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What Do Coaches Make? And Other Answers About Coaching Sustainability

June 02, 2022 by Lauren Gombas

Coaching is a growing industry, with a 33% increase in coach practitioners from 2015 to 2019. Despite the increase of coaches in the industry, it did not slow down the industry's revenue as 2019 pulled in a whopping $2.849 billion in revenue, a 21% increase from 2015. These are impressive and promising numbers, demonstrating that the popularity and effectiveness of the profession has, and will continue to grow over time. 

Life Coach Salary Breakdown

ICF's 2020 report lists the average coaching income as $62,500 for North American practitioners, while the global annual salary sits around $47,100. However, coaching salary varies wildly based on any number of factors including: 

What Do Coaches Make? And Other Answers About Coaching Sustainability
  • Allocated time
  • Number of Clients
  • Hourly rate
  • Being either an external (working independently) or internal (working within an organization) coach 
  • Niche
  • Geographic location
  • Education level

Due to the factor-based variation, especially the factor of time (many coaches work with clients on a part-time basis), it can be helpful to think of coaching salaries more in terms of hourly rates. On average, life coaches charge somewhere between $125 and $350 per hour depending on any of the factors mentioned above. Newer coaches often charge less than this average and high-end coaches often charge quite a bit more than that number. 

It is important to take all factors into account. Being a new coach doesn’t necessarily equate to low-end pricing if, for example, that new coach has a master’s degree or Ph.D. in something related to their coaching niche. Additionally, education and years of experience may not matter when working with a niche geared toward low-income communities. 

Niche also plays a big role in the average salary or hourly rate of life coaches. Three of the most common coaching niches break down as follows:  

The data above does not specify part-time or full-time work or the number of hours. It's important to note that coaching salaries and data are not stagnant. As these numbers could fluctuate and don't represent all of the niches in coaching, we would highly suggest continuing to conduct research.

However, we can say that coaching salary grows with experience; in fact, the ICF states experience as the most significant predictor of income or revenue. The more years a coach has under their belt, the higher their income. 

Knowing What to Charge

There are a few ways to consider what you’d like to charge. Probably the most basic way is to start with your ideal salary and time investment, and work your way backward. For example, perhaps you want to make $50,000 per year and you can only work 20 hours per week. These 20 hours will also include your time spent on marketing, client communication, and other administrative work, leaving you with approximately 10 hours to spend with clients. If you do that math backward, you’d need to charge approximately $96/hour for your one-on-one coaching time. 

Another way to calculate your coaching salary is to consider all of the aforementioned factors. Your level of education, training, and life experience all count when considering a salary or hourly rate for yourself. In addition, you’ll want to consider your offerings, such as group coaching and classes. Taking these things into consideration, you can select an hourly rate that feels most appropriate to your skill set and experience. 

Coaches can also add to their income through additional services, such as speaking engagements, blog writing, and workshops.

Tips to Add Value (and Profit) to Your Coaching Business

In a recent Coaching to Flourish Q&A, Coach Training EDU founder John Andrew Williams and CTEDU Assessor Raj Anderson discussed a few things coaches need to focus on early to create a sustainable practice:

  • Coaches first need a general idea of what they offer and who their clients are. For example, a coach's niche could be helping people work on personal projects. Clients might include high schoolers who want to work on developing a project outside of school or working professionals with passion projects. 
  • Next, John challenged coaches to consider how they can sustainably deliver value. How can a coach offer value for free while sustaining their business? For example, Coach Training EDU offers value through free written and video content. John cautioned coaches on getting too caught up in the practical business aspects such as setting appointments, as they will come in time.
  • Finally, Raj and John suggested thinking about sustainability in forging solid relationships. As John mentioned, don't go into networking to convince fellow networkers to become clients. Instead, create pathways to workshops and client referrals. 

Regardless of which direction a coach goes in, any coach has the ability to find both financial opportunities, especially when acquiring a life coaching certification, and create value for themselves and their practice.

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