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10 Best Degrees for Life Coaches What to study for a career in life coaching

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Self-improvement helps everyone. An employee who strives to master a particular area of expertise benefits her employer, co-workers, and family. However, there is a gap between her current situation and where she’d like to be. Partnering with a life coach is the most direct way to close that gap.

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What Is Life Coaching?

When life gets complicated, people become frustrated by the obstacles that they must overcome to achieve success. They often need only a fresh perspective on the situation to find the perfect solution to the problem. However, a change of mindset is often difficult to achieve without help. That’s where the benefits of life coaching shine.

You’ll hear the praises of a skilled life coach quietly sung at a friend’s dinner party. The techniques of a favored life coach will likely come up during a round of golf at the country club. These are some of the most common ways that people discover the secret weapon of successful entrepreneurs, high-performing corporate executives, and supermoms everywhere.

A life coach is a person who will take the time to listen to a client’s situation, which includes both complaints and success stories. After thoroughly evaluating the client’s way of thinking and behavior patterns, the coach will guide the client to look at a problem from different angles. The techniques lead the client on a path of discovery that uncovers his or her underlying weaknesses that have increased the complexity of the problem. The coach guides the client to use his strengths in different ways to overcome the hurdle while downplaying weaknesses that would derail the effort. The client learns invaluable information about himself and his approach to life’s challenges. After continued coaching, the client picks up the coach’s techniques and is able to do some self-guiding to solve problems in his everyday life.

Life coaching happens in various areas of interest. For instance, you’ll find life coaches helping clients to overcome everything from health issues to damaged professional relationships.

Here are some common life coach specialties.

– Business and leadership coaching

Health & Wellness coaching

– Relationship coaching

– Spiritual coaching

– Financial coaching

While it appears that life coaches do many of the functions of a therapist, they aren’t licensed to treat mental health issues.

A Day in the Life of a Life Coach

A life coach helps clients to formalize goals, identify critical resources that are needed to achieve those goals, and be a sounding board for new ideas. For example, a client who has a stressful military job needs to maintain a certain body weight to get promoted at work. Instead of simply complaining about his stress levels and hoping for the best at the next weigh-in, the anxious military member decides to hire a life coach who specializes in wellness and leadership coaching. The two of them have six months to get the military member’s weight reduced by 10 lbs.

After observing the client’s eating habits and good intentions, the life coach assessed that the military member and his family used rich, calorie-dense foods as rewards. To reach his 10lb weight reduction goal at the end of six months, the client needed to come up with some healthy weight loss solutions. He told his coach that he starved himself right before the last weigh-in and barely met the requirements.

The coach asked the client about the side effects of starving. The client admitted that it wasn’t a good option because he was irritable with everyone. To make matters more complex, he’d just taken on more responsibilities at work this time around.

He needed a solution that resulted in fat loss, a steady metabolism, and more muscle retention. He and his coach crafted a diet and exercise plan that left the client nourished, satiated, and energized. His three-day-per week exercise regimen mixed cardio, strength, and high-intensity interval training to build more muscle and burn more fat. The coach asked the client to research which foods contain the most nutrients but that had the fewest calories. The client subsequently decided to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet on his own. After eating the vitamin-rich foods for several months, the client saw an improvement in his overall appearance and cognitive performance at work. The weight loss gave him more confidence in his new role. When the time came to take the weight check at the end of the six months, no one had any idea that the military member had ever battled to keep his weight in check.

Using the life coach’s teaching techniques, the client persuaded his spouse to adopt the healthier dietary lifestyle full time at home. As a result, his children also earned higher marks in school.

Traits and Characteristics

While there are different types of life coaches, all of them have certain characteristics in common. Here are the top five traits of successful life coaches.

Active Listening

Life coaching is so successful because it’s based on mutual respect. The best way that you as a life coach can convey respect for your client is to practice active listening. Active listening involves soaking in the client’s backstory and repeating that narrative back to the client in your own words. This shows that you care about the client’s situation and that you want to make sure that you really understand what’s going on from his or her perspective. After you give a synopsis of the story, always allow the client to correct any miscommunications or preconceived notions.


Some people only need a subtle nudge in the right direction to accomplish their goals and make dramatic changes in their lives. A life coach asks the probing questions that clients need to rethink outmoded processes and deliver groundbreaking solutions that catapult their careers. Instead of telling the client what to do, the life coach guides the client to a common-sense solution.

Good Judgement

While it’s the job of life coaches to be supportive, successful life coaches exercise good judgment during coaching sessions. That means that every fanciful idea that the client has doesn’t take center stage when it comes to applying solutions in real-world settings.

Life coaches usually bring several years’ worth of experience to the table. During those years in the trenches, life coaches learn how to look at challenges from many angles, and they know which ideas are feasible as well as those that miss the mark. The coaches are able to get their clients to see the risks and benefits of a chosen path just by asking targeted “what if” questions.


A life coach who has integrity has staying power in this profession. To do his job effectively, a life coach must be aware of his clients’ private matters and smart enough not to disclose those matters inappropriately. This kind of discretion is especially important when the life coach is guiding a client to reach wellness or financial goals. The life coach isn’t a medical professional or a lawyer who is bound by law to keep client information private. Only his personal integrity ensures that clients’ personal business remains protected.

Lifelong Learner

Society is always evolving, and life coaches must be aware of new techniques and technologies that are poised to disrupt the industries that they serve. To stay abreast of the latest tools and services, life coaches regularly participate in professional development courses and events. Even when not attending formal workshops, they keep an open mind about new ideas.

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10 Best Degrees for Life Coaches

1. Finance

When there is a difficult corporate problem to solve, the experts usually tell people to “follow the money.” A life coach who has participated in a finance degree program at the undergraduate level will know how to assess the financial health of a company and guide her clients to make more profitable decisions.

Cultural environments change, and companies must adapt to those changes in order to stay afloat. That’s what makes doing business in a free-market society so exciting. However, the basic principles of finance remain static, and a life coach who has a finance background will be able to apply those fundamentals to challenges in an ever-shifting global financial market.

Knowing how to identify an issue and plan for a solution are critical skills that are needed for life coaching. This is especially important for life coaches who specialize in guiding clients through rough economic waters.

Most finance degree programs include coursework on financial strategies. A life coach who has that type of training will be able to guide her client along a path of discovery that leads to the best strategy for the client’s particular situation.

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2. Financial Planning and Services

If recent events in banking have taught people anything, it’s that the leadership in financial services companies need sound advice. Financial services professionals make decisions that can make or break small businesses and individual investors. When they seek out a life coach to help further their careers, they look for one who is well versed in the activities that keep the financial services sector moving forward. For these clients, a successful life coach will be able to interpret statistical data as concisely as a credentialed member of the financial services community. Very few life coaches will qualify to guide this select group of finance professionals without a degree in financial services.

A typical financial services degree program exposes you to financial theory in investments, lending, and insurance. Good programs offer experiential learning opportunities so that you can practice applying theoretical knowledge in practical ways.

3. Supply Chain Management

Players in the financial markets aren’t the only ones experiencing turmoil. The strength of supply chains everywhere are being tested, and logistics managers are feeling the pressure as well. Yesterday’s supply chains were more compartmentalized. A shortage of one item in one country only affected that country and its surrounding region. Today’s supply chains are streamlined and integrated thanks to advancements in technology. However, there is a price to pay for that kind of interconnectedness. When one country has a raw material shortage the effects can be felt around the world.

A life coach who has a degree in supply chain management can help managers look like superstars even in chaotic times. Supply management degree programs help students to understand the complex processes that companies need to use to get goods from one location to their final destinations on retail store shelves. Students also learn how to evaluate supply chains in order to improve processes and identify risks.

A large part of a life coach’s job is seeing situations from the perspectives of other people. Many supply chain management degree programs require group projects and internships. These opportunities allow aspiring life coaches to practice the skills of active listening and collaboration as team members work together toward making their projects successful. When an operations manager comes to you for guidance about keeping his supply-chain team engaged and happy, you’ll be able to draw on your knowledge and guide the manager to initiate strategies that are beneficial for both the company and its workforce.

4. Social Psychology

In a post-pandemic world more people are focusing on the things that really matter to them long-term, and improving family relationships is at the top of the list. Some current challenges that families face include motivating children to do their best in school even while they attend classes remotely and maintaining a good work-life balance while working from home. When life feels like it’s coming apart at the seams, it’s natural for a head of household to seek help from a life coach. These situations call for life coaches who are skilled in social psychology.

A social psychology degree program helps life coaches to understand how people’s thoughts and opinions change when other people are around to influence them. Many programs are research-based, and you’ll be expected to make hypotheses about human behavior and test them out throughout the program. During an undergraduate social psychology degree program, you’ll learn about probability and statistical analysis. Mastering these skills will help you to guide clients on goal setting for their households and making fact-based decisions about strategies that they need to accomplish those goals.

5. School Counseling

If you already have an undergraduate degree and want to help people from all walks of life to reach their potential, then you should consider launching your coaching career with a graduate degree in school counseling. In a graduate degree program in education counseling, you’ll learn how to help grade-school and college students to set academic goals for themselves that lead to responsible careers. Some skills that you’ll master upon completion of this degree program are program management, researching, and networking.

6. Education

Every teacher knows that students have different learning styles, and a degree in education helps them to understand how to effectively convey knowledge to each pupil who they encounter. A life coach will need the same knowledge and skills.

Today’s undergraduate degree programs in education offer a lot of value to aspiring life coaches. In addition to courses about learning styles, you’ll take ones that address psychology, research methods, and curriculum planning. These topics are foundational for life coaches who must understand human behavior, plan out coaching sessions for clients, and research various issues that are important to their clients. Other courses discuss teaching strategies and how to evaluate those strategies to accurately measure their success. These are the same activities that all life coaches must master to be effective.

7. Nutritional Science

You have a client who plans to run for a political office within the next few years. He’s smart and has a solid platform on which to highlight topics that are of concern to the community. The one thing that’s holding him back from being a superstar candidate is his health and appearance.

Significantly overweight, the client looks less vibrant than his opponent. The difference in appearance between the two candidates negatively influences public opinion and undermines the client’s self-confidence. He has two years to make over his appearance, and a life coach who has a degree in nutrition will suggest that he start improving himself from the inside.

A degree program in nutrition introduces aspiring life coaches to the fundamentals of a healthy dietary lifestyle. The life coach then helps the client to come up with strategies that lead to long-term wellness. The experts know that poor eating habits are a mindset. Nutrition degree programs offer courses on human behavior, culinary counseling, and sports nutrition.

8. Kinesiology

After the political candidate in the above example improved his diet, he turned to fine tuning his physique with regular exercise. A life coach who has a degree in kinesiology can help him with this phase of his wellness journey. A degree program in kinesiology includes course topics such as muscle physiology, biometrics, and exercise behavior.

A life coach who has a degree in kinesiology can lead the candidate to discover the wonderful benefits of regular, vigorous exercise. The client will decide on his own to build muscle that efficiently burns fat long after the gym session is over.

9. Communication

Communication is at the heart of every life coaching session, and, unfortunately, nearly every corporate problem is caused by a lack of communication or misdirected communication. A life coach who has participated in an undergraduate communication degree program understands how news is crafted, dispatched, and interpreted by different audiences. That coach can guide clients to greater heights in their careers and personal lives just by getting them to understand the power of correctly crafted and delivered messages. The life coach can also use her skills to identify looming public relations oversights that may come up as the client formalizes strategies to overcome different business problems.

10. Human Resources Management

Maintaining a happy and engaged workforce has many benefits, and some companies will hire a life coach for their executives to gain those benefits. An undergraduate degree program in human resource management introduces would-be life coaches to critical topics such as employment law, staffing, and workplace best practices. You’ll learn what it takes to craft strategies that are good for the workforce and that enable companies to reach their strategic goals more efficiently.

Final Thoughts

Today’s professionals want a competitive edge, and they’re not afraid to ask for help from a qualified, seasoned life coach. To become one who attracts the attention of clients, you’ll want to continue honing your skills with a life coach certification course. Besides giving you a credential that establishes credibility with a broad audience, a coaching certificate course offers you real-world practice and access to successful mentors. Continuing to build skills on the foundation of a four-year degree is how life coaches most often make names for themselves.

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Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.


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Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?