By Mike Bundrant

Have you ever been in a new situation where you’ve felt the need for a mentor? Perhaps you’ve been there and you had an exceptionally good one. We all benefit from the wisdom of others in many areas of life, whether we’re talking about our jobs, relationships, or personal goals.
 
If you are facing challenges in your life, whatever area they might be in, you might consider not just seeing, but actually becoming a life coach. As many of us know, we learn ideas best when we have to put them into action. If you’ve ever had to teach a concept to someone else, you yourself have become extremely familiar with what you were teaching.
 
The field of life coaching is diverse and relatively new. If you are considering becoming a life coach, it is important to be familiar with what those who have gone before you have learned. For example, “knowing your niche is critical to your success.” It is crucial to have a clear vision for your business, to know what the best practices are, and to know your business objectives and target audience.
 

Education and Training

 
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The International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring did a survey that sheds light on the most common habits and practices of life coaches all over the world.
 
The survey showed that the majority of life coaches were highly educated and/or trained. A large percentage of them had some kind of certification, whether with the International Coach Federation (ICF) or another organization. Only 17.7% had no credentials at all.
 
70.3% of the participants had graduated from a coach training program, and 90.3% of the participants had been enrolled in one at some point. A large number of people (85.9.%) had a bachelor’s degree and many had a post-graduate degree (55.3%). Most of the coaches surveyed were part of the ICF.
 
Interestingly, many of those polled valued being coached themselves. At the time of the survey, 45.1% were paying for training and 41.3% had paid for training at some point previously.
 

Experience

 
There was one finding that arguably supports the need for life coaches to receive training. 99.9% of the people surveyed became life coaches after having worked in some other career.
 
Life coaches come from a diverse range of backgrounds. They include teachers, salespeople, and counselors. Apart from those who identified their backgrounds as “Other” (41.6%), the main three professions life coaches come from are consultants (40.8%), managers (30.8%), and executives (30.2%).
 
And most of the coaches also worked part-time in another profession. Only 13.1% worked as life coaches full-time.
 

The Nuts and Bolts

 
The survey found that life coaches rarely work with clients internationally. Most do so either locally or nationally. The majority of life coaches work with people for either a 3-6 month or a 6-12 month period. Coaching sessions usually last for 30 minutes to an hour.
 
It is most common for coaching to occur over the phone. Face-to-face coaching takes second place, and online communication, third. Life coaches typically have 4-6 clients per month.
 
The overwhelming majority of coaches were self-employed. Most target a customer base of executives and entrepreneurs and gain clients through referrals. They seem to spend a minimal amount of time and money on marketing.
 
Most of the survey participants are females aged 45-54, and the majority of life coach clients are females aged 18-64. These are of course broad generalizations and trends.
 

Conclusion

 
One of the main conclusions of the survey’s researchers is that “professional coaching bodies and associations have a crucial role to play in fostering the research that is a foundation of professionalism.” The organizations that train life coaches are extremely important to gathering knowledge that will develop the life coaching industry.
 
The survey sheds light on the importance of experience and training, as well as on some of the most common practices of seasoned coaches. Being trained as a coach and discovering your ideal client will help you to determine which coaching processes (length of sessions, number of clients per month, and method of communication) are most effective for you. You can then be that much more successful at helping other people, as well as yourself.

Mike Bundrant
Mike Bundrant is co-founder of iNLP Center, which offers online interactive training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He is also author of the book, Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage.