How to Become a Career Coach – Step by Step Guide

Would you like to help others advance in their careers? Well, you should try your luck in career coaching. As a career coach, you will help unemployed clients find work or help those already working to advance their careers. This is a lucrative field, with some career coaches earning more than $100/hour. You will apply your knowledge and connections to guide people from different or specific industries on job-oriented topics. This job may also demand that you help your clients craft cover letters, resumes, and other application documents that they need. This article is meant to help you easily transition from your career into career coaching. We will offer a step-by-step guide on how you can manage that, but first, let us look at some of the mandatory skills in career coaching.

Required Skills

1. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the social skills that allow one to interact and communicate well with others. They also come in handy when collaborating with others, regardless of your relationship.

Under interpersonal skills, a good career coach must show empathy, especially to the unemployed clients who come for advice. They should know that their coach understands and shares their feelings or plight. No one wants a condescending or proud career coach, especially when they need a job or career advancement.

Active listening is also an interpersonal skill that every career coach should have. You need to pay attention to what your clients say, allowing them to express themselves without unnecessary distractions. It also involved good and not intimidating eye contact and showing interest in what they have to say. Lastly, under interpersonal skills, career coaches have to be emotionally intelligent, meaning that they must process, use and manage their emotions positively when dealing with clients.

2. Questioning Skills

A good career coach should know what to ask, when to ask and how to ask. However, clients should not feel that they are being interrogated. It would help if you asked probing questions that can help those seeking your services find answers.

Also, note that you can only ask probing questions if you are a good listener. Active listening and excellent questioning, therefore, go hand in hand. Try as much as possible to ensure that your client finds answers at the end of a session.

3. Analytical Skills

Your work as a career coach goes beyond listening to your clients and offering solutions. You have to analyze what they tell you to assess their abilities and qualities. A good coach will know what to look into to help one advance in their career or find a job that suits their qualification.

4. Excellent Decision-Making Skills

A client that entrusts you with their career expects good and worthy pieces of advice. Once you decide to be a career coach, ensure that you can help your client make good decisions regarding their careers. You don’t want to be blamed for a piece of advice gone wrong.

5. Excellent Research Skills

One of your jobs as a career coach will be to find out about job vacancies and recommend them to your clients. Therefore, you must have excellent Research Skills to help you collect as much information as possible regarding open job vacancies and statistics.

6. Time Management Skills

You will definitely bill your clients on an hourly basis. Judging from what most career coaches charge, you have to manage your time well and ensure that the client derives value at the end of every session. Also, know how to plan your time when handling clients with busy schedules. Other necessary skills and qualities include IT skills. These excellent communication skills encompass telephone skills, awareness of different career counseling trends and patterns, and readiness to keep client information private. Now that you know what you need to join this industry, let us review the steps to becoming a career coach.

Steps to Becoming a Career Coach

1. Get a Degree and Professional Experience

You cannot coach people without the right professional experience. Even though a degree is not a requirement for coaches, you need one to win the trust of your clients easily. You can get one in Business, English, and communication or human resources since these are some areas that impact people’s careers. They furnish those who pursue them with the right skills and knowledge that cut across different industries and careers. You can also step back and figure out the industry you wish to deal with, then get a relevant degree actively. If you would like to work with sports professionals, then a degree in sports management would come in handy. After getting your degree or certification, make a point to gain experience and advance. People will be more willing to trust someone who has shown advancement in their career path to give them advice on how to do the same. Understand how the given industry works from both a professional and a social viewpoint.

2. Define Your Niche

You should figure out the type of career coaching services that you wish to put out there or sell. The good news is that you can choose from different niches. You can either be a general or an executive coach. A general coach helps people identify and find their dream jobs, while an executive coach helps people find their passions, brand themselves, or re-invent their careers. As an executive coach, you will help your clients improve their self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, cognition, and motivation. Leaders also gain better social skills and leadership abilities after executive coaching. All in all, make sure that you pick the right niche as this will determine if you will enjoy your job or not.

3. Choose Who You Want to Work With 

Choosing your target audience is all about figuring out who you would like to work with. There are two groups to pick from, which are:


You can work directly with companies and help nurture their employees. Your contract is therefore between you and the company. This is the best niche for you if you are passionate about helping people develop their skills while in team settings. Luckily, there are several companies always looking for career coaches.


You are also at liberty to work with individuals. People will come to you to help them work on their skill set and improve their careers. This is a great option if you are empathetic and would love to help people work their way up and find their dream careers. Note that these two models have their advantages and disadvantages, and therefore, take some time before you pick one. Once you have decided on the right model, figure out the following:

Which Audience are You Targeting?

Do you have a specific target audience? We advise you as a career coach to break down and target a specific market. Do you fancy working with women, minorities, millennials, or not relatively older people? The choice is yours.

Who is Able and Willing to Pay?

Remember that you will need compensation for your services and therefore, when choosing a target audience, ensure that you end up with people who are able and willing to pay. Some may have the money but not the willingness to part with it.

4. Work on Your Skills

After getting the relevant qualifications and professional experience and figuring out your niche, it is time to work on the professional skillset we covered above. Remember that you will need to rely on your professional and interpersonal skills to handle your clients well. Other skills that you will need but we didn’t discuss include:

Clerical Skills

You will have to perform several clerical tasks as a career coach. Such skills will come in handy when preparing different documents and ensuring that client information is organized.

Attention to Detail

Attentiveness is one of the most important skills when listening to and questioning clients. You will be better positioned to guide them through their job search. It also comes in handy when looking up job listings and opportunities for your clients and during proofreading.

5. Seek Certification

The third step in becoming a career coach is to get certified. This is usually a good way to help you establish your credibility and easily woe clients. Certification also makes you more confident.

Moat professionals seeking advice in their careers mostly find certified coaches appealing. Fortunately, there are many certifications that you can seek within career coaching. Examples are resume writing, digital job search strategy, and general coaching knowledge. Keep in mind the types of clients you have chosen to work with and their specific needs.

6. Find Clients

Finding clients may be one of the hardest parts of being a career coach. You have to develop a good business plan that will help you find your first-ever client. Remember, several people are stuck in their careers or unable to find excellent jobs and need your advice and help. What are some of the ways you can find clients?

Inform Your Network

Your first clients will probably come from your network. It would be best to tell your friends, family, and professional network that you have a coaching business. They will probably refer people in dire need of careering coaching to you. This is easy and generally fast.

Attend Networking Events

Most people attend networking events to build valuable professional relationships and learn more about a given field. You can easily find clients in need of your services at networking events. Talk to people when in such settings, mention that you have a career coaching business, and give out your cards. You never know. You may win yourself a client before or immediately after the event ends. Marketing yourself and service is important.

Also, focus on how you can change their lives instead of explaining the process and features of your coaching program. Avoid packaging your coaching business as a product, but rather focus on how it can touch people’s lives. Show people how much you can better their lives or careers if they give you a chance. You can also suggest offering them a free coaching session, which shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes 

Online Platforms

You can post engaging posts about careers and plug your business at the end on several platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Most people visit Reddit and LinkedIn in search of carer advice. Therefore, an informative article with your social media handles, website or contact information would be a good way to win some clients. Make sure that you jump on any chance you get to market yourself. A combination of all three will definitely help you land clients.

Use Adverts

You will be offering services for money, and therefore, the more clients you get, the better. A good way to increase your client base is to advertise your services, even though you may have part with some money. We advise you to pay for advert placements in different publications to reach your target audience. You can also market yourself on social media. Interested people will come across your posts and reach out, inquiring about your services.

7. Constantly Study the Market

It would help to have a grasp of the market. Being constantly informed about different employment trends will help you advise clients or find them amazing job opportunities. Bring your analytical skills to play as you study and monitor the job market or your focus area. Remember, your clients are also monitoring the job market, and therefore, you have to offer something extra.

Take your time to research the skills and responsibilities needed in the job market to give your clients help you the most updated advice. Coaching is all about helping your clients, so do so. Studying the market can also be a joint effort. Liaise with other industry professionals who may have important insights into your niche. Take your time.

8. Build a Good Track Record

One of the best ways to put yourself out there and sell your services is by building a good track record. Make sure that you actively seek new clients to grow your client list. While at it, make sure you give your all and help them better their lives. Customer referrals are important as they bring in new ones.

Also, you may meet someone who has not yet unlocked their potential while going about your day. Treat such a person as a potential client and tell them how you can help better their career. A good way to improve your portfolio is by targeting clients who are also well placed in their careers. All in all, do everything possible to build a good track record and let it market you.


Here are some of  the most asked questions about career coaching that you should know:

1. What Do Career Coaches Do?

A career coach performs the following activities:

  • They discuss the client’s current career situations, long-term and short-term professional goals, and prospects.
  • They look for jobs that align with the client’s skills and preferred career trajectory.
  • Offer advice on job offers and help clients decide between different offers.
  • Conduct practice interviews with clients ahead of their main interviews.
  • Help with filling out applications for different positions.
  • They prepare cover letters, resumes, and different application documents.

2. How Much Does a Career Coach Make?

Career coaching is a lucrative career. What you make will depend on the services offered, your experience, and your client demography. Most coaches charge up to $100 an hour for their services at their peak. However, you can also choose to charge per program, with others charging thousands of dollars for three or six-month programs. Finding something that works for you is key.

3. What Do I need to be a Career Coach?

All you need to be a career coach are the right coaching skills and experience in given fields. Most coaches have worked as recruiters, counselors, or in human resource departments. You must also have been successful in your career since no one wants to listen to a coach who hasn’t achieved a milestone in their career  However, note that there is no set threshold for the success you have achieved in your career. Skills needed are active listening, interpersonal skills, computer proficiency, organizational skills, and questioning skills.

4. Who Will I Work With as a Career Coach?

Career Coaches mostly work with companies and individuals. Individuals mostly need someone to help them achieve their career goals, while companies need someone to help their employees.

5. How Will I Get Clients?

There are several ways of winning clients as a career coach. You can either network, inform your family and friends or market yourself in different publications or social media platforms. Also, your customers will advertise you for a job well done.


You can easily become a career coach if you are successful in your career. Make sure that you build worthy professional networks as you climb the career ladder, as it will come in handy when you choose to focus on career coaching. We wish you all the best as you work on becoming a career coach.

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