Coaching qualifications are not all created equally. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about coaching qualifications and how to choose the right ones for you.
Strictly speaking, the answer to this question is ‘no’. There is no legal or regulatory imperative for you to have coaching qualifications. However, we would argue that this is not only short-sighted and limiting your potential coaching career, but also verging on unethical. Whilst coaching isn’t a fully regulated profession yet it is essential that those choosing to become coaches, whether life coaches, business coaches, career coaches or anything else, opt to lead the way and be reputable.
The lack of consistent regulation in the profession means that as yet there aren’t pre-determined core competencies and qualifications that cover the entirety of coaching. Therefore you need to do your homework about which coaching qualifications are worth it. This is when it is useful to look at the coaching qualifications accreditation and credentials. This means choosing a coaching course with accreditations from one of the main coaching qualification bodies: International Coach Federation (ICF); Association for Coaching (AC); European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC); Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) ; or the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Selecting your coaching qualifications from one of these bodies does something you won’t get elsewhere: demonstration of quality and standards. Qualifications rarely mean anything to a layperson; therefore they typically look for some indication that simplistically interprets the course as worthwhile when they are selecting their future coach.
Furthermore, choosing coaching qualifications from the one of these bodies gives you reassurance that you aren’t wasting your time, money, and future potential, on the wrong course.
It should be concerning that it is possible to get some coaching qualifications without practical placement and assessment. Given that coaching, in whatever form you ultimately choose, is inherently people-focused and person-centred, this is an enormous oversight. We urge you to avoid such coaching qualifications as they do both you and your future clients a huge disservice.
Selecting a coaching course which includes an element of practical coaching practice will also boost your confidence and refine your skills. The beauty of coaching qualifications is that you really are getting the most incredible training, because you are being coached in that training by the very skilled individuals you can learn from. If you don’t take advantage of this contact with a more experienced coach then you’re missing a trick!
So, accreditation and credentials combined with practical training, those are the two big whammies of selecting a coaching qualification. But what else is important?
Once you’ve narrowed down your coaching qualifications to those coming with accreditation and routes to getting credentials, and hands on practice, then it’s time to consider the type of coach you want to be. Are you looking at a dedicated career as a life coach? Are you senior within an organisation and want coaching as a string to your bow to strengthen your mentoring prowess? Are you wanting to be a wellness coach to strengthen your counselling skills? Are you uncertain where your strengths as a coach lie?
These are the sorts of questions you need to ask yourself to be able to choose between a broad coaching qualification, or one that develops a particular skill area.
Furthermore you need to think about how you can access your coaching qualifications. Are you in a position to dedicate yourself to full-time learning for a period of time? If so then an in-depth diploma or degree could be the right coaching qualification for you. Are you already pressed for time and therefore would benefit from long-distance learning or a weekend short course coaching qualification in a specific area? Where are you? What is your coaching qualification budget?
These questions will help you to refine the coaching qualifications that are right for you.
The good news is that there is a huge amount of choice out there regarding gaining a coaching qualification. However, that also means it can be hard to find the right one. Using the above approach to choosing your coaching qualifications will help you choose something that is worth so much more than the end certificate.