Become a Speaking Coach: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a speaking coach. Research the education requirements, training, licensure information and experience you will need to start a career as a speaking coach.

Should I Become a Speaking Coach?

Speaking coaches instruct others on how to improve their ability to give effective public oral presentations. Speaking coaches may work with many different kinds of students, including high school and college students enrolled in speech classes, as well as corporate executives who wish to learn more effective public speaking techniques. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), speaking coaches may be categorized as self-enrichment teachers and may often be self-employed or work part-time. Though this may make it more difficult to find stable, full-time work in the field, the BLS predicts faster-than-average job growth for self-enrichment teachers such as speaking coaches.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Will vary by employer and job environment
Degree Field Communications
Licensure and/or Certification Optional certification is available through the International Coach Federation (ICF) and other organizations
Key Skills Public speaking, instructional skills, organizational skills, patience
Salary (2014) $36,020 (median for self-enrichment education teachers)

Sources: Job postings for November 2012, International Coach Federation, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While the educational requirements for a career as a speaking coach may differ by employer, many individuals entering this field can benefit from earning a bachelor's degree. Coursework might differ depending on what type of audience a coach wishes to instruct. Students who wish to be university speech professors or corporate speech coaches may find it helpful to get a bachelor's degree in communications. Students who participate in such a degree program will study the theory and practice of effective communication methods, both verbal and written. Classes might also address how different social or cultural contexts condition communication. Courses of study can include public speaking, business communication, leadership, team communication, argumentation and persuasion. Individuals who wish to teach speech in public schools will need to take courses in education as well as communications.

Success Tip:

  • Join organizations that provide opportunities to practice public speaking skills. Individuals who wish to be employed as experts in public speaking may find it helpful to hone their skills through practice as well as coursework. Many universities offer clubs and organizations that give students opportunities to improve their public speaking skills, such as debate teams, speech clubs and collegiate chapters of Toastmasters.

Step 2: Consider a Graduate Degree

Although a graduate degree is not essential, speaking coaches may be more marketable with a master's degree in communications. Such a degree program can prepare students to transition to the professional realm with courses in interpersonal, intercultural and media communication. Students may take courses in public presentations, organizational analysis and conflict management. A senior thesis or project related to interpersonal, group or cross-cultural communications may also be required.

Success Tip:

  • Complete a certificate program. Coaching certificate programs usually include further education on leadership, group organization, business communication and coaching skills. Students might discuss ideas in managerial skills, team building and behavioral change. These programs also provide a forum for speaking coaches to get feedback on their style, presentation and areas for improvement.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Speaking coaches may work in a variety of environments, ranging from high school and university classrooms to corporate training centers. The experience required for each environment will differ. Speaking coaches at the high school level may gain experience by putting together speech teams that take part in competitions sponsored by the National Forensic League. Speaking coaches at the collegiate level may enter the field by taking part-time teaching positions or positions at community colleges. Corporate speaking coaches might find it helpful to begin their careers by working for public relations, sales or marketing departments. Experience with public speaking at the corporate level may help aspiring speaking coaches learn the most effective means of communication in that particular environment.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Graduates may consider joining the National Communication Association (NCA), which hosts an annual convention for communications professionals to network and circulate research findings. The NCA also offers a job board which may help members find opportunities for career advancement as a public speaker or speaking coach.

Step 4: Earn Certification Credentials

Speaking coaches may seek voluntary accreditation through independent communications organizations. Certification is not required; however, corporate employers may favor speaking coaches who are credentialed. The International Coach Federation offers three certifications based on hours of work experience and completion of coach training programs. Alternatively, high school speaking coaches who have completed educational requirements and accrued work experience are eligible for certification by the National Forensic League.

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