The 5 Best Life Coach Certifications w/ Prices & Reviews
If you love helping people, a career as a life coach can be a rewarding path to pursue. But there’s more to being a life coach than just giving advice. A life coach certification program will help you get your life coach business started on the right foot.
Being certified by a reputable program will inspire trust in your clients, and your education will teach you many of the basics you need to know to start your own life coaching business.
But not all certification programs are created equal. While any certification program will give you a frame to hang on your wall when you complete it, you shouldn’t jump into the first one you find.
This list provides five of today’s best-accredited options for you to consider, but keep in mind that they’re in no particular order. We’ve made sure to choose some very different options, so start with whichever one suits your lifestyle and situation best.
1. Institute for Life Coach Training
The Institute for Life Coach Training offers an accredited Professional Certified Coach program that’s ICF (International Coach Federation) certified. For those looking for the absolute best, most comprehensive life coach training program, the PCC program will go a long way towards career readiness.
Plus, it’s the best choice for those who want to pursue extra life coach certifications beyond the PCC program. The program takes 18 to 24 months to complete and costs an average of $7,700.
Curriculum: The Institute for Life Coach Training’s Professional Certified Coach program is a flexible, long-term program meant to cover a wide range of related subjects. Students take about 80 hours of coaching classes, in addition to 30+ hours of elective courses that let students fine-tune their education. With the addition of 10 hours of mentorship, students will need to commit about 130 hours to the course (or about five hours per day). Students who enroll will notice that the certification schedule feels very much like a college degree program, with required classes at certain required times.
Prerequisites and Requirements: Students must complete at least 500 hours (440 of which must be paid) of client coaching experience with at least 25 different clients. In addition to the 10 hours of mentored coaching that students will receive during the program, they must also complete 125 hours of coach-specific training. These requirements must be met to receive ICF accreditation.
Testing: Students are expected to attend classes, and some professors may integrate an attendance grade into their classes. Students must complete each module with a minimum score of 70% to pass. The course ends with two essays and an oral exam conducted by ILCT. Additionally, students must complete a Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) offered by the International Coaching Federation for full certification.
Continuing Education: Students who complete the PCC program at the Institute for Life Coach Training can choose to further their education through other master-level and specialty coaching programs. Since these courses are offered through the same facility, they integrate well with the PCC program.
2. iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching)
iPEC offers a college-style education program similar to the ILCT’s above, but with a few important differences. iPEC’s accredited program gives you three different certifications by the program’s conclusion: CPC (Certified Professional Coach), Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and COR.E Dynamics.
The main advantage of iPEC’s program is that it can be fully virtual (if desired), making it a great option for remote students, but it’s still very thorough. The program takes up to a year to complete and costs just under $12,000.
Curriculum: The iPEC curriculum consists of 320 hours of coach training, three different training modules, weekly virtual classes, and self-paced homework assignments. Each module lasts around three months and includes a special, three-day intensive training period. These can be done live (in person) or virtually. The program emphasizes teamwork and collaboration with peers; all students will have weekly work that involves coaching their fellow students. Additionally, all certification specializations receive dedicated business development training to help student entrepreneurs start coaching businesses after they graduate – an important aspect of starting a successful career as a life coach.
Prerequisites and Requirements: Students must complete and pass all three modules, pass a final exam, and pay tuition in full to graduate. Students may also need to fulfill additional requirements imposed by the ICF for full accreditation.
Testing: The only testing apparent in the iPEC curriculum is a final exam, which students must pass to graduate. Other than that, students can complete homework assignments at their own pace.
Continuing Education: iPEC students receive a wealth of educational resources during and after graduation, including a mobile app called SCOPE. Graduates also receive lifetime access to iPEC’s network, student portal, ongoing training, and coaching assessment tools. Students also have access to more than 10 different specializations during the program itself. Students can access educational materials from all specializations, regardless of which one they choose.
3. Coach U Core Essentials
The Coach U Core Essentials program is an ICF-approved ACTP track program. This means that, while it doesn’t automatically fulfill all of the requirements for ICF accreditation, it provides part of what you need to qualify. The Core Essentials program is a condensed course that lasts a maximum of 15 months, and the program is fully online.
The program is designed for people who may have other careers that want to branch into (or over to) life coaching, so it works well for students with busy lives. The training program awards 77 hours of credit, and students can complete the course at their own pace. The cost of the program varies, but virtual students will pay just under $4,000.
Curriculum: Core Essentials is a relatively condensed curriculum that mostly covers core concepts. Because of this, it works well as an accessory to other training programs, as an intensive introduction to life coaching, or in conjunction with professional mentorship.
Prerequisites and Requirements: Core Essentials doesn’t have many requirements for students to follow, but they must, at minimum, obtain a passing grade to graduate. Additionally, since the program is self-paced, students should take care to respect the 15-month maximum duration of the program. Some courses have prerequisites, so on average, it takes a minimum of six months to complete the program.
Testing: Students must complete all assignments and self-tests with a passing grade to graduate. After students complete the main curriculum and coaching hours, they must apply for Core Essentials Graduation to finish their certification.
Continuing Education: Graduates have access to the Coach U Professional Essentials program as a follow-up to the Core Essentials program. Additionally, students retain access to educational materials, PDFs, and other resources offered throughout the program.
4. Certified Life Coach Institute
For those looking to get into the life coaching industry quickly, the Certified Life Coach Institute offers one of the best brief yet immersive programs. CLCI separates its educational programs into Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 is not enough on its own to qualify for ICF accreditation — students must complete both Level 1 and Level 2 of the course to qualify. However, just Level 1 is sufficient for non-ICF certification.
This makes CLCI an incredible option for those who want the prestige of real certification, but don’t have the time or desire to sit through longer programs. Both programs last for three consecutive days and are fully virtual. The Level 1 course costs just under $1,000, while the Level 2 course is just under $1,300. Students can also purchase a package deal, with both courses offered consecutively for $2,000.
Curriculum: The online courses are both three-day condensed courses that each equal about 33 hours of coaching. Classes focus on only the most important core concepts, such as business establishment, coaching strategies, codes of ethics, fundamental concepts, and more. The Level 2 program dives into some deeper concepts, such as body language, goal setting, and health topics.
Prerequisites and Requirements: This program has some of the most lenient requirements of any on this list. Participants only need a computer capable of virtual conferencing and long-distance learning. If students wish to pursue ICF certification, they can only do so after completing both courses, and they will need to complete other outside requirements as well.
Testing: Neither Level 1 nor Level 2 contains any exams or tests of any kind, though Level 2 does contain mock CKA questions and quizzes to help students prepare. Students may need to complete homework assignments, but most of the curriculum is made up of lectures.
Continuing Education: Students will retain access to all of the lectures and materials they completed, but they will need to pursue continuing education and ICF accreditation on their own.
5. Health Coach Institute
The Health Coach Institute offers a dual certification program in both life coaching and health coaching. Since diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes can play a large role in human satisfaction, this is a logical combination. The program is fully virtual and ICF-accredited, and graduates will finish with two separate certifications.
The dual certification program is self-paced and lasts for six months, with plenty of optional events and functions for students to attend. The course costs $4,450 paid upfront, but HCI also offers a flexible payment option. However, the payment plan is significantly more expensive; at $299 per month for 24 months, students will end up paying $7,560 in total. HCI does offer enrollment bonuses and seasonal discounts that students may want to keep watch for.
Curriculum: The curriculum of this program is predominantly lecture-based and revolves around teaching science-based solutions to today’s common lifestyle problems. In addition to lectures, students will have practice sessions with fellow students, one-on-one coaching hours, templates, and worksheets. Students will learn about four pillars: holistic nutrition, habit change, personal growth, and successful business systems. Students will spend around five to six hours each week on the course.
Prerequisites and Requirements: Students need to complete the program within the given six-month time period to graduate. Students can also pursue continuing education accreditation from the ICF after graduating from the Health Coach Institute.
Testing: According to HCI, the program will have several quizzes and practice labs to keep students on track. Students will need to pass these examinations to graduate. Students who wish to pursue accreditation through the ICF may need to take other formal exams.
Continuing Education: The Health Coach Institute offers several continuing education options to students, such as an advanced coach mastery program and an intensive program. Additionally, students will retain access to materials from the course, including PDFs, videos, MP3s, and more.
Below are two extra certification programs that we couldn’t resist including. If you have special requirements that the certifications we mentioned above don’t fulfill, these options may do the trick.
Udemy Life Purpose
The Udemy Life Purpose Life Coach Certification is an excellent introduction to life coaching for those interested in changing careers. It’s a bit different than the others mentioned so far because it’s not accredited by the ICF, and it doesn’t focus on normal life coaching.
Instead, the course revolves around “Life Purpose” — helping clients find a life purpose or passion in their own lives. As such, it’s a niche course that’s most appropriate for those looking to further their existing education. The course costs $150, but it also frequently goes on sale for less. The course is brief enough to be completed in a single day.
Keep in mind that this course will certify you in life purpose coaching, but not through any officially recognized certifying body. For this reason, it’s not suited to as many people as the other options on this list. It’s only appropriate for beginners looking to research life coaching inexpensively, or established life coaches looking to expand the services they offer.
Curriculum: The Life Purpose curriculum centers around helping clients explore and find their passions in life. Some of the concepts that students will research include business expansion, life purpose coaching, teaching with confidence, the psychology of change, and key techniques for helping others.
Prerequisites and Requirements: There are no prerequisites or requirements for this course, making it an excellent introduction to the topic for beginners.
Testing: There is no testing involved in this course, but it does come with several workbooks full of exercises for students. Otherwise, the program involves mostly reading and lectures.
Continuing Education: This is a continuing education course, so it’s only suitable for those who intend to pursue other certifications (or who have already obtained proper accreditations).
IWA (Integrative Wellness Academy)
IWA, or the Integrative Wellness Academy, offers both an introductory Life Coaching Program and a Master Life Coaching Program. However, the master-level program isn’t accessible until students obtain their initial coaching certification. While the majorities of both courses are online, students can opt to receive one weekend of in-person training as well. However, these special training sessions are limited by date and city, so they may not be accessible for everyone.
Both programs last for six months, though students can ask for extensions if they need longer to complete the course material. The introductory course costs $1,200, and the master program costs $2,499. Both options can come with affordable payment plans instead of upfront payments. However, these courses have one main downside that makes it difficult to justify the high price tags: neither of them is accredited by the IFC.
Curriculum: These life coach programs cover topics such as core concepts, client-coach relationships, business building, industry certifications, coaching techniques, and more. The curriculum is highly science- and evidence-based, with plenty of holistic concepts added in for an unbiased view.
Prerequisites and Requirements: The course has no educational prerequisites beyond paying tuition. However, students should have a computer that’s powerful enough to serve as a base for their studies.
Testing: While the program is self-paced, students will need to pass assignments, practicals, and a final exam to graduate.
Continuing Education: Students have access to a wealth of similar courses through IWA’s online store, and they will never lose access to the educational materials they obtain. Some other options that IWA offers to students are Coaching 101, ECM Practitioner Certification, Business Mastery, Holistic Life Planner Certification, and more.
No matter which certification you choose, rest assured that the options we’ve gathered here cover some of the best options in the industry. Plus, if you feel like none of these options are right for you, many of the entities mentioned above offer other high-quality programs for you to consider.