all-inclusive fee (with occasional discount promotions)
#8. Udemy: Kain Ramsey life coaching certificate course
The Kain Ramsey online life coaching certificate course (on Udemy) focuses on facilitating change, heightening creativity and personal effectiveness, and inspiring change in clients.
The course includes on-demand videos, downloadable resources, and a certificate of completion. It can be accessed on mobile devices and television sets.
Kain Ramsey’s life coaching certification is not accredited or approved by the ICF, however, the course has a 4.7-star rating from over 36,000 reviews on Udemy.
Why we like Kain Ramsey’s life coaching certificate course:
- Highly rated by former students.
- Online, on-demand training.
- Focuses on inspiring, rather than forcing, change.
Type of training: Online, self-paced
Length of program: 33 hours
Cost: $149 (Watch for 80 – 90 % promo discounts from Udemy)
Best free life coaching certifications, training, and resources
#9. Life Coach Training Institute: Free life coach certification
Life Coach Training Institute’s free life coach certification is a mini-course for people wanting to experience life coaching before investing in an accredited program.
The free course covers the foundations of coaching, including active listening techniques, goal mastery, and how to launch your coaching practice.
The free life coaching certification is no replacement for an accredited program, however, it’s an excellent way to check out the field of life coaching before making a commitment.
If you enjoy the course and decide to pursue a full certification, you can upgrade to their full coach certification course anytime.
Why we like the Life Coach Training Institute certification:
- Free to everyone.
- Great way to find out if life coaching is right for you.
- Online life coach training.
Type of training: Self-paced online course
Length of program: 10 Training Video Modules
#10. Alison: Free professional life coach program and CPD certification
The free life coach diploma and certification program is not accredited or approved by the ICF. However, it is accredited by the CPD – a continuing professional development organization that’s well-respected and known across Europe.
Why we like Alison life coach training:
- Self-paced course.
- Online training.
- Affordable tuition.
Type of training: Online learning
Length of program: 5 – 10 hours
Fostering life coach relationships
One of the greatest benefits of a life coach certification is the relationships you develop during training. Many accredited programs give you the chance to work with coaching mentors, collaborate with peers, and consult with teachers in ways that form lifetime connections.
Long-lasting relationships mean a lot to your clients, too. But when you’re busy juggling 15-20 clients at a time, it can be hard to continue cultivating other relationships to their full potential.
That’s where AWeber comes in. We understand the importance of nurturing relationships, so we make it easy to foster and maintain connections through email marketing.
Whether you want to nurture leads, send newsletters that deliver valuable advice, or just keep in touch by emailing some light and friendly correspondence, we’ll help you do it all — on autopilot.
At AWeber, We’re here to help you nurture and maintain leads and connections for years to come, using some of the quickest and easiest email tools on the planet. Why not sign up for a free account and start building stronger relationships with your potential clients today?