Gone are the days where a professional coach is limited to work on a sports field. In fact, there are more coaches–and more importantly, more kinds of coaches—today than there have ever been before, a resurgence that is mainly due to the widespread pursuit of human optimization across countless industries.
That is, data science has demonstrated the very real economic costs of stress, sickness, and declining physical health within the workforce. And so in today’s world even corporate offices incorporate meditation spaces and nap rooms, massage services, and more robust athletic departments–which are in many cases the domain of a coaching professional.
As the spotlight shines on this issue, coaches of all specialties have stepped up to fill the increased demand for professionals whose task it is to optimize the workforce, and increase productivity across many different vectors.
What are Common Coaching Specializations?
Wherever there is a need for assistance in the self-improvement of an individual or group of individuals, there are coaching professionals to provide such assistance. But for the most part the most fundamental choice is that between a career in health coaching or business coaching. Health coaches focus primarily on the interplay of health and productivity, and will develop strategies with nutrition and exercise in mind.
Business coaches focus primarily on the occupational aspect of productivity, and will develop strategies for their clients to encourage achievement of career goals in business. But within each of these career paths are many of sub-specialities, and of course all the individual expertise and interests that make each professional coach unique.
A health coach for example might specialize specifically in using yoga and meditation to reach positive outcomes. Conversely, a business coach might specialize in working with small businesses and startups.
A Successful Career in Coaching Starts with Education
As the above introduction insinuates, a coaching career is one whose form and direction will depend entirely on the choices made by each individual coach:
- What approach will be the focus of your coaching career?
- Business, health, or sports coaching
- What industry will you be coaching in?
- Corporate, consulting, or private practice
- What level of education will you pursue?
- Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s
Some of the most lucrative coaching careers are those that require the most specialized education, such as coaching with special needs children or language coaching. So while there is a tremendous amount of flexibility within the coaching profession, it is crucial that prospective coaches decide early on what necessary education and preparation they must pursue.
Because unlike other professions, coaches won’t always be able to earn the necessary experience they need in the workforce–that is, there isn’t the same hierarchy of occupations that one might expect. Coaches might find it very difficult to find entry level coaching jobs in their desired area of specialization. For this reason, there is an increased emphasis on education level and degree specialization in the coaching industry.
Review of Coaching Education Options
In general, prospective coaching professionals will want to establish early on whether they wish to begin education at the associate’s or bachelor’s level, or whether they wish to begin building education in the workforce or entrepreneurial sector. Coaching programs exist in the following formats:
- Associate’s of Coaching Science
- Bachelor’s of Coaching Science
- Master’s of Coaching Science
- Doctorate of Coaching Science (These programs are typically highly specialized and will not usually have this general of a title)
- Certificate of Professional Coaching
Coach Versus Therapist
One of the first decisions you will need to make is between the traditional coaching track or the coaching-therapist track, such as the choice between athletics coaching or sports therapy. While a coaching profession implies more of a one-on-one working relationship with clients, a therapist might work in collaboration with other therapists or coaches to deliver care to clients. Similarly, an education in therapy is typically more focused on clinical care, while a coaching education is more focused on managerial dynamics. That is, therapists will earn education that prepares them for a range of working environments beyond that of the coaching role.
In terms of a logical breakdown, it looks something like this: all therapists are coaches but not all coaches are therapists. So in deciding what education path will best prepare one for their ideal career, one must decide whether their focus will be exclusively coaching or if one might pursue employment in other capacities as well.
While the core intent of this guide is to assist prospective coaching professionals, here is a list of some great resources for those interested in a therapist’s profession:
Core Coaching Specializations
Otherwise prospective coaches will want to build an education through a traditional degree program focused either specifically on coaching, or on a sub-specialization such as nutrition, sports coaching, or business coaching. Many coaching degree programs have built-in specialization options. Others offer flexible curriculum meant to allow students to build a knowledge base in an area of their own choosing.
With this in mind, earning a specialization or area of focus within your coaching degree is paramount. So much so, that choosing the degree program with the appropriate focus or degree specialization will be more important than many other points of assessment when choosing a program.
If you are unsure what specialization might benefit you most, don’t worry. Below is a list of coaching degree specializations and paths of professional expertise for you to consider. While there are other specializations available, these are the core conceptual options.
A nutrition coach is a professional who provides clients with all manor of assistance in developing a healthy relationship with food and eating behavior. That is, a nutrition coach helps clients develop goals for healthier eating by creating meal plans, caloric analyses, and by assisting in emotional issues related to nutrition.
Nutrition coaches will either want to pursue a traditional education in nutrition, or will want to find a coaching degree program with a specialization in nutrition. Here are some additional resources for those interested in learning more about a career in nutrition:
- What Does a Nutritionist Do?
- What Can I Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition?
- What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition?
- 5 Great Careers in Nutrition
Assistant Coach or Head Coach
Every sports team, big and small, is helmed by a coaching professional. The largest teams might require many coaching professionals, while the smaller teams might only require one. Many coaching professionals get their start while coaching middle school or high school sports teams as part-time faculty members.
One building a notable resume, these coaching professionals look to the big leagues, that is, college sports programs and potentially even professional sports teams. At the highest level, even assistant coaches make great money, but these positions are highly competitive and require years of demonstrated success in the coaching industry. So at least in the case of sports coaching, passion must be the driving force to navigate all the early work and effort that will not be as financially rewarding.
Sports / Athletics Director
These professionals incorporate the daily roles and responsibilities of a sports coach with the more business-minded demands of a corporate environment. Many high schools, colleges, and large companies employ sports or athletics directors to oversee their sports team activities or athletics offerings.
In the case of a sports director within a school, primary responsibilities would entail ensuring sports team compliance with local district and health codes. These professionals would also be tasked with ensuring that each team had the equipment and infrastructure in place to compete with other teams.
In the case of an athletics director in a corporate environment, primary responsibilities would entail ensuring gym equipment functionality and safety, as well as managing budgets for the acquisition and upkeep of equipment. In many cases these professionals also develop corporate policies for athletic activity, such as participation in company sporting events or athletics participation benchmarks.
Business coaches advise and consult fellow business-minded professionals either from personal experience or from a strong education in business development. Business coaches work in a variety of environments such as startup incubators, business development centers, and business consultancy firms.
The primary edict of the business coach profession is to bring client businesses to success. The route to success taken is entirely up to the business coach, and the flexibility of approach here implies the nuance of this profession.
Much like how a sports coach will need to choose a specific sport to master if he or she is to excel in the field, a business coach will need to specialize in either a type of business model or in a specific industry of business. Some business coaches specialize in working with startups, while others might focus on providing optimization for well-established businesses.
While a nutrition coach focuses almost exclusively on encouraging client health through dietary practice, a health coach employs more of an emphasis on general health goals such as being more energetic, more productive, or simply ‘feeling better.’
While the approach implied in the health coaching profession is notably ambiguous, each individual health coach typically offers a specialized approach that matches their background and expertise. For instance, some health coaches specialize in herbal medicine or alternative health practices. Others might employ a holistic approach that includes elements of nutrition coaching, business coaching, and psychology.
Given the wide range of forms a health coaching career can take, it is crucial that prospective health coaches build skills and knowledge that can distinguish them in the field. There are many health coaching degree programs offered by reputable schools across the country.
Much like a health coach, a life coach employs a broad focus and wide range of skills in order to guide clients to more contented lives. As anyone might guess, what is contentment to one might not be to another, and so the craft of the life coach is either in adapting to the vacillations of client needs, or in offering a more singular solution through specialized practice.
That is, many life coaches have developed a program for success that they take their clients through, while other life coaches tailor the program to each client’s needs. Given the vastly different formats of coaching in this profession, education and specialization are key factors in building a successful career.
The Fastest Growing Coaching Niches
A common concern of prospective professionals of any career is that after investing thousands of dollars and years of time in a degree program, the career might have changed for the worse by the time of graduation. This fear is not unfounded and might be a real concern for certain areas of the coaching market.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular and fastest growing areas of the coaching market. Earning a degree in any of these areas represents a safe bet, though it should be noted that the fastest growing sectors of a jobmarket are not always the most lucrative sectors.
Consult the subsequent section if you are curious about any crossover between these fastest growing coaching niches and top-end earning potential.
Addictions are running rampant in America’s 2020 as instant gratification is no longer a matter of question, it’s an ideal that when not met generates outrage in consumers that reverberates throughout all of social media and beyond. Next day deliveries, abundant food and alcohol, and increasingly normalized pharmaceuticals all contribute to a population that is probably addicted to one thing or another.
Addiction coaches are those who look to curtail this devastating trend, and offer their services to individuals who are addicted. Addiction coaches typically specialize in some form of addiction such as food, substance abuse, or even videogames. Building such specialization allows these coaches to work in private practice with clients in a one-on-one format.
Other coaches work with large groups of addicted individuals, leveraging group therapy dynamics to encourage positive outcomes. And another group of addiction coaches maintain a degree of separation, and advise clients through e-books and online coaching events. The sheer number and form of addiction coach career incarnations suggests the growing size of this market.
Women Empowerment Coach
Gender equality–or lack thereof–has been an increasingly hot-topic of the last decade. According to research on the economic impact of female workers conducted by the United Nations, full participation of women in the workforce could unlock trillions of dollars. In short, many economists suggest that to build a future of abundance requires that we bolster our female professionals so that they can contribute to the workforce.
Women empowerment coaches are professionals who specialize in completing this task with the utmost success. These coaches work either in private practice or within large corporate structures. In the former, these coaches might work with women who need guidance or direction in building professional success. In the latter, these coaches work with the company’s female employees to ensure that they are satisfied, driven, and prepared to take on new challenges.
In other words, these empowerment coaches seek not only to ensure female participation in the workforce but also to ensure female thriving in the workforce.
Employee Satisfaction Coach
Employee satisfaction coaches are much like empowerment coaches but with a different focus. Employee satisfaction coaches mainly work in a corporate environment (some do work in private practice), in order to ensure that a company’s employees maintain a positive relationship with the working experience.
Employee satisfaction coaches often work closely with managers and program directors to tailor an employee’s workload and direct to meet their desires and needs. Mountains of research exists that proves employees work better when they believe their employer cares for them. And the employee satisfaction coach is the instrument for delivering that care.
Sales coaches are professionals of high charisma with demonstrable success in business, specifically in the area of sales. As anyone who has worked in a sales position will tell you, salesmanship is somewhat of an innate skill, that is, many people are just bored with it while many are born without it. Research on the subject suggests that salesmanship is a skill attached to certain personality traits and lived experiences, but it is also knowledge based.
In other words, through research on salesmanship we know what makes someone good at it. And because of this, there are coaches who devote their careers to making others good at it. Sales coaches typically work in private practice, though some reach this position within a company after demonstrating tremendous success in sales.
Because the role of the sales coach requires such affluence in sales, suggesting sufficient education or preparation is difficult. Some individuals might not require any preparation while it might take years to cultivate the necessary skills in others–in which case their best chance might be to consult a sales coach.
In the age of instant gratification, ubiquitous dating sites and apps, and rampant porn addiction, many individuals and couples alike are finding difficulty in the bedroom. While many might try to pretend the opposite, sex is a complicated matter and represents a dynamic interplay of emotion, morality, and personality made muddier by the innate challenge of interpersonal relationships.
This topic is made even more challenging to discuss given the stigmas surrounding low libido and sexual difficulty. That is, many of those who encounter these kinds of problems are convinced that they cannot bring it up in a social setting without inviting ridicule.
Thankfully, sex coaches dedicate their careers to providing aid and guidance to these individuals. These coaches incorporate a vast body of interdisciplinary research in order to advise both individuals and couples, regardless of the social-moral structure their sexual activities might be entangled with, and as such many of these coaches choose to specialize.
Small Business Coach
The entrepreneurial spirit has always been a driving force in American culture, but with the advent of online business there are more small businesses in American than ever before. Unfortunately though, nearly 90% of all startups will fail within the first three years.
This is a crippling reality for many entrepreneurs and lived experience for many others. Small business coaches are the frontline professionals who help to curtail such bleak outcomes for their client businesses. These coaches employ various business development skills and pull from interdisciplinary backgrounds to guide small business owners to successful futures.
These coaches often work in private practice, or in business development offices. As such these professionals can often find employment in state or even federal programs, though these positions are simultaneously more rare and competitive.
The Most Lucrative Coaching Jobs
Let’s face it. Sometimes the deciding factor in one’s career comes down to financial considerations. If you love the role of a coach without specifically caring for one form over another, then you might prefer to simply prefer the most lucrative option.
Declaring which career in coaching will be most lucrative is anything but a certainty however, since coaching careers differ so drastically from one another. These differences are mainly due to geographic and social factors, as well the coaching experience and specialization of individual coaches.
So with that in mind, these will be the top 6 most lucrative positions from a top-end perspective. That is, if you are pursuing the coaching careers with the most earning potential then these will be your best options, however if you are interested in careers with the highest median earnings then you will be better served consulting another ranking.
FBS College Football Head Coach (Football Bowl Subdivision)
Average Earnings: $2,700,000
Earnings of Top 14%: $306,000
Earnings of Top 10%: $207,000
Women Empowerment Coach
Earnings of Top 30%: $120,000
Earnings of Top 30%: $116,000
Earnings of Top 10%: $100,000+