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How to Become a Career Coach: The Definitive Guide (2021)

Want to know how you can become a career coach? You’re in the right place.

Today, you’ll learn the steps to take to become a career coach fast. These strategies have helped multiple career coaches build 6-figure businesses.

Ready to get started? Let’s go to Chapter 1.

Chapters:

Chapter 1: What is career coaching?

Chapter 2: Are you qualified to become a career coach?

Chapter 3: How to quickly get unstuck and define your career coaching niche

Chapter 4: How to get your first career coaching clients (it’s easier than you think)

Chapter 5: Set up your business with these 3 must-have tools

Chapter 6: How to go from your 9-5 to career coaching without burning yourself out

Chapter 7: Examples of successful career coaching businesses [case studies]

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Chapter 1: What is career coaching?

First:

What does a career coach do?

Can YOU become a career coach?

Let’s start by looking at what a career coach does. In Chapter 2, you’ll learn more about certifications and what type of experience you need to start a career coaching business. And in the last chapter, Chapter 7, I’ve included three case studies. You’ll learn how my clients Emily, Anna, and Toni built their businesses, so read until the end.

Excited to get started? Let’s go.

Enjoying this post? Pin the image below for later!

career coaching business pin

1. What does a career coach do?

As a career coach, you help your clients reach their career goals.

For example, you:

  • Help your clients identify their goals and the things that are holding them back.
  • Advise your clients on their career trajectories.
  • Coach your clients to acquire hard or soft skills, like new tech skills or better negotiation skills.
  • Give feedback and improve your clients’ cover letters and resumes and improve their interview skills.
  • Help your clients become more confident and gain clarity.

Your clients could be at any stage in their careers:

Fresh on the job market, seasoned professionals, managers, or executives.

2. Can you really get career coaching clients?

But wait… Isn’t career coaching a saturated market?

Isn’t it impossible to get clients…?

Yes, there are a lot of career coaches out there.

But think about the size of the market- there are many people who want to move up in their careers throughout their 40+ years in the workforce.

Plus, other career coaches don’t have the experience YOU have to offer. More on this in Chapter 2.

The trick is to know how to position your offer to be among the highest earners in this industry. And that’s what you’ll learn in this guide.

3. How much can you earn as a career coach?

How much money does a career coach make?

Most career coaches charge around $100-500/hour.

But there’s a lot of room to increase your rates when you start getting results.

Think about it:

You help your clients achieve their career goals. That means more personal fulfillment, but also more money in their pockets. Not just now, but for years to come.

In fact, some of my clients charge $10,000 for a 3-month coaching program. (Note: My clients who can charge these prices can do so as a result of their experience, often in specialized fields. I’m sharing this to show what’s possible, NOT to say that this is where you should start.)

To make the process of starting a career coaching business as easy as possible for you, I recommend my clients to start out with a 3-month coaching program and price it at $1,500.

This helps you get confident about your coaching pricing and quickly increase your rates.

coaching rates

Want more on setting your rates? I talk more about your pricing options in this video:

4. How does career coaching differ from life coaching?

Is there any difference between a life coach and a career coach?

Here’s the thing:

Both types of coaches help their clients with similar things. They coach their clients on professional and personal issues.

But by positioning yourself as a career coach, your clients know they will get help with figuring out their careers. The benefit is VERY specific and clear.

That’s why I recommend that you stick with this type of coaching.

5. Career coaching business models

What can your business model look like?

It could be just you, working as a coach.

Or, you might want to build a coaching business with coaches working for you and using your methodology to help your clients.

When you have a few clients, you can add offers like online courses and group programs.

These programs help you scale your business because you take your personal time out of the equation.

coaching rates graph

Now you know what you can do as a career coach.

But can YOU become a career coach? And how?

Let’s find out (hint: you’re probably more qualified than you think).

Want to build your own 6-figure career coaching business? Get the FREE PDF:

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

Get Instant Access To My FREE Ultimate Guide Below!

When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

Chapter 2: Are you qualified to become a career coach?

Can you become a career coach?

After all, shouldn’t you have a coaching certification to prove that you have what it takes?

Probably not. Let’s look at your options.

1. What are the requirements for becoming a career coach?

Look:

There are no standard requirements for becoming a career coach.

You can get certified… or not.

In fact, many of my clients don’t have any career coach certification, but that doesn’t stop them from helping their clients find dream jobs, increase their salaries, and live fulfilling lives.

Plus, there is no official coaching degree or certification, so a certification won’t authorize you to become a coach.

What matters is your experience. For example:

  • Have you worked as a recruiter, career counselor, or in HR? Maybe you’ve helped people with these problems in your 9-5. If yes, you have the right experience to become a career coach.
  • Have you had a successful career? If you’ve built a thriving career yourself, then you can use this experience as a career coach. There’s no set amount of experience you need to become a career coach. Think about it this way: Are there people who would love to learn how you achieved milestones in your career? If yes, you’re good to go.

(But how DO you get certified as a career coach? If you want to get certified, a good place to start is the International Coaching Federation.)

2. What skills do you need as a career coach?

To enjoy career coaching, you need to have or develop certain skills. These are:

  • Listening. By listening to your clients, you understand what they want to achieve.
  • Asking questions. By asking probing questions, you help your clients find the answers.
  • Encouraging others. Building confidence is a huge part of being a career coach. Help your clients get past their mental barriers and insecurities.

By using your experience, building your skills as a coach, and helping your clients get life-changing results, you will be far better off than with a certification hanging on your wall.

Now you know what it takes to become a career coach. Next, we’ll look at your career coaching niche.

Chapter 3: How to quickly get unstuck and choose your career coaching niche

You know what a career coach does and you know you are qualified to become a career coach.

If you’ve asked yourself, “how do I start a career coaching business?”, look no further.

It’s time to start your business!

The first step is to define your niche.

1. Who do you want to work with?

First, you need to figure out who YOU want to work with.

#1: Individuals. You’re hired by individuals to help them achieve their career goals. If you’re in it because you love helping people find their dream careers and get paid more, this model is a great option.

#2: Companies. You work directly with a company to help its employees. If you love helping people develop skills and building team culture, this could be the model for you.

Once you know what type of client you want to work with, the next step is to determine your target audience.

Ask yourself:

Is there are specific target market you want to work with?

Maybe millennials, women, minorities, baby boomers, or someone else?

Whichever target market you look at, keep this in mind:

Who has the ABILITY and WILLINGNESS to pay?

For example:

A newly graduated and currently unemployed college graduate might not have the ability to pay.

And sometimes, people lack the willingness to pay, even if they have money to spend.

I talk more about it in this video:

2. Defining your career coaching niche

Next, what type of career coaching services do you want to sell?

Yes, there are different niches within the career coaching space.

You can be a general career coach and help people find their dream jobs. Or, you can be an executive coach. You could even focus more on helping people find their passions or re-inventing their careers or helping professionals brand themselves.

It’s all up to you.

Take 10 minutes and write down your thoughts to get clarity on the niche you feel passionate about.

Next: Ready to take your coaching business from idea to reality?

Then, you’ll love the next chapter. That’s because you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to get your first, paying client.

Chapter 4: How to get your first career coaching clients (it’s easier than you think)

Here’s where most people get stuck.

They know what type of business they want, they might even have opened an Instagram account, and set up a website…

But suddenly, it feels TOO hard.

Look:

It doesn’t have to be. Here’s the simplest career coaching business plan you can use to get your first client (and money in your bank).

1. The mistake most people make (that keeps them from ever getting clients)

The biggest mistake I see new business owners make (and I’ve coached thousands of businesses)?

They talk about their coaching program as a product.

They explain the process and features.

You know, the number of calls their clients get, the skills they learn…

Instead:

What they should talk about is the TRANSFORMATION.

That’s what your clients pay you for.

For example:

You show your clients how to become their teams’ top performers, the best salary negotiators, or thought leaders in their industries.

Get the gist?

Your clients don’t care about how you get them there. What they want to know is how you change their lives.

become a career coach pin

2. A simple marketing plan for your career coaching business

So how do you get your first client?

You might be thinking:

“Why would anyone want to hire me to help them with their careers?”

You know what? There are plenty of people who would love to work with you.

But it’s your job to find them.

How? You could:

  • Let your network know that you’re starting a business.
  • Find clients on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Reddit by posting engaging posts.
  • Go to networking events.

Because you’re a brand new coach, people don’t know HOW amazing you are.

So to get your first clients, you need to show them how much their lives could change for the better if they hire you as their career coach.

And to do this, offer them a free coaching session. This is a short, 20-30-minute session.

During your call, focus on ONE thing you can help them with.

At the end of the call, you simply ask:

“How was this call?”

And when they say they loved it (of course they do!), you say:

“Imagine how much we could get done in the next 3-months. Would you like to talk more about how we can work together so you achieve your desired results?”

That’s it! It’s that simple.

Chapter 5: Set up your business with these 3 must-have tools

You’re on your way to getting your first clients. Congratulations!

Now it’s time to set up your business. How? Let’s find out.

1. Calendly

To set up your first few free coaching calls, you need a scheduling tool (unless you want to spend hours emailing people back and forth).

I recommend Calendly. The basic version is free and it’s very easy to use.

Set up your first event.

calendly new event

Then, share your Calendly event link with people who want to book a call with you.

calendly create a link

2. Skype or Zoom

And how do you talk to people?

Use Skype or Zoom.

Zoom lets you schedule a meeting at a set time and share that appointment with the people you talk to.

zoom schedule a meeting

3. PayPal or Stripe

And finally, the best part:

Getting paid.

I recommend using PayPal or Stripe because these tools let you send invoices and set up recurring payments.

create an invoice with PayPal

Once you’ve set up these three tools, you’re good to go. You have your first business system in place.

It doesn’t get easier than that.

Last, you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to work on your business without burning yourself out or getting stuck in the process.

Here’s how to do just that.

Chapter 6: How to go from your 9-5 to career coaching without burning yourself out

Maybe you’re thinking:

“This all sounds good, but I spend all my time in my 9-5. I have NO time to work on a business.”

I hear you. But there is a way to make time for yourself to work on your business. Yes, even with a demanding corporate job and other obligations.

1. When should you quit your 9-5?

Quitting your 9-5 sounds tempting, doesn’t it?

But I strongly advise against leaving your job before you have your business set up to avoid any unnecessary stress and frustration.

A good rule of thumb is to quit your business when you have doubled your monthly salary.

Why doubled?

Because you will have expenses in your business. And you need to account for taxes.

when can you quit your 9-5

2. The 2-step burnout-proof time management plan

So, what’s the “secret” to working on your career coaching business while in a 9-5?

#1. Schedule everything you do.

This is key. Schedule all your business-related tasks every day.

When you open your calendar, you know exactly when and what you should be working on.

That’s what I did before I quit my job.

Business calendar first year

Not sure when to work on your business?

Get creative. You can use your lunch breaks, get up a bit earlier in the morning, schedule a couple of hours during the weekend, skip that Netflix episode…

In fact, if you do this right, you don’t need to spend more than a very limited time on your business every day. And that takes us to step #2.

#2. Focus on the things that get you results right now.

This is where most online business advice goes wrong.

You’re supposed to be working on all the things. Setting up your website, doing Facebook ads, doing webinars, blogging, going live on Instagram… Of course you don’t have time for all that!

Instead, focus on the MOST important things right now. Those tasks that get you fast results (paying clients).

Wondering what they are?

I outline this step-by-step in my webinar:

Free Masterclass

This free training will show you my exact system for building a coaching business and replacing your salary BEFORE leaving the 9-5.

Chapter 7: Examples of successful career coaching businesses [case studies]

I saved the best for last. After all, you want to build your career coaching business and now you know how to do it.

But what does it look like in real life? How far and how fast can you go?

Here below, I show you how three of my clients are building thriving and successful career coaching businesses and the steps they took to get there.

1. How a 6-figure career coach planned her wedding during her most successful launch

Emily liou headshot

Emily Liou, a 6-figure career coach, founded Cultivitae.com in 2016. Before starting her business, Emily worked as a cold call sales rep and quickly became one of the highest paid reps, but felt unfulfilled. She then worked for years as a recruiter for Fortune 500 companies.

cultivitae website

As a career coach, Emily helps people in decent jobs who want a better job, promotion, salary or to switch industries, and who want to feel fulfilled and happy when they wake up on Monday mornings.

How Emily transitioned from her 9-5 recruiting job to career coaching

Emily quit her job to travel and started a travel blog. But it was through Cultivitae that she started helping people figure out their passions and careers.

What career coaching programs and courses does Emily offer?

Wondering what real-life career coaching programs can look like? Emily offers 1:1 career coaching programs, group programs, and courses.

Her 1:1 program, The Corporate Ladder of Purpose™, is a 3-month program that helps her clients build a purposeful life. Her e-course Happily Hired Formula helps people find their dream jobs.

Fun fact: Emily managed her biggest launch to date while planning her wedding.

Cultivitae career coaching

How Emily got her first paying clients

Curious to know how Emily got her first paying clients? Here you go:

Emily started her client search on LinkedIn where she announced her (then) side hustle and asked her network what they needed the most help with when it came to job searching.

After private messaging with people who reached out to her, she offered to coach them at a lower rate. That way, she got testimonials and referrals and could properly start her business.

Another marketing strategy Emily used was Facebook and more specifically, Facebook groups.

After posting a poll asking what people needed help with in groups for jobseekers, many in those groups reached out to her and asked her about her services.  

Besides LinkedIn and Facebook, Emily gets clients through Pinterest and Google and the traffic these platforms bring to her website. This is all thanks to the articles she writes on career advice.

Want to build your own 6-figure career coaching business? Get the FREE PDF:

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

Get Instant Access To My FREE Ultimate Guide Below!

When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

2. How this stay-at-home mom and career coach made $20,000 in her first 4 months

Anna Cosic headshot

Anna Cosic (annacosic.com) is a career and leadership coach for busy and ambitious women who want to earn more, achieve more, and have more.

Anna spent almost 10 years climbing the career ladder before taking her experiences, skills, and learnings to start her own business.

Anna cosic career coaching website

How Anna managed to be a full-time stay-at-home mom while building her career coaching business

Anna started her business as a full-time stay-at-home mom with her then 18-month old son. That didn’t stop her from making $20,000 in her first four months. How did she manage it all?

Anna worked two hours every day when her son was napping and four evenings a week, as well as Sundays, to get her business up and running.

Her best tip? Focus on one thing at a time.

What courses and programs does Anna offer in her business?

Anna offers a 1:1 career coaching program. She did a beta version of an online career coaching course and is currently setting up a webinar funnel to get consistent clients. In the near future, she wants to set up a group program.

Anna Cosic career coaching

How Anna knew she was qualified to become a career coach

Want to know why several of Anna’s clients choose to work with her? Because she’s been through the same things they’re going through. So far, no one has ever questioned Anna’s lack of certifications- which just goes to show that a successful career coaching business isn’t built on certifications.

How Anna got her first paying clients

How did Anna get her first 1:1 clients? They came through her LinkedIn network. While she did set up a website right from the start, it wasn’t the first thing that drove clients to her.

Lesson learned: To get clients, focus on platforms where your clients hang out instead of your own website.

3. How a lawyer is building her career coaching business without sacrificing family time

Toni Patterson career coach

Toni Patterson, toniapatterson.com, is a career coach, lawyer, and a single mom. So how does she manage it all? Let’s find out.

Toni Patterson website

Look: You don’t need an “AHA” moment that makes you realize that career coaching is your biggest dream and purpose. It can happen more organically than that.

That’s what happened to Toni.

As a single mom who is a successful litigator in an Am Law 100 law firm, her co-workers would often approach her for guidance in navigating their own careers and lives because it seemed like she had it all figured out.

That way, she realized that she had a passion for mentoring and guiding women who were trying to figure out how to be successful in their careers without sacrificing their home lives. And with the process she had perfected for herself, she was able to help them get just that.

How Toni builds her business while managing a demanding career and taking care of her family

How does Toni do it all?

Her #1 priority is being available to her daughter, so the first thing she schedules in her calendar are school recitals and events. She then schedules everything else because when she sees what she’s supposed to be doing, it makes it much likelier that she’ll get it done.

And when she really needs to focus? She schedules herself into a hotel overnight with the goal of completing one project from start to finish during those two days. These hotel stays have been some of her most productive time.

How Toni went from idea to business

So, how did Toni start her career coaching business?

She first realized she had what it takes to become a career coach when she understood that her ideal client is someone who is trying to get to where she is now. Thanks to her experiences and knowledge, she can help her clients get real, tangible results.

Toni’s first client came through hosting a telesummit. Since then, she’s moved on to social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Right now, Toni offers 1:1 3-month coaching packages. In the pipeline is an online course, which will become her main offer in the future.

Toni Patterson career coaching

What’s next?

That’s it. Now you know how to become a career coach.

Let me know in the comments below:

What questions do you have about becoming a career coach?

I would love to hear from you!

Become a Career coach Pinterest pin

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

Want to know how to build a profitable, meaningful business to replace your 9-5?

The proven blueprint for building a profitable online coaching business that frees you from the 9-to-5

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How to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business - Luisa Zhou-2

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

Get Instant Access To My FREE Ultimate Guide Below!

When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

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