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How to Become a Successful Career Coach: 4 Steps

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 countless people start their own career coaching businesses successfully – and they can help you become one, too. 

Ready to get started? Read on!

What is a career coach? 

As a career coach, you help your clients reach their career goals, whether that’s finding a new job, their dream career, or getting a promotion. You might also help with specific skills people need to develop to find a job, such as writing resumes, preparing for interviews, and networking. 

Your clients could be at any stage in their careers, including people who are fresh on the job market, seasoned professionals, managers, or executives.

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What does a career coach do? 

As a career coach, you might…

  • Help your clients identify their goals and the things that are holding them back.
  • Guide your clients to understand the perfect career path for them.
  • 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. 

But 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’ll quickly become a great career coach. 

Next, let’s look at how YOU can become a career coach – even if you don’t have a degree. 

How to become a career coach without a degree

Now you know what a career coach is. But how do you start your own coaching business? 

After all, 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. 

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 here. 

The steps you’ll learn are: 

1. Find a niche

2. Get qualified

3. Create your first package

4. Get your first clients

5. Hold great career coaching sessions 

Get unstuck and choose your career coaching niche

It’s time to start your career coaching business!

And 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 a 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.

Get qualified as a career coach 

Can you become a career coach without a coaching certification to prove that you have what it takes?

Probably not. Let’s look at your options.


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.

You also don’t need a degree if you have the right experience. I never went to business school, but I’ve built businesses for 10+ years to multiple seven figures. I wouldn’t be any more qualified to help other people start their businesses with an MBA. 

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.

A few well-known career coach certification programs are: 

  • Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC): This program by the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches is a $1,195 program that takes 12 weeks to a year to complete. 
  • Become a Certified Career Coach™: The program by Career Coach Institute is a 12-week long course. You need to complete 50 hours of paid or unpaid coaching to qualify for the certification. The total cost is $1,997.
  • Career Coaching: This New York University short course isn’t exactly a certification, but it teaches you the same skills. You can complete the program in two days and the full tuition cost is $525. 

Create your first package and set your rate

The next step is to create your own career coaching package. 

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.

Graph with coaching salaries
Example of how you can replace your 9-5 salary with a career coaching package.

But how much money does a career coach make in general?

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.)

I talk more about it in this video:

Get your first career coaching clients 

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. 


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…


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.

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?”

In this short video, I talk more about finding your dream clients:

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

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Hold transformative career coaching sessions 

The “secret” to the most effective coaching calls?

Break down your coaching program into milestones.

Then, break down every coaching session into its own sub-goal.

In between calls, you then help your clients answer their questions through email, Voxer, or a similar tool.

To keep them on track, you can ask them to send a summary of their work 24 hours before each call and answer these questions: 

  • #1: What did you do this week?
  • #2: What went well?
  • #3. What do you want to focus on during this call? 

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 the career coaching website 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.

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.

Screenshot of Cultivitae website

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.

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 ( 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.

Screenshot of Anna Cosic's 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.

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

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.

Screenshot of Toni Patterson website

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.

What’s next?

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

Starting your own career coaching business can lead to so much more fulfillment, flexibility, and freedom. 

To build a massively profitable and meaningful business, you need to know how to implement the steps you’ve learned here.


Get my free blueprint that shows you how to build your own career coaching business. 

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.

Read more:

How to Start Your Coaching Business

The Best Coaching Business Models

Marketing Strategies for Coaches

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

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

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

9 Responses

  1. It’s great to hear that there aren’t really that many requirements to become a career coach. My husband just retired and is looking for a way to spend his time these days and it’s great to see this may be a good fit for him. He’s had work experience in HR and did pretty well for himself, considering he managed to buy a house and send all our kids to college. It sounds like he can give a solid yes to both the questions you asked when it comes to qualifications. I’ll tell him about it and see if he’s interested in taking any career coaching courses. It’ll be a good use of his free time, and who knows? he may just help create the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

  2. This is the most amazing and easy to understand steps to becoming a career coach I have ever seen. Your website is designed in a clean and attractive to read way. Your videos are to the point. As a new career coach, I found your career guide the best especially I like when you said, “our clients doesn’t want information but transformation”.

  3. Hello!

    My name is Tara Odell. I’ve been in banking for almost 20 years and I am frankly burned out. Not to brag, but I have a fancy title and fantastic sales record with over 6 figure salary and 6 figure bonus – all in commercial banking. It’s great but I am at this point that I want to transition into coaching and helping other women succeed. I have a passion for it and I think I would be good at it. But to be honest I’ve never thought very entrepreneurial and I haven’t the slightest idea how to set up my own coaching practice, and what my value prop should me. I am thinking something around sales and leadership. Maybe even some “life coaching”. I have a unique story that includes a lot of adversity.

    Long story short. I wondered if you offered 1:1 consulting to help launch practices?

  4. Your website is a very detailed short course on its own, and what’s amazing is that there’s so much information for free! Keep up the Good work💖

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