A Google search for Coaching Credential delivers over 1.5 million results! If you have done any searches for information on coaching credential or certification you know that there is a tremendous amount of information out there. You will find many different credential and certification programs. You will find programs for life coaches, sport coaches, leadership coaches and more. This can be very confusing and a big time waste just trying to find the answers you are looking for. Questions we frequently hear are;
- Do I need certification?
- Which credential is right for me?
- Does it make a difference which credential I get as long as I have one?
- Which credential program should I attend?
- Are there important differences between credential programs or is it just a matter of personal preference?
The decision to pursue a coaching credential is an important one. If you decide that obtaining a credential is right for you, you will be making a commitment to invest time and money. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you select the right credential and the right credential program for you. But how do you decide?
As with most things, it is important to start with your goals. What is it that you want to achieve? I believe it is important to consider both your near-term and long-term goals. Look at where you are today and your goals in 1 year, 5 and even 10 years. Knowing what your goal is 10 years out can be difficult but going through the exercise to identify where you see yourself in 10 years can be powerful. For example, do you see yourself starting your own coaching business, advancing within an organization, becoming an educator, working at the ICF? The possibilities are endless. Start with your goals to decide if a coaching credential is right for you and which credential will best help you meet your goals.
Here are a few things to consider;
- Clients don’t care so much which credential you have. They want to know that you HAVE a credential. According to a recent ICF Study - a large majority of coach practitioners and managers/leaders using coaching skills agreed that individuals or organizations using coaching expect their coaches to be certified or credentialed.
- If you work within an organization, at first glance holding a credential may seem to be less important than if you have your own coaching business. But having a credential not only gives you the training and skills to become an effective coach, it also helps to set you apart from your peers. Think career advancement and promotion.
- A credential can help you overcome one of the industry’s biggest perceived obstacles. In the recent ICF study, when respondents were asked to identify the biggest obstacle for coaching over the next 12 months, the main concern expressed by coach practitioners was untrained individuals who call themselves coaches. Your credential signifies that you have the training and credibility as a professional in the industry.
Let’s say that you have clearly identified your short-term and long-term goals and that you decide that a coaching credential is right for you. Next you will need to decide which credential to obtain. I will focus on the two most popular ICF credentials; Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Selecting the right credential will depend on many factors but here are a few things to consider.
- ACC – If you are just starting out – this is the fastest path to an ICF credential. Requirements of the ACC ensure that you have a solid coaching foundation and the skills to become an effective coach. Plus, you will have the credential to put behind your name, adding to your credibility and helping to set you apart. The time and cost investment required for the ACC credential is less than for the PCC. One of the biggest differences is in the number of documented coaching hours required. The ACC requires 100 hours of documented coaching vs. 500 hours required for PCC.
- PCC – If you have already completed significant training or if most of the people you work with or will be competing against already have an ACC, or if your goals include becoming a coaching authority or educator, then you might consider the PCC. The requirements are more extensive vs. ACC but so is the training and skill development. Because the PCC requires 500 hours of documented coaching it can take 2 to 3 years to complete this requirement.
- By the Numbers. There are currently 22,343* coaches in 121 countries who hold one of three ICF Credentials.
o 13,610 Associate Certified Coaches (ACC)
o 7,932 Professional Certified Coaches (PCC)
o 801 Master Certified Coaches (MCC)
*This number is subject to change frequently
As I mentioned, these are just a few of the things to consider when deciding which credential is right for you. To learn more about the ICF credentials and how to determine the right one for you, join our next free webinar.