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What is a career coach and what do they do?

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At a glance

  • A career coach provides guidance and advice to clients who feel they need help to achieve their ideal career goals.
  • Communication and leadership skills are important qualities to have as a career coach.
  • One foundation for this career is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field. In this way, coaches can hone their leadership knowledge.
  • To learn more about how you can build your leadership skills with a business degree, visit University of Phoenix.

A career coach works with candidates who want to identify and accomplish new career goals. They often work with entry-level employees who want to achieve higher pay or more meaningful employment. In other cases, they provide career services for students looking to enter a particular field.

Traits like patience, positivity and respect are important when working in this field. Additionally, you need to be flexible and supportive to empathize with clients. An effective career coach is typically someone who listens to clients’ needs and understands how to best serve as their advocate.

Start your business career on the right foot. Explore business degrees at University of Phoenix! 


Career coach skills

Career coaches should develop skills in several key areas, including:

  • Interpersonal communication: Speaking and working with clients to effectively assess their needs.
  • Employee motivation: Inspiring clients to become the best versions of themselves, both personally and professionally.
  • Customer service: Solving problems that clients might have during any portion of their career journey.
  • Behavior analysis: Providing support and guidance for clients based on their individual behavior patterns, tendencies and existing skills.
  • Instruction: Teaching a client about which skills they will need to find more success in their particular field.
  • Time management: Using time productively to balance client meetings, correspondence and other responsibilities.

You will also need to know how to operate basic technology. For example, in addition to basic internet proficiency, you should be familiar with a variety of software used for customer relationship management, office productivity and communication.

How to become a career coach

To prepare for this field, aspiring career coaches generally need a combination of education and experience.

Earn a degree

While there’s not a particular path to becoming a career coach, consider a bachelor’s degree in business. A business degree can teach skills in communication, management and operations. This may also help you develop abilities in other relevant areas, such as inclusive leadership.

A master’s degree in business administration can help polish foundational skills in business management and operations while giving you even more insight into the best ways to lead teams or individuals toward positive change.

Gain professional experience

Professional experience allows you to practically apply the skills you’ve learned in your degree program as you transition from the classroom to the real world.

Many aspiring career coaches prefer to gain professional experience in a controlled environment. Look for an internship or apprenticeship program, one that creates hands-on opportunities for learners who are ready to deal directly with clients. This allows you to further learn under people with more experience.

The right mentor can also help you gain professional experience as a career coach. They can teach you the ins and outs of the profession, exposing you to different techniques and answering questions you might have while applying new skills. They can also help you grow your own professional network by introducing you to others in the industry.

Earn certifications

Many career coaches obtain certifications to improve their baseline skills and stay up to date with trends. Certification can also help emphasize your professionalism and dedication to detail when speaking with potential clients about a partnership.

Common certification programs are typically approved by the International Coaching Federation, a nonprofit organization that provides respected training programs for career coaches in virtually every field.

University of Phoenix (UOPX) does not offer specific certification for career coaching. However, it does have a Certificate in Leadership and Management, which teaches useful skills such as influential leadership, integrative business practices and change management.

Helpful certification programs not aligned with UOPX include:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC): Baseline coaching certification program that requires more than 60 hours of coaching education and more than 100 hours of coaching experience.
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC): Baseline coaching certification program that requires more than 125 hours of coaching education and more than 500 hours of client experience.
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC): High-level coaching certification program that requires an active or previous PCC credential and more than 200 education hours and upward of 2,500 hours of client coaching experience.

Whichever program you decide to pursue, look for one that helps you grow your skills. Certification programs with mentor coaching, performance evaluation and regular exams are often well equipped to help you gain skills and knowledge that will better help you help future clients.

Find a job

Once you’ve completed your education and gained experience in the field, you should be ready to begin your professional career in coaching. Though this can take time, your network and professional knowledge can help grow your potential client leads.

Make sure to take full advantage of your network. The connections you’ve made while obtaining a degree, completing certification or gaining industry experience can be useful when looking for employment. The people you’ve met can help you identify open positions, provide client or job opportunities and even teach new abilities to close skills gaps.

If you intend to work independently, you’ll need to attract and retain your own clients. As you connect with working professionals in different industries, look for employees with big goals who are working below their potential. These individuals often make great coaching clients.

In other cases, you might need to advertise your services to land new clients. You can pay for advertisements on popular websites or use social media to expand your reach. Some career coaches choose to write blogs or create useful videos that demonstrate their knowledge and capabilities.


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Is becoming a career coach right for you?

Career coaching provides meaningful work for enthusiastic, communicative professionals. These positions are best for people who want to make a difference in the lives of others while helping them unlock their potential.

Choosing a career that’s a good fit for you is a process that can take much consideration and time. But if you’re looking for a career that allows you to communicate and lead others toward their goals, this may be the right option for you.

Learning leadership at University of Phoenix

As noted, there is not an established career coaching path as a guaranteed outcome with University of Phoenix programs. However, UOPX’s business degrees and certificates teach leadership and management skills that can be useful in the field. Here are a few programs to consider:

Certificate in Leadership and Management — This certificate program teaches skills such as influential leadership, integrative business practices and change management.

Associate of Arts with a concentration in Business Fundamentals — This program aids in developing a solid foundation in communication, problem-solving and productivity.

Bachelor of Science in Business with a Leadership and Management Certificate — This online degree prepares you to manage employees to help companies achieve their goals, which can be useful when you are looking to help clients achieve theirs as well. Skills taught in this program include communication, leadership, management, operations and leadership character.


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