The idea that you are drawn to the pursuit of this laudable practice is great. But when it comes to qualifications the jury is still out. You can take related college courses and you can pick up a certificate at a 2-day seminar. However, life coaching has come from being thought of as just a fad, to growing, through the work of Thomas Leonard, the first to develop coaching as a profession in the 1980’s, to become a true discipline. Still, good, trusted qualifications will help get you get established.
A degree in psychology and a degree or experience in coaching in other fields would be helpful. Thomas Leonard also helped found the psychology post grad course in Life Coaching. The U.S. government has not begun to regulate this profession yet as it does others, but if it does well, accredited credentials will be essential.
There are many schools offering Life Coach training on the Internet, but remember, like most certifications/acknowledgements, they are only as good as the institution that issues them. Joining a coaching community or coaching association is a good start. The International Coaching Federation (ICF), Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and Master Certified Coach, offers credentials.
When looking at possible life coach credentials, examine the particular area of interest you have in coaching, e.g. Personal, business, employment, parenting, marriage, divorce, bereavement, etc. then seek credentials unique to that profession. A life coach with a degree in business administration may be more attractive to business clients. A life coach with human resource training may attract those looking for the right career or job. If you already have a particular interest and credentials in that field, you might consider seeking to coach in that particular area or niche. This is called “niche coaching”.
Keep in mind, no formal or standardized qualification for life coaching has been established across the different schools and no government regulations have been set for life coaching, but all of this may soon change as interest in the discipline grows so it is a good idea to become a member of the one of the coaching communities so you can keep up with changes in life coaching qualifications.
Lastly, there are certainly personal skills and qualifications that a life coach needs, e.g. the ability to be involved with your client while staying objective enough to offer overview/big picture/ and positive criticism. Being supportive but being firm, non-judgmental, etc. You may think you already have these attributes but joining coaching communities and taking the best coach training will help you improve and develop these personal skills.