Why It’s OK To Ask A Potential Coach About Their Credentials

In mid-2020, the results of a massive research study were released.

The study was conducted by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) which is the largest association of professional coaches in the world.  Here are a few tidbits of real data from the study, that I hope you may find at least a little bit interesting:

  • The number of coaches in the world has grown by 30% in the past four years, and now sits at 71,000.  Only about 1/3 of those are based in North America.  Oceana, Europe, South America and Asia make up the bulk of the other 2/3.
  • In the rest of the world, the majority of coaches are in Gen X.  But here in North America… Baby Boomers make up the majority. 
  • The vast majority of coaches agree that organizations now expect and require the coaches they hire to be credentialed.  In other words, clients want to work with credentialed coaches.

I earned my first Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC) designation in 2007, and eventually earned my Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC) credential in 2013 which I maintain through rigorous continuing education courses and need to renew every three years.

These days it is common for a potential client to inquire about the training and credentials of the Coach they are considering hiring.  Coaching is an unregulated profession.  Asking about a prospective coach’s training and credentials is just one criteria that can be helpful to you when choosing the right Coach.  In the coaching sector, there are three words that often get used interchangeably but actually mean very different things.  Here’s a quick primer:

  • ACCREDITATION is given to a coach-training school or organization.  If a school is accredited, it means they deliver a course that is accepted by the ICF.
  • CREDENTIALS are given by the ICF  to individual coaches who have taken an accredited coach training program, met all the ICF requirements and have passed the ICF exam
  • CERTIFICATION is given to coaches when they complete a course.  But that course could be a two-hour seminar, a weekend workshop or a full-year training program.

I hope this is helpful- especially to those of you considering hiring your own coach.

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