Life coaches help people prioritize their goals, which might be in the areas of work-life balance, parenting skills, health and fitness, retirement plans and personal finances. In Pennsylvania, you do not need a license to become a life coach. Life coaching is generally an unregulated profession, and individuals are free to give themselves the title of life coach with little or no training. You may want to consider certain types of training, however, if you plan to become a life coach.
Pennsylvania does not require life coaches to apply for any type of license, receive any specific certification or undergo any special education or training. If you are operating as a certain type of business entity, such as a corporation, you may need to file paperwork with the Pennsylvania Department of State or with your specific locality. However, if you are operating as a sole proprietorship, you do not need to file any paperwork with the Department of State.
Although no formal training is required for life coaches, several degrees are useful and may help you gain the trust and respect of prospective clients. The International Coach Federation and the International Association of Coaches, or IAC, offer certifications for life coaches. The IAC offers three levels of certification that test skills such as engaged listening and expanding client potential.
Life coaches also may pursue associate's, undergraduate or master's degrees in counseling, psychiatry, psychology, human services or general social sciences. Other appropriate backgrounds include social work, career counseling and drug abuse counseling. Skills commonly associated with life coaching include goal setting, effective communication, ethical decision-making and organization.
If your services as a life coach overlap with those of a medical doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist, you can be cited for practicing these professions without a license. Ensure that you are well-trained in the services that you provide and that you do not provide services outside of your skill set, such as recommending medications to clients. Although the roles served by life coaches and therapists are similar to a limited extent, life coaches must avoid practicing therapy or they can end up in hot water with the authorities.