Coaching Certification: the Good, the Bad, and the Alternatives

Written by Sara

Over the past decade we have watched the coaching world explode. The growth was something every major publication took notice of and it seemed the more we talked about Life Coaching, the more coaches we saw come onto the scene. It doesn’t look like this is changing anytime soon either. Abundance Coaching just pointed out that Coaching is still the second fastest growing profession in the world only second to information technology. ICF estimates that there are now 47,500 professional coaches, worldwide.

As the options for who to coach with grew, possible clientele began asking “what makes you a coach?” and coaches had no choice but to find ways to set themselves apart from the crowd. For some coaches this meant serious personal branding and storytelling. For others, it seemed there was a need to find ways to legitimize the services they were offering. Now there are more ways than ever to do this. But is it really necessary? Does a life coach need certifications or certain degrees to make their coaching more legit or official?

The answer is: it depends on the coach.

When it comes to coaching, more than anything else, as a coach you must possess confidence in your abilities. This alone can make or break your business because fear or a lack of confidence is something your potential clients will be able to pick up on right away through your message and voice.

Along with that confidence comes a consistency in your message that will provide a sense of wisdom and knowledge as you convey your message to the masses. On the flip-side of that, a lack of confidence will leave you with a scattered message and inconsistent personal brand which will come across as a lack of knowledge or experience… the absolute last thing you want clients to perceive about you.

Where Do You Stand In the Confidence Department?

Let’s get specific here. If you are unsure if you are coming across as having total confidence in your coaching abilities there are a few things you can do to be proactive about finding the answer.

  1. Offer your services to a few of your most trusted associates in return for their honest and specific feedback. This will allow you to assess what it is you are offering based on the feedback from individuals you trust and adjust as necessary.
  2. Ask for consistent feedback from current clients or at the end of coaching cycles. You can make this easy on your clients by providing an anonymous assessment or review form on your website or blog that will allow them to honestly assess you without fear of repercussions or hurt feelings.

If you know you need a boost in the confidence department, there are several paths available to you. These resources will not only help you build up your own self-esteem, they can really help you feel more ‘in the loop’ of what is current and relevant in the coaching world. Make sure you do your research and find what you feel connected to. This will provide energy and excitement that will make it much easier for you to commit and complete whatever it is you choose. Here are a few wonderful places to begin your journey:

  1. Marie Forleo’s B School
  2. Brendan Burchards Expert Academy
  3. International Coaches Federation
  4. Coach U
  5. CCE Global

Not one of these is “better” than the other. It really depends on you and what you are seeking or what you need from them so make sure you do your research and make your decision for the right reasons. As it is also true with life, quiet the noise in your mind and listen to your intuition. It will guide you in the right direction and help you figure out what it is that you need to be the best coach you possibly can.

“But…Where Do I Begin?”

My own personal rule, just to provide some perspective for you, is that once a year I must commit to one continuing education course, program, or project. It doesn’t even have to specifically apply to coaching because I know that anything I do to further myself will ultimately further my business as well as my abilities as a coach. If you know you have to set more specific goals to follow through, choose one thing this month and put it on your calendar. Do not skip the calendar step, this will confirm the commitment in your mind and you are way more likely to follow through!

If you are just starting out and the idea of dropping hundreds (or even thousands in some cases) of dollars each year on CE is enough to make you faint, worry no more. There are plenty of free resources out there you can rely on, and most of the heavyweight coaches also offer free mini-courses and resources as well. You may not receive a certificate with these but they will still serve the same purpose of growing your knowledge and boosting your confidence in your coaching abilities. Here are a few of my favorites you might want to check out:

  1. Coursera
  2. Udemy
  3. Open Education Database
  4. Edx
  5. Life Coach Training Institute

Read Like It’s Your Day Job

Lastly, don’t forget about the wonderful world of books! These are one of the absolute best resources available to you to grow your knowledge, confidence, and coaching abilities. If you are someone who has no problem with self-leading and you know you will commit the time you need to finish the books you start, head to your local book store or library and dive in!

If you’re like me you might be tempted to grab 25 books and by the time you get home you already know there’s a good chance you won’t finish any of them… be intentional instead. Select the book you are looking for before you go and select a back-up in case your first pick isn’t available. Here are a few of my favorite books:

  1. The Four Agreements’ By: Don Miguel Ruiz, Perfect for self-awareness, confidence, perspective
  2. Who Moved My Cheese’ By: Spencer Johnson, Perfect for perspective, dealing with change, balance in life and work
  3. Evidence Based Coaching’ By: Dianne Stober, Perfect for best coaching practices, coaching refresher, coaching skills
  4. The Upside of Irrationality, By: Dan Ariely, Perfect for understanding human behaviors, motivators, understanding human interactions and why we do the things we do
  5. Conversational Intelligence’ By: Judith Glaser, Perfect for communication skills, professional transformations, understanding the types of communication and how we communicate

Just remember, it all comes down to you and what you need to continue moving forward as a successful coach. There is plenty of advice out there telling you what you need or don’t need but ultimately you are the one who must make these calls.

Trust yourself, be intentional about your choices, and you will find yourself on the right path.

About the author