Career Coaching And How It Differs From Business Coaching

While there are many types of coaching, one theme that is common to all of them is change.

Change can be extremely difficult—and it is often hard to see the potential for positive change when we are in the midst of a negative or challenging situation.

Research into risk and risk aversion has shown that the belief that loss may possibly occur can prevent people from taking actions that could improve their lives, businesses, or otherwise result in a net gain for them. (Source: Kőszegi, B. & Rabin, M., 2007)

And, when people do take action, they often don’t follow through on it or give up quickly because they don’t see results right away.

The uncertainty and risk inherent to change can be paralyzing—but they are facts of life. It’s when we are facing significant change that we are most likely to seek out a coach to help us.

A coach can see the potential for positive transformation and guide the client through the process of making that change happen.

Naturally, one of the most common areas where people seek out coaching is in their career—a time of significant change and transition.

Career coaching is a process that helps people identify, set, and achieve their professional goals. A career coach might work with their clients on things like developing career plans, exploring different career options, developing interviewing and networking skills, negotiating job offers, and more.

People who are in the early stages of becoming a coach, or who have just recently signed up for a coach training course, are often overwhelmed by all the varied types of coaching specializations they can pursue.

Several of these coaching paths revolve around the work/professional sphere, and new coaches in training may understandably confuse “career coaching” with “business coaching.” While there is definitely some overlap, there are some major differences as well.

Let’s take a quick look at the similarities and differences between these two types of coaching:

Focus Areas

Business coaching generally focuses on helping business owners, leaders, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Some examples of things a business coach might help their clients with include:

  • Developing business strategies
  • Improving team productivity
  • Streamlining operations and efficiency
  • Increasing sales/profitability
  • Developing leadership skills

(Note: Executive coaching is a type of business coaching that specifically focuses on helping leaders within organizations improve their performance.)

In contrast, career coaching is more focused on helping individuals achieve their professional goals. This may include things like:

  • Finding a new job
  • Changing careers
  • Starting a business
  • Advancing in their current career path

As you can see, business coaching and career coaching share some commonalities, but they are still two distinct types of coaching.

Coaching Topics & Scope

While a business coach typically deals with topics such as marketing, sales, finance, and management, a career coach deals with topics such as resume writing, interviewing, networking, and job search strategies.

While business coaching may also touch on general topics like productivity, work relationships, time management, and goal setting, career coaching is more likely to focus specifically on short term goals related to finding a new job or making a career transition.

Business coaches typically work with their clients on a long-term basis, helping them to implement changes and achieve their business goals over time. Career coaches often work with clients on a shorter-term basis, helping them to make more immediate changes and achieve professional goals in the short term.

However, this isn’t always true. A career coach may work with a client on long-term goals as they navigate their career track, and a business coach may help a client set and achieve specific short-term goals.


Career and business coaching are two related, but distinct, fields. Both types of coaches can help their clients achieve professional and work-related success, but they work with different types of clients and focus on different areas. Career coaching can be an extremely valuable tool for anyone who is looking to make a change in their professional life.

If you’re interested in training to become a coach, it’s important to understand the differences between these and other coaching specializations so that you can ultimately choose the niche that you are most passionate about—and so that you can best serve your clients.

To learn more about what it takes to become a successful coach, check out: 7 Strategies for Achieving Success as a Coach