What to look for in a coaching course?

what to look for in course

15th November 2019

Author: Nick Bolton

Do you want to become a coach, but you’re not sure how to choose the right coaching course? Some things to consider will be unique to your circumstances, preferences and aspirations and we’ve set out some questions to ask yourself to help think this through. Other factors, however, are things we recommend everyone looks out for. Let’s look at those first.

The Must Haves…

Look For Course Accreditation And Credentialing

Firstly, make sure the course carries accreditation from at least one of the major professional coaching bodies. You’ll want to look out for accreditation from at least one of the following bodies: International Coach Federation (ICF), Association for Coaching (AC), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) or the CIPD.

With accreditation of coaching courses becoming ever more important as a sign of quality and standards, you should ensure for your own peace of mind and for your future clients’ that you are enrolling on an accredited course that can lead to gaining professional credentials as a coach

Ensure It Requires Real-Life Client Work

Coaching is, first and foremost something you do, not just something you know. It’s a skill carried out between people and just as you wouldn’t expect to learn to drive merely by reading a book, nor would you expect to become a coach without practising it. So be sure that any course you choose includes the need for you to practise coaching

It Should Include Observation And Supervision

Following on from that, you’ll want to be sure that your coaching is observed and supervised. To continue the driving analogy, you only really know how you’re doing in the learning phase when your instructor guides you to better practices or praises you for improved skills. It’s the same with coaching. Make sure the course includes mentoring, supervision and observed practice if you want to become a skilled coach.

It Ensures You Embed The Coaching Skills Over Time

Coaching is a skill that develops with time and, as a result, we believe that any coaching course that sets out to help you become a genuinely skilled coach should take place over an extended period of time, with various steps that develop your skills and facilitate reflective learning. We don’t believe you can develop coaching skills in a matter of a few days with no client work. Be sure your course takes you on a journey of learning.

Ensure It Has A Rigorous Qualification And Assessment Process

How do you know if you’re ready to move from training to becoming a professional coach? Well, one way, at least, is knowing that your coaching skills have been assessed to a good standard. If simply turning up to training is enough to pass, then that doesn’t say good things about the quality of the coaches being produced! Be sure that the school you choose assesses you by using such methods as recorded or lives sessions, reflective practice and a client log. If they’re not checking you, then they’re not checking anyone!

Some Questions To Ask Yourself:

Outside of these “must haves”, there are questions which you will want to consider for your own preference.

Why Do I Want Coach Training?

Getting clear on why you want coach training is a good place to start, as it will enable you to see which things about a course matter the most. For example, if it’s something you’d like to do within a large corporation, checking accreditation of courses will be an important factor. If it’s for your personal enjoyment alone, finding a course which covers your interests and fits in easily with your life might be the top priority.

How Might I Like To Work As A Coach?

Not everyone knows what exactly they’d like to do with coaching at the start of their journey, and that’s fine. Part of your journey through training and starting up is often about identifying the kind of client you want to work with and the way you enjoy coaching.

For instance, if you are absolutely committed to a specific coaching niche, such as wellness or spirituality, you might find a programme that is specific to that and ideally suited to you.

Typically, most new coaches are open to what lies ahead in which case a broad-based curriculum that introduces you to key approaches that would work in a range of contexts would be the way to go. It’s worth noting that some of the more simplistic approaches to coaching (represented by a focus only on the GROW model) are perfectly adequate for basic performance coaching in the workplace but they rarely meet the complex needs of personal coaching. For this kind of deeper work, and the ability to coach clients on whatever they bring to the session, a more integrative and transformative course like our Diploma in Transformative Coaching would be right you.

What Training Or Skills Do I Have Already?

Are you starting coach training from scratch? Or have you had training, and are looking to master your coaching, or build specialist skills and expertise? Perhaps you have coaching hours under your belt, and wish to become credentialed, or a qualified supervisor to help others be effective coaches?

Knowing where you are in your journey is clearly important. Perhaps what you’re looking for is not a core coaching course but specialist coaching skills – these can often be shorter and less expensive than a full programme. Our Specialist Short Courses are a great example of this type of training.

What’s Important To Me In A Training Environment And Learning Journey?

Think about the best and worst learning environments you’ve been in. Each coaching school will have a distinct training style which may be more or less suited to you. Things to consider here include:

The size of the group. Our group size is around 18 but we know some training organisations who have over 100 people in a room. Do you like that buzz and energy or do you prefer a more focused group?

Is the training online or live classroom based? Is there is a blended approach which includes some of both?

Is there a much writing or private study? Is it academic or practical and reflective?

Is it chalk and talk or do you get to practise, reflect, play with ideas?

Where Does It Take Place Geographically?

We take a blended approach which includes a main body of live training supported by a range of online and personal mentoring approaches. Find out about our training approach.

How Much Can I Spend?

How much do you want to invest in developing this skill? To answer this, you might want to start with the first question: Why do I want coach training? What will being a qualified coach create in your life?

Of course, as with much in life, you get what you pay for and you can choose anything from a very low-cost online course little or no support and practice right up to a multi-tens of thousands executive masters.

We have always aimed to provide a very high-quality, highly-accredited programme at an affordable rate for individuals who are funding themselves.

All of our course fees are on the course pages, as well as options for finance for anyone wanting to spread the cost.


We hope these tips and questions help you but if you’d like to talk it through with one of our course consultants, we’re always delighted to chat with you. Just call us on 0330 900 5555.

Author Details

Nick Bolton

Nick is the founder and CEO of the Animas and International Centre for Coaching Supervision. Along with his love of coaching and supervision, he is a a passionate learner with a fascination for philosophy, psychology and sociology.

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