The world of business coaching certification is large. There are many certifications that exist on the internet (or in-person) today and the path to becoming a professional coach isn’t as clear as it once was. Of course, Master’s degrees and professional development programs provide you with alternative options for education, but within the coaching industry, many coaches believe that an ICF credential is the gold standard for becoming a successful coach.
Whether you’re an industry vet looking to add a certification to your resume or a new coach looking to get certified in order to launch your career, leveraging the teachings of a business coaching certification program allows you to charge more for your coaching services. Going through an accredited coach training program will teach you tactical skills to use in your business coaching sessions and be a more effective coach to help your clients accomplish their goals. And, when your potential clients are looking for a coach, you'll have your accreditation to point to.
In a report recently published for the 2023 State of Coaching, coaches with certifications tend to charge 3x more than coaches without certifications. From our poll, 81.3% of respondents were certified coaches.
Who are the best business coaching accreditation bodies?
Becoming accredited means being officially recognized or authorized by an educational body. Whereas being certified means that you (or someone) possess certain qualifications to meet certain standards.
There are a few primary professional coaching certification bodies. They serve coaches all over the world and have tens of thousands of members globally you have to decide which is the right coaching organization for you.
International Coaching Federation (ICF)
Very common for becoming a certified life coach, the ICF is one of the most recognized coaching certification bodies globally. ICF has developed core competencies that aim to integrate into coaching education programs to create consistency in credentialing and coach performance.
The International Association of Coaching (IAC)
The IAC looks to differentiate itself from other coach accreditation bodies by changing the way that they assess coaching mastery.
Our belief that attending coach training or graduating from any specific program is not sufficient evidence that a coach can, in fact, coach
Coaching masteries at the IAC is a unique program and in-depth curriculum for professional coach certification and requires an interactive process of submitting recordings of your coaching for evaluation by their team of IAC Examiners. The IAC has two levels of accreditation:
- Certified Masteries Coach (CMC)
- IAC® Master Masteries Coach (MMC)
European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC)
Primarily focused on coaches in Europe EMCC aims to promote good practice and the expectation of a good practice through mentoring and coaching.
The EMCC has four levels of individual accreditation:
• Senior Practitioner
• Master Practitioner
Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE)
The CCE is held by over 25,000+ coaches globally today making it a prominent coaching certification in the world of coaching. As a not-for-profit organization, CCE advances professional excellence in practitioners and organizations with assessments, business support services, and credentialing. CCE only has one certification for coaches, the BCC.
Which ICF coaching certification is best?
Using the ICF coaching certification for example, once you’re officially certified (say ACC, PCC, or MCC) your credential is a designation of the type of certification you have.
There are two paths to becoming an ICF-accredited coach but the prerequisite is deciding on the right path for you. Both of these paths are recognized by the ICF and allow you to become a professionally certified coach. The right path for you very much depends on where you are in life, your career trajectory, and which coaching education program is right for you to become a professional coach.
ACTP or Accredited Coach Training Program
This path is a comprehensive coach training program for those looking for a hard start and end to their coaching program. There are a few important things to note about the ACTP path:
- You’re required to complete at least 125 hours of training
- Your training will be approved once
- Upon completing your ACTP you can apply for an ICF credential
ACSTH or Accredit Coach Specific Training Hours
For those who want more flexibility in their coach training path, the ACSTH allows students to customize their training a bit more. Down this road, a student has a self-paced path:
- Can be considered a full coach after a sufficient number of hours are completed
- Student training is approved on an hourly basis and thus may not require the full 125 hours
- There is no fixed start and end date for the training program
So, either training path can be determined by the student. The outcome of either training path will result in a certain level of certification.
ACC or Associate Certified Coach
The Associate Certified Coach is the first tier within the coaching process. To become eligible for the ACC you must have:
- 60 hours of coaching education
- 100+ hours of coaching experience
PCC or Professional Certified Coach
As a Professional Certified Coach, you’ve reached the second level of coach certification. To become eligible for the PCC, you must have:
- 125 hours of coaching education
- 500+ hours of coaching experience
This means that you can directly apply to become a PCC out of your coaching education program.
MCC or Master Certified Coach
MCC is often times referred to as the gold standard of coaching (as the ICF calls it) and requires the most amount of coaching education. To become eligible you must have:
- 200+ hours of coaching education
- 2,500 hours of coaching experience
- Previously held the PCC credential
What is the price to get certified via the ICF?
The price of certification very much depends on the program you decide on and the type of coach certification that you’re targeting.
The price of coach education programs can range anywhere from the more expensive end of the spectrum as high as $12,000 USD all the way down to $3,000 USD.
Once you’re ready to receive your ICF accreditation, you’ll need to apply and be approved. The cost of the ICF certification is depending on your member status:
Over time, as you progress in your career you may incur additional expenses to deepen your certification. If you decide to go the path of an ICF membership, you’re also looking at an annual membership. As recently as February 2023, the ICF membership fee was listed at $245.00 USD
What are the top business coaching certification programs?
Becoming a top business coach can be a combination of your fundamental understanding of your client’s needs and the on-the-job training you receive to strengthen your coaching competencies. Here are the six best business coaching certification programs:
Having trained over 130,000 coaches since it started, Co-Active is widely recognized as a top certification program. Their coaching certification program teaches students to, “coach anyone with confidence, on any topic, supported by the Co-Active Model which is known as the most flexible and proven model in the coaching world.”
- The content in their program is very in-depth and comprehensive
- Their curriculum is accredited by the ICF
- Co-Active is known to be one of the more expensive coaching certification programs sometimes ranging as high as $12,000 USD
- The commitment required to participate in Co-Active training is lengthy spanning multiple months of full-time commitment
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)
As an iPEC-certified coach, you’ll master the Core Energy Coaching™ process and be taught how to use our proprietary, research-backed tools, going beyond traditional coaching to tackle the root cause of any challenge, including underlying thoughts, emotions, and energy. This program includes six 1-1 sessions with your dedicated Mentor Coach, three sessions with a success Coach whose sole focus is helping you reach YOUR vision for success so there is a high level of support provided.
- The only requirements to join an iPEC program are a high school diploma and to be 18 years of age
- You’ll receive your Certified Professional Coach (CPC) designation upon completion of iPEC
- iPEC offers payment plans so you can break up the tuition cost
- At over $13,000+ USD this is the most expensive program on the entire list
- This is a very intense program so it requires a full-time commitment
Leader as Coach Executive Program at Brown University
Hosted in the School of Professional Studies at Brown University, the Leader as Coach Executive program is for seasoned leaders, high-potential business executives, mid-career managers, emerging leaders, and entrepreneurs. The program is grounded in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and research in leadership effectiveness
- This is a highly experiential live online program so you’re engaged with other classmates
- As a 6-week online course, you have the flexibility to take this program from anywhere in the world
- Tuition is under $3,000 so this is a more price-friendly program
- There are specific enrollment periods so you cannot start and end this program at any time
- This is not an ICF-accredited program
Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership
The IECL is a world-renowned executive coaching program. IECL is designed for accomplished coaches and prepares graduates with advanced educational resources.
- Multiple paths to get your certification including both ACTP and ACSTH
- IECL is known for being an affordable program
- Courses with instructors are held over zoom (online)
- Depending on where you live in the world, you may not be familiar with IECL as they’re marketed outside of North America
- Onsite events are hosted in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and China
Center for Executive Coaching
The Center for Executive Coaching is a top-notch executive coaching program. The alumni reviews for the Center for Executive Coaching are exceptional, especially from industry-specific websites like the Society for Human Resources Management. A review from December 2021, states, “The Center of Coaching Certification training was well delivered with broad learnings of the coaching profession and practicum. The session leaders were prepared and very knowledgeable. It was engaging, and left me better equipped, both professionally and personally to embark on the coaching journey.”
- You can go at your own pace with the Center for Executive Coaching
- If you have a master’s degree, you can fast-track ICF certification
- Once you enroll, you’ll immediately have access to tools you can use in your coaching practice
- This certification can range up to $7,500 USD depending on the type of training you opt for making it one of the more costly options
- In order to achieve the ICF certification requirements, you must participate in live webinars and supervised coaching sessions
College of Executive Coaching
The College of Executive Coaching offers students comprehensive personal and executive post-graduate coach training for professionals transitioning to coaching who hold graduate degrees.
- There are a variety of coaching disciples to select from, life coaching certifications, business coaching certifications, wellness coaching certifications
- PH-D instructors are world-class educators and provide a great experience for you to become an exceptional coach
- In order to enroll in the CoEC, applicants must have a graduate degree or are currently enrolled in
- CoEC also falls into the expensive category with tuition as high as $10,800 USD
At the end of the day, your coaching certification is only a tool to improve your coaching business. You must rely on your core competencies and coaching skills to become a successful coach. No number of accreditations, certifications, or coach training programs will make you any more successful if you’re not fundamentally a good coach. So the path to building a great coaching practice ultimately starts with you!
And, if you’re a recent graduate or looking to quickly stand up a place to manage your entire coaching business, you can try Practice free for 7 days.