Finding an organization that recognizes and certifies your expertise is an important professional goal for any coach. Credentials help you market your coaching business and stand out to potential clients. Aside from accreditations, coaching organizations offer a community of professionals to guide you and help advance your coaching expertise.
Whether you’re looking to learn new skills or formalize your education, earning accreditation from a well-respected organization propels you toward your goals. And there are several robust programs to serve diverse needs and interests in the industry.
This is the ultimate guide to coaching organizations. From membership benefits to program requirements, we’ll help you understand what to look for in an organization to elevate your coaching practice.
What are the benefits of coaching organizations?
Joining a coaching organization is the first step toward leveling up your practice. Not only is it an opportunity to learn new skills, but it also looks great on a resume and to potential clients.
Coaching organizations can help you:
- Obtain qualifications: Many coaching organizations offer training programs that result in professional qualifications.
- Receive guidance from other professionals: Joining an organization can help you connect with a mentor in coaching.
- Network: Coaching organizations are a great way to network with other professionals in your industry and niche.
- Join a community: A coaching organization can give you a sense of community and support from your peers.
Types of qualifications from a coaching organization
Coaching organizations offer three types of credentials: certifications, accreditations, and credentials. Understanding their differences helps you make an informed decision about the best course for your practice. Let’s look at the types in more detail:
- Certifications: Most coaching courses offer certifications. A coaching certification signifies you completed the course, but it doesn’t necessarily provide information on the quality of the training.
- Accreditations: Accreditations require coaches to pass a course that meets specific standards set by an external organization. A common non-coaching example is a first aid course.
- Credentials: Coaches earn credentials when they reach a level of competency and accomplishment to receive a designation from a recognized organization.
Different credentials carry more weight than others, and some will be a more significant value-add to your practice. Consider your goals and skill gaps when choosing the type of qualification you wish to pursue.
Top international coaching organizations
Interested in a large-scale program? Several coaching organizations have a global presence, offering well-respected credentials that transfer if you move or travel. The perfect fit will depend on your professional goals and niche:
- International Coaching Federation (ICF). This nonprofit was founded in 1995 to advance the future of coaching. The ICF offers accreditation on three levels (Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach, and Master Certified Coach), each with specific standards of education and coaching experience.
- European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). The EMCC currently has over 10,000 members across 85 countries. The organization accredits individuals, training programs, and organizations. EMCC accreditations are internationally recognized and awarded to prestigious coaching programs around the globe.
- Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The CCE offers a “Board Certified Coach” (BCC) credential. To become a BCC, you need a bachelor’s degree or higher. Your education level and experience determine how many hours of training you need to complete your education, ranging from 30–120 hours.
Other coaching organizations
Local coaching certification organizations offer similar benefits to international programs on a smaller scale. Here are some great coaching organizations in the U.S.:
- The American Association of Professional Coaches (AAPC). This association for coaching accredits various programs and helps foster a community of quality professionals. The AAPC also matches clients with coaches while building a coaching network.
- The Association for Professional Executive Coaching and Supervision (APECS). The APECS is an executive coaching organization that offers a professional community to accomplished coaches.
- Certified Life Coach Institute (CLCI): This life coaching organization is ICF accredited and has certified over 9,000 coaches across niches and specialties. The CLCI program lasts three days and results in a well-respected qualification.
How to choose a coaching organization
When deciding what coaching organization is the best for you, ask the following questions:
- Does it help market your practice? Affiliation with a trusted coaching organization helps you stand out as a qualified coach. Plus, some organizations allow you to make a coaching profile to connect with other professionals and potential clients.
- Does it offer a “find a coach” system? Some organizations, such as the AAPC, have a search function to help match clients with coaches. This is an easy way to reach more people and build your business.
- What are the benefits it offers to the community? An organization can provide more than just accreditation. Events, networking opportunities, and classes are all benefits that aid your professional development.
- Can I successfully network within the organization? Consider if the organization provides accessible opportunities to network with other professionals, such as conventions and seminars.
- Where can I take it? Online courses are widely available, while in-person training could require travel.
The perfect fit also depends on your niche within the industry. Choose an organization that offers enrichment opportunities relevant to your practice — you wouldn’t want to join a life coaching organization as a career coach.
What’s the best accreditation for coaching?
When it comes to qualifications, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The various organizations above are reputable and well-known, so you have some strong contenders to choose from. Deciding which accreditation you prefer will depend on several factors:
- Accessibility: Programs in your area may only have accreditations from a specific organization, limiting which qualifications you can pursue.
- Type of coaching: Some programs may be better than others for different types of coaches. Earn niche-specific qualifications, like a certificate from the CLCI.
- Previous experience and education level: Some programs and accreditations require specific education or experience to apply.
Grow your coaching business with Practice
A coaching organization is a valuable tool to help you grow professionally and back up your experience. Potential clients find qualifications attractive — they will have confidence in your expertise and skills.
Once your business is booming, Practice can help you stay organized. Our customer relationship management (CRM) platform is specifically designed with coaches in mind. You can store client data and documents safely and securely and gain access to coaching tools like templates, a booking platform, and secure and easy payments.