How to Choose a Coach Training Organization


You are interested in becoming a professional coach, and realize the importance of being properly trained. You may have seen the large numbers of coach training organizations on the ICF website or other web locations, and are wondering how to choose from the list. This paper is designed to give you the information you need to make that decision.

You have two options:

  1. Download this entire pdf and study it in depth
  2. Peruse our web page and download the pdfs for the subject area(s) that intrigue you

If you choose option 2, please read on!

Choosing the Right Coach Training for You.
There are many considerations in choosing the right coach training for you,
and you need to know the right questions to ask. Here are the most important ones:
  1. Why do you want to coach?
  2. What is a credentialing organization like ICF or EMCC?
  3. What is Accreditation?
  4. What’s the difference between Credentialing and Certification?
  5. What do I need to know about the structure of coach training?
  6. What do I need to learn to be a good coach?
  7. How well does the training fit my learning style?
This paper will answer all those questions. Once you are clear in what you’re looking
for, you can look on the ACTO website for a list of quality Coach Training Organizations.
Open the full PDF.

Why become a coach? You are here because you are interested in
training with the coaching training organization that resonates the
most with you. Your reasons for coaching will have a bearing on what
type of training you will select, so spend some time determining what
is important to you. Open this PDF.

Your Goals and Hopes: What is it that brings you to coaching? What do you
expect to get out of it? People have a variety of reasons, from a deep desire to
help people to the idea that coaches make lots of money. Write down a list of
reasons you want to become a coach. Include everything you can think of, such as:

  • Good post-retirement career
  • I want to make a difference in the world
  • People always tell me their problems
  • I want to be a better manager (or HR professional or OD professional, etc.)
  • I want to work for myself
  • I want to help organizations be more productive and motivating

Prioritize this list, as it will have a bearing on the training you select. Be very
honest in making and prioritizing your list, as this decision has far-reaching
consequences, and you must be sure you are embarking on this journey for
reasons that are powerful for you.

In looking at this list, think about what kind of coach you might want to be:
Executive Coach, Leadership Coach, Team Coach, Life Coach, Wellness
Coach, etc. Currently many businesses, governments and organizations
understand about executive, leadership and team coaching. Building a business
around life coaching, wellness coaching, and any coaching that works with
individuals can be more challenging. Coaching is not as well-known as other
professions like therapy, general medicine, or law. You will need to spend
time and energy marketing to fill your roster. Remember that coaching is a
relatively new profession and so you will spend time educating potential clients.
Note that ICF and other organizations are working hard to educate the public,
and have support for their members to build their coaching business.

Relevance: What program is best suited to your needs? If you want to
be a professional coach and dedicate yourself to your new profession,
the most widely recognized training is a 125+ hour certification course
with a program accredited by ICF(ACTP), EMCC, CCE or AC. Note
that it is not required to have a certification in order to attain a credential.

If you want to learn coaching tools because you use
coaching in your role as a manager, consultant or therapist, and don’t
plan to dedicate a major portion of your energy to coaching, a good
approach might be a program that will give you enough training hours
to attain a credential. Be sure the program is accredited by a regulatory
organization such as ICF, EMCC, AC or CCE before signing up!

Your budget is also a factor. You can expect to pay $10,000 - $15,000
USD for a full certification ACTP program in North America. If
certification is not necessary for you, the ACSTH program will be less
outlay upfront. A consideration with that approach is that it can be as
expensive or more so in time and maybe even money to attain a credential,
as the coach will need to be mentored (about $1,000 USD in the U.S.)
over a period of 3 months, and will need to send in recordings to be
assessed by ICF, which currently is taking up to 12 weeks.

Most training organizations have payment plans to help with tuition, and
ACTO offers a scholarship program for qualified individuals.

Plan: If you’ve done your homework, you should have the information about
length of each program you’re considering. Be thinking about how that
timeframe fits into your current workload, your long-term goal, and your
expectations. You will need to plan how you will support yourself during
training. Most people take training while they are still working, and
gradually phase out of their current job to their coaching work once they
build their business to the point that can support their lifestyle. Be realistic
when planning your coach training, and ensure you have enough time and
money to continue through to graduation.

There are many coach training programs available, and each one has its
own focus. As a consumer, you must do the research on these programs
to ensure they are offering the best value and giving you the skills you need
to succeed as a coach. If you are brand new to coaching, you should
choose a program that gives you a strong grounding in the fundamentals of
coaching. Once you have been trained in the fundamentals, you can take
more advanced training and even branch out into specialized areas.
Open this PDF.

Fundamentals: Coaching involves a different way of listening and interacting with
others. The largest coach regulatory organizations (ICF, EMCC and AC) each have
a set of coaching competencies that clearly define how to coach. They also have a
Code of Ethics that members must sign to indicate understanding and acceptance.
These are the most basic skills and knowledge that each coach should have. If you
are new to coaching, choose a program that gives you both understanding and much
practice in the competencies and ethics. Ensure you choose a program that is
accredited by the coach regulatory organization of your choice, and ask them how
much training you get in the competencies and ethics. You should get at least 35
hours for the program to be useful for your grasp of coaching.

Advanced: The fundamentals give a foundation in coaching, and to really grasp
coaching, the student should also learn more advanced practices. This usually
involves a deeper dive into competencies and ethics, and can include practices
that are unique to the particular coach training program you are researching.
These courses will strengthen your understanding and practice of coaching, and
will round out your skills.

Specialties: Once you have a firm grasp on the competencies and ethics, you can
branch out into specialties. These can include focus on such areas as ADD Coaching,
Health and Wellness Coaching, Spiritual Coaching, Somatic Coaching, Marital/Divorce
Coaching, and so on. If a particular program in a specific area interests you, ensure
they also give a strong grounding in the competencies and ethics. If not, you will need
to get the fundamentals from another program.

Matching Your Style. There is more to learning than listening and
reading! You want your journey to become a coach to be challenging,
enriching, fulfilling and joyous. As you perform research on the coach
training programs that most interest you, arrange time to speak to a
faculty member. In this conversation, you can investigate what might
make this program perfect for your learning. Open this PDF.

Values: What do you value most in your life? What does the coach
training program value? Are they a match? What is the mission of the
program? Is it a mission that motivates you to sign up, or is it one that
doesn’t interest you much? For example, if you value pragmatism and
achievement, and plan to be an executive coach, you may not be
interested in a program that values spirituality and altruism, with a focus
on growing self-awareness and tapping into the energy of the universe.
On the other hand, if you are focused on self-awareness, spirituality
and to inherent goodness of mankind, and would like to be a spiritual
coach, a program that is geared towards training internal executive
coaches, with little to no business training may not be a good fit for you.

Learning Style/Preference: How do you enjoy learning? Do you
like many people in a class, or do you prefer small classes with more
one-on-one attention? Do you want face-to-face training or is online
webinar training better for you? Or a combination of the two? Do you
learn well with lectures? How much interaction do you like? How much
practice? Are you a visual learner, or an audio learner or a kinesthetic
learner? How does the program present their learning? Be very clear on
how you learn best, and consider the style of training offered by the
programs that interest you.

Training Philosophy, Approach: How does the program train? Do
they offer training in a classroom with 30 other students, listening to
lectures and reading lots of coaching books? Or do they offer small
classes or even one-on-one training with a lot of interaction and practice?
How interactive is the program? How often do they meet? How do they
ensure putting into practice what is learned? If you plan to have your
own coaching business, how strong is their business training?

Structure of Training Programs. All training programs are different.
Consider the differences even within ACTPs (full Certification Training):
length of the program, teaching mode, configuration of the classes, can
all be different based upon the program’s design. Be aware of what is
important to you in your training, and prioritize those factors to help you
decide which program might best fit into your schedule and learning mode..
All training programs are different. Consider the differences even within
ACTPs (full Certification Training): length of the program, teaching mode,
configuration of the classes, can all be different based upon the program’s
design. Be aware of what is important to you in your training, and prioritize
those factors to help you decide which program might best fit into your
schedule and learning mode. Open this PDF.

Class Configuration: Consider how the classes will be held. Find out:

  • Number of students in each class, and trainer to student-ratio
  • How the class is presented: Mostly lecture, very experiential or a combination?
  • Location of face-to-face classes (see Training Mode below)
  • What technology you will need to access classes and recordings
  • What books are needed
  • What other expenses such as books, transcription fees, etc.

Timing and Length: Look into timing factors to see how it fits in your schedule:

  • How are the classes given: several full days in a row, once a month,
    once a week, whenever the student wants, etc.?
  • How long is each class: a full day, 1 hour, etc.?
  • How long does it take to graduate? Some ACTPs might take 6 months,
    others a full 3 years.
  • When is the next available class going to be held?

Faculty: Research the program’s faculty to gauge the level of professionalism:

  • The program should have at least one MCC on faculty. Trainers should hold a credential,
    preferably PCC or MCC, as you want them to be experienced coaches. You should
    interview one or all of the faculty you’ll be working with to ensure you like their style.

Training Mode: There are three types of training modes:

  • Virtual: Online training via web meetings. Of these, there are two types:
    • Synchronous: The trainer and student are both present during the training,
      with frequent give and take.
    • Asynchronous: training has been recorded. The student takes the training on
      his/her own, then must debrief with a trainer to receive credit.
  • In Person: classes are real-time, face to face.
  • Hybrid: a blend of virtual and in-person training. This could entail some number of
    in-person classes supplemented by virtual training.

Exposure/Diversity: Find out how the program addresses diversity, culture, power, etc:

  • Does the training program address diversity and culture? How?
  • Does the training program ‘speak your language’?
  • Do you feel respected and cared about by the training program representatives?

Coaching is a self-regulated profession. There are several global coach
regulatory organizations that offer credentials to ensure the consumer that
he/she is hiring a coach who is both trained and experienced. These
organizations regulate and define what is quality coaching, and have strict
requirements that must be met to achieve a credential, certificate or accreditation.
The most influential regulatory organizations are:

  • ICF: International Coach Federation
  • EMCC: European Mentoring and Coaching Council
  • IAC: International Association of Coaching
  • CCE: Center for Credentialing and Education
  • AC: Association of Coaching

Each of these organizations is dedicated to excellence in coaching, and has developed
a series of credentials, accreditations and certifications to support their mission. This
has resulted in much confusion over what is a credential, certification or accreditation.
As a potential student, you will need to understand the regulatory organization that
serves you best, and also learn the differences between those terms, so that you can
choose the training program that best suits both your goals and financial needs.
Open this PDF.

Accreditation in Coaching. Accreditation means different things
for different coach regulatory organizations. For EMCC and AC,
it means awarding a credential to a coach. For ICF it means
approving coach training programs to offer different levels of training.
Please see “Credentialing” for the EMCC and AC credentialing
descriptions, and read on for the ICF Accreditation description.
Open this PDF for additional information including ACTP and ACSTH.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the leading global
organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting
high standards, providing independent certification and building a
worldwide network of trained coaching professionals. ICF developed
the coaching Core Competencies as the gold standard of coaching,
plus a strong Code of Ethics that protects both coaches and clients.
It offers the most globally recognized, independent credentialing
program for coach practitioners. ICF also accredits training programs
that deliver coach-specific training. ICF-accredited training programs
must complete a rigorous review process and demonstrate that their
curriculum aligns with the ICF Core Competencies, Code of Ethics,
and definition of coaching. ICF tracks learning using CCE’s: Continuing
Coach Education units. Each CCE equals one hour of approved
coach-specific training. ICF offers 3 coaching Credentials. Open this PDF
for additional information.

European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) The EMCC exists
to promote good practice and the expectation of good practice in mentoring,
coaching, and supervision globally for the benefit of society. We are a
Europe-wide council that consists of representatives from national EMCCs plus
direct members in countries where a local EMCC does not yet exist. The EMCC
membership is a rich mixture of individual mentors, coaches, mentoring/coaching
organizations, training and education providers, buyers of mentoring/coaching and
mentor/coach associations, large organizations/corporate members – all of whom
share EMCC’s vision to promote good practice in mentoring/coaching.

European Individual Accreditation (EIA): The EIA is an internationally
recognized award that demonstrates that an individual practicing as a professional
mentor/coach has the appropriate level of knowledge and the ability to apply it
effectively in his/her practice. Open this PDF for additional information.

Association for Coaching (AC) Credential.
The Association for Coaching (AC) was established in 2002 and is a leading
independent and not-for- profit professional body dedicated to promoting
best practice and raising awareness and standards of coaching worldwide.
With members in over 70 countries, it is made up of professional coaches,
academic institutions, trainers and providers of coaching, as well as sponsors
of coaching from the third sector through to large corporates, building coaching
cultures. The AC has a code of Competencies as well as a Code of Ethics to
uphold the profession of coaching. Open this PDF for additional information.

Center for Credentialing & Education BCC Credential.
The BCC verification system was designed by the Center for Credentialing
& Education (CCE) to establish standards for competency and experience
within the coaching profession. The CCE started as an affiliate of the
National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), and credentials nearly
25,000 practitioners globally in a variety of fields. Whereas the CCE offers
credentials for a variety of positions in the Counseling field, the only one that
applies to coaching is the BCC. CCE offers the BCC Credential for Coaching.
Open this PDF for additional information.

An assessment-based certificate program offers an individual a
certificate after successfully completing a training program and passing the
training assessment provided by the training provider. This assessment evaluates
an individual on the knowledge gained through that particular course.

Open this PDF for additional information including distinctions between
professional credentialig and assessment-based certificates, general certifications,
and specializations.

How to Choose a Coach Training Organization


You are interested in becoming a professional coach, and realize the importance of being properly trained. You may have seen the large numbers of coach training organizations on the ICF website or other web locations, and are wondering how to choose from the list. This paper is designed to give you the information you need to make that decision.

Click the button below to download the entire PDF.  Alternately, when you’re using a desktop computer or a tablet, you can view an interactive diagram and download individual PDFs.