Updated: Jan 7
On average, IACC-certified career coaches earn $137K USD a year—within a range of $0 to $500,000. They’ve all gone through the same certification process, so beyond things like the region where you’re working and the macroeconomic environment, what differentiates a high-earning coach from a struggling one? And what are the different ways a career coach can make money?
How do career coaches make money?
Career coaches can provide workshops with a group of job seekers. One IACC career coach delivers weekend workshops at his nearby university. He has two major topics for the workshop: 1. Résumé writing and 2. Interviewing skills.
Workshops are a great way to service a large number of people efficiently and effectively. It also gives your clients to form a support network with one another as they’re facing similar challenges in their job search.
There is also one-on-one coaching, which is my preferred method of coaching. I am able to tailor the coaching specifically to the needs of my clients. For example, I have a client trying to get a promotion from director to vice-president. At the same time, I have a client that is struggling to find their calling in life. And yet another client who knows exactly the job that he wants and I am working with him to land it. Coaching each of them in one session or workshop would be challenging.
One-on-one coaching is most fulfilling for coaches that are looking to make deep and personal connections with their clients. The upside to one-on-one coaching is that you can tailor your support to the person’s specific needs. But the downside is that a coach has only certain number of hours in a day and thus the the number of clients may be limited.
Other income streams
As you grow your experience as a career coach, new income streams start to open up. Some career coaches publish books about key parts of the job search and earn royalties from the sale of their books or guides. Publishing a book can also add credibility for the coach and allow them to charge more for one-on-one sessions or workshops.
Similarly, career coaches are asked to be speakers at large conferences and events and are paid for their time preparing the presentation and appearing as keynote speakers. Just as published books and guides can help build credibility and interest from potential clients, so can speaking events.
Join a company as a career coach
Gaining popularity are in-house career coaches. University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business publicized two executive career coach positions. Boston Consulting Group (BSG) just listed an open position for a career coach as part of their internal coaching team. And Lee Hect Harrison, global outplacement firm, is always looking for experienced career coaches.
There are many ways in which a career coach can make money. It often comes down to whom you wish to support, what you love to do in the job search process, and the value that you can offer to a client.
Do you have what it takes to make money as a career coach?
One of the reasons we established the International Association of Career Coaches was because so many people in the coaching professions had asked us “But how are you making money?” We’ve fielded this question often enough that we did an audit of our top-earning coaches, in hopes of pinning down the main factors that distinguish the high earners.
The snowball effect of a reputation for success can’t be ruled out; it’s definitely easier to justify your fee when you’ve got a track record of helping people land six-figure jobs. But there’s more to it than that—and guess what, it’s not luck.
Common Theme #1: You’ve quit your day job.
This is the single most common factor—people who have to make it work are frankly going to do better for two reasons. They’re not being distracted by another job, and they have a pure need to stay afloat economically. It’s unsurprisingly very motivating and these people focus like lasers.
You do not need to quit your job right when you start your career coaching business, but you should understand that your earning potential is far greater than what you’ll see if coaching is purely a side hustle.
Common Theme #2: You’ve joined a group.
Those who earn more tend to be part of some type of mastermind group, mentor-mentee community or another group that holds them accountable to professional growth and shares ideas. These coaches usually have a broader range of ideas, tools and abilities., mA more expansive network of peers also speeds up how quickly they can connect and gain insights, and build more awareness of how to handle themselves, both in the marketing arena and with their clients.
Common Theme #3: Guts
Fortune favors the bold, folks. Coaches who earn more often simply don’t care about failing. They try different things and are constantly iterating if (when) they fail. The truth is, humans, learn more from failure than they tend to from success, so a flop-proof mentality is a good thing for a coach to cultivate. After all, you’re going to be helping people succeed in scoring jobs they love, and supporting them when they fail, so—your personal “D’oh!” moments are filled with potential insights that you can pass along to them.