When to Hire a Coach and When to Take a Course

by Don Smith

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We offer both courses and coaching, and courses are usually significantly cheaper than hiring a decent private coach. You can learn virtually anything from our training partners Udemy and Ed2Go.

So why hire a coach when you can learn virtually anything by taking a course? Here's a quick guide to when you should hire a coach and when you should take a course.

Courses vs Coaching Comparison Chart

Learn Specific New Skills

Both courses and a coach will help you learn new skills. Classes are usually much more structured, so if your goal is to learn all the ins and outs thoroughly of a piece of software or learn a specific skill needed for your job, a course may be your best bet. Coaches will often recommend a particular course instead of spending many hours regurgitating information that doesn't change.

If you want to skip all the parts that don't apply to you and get right to the heart of the matter, a coach may be a better idea. A course is better suited for learning how to do something. A coach is better suited for helping you implement what you've learned.



If you want the cheapest route, a course is almost always going to be your best bet. Online courses are created once then sold over and over again, which is why they can be so cheap. Udemy even offers a few classes for free, and many for $10 or less.

Keep in mind that cheap doesn't always mean better, though. A coach may save you money and time in the long run, or create a much higher return on your investment. It's like the difference between reading a book and talking directly to the person who wrote it. The book might be a work of art, but the person who wrote it can adapt that knowledge and help you apply it to your unique situation.


Direct Feedback

While some live courses do provide direct feedback, most online courses don't. If you are running a business and are trying to figure out how to get your time back, for example, you could take a thirty-hour course on time management and learn some new skills.

Or you could meet with a coach for a little bit each week who would take a look at your unique situation and give you feedback on specific things you can do to reclaim your time. Courses teach based on a fixed curriculum. Coaches provide feedback based on your particular situation.



How many courses or books have you purchased, but then failed to complete? Have you ever bought a gym membership and then did not attend?

I used to have a gym membership for a long time but never went. I hated it when I did go because I didn't have any friends there and didn't know what I was doing. No one cared if I showed up or not.

When I hired a personal trainer, suddenly, I had a fixed schedule and someone to hold me accountable to my goals. Now I enjoy my time at the gym and am keeping in shape using less time than I was when I tried to do it on my own. On top of that, I've made friends, not only with my trainer but with others in the gym.

A private coach can help you stay on track and get you back on track if you get derailed. When you have a regular meeting time, there's a built-in deadline to get whatever you promised them done.


Adapts to Your Specific Needs

Adaptability is where a private coach shines. Courses have a set curriculum, so if they don't apply to your unique situation, you've wasted your money.

Coaches adapt to your specific needs. With coaching, you have a lot more flexibility. Going back to personal training, a personal trainer will adjust your routine to work around a shoulder injury, for example. In contrast, a video training course would continue without any recognition of your unique needs.

If you want the maximum flexibility to adapt the material to your unique situation, a coach is a good bet.


Strategizes With You

Courses might prompt you to think through your situation and provide additional information, but they won't sit down with you and create a strategy for your unique situation. There is no substitute for human interaction for kicking ideas back and forth and creating a plan.


Hopefully, this guide was helpful in explaining when you may want to take a course, and when you would want to hire a coach.

To work with a career and leadership coach, click here. For general courses, we recommend checking out Udemy. For online classes taught by various colleges and universities, check out Ed2Go.

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About the Author 

Don Smith

The Personal Growth Channel founder, Don Smith also owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and enjoys seeing people achieve their goals. Happily married with five children, he lives in Springfield, Illinois.

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