Another Portable Career: Expat Coaching

another cute soccer coaching picture

photo by unoguy on Flickr

This is the third part of a series on life coaching for expats. If you missed the first, you can read it here. In Part I I introduced the six coaches who contributed to this discussion, and reviewed what life coaching is and how expat coaching differs from general life coaching. In Part II I continued that discussion with some specific benefits for expats to use coaches, and some tips from our six coach interviewees.

As future expats, most of us will need to earn a living overseas. Writing, photography, teaching English and art are all eminently portable.

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Coaching is also a portable profession: most coaches conduct their sessions over the phone, making them location independent.

Here’s a little bit about what it takes.


I asked our six coaches first what background and qualifications do you need to be a coach?

There are no formal requirements. Anyone can call himself a coach. However, there are certification programs, and if you’re considering coaching as a career you should go through a recognized program.

In the US, the ICF (International Coach Federation) is the top dog. You can learn about their credentialing program here.

Louise belongs to the UK-based Association for Coaching.

Margarita pointed out that there are many accredited coaching schools to choose from, so you need to find one with the best fit for you.

If you can’t access a coaching school nearby, some offer classes by phone teleconference.

CTI, Coaches Training Institute was recommend by Margarita and Emmanuelle, and Coach U by Evelyn.

How Did You Become Interested in Coaching?

I asked each of the coaches how they became interested in coaching as a career.

After ten years in the corporate world, Emmanuelle was tired of office politics and wanted to go into business for herself. She wanted to contribute to her clients’ lives and successes. Since she travels and moves frequently, “coaching seemed a perfect fit for a portable career.”

Anne also came out of the corporate world — over 20 years worth. She, too, wanted a portable career, and she likes “helping others thrive no matter what they do or where they live.”

Heather “fell entirely in love with the positive growth coaching has for both clients and coaches.”

Throughout her adult life in investment banking and then as an expat accompanying partner, Evelyn found herself drawn to helping others in similar situations. “Eventually, as I learned more about coaching, the realisation that this was the profession for me dawned and I really haven’t looked back.”

Margarita had to find a portable career when she started traveling with her husband with the US Foreign Service. Along the way, she met a life coach. She began training and loved it, “and I was hooked.”

Each of them found they had a strong connection with other expats, so the niche of expat coaching was a natural evolution.

Where Do You Find Clients?

Anne, Heather and Emmanuelle have been positioned to find clients through word of mouth and in-person meetings at conferences and workshops, as well as online.

The internet is also a great source of clients for all six coaches. Margarita states that most of her clients find her through her blog or social media — Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Since Anne moved to Brussels, most of her clients come from LinkedIn.

Louise finds clients exclusively through the internet, although she plans to develop a local presence when she moves to mainland Portugal in the fall.

How Do You Get Paid

Since many of their clients are in different countries, I was curious about how the coaches get paid!

PayPal is the venue of choice — it’s cost effective and anyone can use it. Emmannuelle also takes checks (actually, since she’s in Canada she takes checques) and credit cards.

What Advice Would You Give Someone Who’s Interested in Becoming a Coach?

Heather told me:

“It’s a gift, but also a lot of hard work — both getting certified and hard personally as you get to know parts of yourself you may not like! And getting clients — if you have the love for coaching, and the ambition to be aggressive about handling various aspects of a business, this is for you! Also, make sure to attend different intro sessions for the programs out there — understand what you want out of the coaching (certification, accreditation, just fun…) And i’d recommend a program that offers in person and telephone coaching.”

Louise pointed out a sobering statistic:

“Talk to coaches about their careers. Investigate whether you want to work in a company as a coach or start your own business.

If you want to start your own business consider all the issues involved in starting a business – cost, investment and think carefully about the coaching niche you will position yourself in. Don’t think you can become a coach and then people will just come to you. It is reported by Dan Bradbury in the UK that 95% of UK coaches don’t make an adequate living from coaching. Now he is marketing to exactly these people so perhaps take this figure with a pinch of salt but even if it were only 70% – it still is a lot of people struggling to make a living!”

Evelyn pointed out:

“You’re going to need two types of skills: coaching skills, and business skills. You can be the most gifted, most dedicated coach in the world – but if you don’t know how to market your services and sell yourself, you won’t stay in business for very long. So take the time to craft a solid business plan and a well thought-out marketing strategy, to ensure that your coaching business thrives.”

Emmanuelle stated:

“Make sure that it’s really what you want to do as its hard to coach people on finding their inner truth if you’re not living your own. Coach U offers a short course called Becoming a Coach if you think it might be for you.”

Margarita emphasized the need for business savvy:

“Know how to run a business. Marketing and being out there for clients to find you takes a lot of effort, time, and energy and, as a coach, you must be prepared to spend a significant amount of hours on that.”

Anne made an interesting suggestion:

“Get a mentor coach to figure out what are your motives, understand what it takes to run a small business, marketing strategies, what is best cost effective training for you (it can be quite expensive,around $3,000-5,000)”

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Want to discuss coaching as a career? Add a comment below or “like” Future Expats on Facebook to join the discussion.


  1. I’m planning to head to China next Spring to enroll in Mandarin classes and teach English. I don’t think I’m qualified as a life coach, but I saw some job openings for childrens’ baseball coach.

    • Eric, good luck with your English teaching in China. I understand it’s one of the better markets for teaching English, as the pay/benefits are high relative to cost of living.

  2. Very helpful series of articles!
    Appreciate the comments from actual coaches also.
    I’m moving into expat coaching while living an expat life.
    The challenges and rewards mentioned are very accurate.


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