While technically, legally, anyone can call themselves a coach (including my dog 😊), like all professions have, coaching is moving toward either self-regulating or governments will step in and regulate it. ICF is at the forefront of self-regulation and with the standards, competencies, and ethics is the gold standard as an organizing body for self-regulation in the profession. There are other organizations in the coaching profession and at the same time ICF is the largest and as a profession, to successfully self-regulate, we must be collaborative. Earning the opportunity for membership by completing coach training, and/or earning a credential, shows professionalism and includes accountability to the coaching code of ethics.
A key reason for earning a credential is demonstrating your commitment to excellence and your credibility. Earning a credential shows you put in the time and the effort. Think about it this way: ff somebody says, “oh, I don’t need to do that” does that mean they feel it’s unimportant to learn, and to continue to develop their skill set? Is that the kind of professional you want to work with? Earning a credential and maintaining that credential is a demonstration of your commitment to excellence because it shows your commitment to quality and to ongoing learning.
Above and beyond professionalism, many coaches earn a credential because their customers want it (the customers know it demonstrates excellence). Increasingly, people are finding that when organizations hire a coach, they are requesting or requiring a credential to the point where some coaches who have been working with people in an organization for years are now being told to earn their credential or lose the contract.
Earning the letters for coaching certification or credentialing is for the credibility, the accountability, and the demonstration of quality and because the customer demands it. It boils down to what it means in terms of who you are as a coach: it means you yourself are committed to continuously upgrading your skill set, enhancing your services, ensuring the quality of what you do, and staying accountable to ethics and standards. When someone is looking for a coach, your certification and/or credentialing are a very clear message that you care about what you do, and you care about the of quality of service you are providing.