What's the difference between a life coach and a career coach?

August 23, 2021

Life and work seem to be mixed these days, in the wake of COVID where most knowledge workers have been working from home with their families listening into their zoom calls. Especially at times like this, it can feel like you need a coach – someone to ask you questions and enable you through the daily challenges of the professional world. So, is it a life coach or a career coach you need?

Career coaching focused on your professional work skills, relationships, and goal setting, to enable you a clear path towards achieving your work aspirations (Yarborough, J. P., 2018). Career coaching, or sometimes called professional coaching, can be started at any stage of your career, and gives methodology to support you to make the best professional decisions for you.

Benefits ofCareer Coaching

·      Gives Confidence

·      Teaches professional skills that help in today's world

·      Enables strong relationships and networks

·      Builds a strong and technically attractive resume

·      Improves decision-making

·      Helps in making a plan that leads to your destination.

Career Coaching is Different from Life Coaching

Life coaching deals with your lifestyle, and decisions about relationships, goals and ways of being your best self outside of work (Garcia, N. M., 2015). While it is true that if you’re working on developing your skills and character outside of work, this will have benefits and transfer over to your professional career, and vice versa, life coaching and career coaching us different techniques, and the coaches themselves are specialized and trained differently. To paint the difference between life coaching and career coaching more specifically:

·      Career coaching is related to your job or goal; life coaching is related to personal achievement.

·      Career coaching helps in finding professional opportunities and career shifting, life coaching helps in life planning, making fine relationships in a society with others.

·      Both career coaching and life coaching use techniques and models grounded in positive psychology.

·      Career coaching gives a strong attitude towards jobs, help in making career plans, life coaching deals with mental health development and your plans for your personal life.

·      Career coaching gives leadership style and attitude while life coaching gives purpose in life.

Your career coach will probably have a background in psychology or HR and should be qualified with the ICF or EMCC or another globally recognized body. Life coaching is less regulated than career or professional coaching, so it’s important you take references and get to know the background of your life coach before deciding on how much influence they should have in your mental frameworks for personal development. While both career coaching and life coaching are young in their development as fields of practice, the research evidence for career coaching has been proven effective through scientific study, while life coaching has often failed to adopt an evidence-based research approach, and therefore doesn’t have a strong evidence base (David, 2016). For this reason, it can be suggested that professionals looking to strengthen their professional AND personal skills might consider engaging a career coach and a counsellor in parallel.

Professional coaching or career coaching is highly effective as a personal development and learning approach for professionals in any sector, with research showing impacts on managing others, influencing skills, wellbeing, and finding creative solutions to novel problems (Ballesteros-Sánchez, 2019., Lofthouse, 2019). As COVID has caused more pressure on managers and employees to develop these skills to be productive and effective in new, often remote environments, career coaching has become an even more impactful development method. Because it’s hyper-personalized to your motivations and needs, and because of the training standards of the career coach, it’s more effective than taking an online course or finding a mentor.

Reach out if we can help you find the right career coach for you.


[1] Yarborough, J. P. (2018). Therole of coaching in leadership development. New directions for studentleadership, 2018(158), 49-61.

[2] Garcia, N. M. (2015, October). Aroadmap to the design of a personal digital life coach. In InternationalConference on ICT Innovations (pp. 21-27). Springer, Cham.

[3] Ballesteros-Sánchez, L.,Ortiz-Marcos, I., & Rodríguez-Rivero, R. (2019). The impact of executivecoaching on project managers’ personal competencies. Project ManagementJournal, 50(3), 306-321.

[4} Lofthouse. R. (2019). Coaching in education: A professional development process information. Professional development in education, 45(1), 33-45.

[5] Harris, B. L. (1982). A holisticapproach to coaching. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation &Dance, 53(3), 29-30.

[6] Bhatti, N., Maitlo, G. M.,Shaikh, N., Hashmi, M. A., & Shaikh, F. M. (2012). The impact of autocraticand democratic leadership style on job satisfaction. Internationalbusiness research, 5(2), 192.

[7] David, O. A., & Breitmeyer,A. (2016). Life coaching: An introduction to the special issue. Journal ofEvidence-Based Psychotherapies, 16(1), 1.

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