My Best Advice On Choosing a Coaching Training Program

I’ve spoken individually to hundreds of people about choosing a coaching training program. The process can be confusing because of so many options, approaches, and ways of describing programs. Here is my best advice on choosing the right coaching training for you.

6 Tips To Choosing A Coaching Training Program

Every coaching training program highlights their own advantages. This makes it difficult to compare various programs apples-to-apples. I want to clear up some of the confusion and give you 6 tips to choosing the best coaching training for you.

  1. Choose coaching training that teaches real coaching. Everyone means something different by the term “coach.” Choose a program that follows coaching industry standards. A professional coach has mastered 3 “sets”: a coaching mindset, a coaching skill set, and a coaching tool set. See my article What It Really Means To Be A Coach for more details.
  2. Choose coaching training that is approved by a coaching association. Since coaching is an unregulated field, anyone can create their own program and even their own certification process. Like associations that approve University degrees, independent coaching associations examine and approve (or reject) coaching programs. The world’s largest professional coaching association is the International Coach Federation. The ICF provides an external and objective validation of training programs and coaches. If the program isn’t approved by the ICF, you have no idea what you’re getting.
  3. Choose coaching training that fits your values. Every training program approaches coaching from their worldview and experience. My own approach, while approved by the ICF and thus professional coaching training, is from a Christian worldview and primarily for a ministry application. My audience loves it because it corresponds to their values and needs.
  4. Choose foundational coaching training before niche training. Don’t take specialized coaching training too soon. Training to become a StrengthsFinder Coach, or DiSC coach, or ADHD Coach will focus primarily on the tool or nuances of that specialty and not enough on foundational coaching skills. Instead, find practical coaching training that will help you develop coaching mindsets, skills sets and tool sets. Then you’ll be able to successfully coach people through any situation.
  5. Separate learning to coach from learning to market yourself. Learning to coach well is absolutely essential. There are many famous-name gurus out there selling their coaching programs. They promise to teach you to coach and will help you to market yourself. My advice: learn to coach from the best coaching training program you can find, then learn to market yourself from the best marketing training program you can find. When the two topics get combined, both usually end up watered-down.
  6. Choose coaching training that will help you become an ICF Certified Coach – even if you don’t want that right now. I hear from people who have invested thousands of dollars and loads of time in a coaching training only to find out later it can’t be used to help them become an ICF Certified Coach. I’ve also seen many people who started out thinking they didn’t want to be ICF Certified, only to need that certification a couple years down the road. The lesson here: choose a program that is ICF-approved, as that’s the easiest way to become a ICF Certified Coach.

A Short-Cut To Comparing The Costs of Coaching Training Programs

The ICF has a standardized way of evaluating the number of coach-specific training hours. In order to be certified as a coach by the ICF, you’ll need 60 or 125 coach-specific training hours. In addition, you need 10 hours of approved mentor coaching.

Find out more about how to become an ICF Certified Coach

The key to comparing the costs of programs is to understand how many coach-specific training hours they provide. Watch out for programs that add coaching practice, reading, videos, downloadable courses, peer coaching, etc. into their training hours. The ICF doesn’t count these types of learning as coach-specific training hours.

One short-cut to shifting through various coaching training options is to check to see if the program is ICF-approved as an Approved Coach Training Program (ACTP) or Approved Coaching Specific Training Hours (ACSTH). A course approved by the ICF will be screened by them to meet their rigorous training standards.

For example, comparing our Coaching Mastery Certificate Program to other schools’ coaching training needn’t be that difficult. Coaching Mastery earns 73 ICF-ACSTH training hours, and it provides 10 mentor coaching hours. We charge one price for both of these training pieces.

Add up the other school’s program(s) to get past 60+ coach-specific training hours, the minimum for an ICF ACC Coach Credential. How much do they charge for that? Don’t forget to include 10 mentor coaching hours, as the ICF requires this for certification. Mentor coaching is expensive, usually costing $900 – $1500 for a group process.

These 6 tips will help you choose a coaching training program. And by comparing the number of ICF coach-specific training hours and mentor coaching hours, you can compare the costs of programs.

It’s also helpful to speak to someone who has taken the coaching training program you’re looking at. Ask around or post on social media to find some. Or contact the school and ask for a reference.

Since you will invest a lot of time, energy, and money in your coaching training, make sure you find the best program for you.

Question: How would (or did) coaching training help you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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