Let’s talk about how to get certified and accredited as a coach today. Many coaches have no certificate, and those who do, often choose not to get accredited by the International Coaching Federation for some reason. This post is part of my blog series My Journey Into Coaching.
In This Post
I will cover the following in this blog post:
- When We Can Do Whatever
- The Difference Between Certification And Credential
- Getting Certified Can Be Easy
- Getting Credentialed Is A Long Process
- Buyer Beware
- ICF Credentials
- To Get The ACC Credential
- My Own Progress
- Wrapping Up
1. When We Can Do Whatever
The world today does not regulate the coaching industry in any way. Anyone can decide right now to start using the title coach, but it is certain most have no idea of what coaching actually involves.
During my first training it was hinted that the European Union may begin to regulate coaching. Let’s hope so!
2. The Difference Between Certification And Credential
2.1 Getting Certified Can Be Easy
Just about anyone can decided to grant certifications according to their own coaching philosophies.
All a student has to do is enroll in a course and a couple of hours later download a digital badge, then call themself coach. It is a Wild-West situation out there.
2.2 Getting Credentialed Is A Long Process
The International Coaching Federation, ICF, grants credentials upon application, not certifications.
In order to get a chance at being credentialed later, a coach has to choose an institute for training, which has been ICF accredited. There is an alternative to this, which means setting up your own portfolio, but the way I see it easier can lead to the Credential application being denied. It isn’t impossible though.
There is a database on the ICF website in which you find all private entities offering adequate training.
2.3 Buyer Beware
Upon completing the training, the coach may or may not get a certificate issued by the ICF-accredited institute, but absolutely not the ICF.
Anyone claiming to have an ICF certificate or credential after only having taken a training is making false statements. There are people out there, who confuse terminology by accident, or wilfully to get advantages they should not have.
When looking for a coach to work with, please choose one, who takes the ethical standards seriously by being transparent about their background, and adhering to the very long list of ICF best practices and guidelines.
They should also demonstrate an understanding of the contents in this blog post by using precise terminology around both certificates and coaching itself. For example “trusted advisor” is entirely wrong, since a coach offers no opinions, advice or suggestions.
The purpose of a Discovery Call is not to be a free coaching session, but to get to know each other a bit, get clear on the desired coaching topic, and to ensure the prospective client understands what a coach does (or does not do).
Some coaches are so eager to prove their worth that they promise “results” during a free coaching session. There is nothing wrong about a free session per se, but the results part is problematic.
A client does work between two session, which means the results happen during that time. I fail to understand how results are achieved during one session only, because it seems impossible from my perspective.
It is very likely that a “results”-oriented “coach” is in fact a consultant or teacher. Those roles are indeed about proving one’s knowledge or skills through client results to a degree, and the prospective client walking away with for example a new skill learned already.
As for free coaching, pro bono is admirable. But how often to we get a free haircut so that a hair dresser proves their worth? Or a free cake at the bakery? Or a free hour with that gardening tool we are considering? This free coaching to prove my worth does not sit well with me personally.
2.4 ICF Credentials
There are three levels of ICF credentials:
- Associate Certified Coach, ACC
- Professional Certified Coach, PCC
- Master Certified Coach, MCC
These involve work, work and even more work.
Very few people globally are ACC, PCC or MCC still. Stumbling upon MCC is extremely rare.
3. To Get The ACC Credential
In order to get credentialed as ACC, a coach must fulfil many criteria, which currently are as follows:
- At least 60 hours of training: has to happen in an institute that has been accredited by the ICF as entity offering adequate hours and content on coaching basics. Alternatively, a custom portfolio is pulled together.
- A minimum of 100 coaching hours with clients: must happen with 8 or more clients. No more than 25 hours can be pro bono.
- 10 hours mentor coaching: has to be provided to coach by another coach, who is ICF credentialed and coaches on coaching-specific topics.
- ICF Credentialing Exam: a test organised by the ICF to ensure know-how and coaching meet ICF standards.
- Performance Evaluation: a 1-hour sample session recorded upon client’s approval and sent with transcript to ICF.
- Application fee: payment for processing, amount depends on how the requirements are fulfilled, type of training hours and/or portfolio composition. Note that the processing takes 4-14 weeks. The fee is slightly lower for ICF members, so that is worth looking into.
The credentials are not life-long, but must be renewed every three years.
Here is a table which compares the different paths to becoming ACC credentialed. Note that requirements may change from what is listed here, so my roundup is merely to give you an idea of the complexity of ICF standards. Confirm for yourself the current information.
A perk of working towards credentials is that you can be found in the database of ICF coaches.
4. My Own Progress
I am definitely aiming for the ACC credential, as it seems like the only sensible thing to invest in myself as a coach, in order to serve clients as well as possible. A coach does such privileged work with access to private information and thoughts that I feel it is in everyone’s best interest for the coach to keep honing skills for the remainder of their career.
Currently, I have done half of my 60+ training hours, and earned a certificate, Certified Professional Life Coach, CPLC, which does not expire, even if my future ACC credential weren’t renewed for some reason.
Next up, again at Certified Life Coach Institute, is the second half of the required training. Once those are achieved, the new certificate is called Master Certified Professional Life Coach, MCPLC. That certificate will not expire either.
This is a path full of growth opportunities and my sincere hope is to find like-minded clients.
5. Wrapping Up
This has been a rather technical post to write and probably read, too, but as long as coaching isn’t well understood, let alone regulated, we still need to increase awareness around its different aspects.
My Services & Pricing Guide is going live soon, and in the meantime you are welcome to check out my Coaching page. There you find an overview of the coming coaching packages.
I invite questions you may have in the comments below or sent through my Contact page.
This blog post is part of the series My Journey Into Coaching.
Photo credit: Felicity Mikellides.