How to Become a Life Skills Coach & What the Job Entails

Life Skills CoachSelf-improvement is a particularly popular genre of books, with the number of publications doubling between 1972 and 2000 (du Plessis, 2020).

Furthermore, the coaching industry is part of a $2 billion per year (and growing) global market (Lane & Fillery-Travis, 2006).

It is apparent that these self-improvement books are highly sought after, and there is an intense hunger for self-betterment.

But what if these self-help books aren’t helping, and people are unable to make changes on their own?

Fortunately, this is where the valuable capabilities of a life skills coach can make all the difference. So, let’s see what a life skills coach does and how to become one.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free. Any life coach can benefit from these creative, science-based exercises to help you learn more about your values, motivations, and goals, and they will give you the tools to inspire a sense of meaning in the lives of your clients.

Life Skills Coaching: A Job Description

Life skills are problem-solving behaviors that can be applied to the self, family, leisure, community, and work (Curtiss & Warren, 1974).

A life skills coach can assist clients by helping them lose weight, change careers, or create a better work–life balance. Clients may need assistance with goal attainment, self-discovery, or personal development (Grant & Green, 2018).

Clients may also desire other life changes that include business expansion or financial skills. Whatever the goal, a life skills coach will be there to help clients develop the necessary skills to achieve their desired goals.

Contrary to popular belief, life skills coaching isn’t about solely giving advice. Coaching of this type involves offering a different perspective; it is about helping clients change their habits which, in turn, changes their life.

A life skills coach may also provide motivation to begin and sustain the habits required to achieve the goals shared by the client, and may even wear multiple hats. To demonstrate, Grant and Green (2018) describe the roles of the coach in four stages:

Stage 1 – Coach as a consultant
Stage 2 – Coach as an educator/trainer
Stage 3 – Coach as a facilitator
Stage 4 – Coach as a mentor

While coaching has a similar theoretical base and ethical structure to counseling, the two professions are distinctly different (Reeves, Kingsland, Aspey, & Cunnion, 2010).

Life skills coaches work in a variety of environments and with a variety of clients. Sessions may be conducted in person, over the phone, or virtually. Clients comprise people of all ages and abilities and may attend individual or group coaching sessions.

In short, coaching is goal focused and can include building skills, improving performance, and facilitating personal and professional improvement (Grant & Green, 2018).

Life skills coaches are often expected to have abilities in the following domains:

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Excellent analytical and critical-thinking skills
  • Excellent collaborative, leadership, motivational, and team-building skills
  • Ability to work collaboratively within the context of a treatment team
  • Ability to think and perform flexibly in a dynamic work environment
  • Creativity, innovativeness, and resourcefulness
  • Strong teaching, training, and facilitation skills
  • Experience working as a professional coach, clinician, teacher, instructor, or related profession
  • Experience working in a clinical or correctional setting
  • Adept at working with computers and technology
  • Willingness to acquire and/or maintain additional certifications
  • Strong and charismatic personality; assertive and authoritative
  • High-energy and professional personality
  • Solid work ethic
  • Intelligent and quick – must be at least one step ahead of the client
  • Able to read people quickly; highly intuitive
  • A strong desire to learn and implement a highly directive coaching methodology; trainable and coachable
  • Flexible work schedule to accommodate clients

 

Communication and Social Skills Coaching Explained

Speech therapyThree broad areas of coaching include skills coaching, performance coaching, and developmental coaching.

Communication and social skills coaching may be components of all three.

Communication is everything, and life is all about communication. Eliciting the help of a communication coach could help clients advance their personal or professional life.

Someone may seek the help of a communication coach if they believe their communication skills are holding them back in presentations, leadership, public speaking, meetings, or interviews.

For example, effective communication is crucial for high-quality healthcare (Seiler et al., 2017). Seiler et al. (2017) determined the effectiveness of a physician training module created to improve etiquette-based communication skills. The premise of this research was based on the assumption that better communication skills result in a more positive patient experience.

Blessing (2006) asserts that communication coaching is much like mediation. Various types of communication coaching offer the following services:

  • Voice coaching
  • Speech therapy for speech problems and accents
  • Relationship enhancement for the client’s personal life
  • Advertising and company image services
  • Emotional intelligence training for business relationships, including
    • Assertiveness training
    • Training in facilitation
    • Team building
  • Evaluation of and help with speech and report writing
  • Speaking style
  • Systemic communication coaching

A communication coach may help clients describe their current situation and identify the difficulties they are having and the success they desire. Both the communication coach and coachee explore options for making life better and determine which of those options will work best.

The next step is to put these options into practice through skill building and detailed action planning, using a review process to track the progress.

Social skills concern the facilitation of interactions with others, whether that interaction is verbal, nonverbal, written, or visual. A social skills coach will focus on the social norms and rules of society.

Social skills may include turn taking, reading nonverbal cues, maintaining eye contact, listening, and empathy. Social skills coaching is a particularly popular area of need for individuals on the autism spectrum, as these individuals may have needs in this area.

Similar to social skills, soft skills will also help an individual navigate their social surroundings. Furthermore, both social and soft skills are vital for job procurement. Not surprisingly, there is also a need for soft and job skills coaches.

 

What are soft and job skills coaching?

Some life skills coaches may focus on soft skills and job skills. Soft skills enable individuals to navigate their environment. These people skills or interpersonal skills may include attitude, work ethic, time management, and communication (Bates & Morgan, 2018). Strengths in these areas would translate to practical skills to obtain a job.

A job coach may help an individual during a job search and the hiring process. The first task may be to tailor a resume and cover letter to a specific position. The job coach may prepare interview questions or help job seekers refine their interviewing skills during a mock interview. Additionally, this coach may help instill skills that candidates need to keep the desired job.

Similar to the role of an athletic coach, a soft skill or job coach is expected to help a person develop emotionally, socially, and cognitively. Lisinskiene’s (2018) study involving a coach educational program concluded that improved psychological and educational skills positively impact social skills learning.

Such psychological skills paralleled in athletic coaching and soft skill/job coaching include motivation, self-determination, goal setting, emotional skills, and stress management (Lisinskiene, 2018).

Also similar to the soft skills/job coach is the role of an educational literacy coach. These individuals focus on listening, establishing trusting relationships, and structuring constructive conversations just as soft skills/job coaches do (Bates & Morgan, 2018).

 

How to Become a Life Skills Coach

According to the Cohen Healthcare Law Group, U.S. coaches do not require a specific license to offer services, as they do not practice medicine, chiropractic therapy, or dietetics. Furthermore, life skills coaches do not pose a threat to public health, and clients are not typically in an emotionally vulnerable state (Grant & Green, 2018).

Although licensure is not required, coaches seek certifications to increase marketability and professionalism. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is a global organization for coaches and coaching. The ICF aims to foster a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals and set high standards by providing an independent certification for coaching.

To become a member, you must complete at least 60 hours of coach-specific training approved by the ICF. The ICF encourages membership seekers to enroll in one of their ICF-accredited coach training programs.

Other global coaching bodies include the European Mentoring & Coaching Council and the Association for Coaching.

While a bachelor’s degree isn’t always required, an associate’s degree will help a candidate qualify for some coaching positions. Some companies may require a minimum of a master’s degree in psychology or social work for their coaching positions.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) includes health and wellness coaches within the field of health educators and community health workers, and projects the number of jobs in that field to increase by 13% from 2019 to 2029, a much faster rate than the average.

 

3 Online Courses and Programs

Coaching courses

Health Coach Institute

Stacey Morgenstern and Carey Peters used their combined 25+ years of professional coaching experience to create the ICF-accredited Health Coach Institute (HCI).

Their mission is “to change the way we do health by empowering deeply caring people to transform lives, create abundant careers, and change the world—one coaching conversation at a time” (Health Coach Institute, n.d.).

HCI is an entirely online program that is flexible, and the Health Coach Program can be completed in as few as six months. The graduate-level Coach Mastery Program can be completed in as few as 12 months. The dual Health and Life Coach certification will take approximately six months to complete.

HCI boasts they are one of the few schools that offer health and life coach training together in one comprehensive program and are a global community of over 20,000 members.

 

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers an online graduate degree program to jump-start a career in life skills coaching. The Master of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Life Coaching focuses on cognition, motivation, psychology, leadership theory, communication, data analysis, and responses to psychology and sociology.

 

Fowler International Academy of Professional Coaching

Created and taught by Berry Fowler, also the founder of Sylvan Learning Center, the Fowler International Academy of Professional Coaching is recognized by the ICF as offering Continuing Coach Education credit. In addition to life coach training, this establishment offers the following coaching courses:

  • We Live Without Limits Coach
  • Certified Disaster Recovery Coach
  • Certified Career and Vocation Coach
  • Hope Certified Community Coach
  • Military Support Personnel Life Coach
  • Certified Group Leader
  • Certified Master Business Coach
  • Certified Executive Leadership Coach

 

6 Best Certification and Training Opportunities

International Coaching Federation

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) offers three credentials – Associate, Professional and Master Certified Coach – with the following criteria:

  • Associate Certified Coach requires 60+ hours of training to apply and 100+ hours of coaching experience.
  • Professional Certified Coach requires 125+ hours of training to apply and 500+ hours of coaching experience.
  • Master Certified Coach requires 200+ hours of training to apply and 2,500+ hours of coaching experience.

Additionally, the ICF maintains high standards for professional coaches worldwide and requires ICF credential renewal every three years. Renewing credentials consists of documenting mentor coaching hours and Continuing Coach Education hours.

Professional associations in Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia

Health Coach Alliance (HCA) is a Canada-based organization with the intent to unite thousands of Registered Health Coaches™, Registered Health & Nutrition Counselors™, and Registered Holistic Nutrition Practitioners™ across North America.

The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) is an organization based in the United Kingdom that aims to protect the public’s health by ensuring that therapy training and practice are of a high standard. The FHT is the UK’s largest professional association for therapists and offers continuing professional development opportunities.

Comparable to the HCA and FHT, the International Institute for Complementary Therapists provides membership and training opportunities for practitioners in Australia.

 

Evercoach by Mindvalley

Evercoach by Mindvalley is a training ground for coaches that offers free coaching guides and a YouTube channel with a plethora of resource videos to get started with and maintain a coaching journey.

They state their mission as the following: “Over the next decade, our goal is to train 1 million+ coaches to create better results for their clients while living a life of freedom and abundance” (Evercoach, n.d.).

 

Association for Coaching

The Association for Coaching is a global organization with members in over 80 countries who strive to professionalize and advance coaching. They offer various types of membership, accreditation, and continuous professional development opportunities.

The association also created a resource hub available to anyone that includes research, guides, articles, and recommended reading.

 

A Take-Home Message

Life skills coaching must be one of the most satisfying careers around.

If you want to assist others in finding success in their personal and professional lives, as a life skills coach, you can help individuals reach their full potential and achieve the most out of their life.

If you are already a helping professional, why not consider offering supplementary life skills coaching? You can use the skills you already have to provide an opportunity for someone to live their best life.

Life skills coaching enables you to work with clients you may not normally have the opportunity to work with and who aren’t in a sensitive emotional state.

Whether you choose to coach full time or part time, as part of an organization or independently self-employed, life coaching may be the career for you if you are patient, goal oriented, empathetic, organized, and have good communication skills. A career in life skills coaching will be as lucrative as you make it; however, there is no doubt that there is a need for these professionals.

For many, a life skills coach could be the difference between “I want to do it” and “I did it!” As a life skills coach, you could be the catalyst in changing an individual’s course of life for the better and guiding them to live the life they desire.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free.

If you wish to learn more, our Meaning and Valued Living Masterclass© will help you understand the science behind meaning and valued living, inspire you to connect to your values on a deeper level, and make you an expert in fostering a sense of meaning in the lives of your coaching clients.

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  • Blessing, K. (2006, December). Communication coaching. Meditate.com. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from https://www.mediate.com/articles/blessingK1.cfm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, April 9). Occupational outlook handbook: Health educators and community health workers. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved May 20, 2021, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mobile/health-educators.htm
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  • du Plessis, E. M. (2020). How to perpetuate problems of the self: Applying Foucault’s concept of problematization to popular self-help books on work and career. Culture and Organization27(1), 33–50.
  • Evercoach. (n.d.). About. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from https://www.evercoach.com/about/
  • Grant, A. M., & Green, R. M. (2018). Developing clarity on the coaching-counselling conundrum: Implications for counsellors and psychotherapists. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 18(4), 347–355.
  • Health Coach Institute. (n.d.). Why Health Coach Institute? Retrieved May 18, 2021, from https://www.healthcoachinstitute.com/why-hci/
  • Lane, D., & Fillery-Travis, A. (2006). The case for coaching: Making evidence-based decisions on coaching. CIPD.
  • Lisinskiene, A. (2018). The effect of a 6-month coach educational program on strengthening coach-athlete interpersonal relationships in individual youth sport. Sports, 6(3), 74.
  • Reeves, A., Kingsland, M. J., Aspey, L., & Cunnion, K. (2010). Dilemmas. The counselling-coaching interface. Therapy Today, 21(9), 31–33.
  • Seiler, A., Knee, A., Shaaban, R., Bryson, C., Paadam, J., Harvey, R., … Lagu, T. (2017). Physician communication coaching effects on patient experience. PloS One, 12(7).

About the Author

Tiffany Sauber Millacci, Ph.D., is an educator for both university students and elementary-aged students. She is a continuous learner who seeks facts through research and is beginning her professional career in writing.

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