Top Coaching Careers to Pursue


Turn a desire to help others reach their potential into a fulfilling profession by pursuing a career as a coach. Coaches work in a variety of industries and specialize in certain areas to offer encouragement, provide support and help individuals overcome personal barriers to success. Once you discover the type of coaching that fits your interests and passions, you can work to begin a career within this rewarding field. In this article, we explain what to expect from a coaching career, coaching career requirements and the types of coaching positions you can pursue.

What is a coaching career?

A coaching career is a type of job that focuses on helping others fulfill their potential. A coach encourages and strengthens the skills of others in a variety of professional and personal settings. Coaches may work with many clients at once, within a single organization or with one individual.

Coaches help develop strategic goals for their clients and give specific feedback through mentoring sessions, planned activities and by written and oral feedback. They become a champion for the individuals or teams they coach, reinforcing positive elements and identifying beliefs and actions that interfere with a client reaching their goals.

Coaching careers vary in their formality and structure. Coaches may work within an organization to develop training procedures and specified meeting sessions, or they can work informally, meeting with clients at a more personal level to advise and listen to their needs.

Requirements to become a coach

Working as a coach requires a commitment to help others pursue excellence. Coaches need strong communication and critical thinking skills. They must be excellent listeners who practice empathy.

Though there is no formal career pathway to become a coach, many professionals begin their coaching careers by pursuing an undergraduate or advanced degree in a related field. You can also earn professional certifications for coaching specialties to prove your abilities and knowledge.

Here are some of the key skills and qualifications you need to excel in a coaching career:

  • Educational background: To begin a career as a coach, it may be helpful to pursue a degree in counseling, psychology or organizational development. Some coaches choose to earn an advanced degree in a program relevant to their coaching specialization.
  • Get coached: As you prepare for a career in coaching, it may be helpful to start a mentorship with an established professional coach. Seek out coaching firms in your area or online.
  • Coaching certifications: Earn a professional coaching credential through the international coach federation (ICF). The ICF offers the Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach, and Master Certified Coach credential programs. Earning certification shows high standards of ethics and excellence in the profession.
  • Knowledge and experience: Coaching is a broad profession that spans multiple industries and niche areas. Whatever your chosen field of coaching, you’ll need to invest time to research current trends within your specialization.

Types of coaches

Here are the most prominent types of professional coaches with information about what they do:

Life coach

A life coach works in a more personal manner with individual clients to act as a champion and advisor. Life coaches provide mentorship based on the needs of each client. They may offer advice and goal setting in many different areas including the following:

  • Relationships
  • Careers
  • Confidence
  • Personal development
  • Success
  • Happiness
  • Spirituality
  • Social interaction
  • Intimacy
  • Empowerment
  • Positivity

Career coach

Career coaches support an individual in various areas of professional development. They may support a client looking for a new job by reviewing a resume, helping craft a cover letter and practicing for interviews. Career coaches use their professional network to connect someone searching for work to more job opportunities. They can also offer insight to help a client decide on a career path to pursue using assessments and feedback sessions.

Athletic coach

Professional athletic coaches oversee players, practice and games for various levels of team sports. An athletic coach may specialize in a particular aspect of team sports like defensive plays or scoring. Sports coaches are responsible for guiding players by offering techniques to increase their abilities. They decide which position a player fills on a team and track their progress as they play. Coaches are also responsible for maintaining the mental and physical well-being of their players through training and encouragement.

Business/executive coach

A business coach works with business professionals to enhance their skills and create long and short-term goals for success in the workplace. Business coaches also act as executive coaches to encourage upper management in their leadership roles. Though individual improvement is important, a business coach encourages employees and owners as they strive to meet organizational goals.

Wellness coach

Professional wellness coaches work with clients to help them achieve health goals. Wellness coaches specialize in many health-related practices including:

  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Managing chronic medical conditions
  • Addiction and rehabilitation
  • Stress management
  • Depression
  • Fitness

Leadership coach

A leadership coach focuses on guiding executives or upper-level management to lead teams of people. Leadership coaches also assist executives in creating a vision and guiding strategic thinking for an organization. Coaches who work with leaders at this level often work with CEOs to help them evolve their leadership abilities.

Team coach

Team coaching involves working with an entire team and their leader to facilitate growth. A team coach may also help groups create a vision and set goals they can achieve together. Team coaches may also work together to “team coach” a group.

Educational coach

Educational coaches work within schools and with district leaders to encourage education professionals to perform instructional best practices. Educational coaches may specialize in a particular area of education such as curriculum development or educational leadership.

Top coaching jobs

Here are examples of positions you can fill once you begin a coaching career:

1. Behavior coach

National average salary: $36,050 per year

Primary duties: A behavior coach works with clients to improve and change negative actions into beneficial ones that can lead to more productivity and better life choices. Behavior coaches often encourage individuals to work toward independence by choosing positive behaviors that fit their environment.

2. Personal trainer

National average salary: $36,497 per year

Primary duties: A personal trainer works as a fitness and wellness coach. They develop and model exercise routines, advise clients about diet and nutrition and enhance an individual’s physical well-being through fitness goals.

Related: Learn About Being a Personal Trainer

3. Career coach

National average salary: $38,541 per year

Primary duties: Career coaches meet with clients to review job histories, make suggestions for career advancement and help individuals increase their professional network. Career coaches keep up with industry trends to offer advice about what employers are looking for in a new hire. They may offer seminars in a group setting such as speaking to prospective graduates on a college campus.

4. Head coach

National average salary: $41,270 per year

Primary duties: A head coach oversees the athletic functions of a sports team. Head coaches make strategic decisions for players before and during games. They may work with an owner or team manager to finalize choices for their team. Head coaches are also responsible for recruiting and retaining players they deem best for the team.

5. Soccer coach

National average salary: $46,990 per year

Primary duties: Soccer coaches lead soccer players through drills, plays and techniques as an attempt to lead the team to victory over an opponent. Soccer coaches are often former players who understand how to play the game. Soccer coaches must understand the intricate rules that dictate players’ moves on the field.

6. **Business coach**

National average salary: [$63,902 per year]

Primary duties: Business coaches often work with business owners to encourage organizational growth. Some coaches are entrepreneurs who have successfully grown startup companies and are now interested in helping others launch a profitable business.

7. Education specialist

National average salary: $65,188 per year

Primary duties: Education specialists oversee and advise instructional institutions about curriculum choice and implementation. They offer coaching to help educators improve lesson planning and instruction. They are also involved in reporting performance standards to the community.

8. **Executive coach**

National average salary: [$96,709 per year]

Primary duties: An executive coach works in the niche position of helping established high-level leaders expand and enhance their business capabilities. These coaches guide executive leaders through leadership transitions, company expansion and financial changes.