Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer to the question, “how much do life coaches make?” There are various factors we need to consider first.
For example, we know teachers’ incomes vary depending on location, level of education, workplace, experience, subject expertise, and more. Likewise, life coaches have flexible salaries.
According to Sherpa, the average annual income ranges from $55K to $116K. Whereas in North America, the average life coach makes $61,900 per year, according to the most recent study conducted by the ICF (International Coach Federation).
There are over 71,000 coach practitioners, with a large majority being based in North America and Western Europe.
The ICF says the number of coaches estimated worldwide has grown by 33%, from 53,300 to 71,000, since 2015.
It’s an industry that’s trending right now, according to the BLS, which projects job growth of 8% through 2029, much higher than the national average for all careers.
What does all this mean? It means coaching is a successful, billion-dollar industry that’s here to stay.
Read on to know how and why coaches make so much money, and how you can too.
How much do life coaches really make?
The average life coach makes $160 per hour. It’s also important to note that other branches of coaching are far more profitable. Business and executive coaches charge more. Executive coaches are life coaches for executives, which means they get to work with corporations, teams, leaders, business moguls, CEOs, and other people in high-level statuses.
Thus, their roles are more demanding. Typically, business coaches make $250 per hour, while executive coaches earn an average hourly rate of $380.
Head on to ZipRecruiter and you’ll notice that the average yearly salary for an executive coach in the United States is $140,568, compared to the previously mentioned figure of $61,900 for life coaches.
These are a lot of numbers, but there’s a reason we are showing you this.
A very cliché thing to say, but it still holds true. Executive coaching is a specific niche. So, if there’s one thing you want to do today before launching your coaching business, it’s picking the right niche for you.
Here are examples of different coaching niches to consider:
- Wellness coaching
- Career coaching
- Nutrition coaching
- Mindset coaching
- Wellness coaching
- Executive coaching
- Parents & Teens coaching
- Health coaching
- Financial coaching
Is life coaching in demand?
Yes. Coaches wouldn’t become six-figure earners if they weren’t in demand. According to the ICF (the International Coach Federation), a nonprofit global professional organization of personal and business coaches had just 2,100 members in 1999.
By 2010, that number rose to over 17,000 members across 132 chapters in 34 countries. By 2018, ICF exceeds 25,000 credential-holders and 1,000 Master Certified Coaches.
It seems the coaching industry’s future is bright and unstoppable. If the number of coaches keeps escalating at this rate, it shows the demand likewise is growing, which also means people are acknowledging the value of life coaching.
Why are life coaches so expensive?
Many tools and techniques of professional coaching are scientifically proven to reduce stress. A study by CoachConnect showed that coaching eases stress at an average of 18% after just 3 months. Other participants experienced a reduction of 47%.
People invest in life coaching for a reason: they want to improve their situation — their health, marital status, financial situation, etc.
In times of crisis and trauma, people think about purpose and meaning.
Thus, life coaching is the perfect escapism to help process what’s going on and build resilience and capacity, especially when one cannot change external factors. It is your job as a professional life coach to make people aware of what you bring to the table.
With everything happening so quickly, panic is detrimental to progress. It’s important to slow down and find the opportunity to navigate through major life changes. That’s where a life coach comes in. Working with one can help you make the right decisions to move forward in life.
It shows that coaching can have a positive impact on your mental health. And that’s why coaches charge a lot for their services. They can positively affect a person’s life.
How much should you charge as a beginner life coach?
When you’re just starting out as a coach and you don’t have the confidence yet to charge premium rates, it’s natural to charge $50 to $100 — sometimes even less. Charging low rates is temporary.
“In my experience, new business and life coaches can charge $100–200 per hour,” says Julia Stewart, coach trainer and seminar leader. “Veteran coaches with established results can often charge $250–600 per hour. What makes the difference is the skill of the coach and who they coach.”
Take into consideration the skills and training you took prior to working with clients. If you’re ICF accredited, for example, you can confidently charge those rates or more. If not, charge lower rates, work with clients, and gain experience.
You’ll have to work your way up. Once you have experience and results, you have every right to charge more because now you’ve earned it. Achieving excellent results for your clients — and keeping them for marketing your business — is an essential way to get there.
Another way is to work for an organization or a company. Being self-employed is nice and all; it gives you the flexibility to choose how you want to run your business, but there is no shame in working for someone else. It is hands down the fastest way to gain experience.
How to start charging high rates
Do life coaches make a lot of money?
It really depends. Only 10% to 20% of life coaches make six-figure incomes. There are many life coaches that don’t make anywhere near $30,000, which is the average life coach’s salary. That’s not reassuring, is it? Coaching is a hard path. It’s safe to say that it’s not for everyone. Think about it this way: just like any business, if it were easy, everyone would become a coach.
To achieve top-level success — we’re talking 6, 7, or 8 figures a year — you have to be patient, have the will to gain multiple skills, and build a great portfolio of work.
Do you need qualifications to be a life coach?
Let’s look at the best assets to confidently charge high rates for your coaching business.
According to Sherpa, experienced coaches with over 10 years of expertise earn up to $450 per hour. Thus, experience is a major contributor to earning more. The more experienced you are, the more you can charge.
As you gain experience and help others achieve their goals, clients testify in your favor. You get referrals and testimonials.
Your reputation develops, your business grows, and you get a more steady stream of clients. As a result, the first natural thing to do is to increase your rates since the demand is growing.
Here is the average hourly salary according to Sherpa:
- A coach with 1 to 2 years of experience charges between $100 and $150.
- Coaches with 3 to 4 years of experience charge between $150 and $200.
- A coach with 5 to 10 years of experience charge between $200 and $300.
- Coaches with 10+ years of experience charge over $300.
You get the gist. Your experience — your results and confidence as well — determines your rates. Pick the numbers you want based on your prior achievements and where you are in your business.
What degree do you need to be a life coach?
Getting credentials might not seem necessary. But investing in a life coach certification will pay off in the long run. The problem is, few people know that. Instead, they devalue the effect life coaching can have on them. This is mostly because of its lack of regulation.
A professional ICF accredited coach, however, will bring value that will end up being way bigger than the initial investment. Because the coaching industry is unregulated, anyone can become a life coach without training or credentials.
Many people have done so, but having formal training puts you at a significant advantage compared to the vast majority of your peers. In fact, 90% of coaches that were part of ICF’s Global coaching study had received formal training from an accredited institution, and 99% of global coach practitioners are fully certified coaches who have undergone coach-specific training.
Furthermore, non-certified coaches — especially less experienced ones with no results to back up their work — charge less than certified coaches.
Life coaching certifications, free and premium, are available offline and online. There are literally hundreds of them.
Those accredited by the ICF are expensive. However, investing in formal training from an ICF accredited institution will give you an edge among other job candidates, helping you launch your coaching career with ease.
Remember the example about teachers’ salaries? Location plays an important role here. Teachers have one of the highest salaries in the UAE, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. The coaching industry operates the same way.
Life coaches in North America make around $61,000/year, whereas, in Latin America and the Caribbean, life coaches make around $27,100/year. As you can see, in North America, coaches make almost triple what others make in Latin America.
Here is a breakdown by city in the U.S. made by ZipRecruiter:
- Massachusetts: $63,089
- Hawaii: $62,187
- Wisconsin: $60,601
- Tennessee: $60,209
- Washington: $59,994
- Minnesota: $59,976
- Rhode Island: $59,844
- Ohio: $59,768
- New York: $59,488
4- Diversification of your coaching business
As a coach, there are many things you can do to expand your portfolio of work and develop your business. An essential one is by diversifying your income streams. Here, the sky’s the limit.
The reason coaches like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and Brian Tracy have successful brands is they’ve expanded their income streams. They found new ways to make money besides coaching clients.
When you decide to start a coaching business, you’ve entered the world of entrepreneurship, meaning you have to think of innovative ways to upgrade your business: marketing, selling coaching packages or services, selling products, etc.
How do life coaches make a living?
- Blogging: You can start a blog and share your expertise with your prospects. You have 2 options here: either do it yourself, which is time-consuming as you have to learn about digital marketing, SEO, and copywriting, or hire someone to do everything for you. Then, when you have it all set up, you can start making money with affiliate marketing, courses, and selling products.
- 1-on-1 coaching: You meet your clients once or twice a week, determine goals to achieve or problems to overcome, and help them plan and take action.
- Group coaching: You can coach 1-on-1 or you can try group coaching. The best thing about this model is you can make more money while reaching more people in less time. Your clients’ results will stack up, bringing you more referrals and more work. They also love group coaching because it allows them to have a support group. Think of it like a classroom of students that want to learn a language. Unlike learning everything yourself, which many people regard as boring and lonely, a group of people who share the same goals feeds on each other’s drive. It’s also a great way for a life coach to leverage time and make more money.
- Consulting services: This is ideal if you’re a business coach. Businesses don’t have it all figured out and are always in need of guidance, and that’s where you step in. You give expert advice and you get paid hourly for your consulting. Business coaches make a lot of money doing this because businesses have a lot in the line and thus pay more.
- Book writing: What better way to show people your leadership authority than to have a book? It doesn’t have to be a New York Times bestseller. You can write a short book, guide, or PDF. Anything of value that your clients will read and make a difference in their lives will do. Then, sell it on Amazon or on your blog.
- Create a course: Want to make a passive income? Create a digital course. The e-learning market is one of the most lucrative platforms in this day and age, and it’s only rising in popularity thanks to the pandemic. What’s your area of expertise? Train people to be good at it and sell your digital courses. You can either sell them on your website, or you can leverage other existing platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, Thinkific, etc.
- Public speaking: Like book writing, being on stage is just as powerful. People will listen to you when you talk about their pain points and show how you can help. This is a great opportunity — and marketing strategy — to give things for free that also serve as a preview of what it’s like to work with you.
- Group packages: You can coach 1-on-1 or you can try group coaching. The best thing about this model is you can make more money while reaching more people in less time. Your clients’ results will stack up, bringing you more referrals and more work.
- Virtual live events: A lot of bad things came out of 2020, but let’s not forget the good ones, including remote work. Having virtual meetings, webinars, workshops, masterminds have become the norm. Get in on this trend and take advantage of it. You can organize an event for your clients to attend where you familiarize them with your coaching expertise.
Is it hard to become a life coach?
Coaching is a unique business. It’s not hard because it’s an unregulated industry, but it’s not easy either. In fact, 82% of coaches fail within the first 2 years. Coaching can be extremely hard if you don’t have the right plan and mentor.
Here’s the thing about coaching, it’s not exactly a business; it’s a skill you have to develop. This means you won’t find the success you’re looking for right off the bat. You’ll need to build other business skills to differentiate you from the competition. That or you need to find the right niche for you.
Coaching may not be for you. Let’s put it that way, so don’t quit your job just because your friends are raving about how great coaching is. No. Instead, test the waters. Build your coaching business as a side hustle. See if it’s a good fit. Learn how to find coaching clients and use all the tips in this article. It won’t be an easy ride, but if you do it right, it’ll be well worth it.
So how much do life coaches make? Answer: it depends on where they are in their business.
With experience comes a lot of perks. Building sales and business skills are part of the journey. Remember, implementing the methods mentioned in this post will not only help you in your business, but it’ll also give you enough authority and visibility to charge the big bucks. Ask yourself this question: would you pay yourself X amount of money for coaching?
If your answer is yes, by all means, charge whatever you like. However, if you feel you’re not there yet, then work your way up there. Implement one or two new strategies you learned, build a solid portfolio, and get significant results for your clients. Everything you wish for will come later.
Author bio for this guest post:
Mehdi Jouay helps coaches, personal brands, and entrepreneurs improve their brand awareness, get more high-quality traffic to their websites, and boost their sales with top-of-the-funnel content.
He is a certified content marketer and copywriter who specializes in writing long-form (and short form) blog posts, emails, and landing pages that turn prospects into customers.
Mehdi is also a writer on Medium. His work has been published on Addicted2success, Coachestrainingblog, The Ascent, and more. Visit his website to find out more about him.
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