This article discusses the importance of formal Life Coaching Qualifications and Certification and the many considerations you need to be aware of when seeking them.
Various schools or organizations use different terms for their life coaching qualifications such as graduation, credentialing, certification, accreditation.
It’s semantics really - they are interchangeable and all mean roughly the same thing.
A formally recognized qualification gives credibility and confidence to both the coach and the client especially in a corporate coaching situation.
However, as we will discuss, not all coach qualifications have the same value in the marketplace!
I have rarely been asked specifically about my training or qualifications by a prospective client though I do include them in my coaching profile as a credibility factor.
So certification, credentialing, accreditation - whatever! - can be important to be able to put on your coaching bio.
In some areas of the profession, such as joining a Coaching Company that lists and/or promotes member coaches, or working for an agency or as part of an HR team, formal qualifications may even be a pre-requisite to being listed or employed.
Also, if and when the profession becomes government regulated, (which some say is only a matter and others that it will never happen) you are going to need to have a a credible credential or least show you have some formal coach training from an independently accredited coach training organization to practice as a life coach or in any of the extended branches of such as corporate, business, executive and employee coaching.
It’s important to understand that life coaching qualifications issued by a school on completion of their training are only as good as the school itself.
For instance, in my research, I came across a two-day “free” Life Coaching course. After you have completed the course, you are eligible to be put on the host site as an certified coach. Not a very credible qualification in world of professional coaches!
When you are researching a school you need to know what you want and ask a lot of questions so you will not end up disappointed.
This checklist for choosing a Life Coaching School will be a great help!
Another credible qualification can be having a recognized Certificate IV in Life Coaching or a certification that is part of a post graduate university psychology degree.
The Sydney University Psychology Unit was, I believe, one of the first to offer the life coaching qualification as part of a graduate coaching psychology course. It was established by Dr Tony Grant in 1999. There are now many similar and very comprehensive and programs around the world.
Some life coaching organizations or associations are independent and set benchmarks for the industry in their credentialing requirements. Others are purely community based and don't offer life coaching qualifications.
There are also some, associations that operate under the umbrella of a school and their qualifications are tied to the graduation from that school.
What I recommend is that you have a look at the benefits of joining a life coaching association and a list of associations you can consider such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Association for Coaching (AC) or the International Institute of Coaching. And then use this Checklist of Considerations and questions to ask before you pay for membership.
The Daddy of independent coach credentialing organizations is the International Coach Federation (ICF) with approximately 19,000 members. Based in the US, it considers itself to be the global voice of coaching and sets the highest benchmark standards for pure life coaching in the profession with three levels of credentialing - Associate, Professional and Master.
There is much discussion going on between the various independent coaching organizations and major schools to standardize their requirements but whether they will ever agree is another matter.
The ICF has recently updated its membership structure. Full members, credentialed or not, have to have a minimum of 60 hours of coach specific training. If you do not yet have these 60 hours then you will be a provisional member.
Your training does not have to be through an ICF accredited course, but must show that it is coach specific and demonstrate the teaching of the core competencies.
I really applaud this move as it means that if a coach is a full member of the ICF you KNOW, they have been specifically and well trained in the skills of coaching.
Some of the other independent associations offer credentialing for coaches and recognition of schools. Although still highly credible, their criteria for life coaching qualifications is often less stringent than the ICF and their membership requirements less narrow. These organizations may be U.S., Europe or Asia based but generally accept membership worldwide.
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I'll do my best to answer the questions or point you in the right direction. And your comments and experiences are also really welcome.