There are no firm requirements for becoming a coach—but that doesn’t mean we should enter the field unprepared.
Unlike teachers, therapists, and personal trainers, coaches aren’t expected to hold specific credentials or earn a relevant degree. We shouldn’t coach without proper training—the clients in our care need high-quality support and guidance.
If you have the resources, an excellent start is pursuing a college-level education in a subject related to the coaching niche you want to specialize in. For example, to become a fitness coach, you may wish to obtain a degree in exercise science.
Once you feel confident in your background, it’s time to seek out formal coaching certification to accredit your industry-specific skills. Of course, not everyone has time to travel to an in-person course, especially if they don’t have a local program.
If this sounds like you, you’re in luck — there’s a wealth of asynchronous virtual workshops to work through in your free time. Here’s a guide to the best online coaching courses.
The value of training programs for coaches
Being prepared for your coaching role is so important. As a coach, you work with people who’ve reached a difficult crossroads in their personal or professional lives, and clients must be able to trust you to provide the right advice. You want to be giving informed support—not making guesses. You must be knowledgeable in your area of expertise and have the right hard and soft skills to get the job done.
Coaching programs teach you the strategies and practices you need to be successful. And once you complete a course, you’ll earn an accreditation, which will show potential clients you know what you’re doing. Confidence is everything, and having a robust set of online coaching certifications to point to will help the people you work with feel confident in your skills.
Which is the right course for you?
Choosing a course can be overwhelming — after all, there are a lot of great options. To narrow down the list, ask the following questions:
- Who’s teaching the course? Investigate the coaches or professors leading the training. Read up on their background and unique experience to determine if their expertise will benefit your career.
- Is the course reputable? Look for programs accredited by well-respected coaching organizations, such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Association for Coaching (AC). These courses are guaranteed to be enriching.
- Is the course in your price range? Research the cost of a course and ask yourself if you can afford it. Remember, it’s an investment in your career, so don’t let a higher price tag deter you from a program that looks like the perfect fit (so long as it's within your budget).
- What are you hoping to achieve? As valuable as a general coaching course can be, if you already know your niche, such as fitness or motivational coaching, it may be best to train in that area. As you look through programs, ask yourself whether they’ll fulfill your objectives and cover more than the industry's fundamentals.
- How much time do you have? Determine how much time you can realistically spend on a training course. If you’re already working as a coach and getting a certification to up your competencies, how much work can you take on without burning out? Many courses advertise how many hours they take to complete, so choose a program within reason.
- Will there be a good return on your investment? Before pursuing certification in a particular niche, ensure there’s a market for it in your area. You don’t want to shell out on a specialized training program only to find out there aren’t many potential clients where you practice.
9 amazing online coaching courses
The right course can make all the difference — but you don’t want to invest time and money in a program that won’t provide the right tools for the job.
When it comes to making a choice, we can help. Here are 9 stellar programs that cater to a diverse range of coaches:
General coaching certification programs
- Coach School: Coach School is the only multi-modality training program accredited by the ICF.
- iPEC Coaching: This coaching course rewards successful participants with three certifications and helps them tap into their strengths.
- Columbia University: This program runs on a proprietary three-component module that immerses students in intensive practice.
- Coach U: Coach U’s four-week course is a strong introduction for anyone looking to get their feet wet in the basics of the field.
Specialized coaching certification programs
- Coaching and Leadership Academy (executive coaching): TCP Leadership offers short- and long-term programs focused on niches in the executive coaching field.
- Health Coach Institute (health and wellness coaching): The “Become a Health Coach” program lives up to its name, providing those who want to become full- or part-time health and wellness coaches with the basic skills they need to get started.
- Brown University (executive coaching): In partnership with ACT Leadership and Performance, the Brown University School of Professional Studies offers an ICF-accredited executive coaching program.
- NLP Center (neurolinguistic programming): Get certified through an ICF-accredited course in this unique communication strategy.
- Udemy (life coaching): This program is the perfect fit for aspiring life coaches who are also entrepreneurs wanting to launch a business.
Take your coaching practice to the next level
No matter where you are in your coaching journey, you can always learn new things. Enrolling in a program is a wonderful start — now how can you elevate your business?
At Practice, we know running a coaching business is a lot of work. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, we can help shift some of the administrative tasks off your plate. Our customer relationship management (CRM) platform is specifically designed with coaches in mind, helping you communicate with clients, store important documents, and receive payments safely and securely. And when you don’t have to sweat the small stuff, you can dedicate more time to becoming an even better coach.