Coaching is the second fastest growing profession in the world and as such, many are asking how to become a coach. Ultimately the answer is essentially the same as with any profession: get the education, build skills, and be accountable. Unfortunately, some think that becoming a coach is as simple as hanging out a shingle. How impressed are you with a professional that fails to invest in their own training? While there are many jobs that provide the initial training while you are working, as with other professional services, coaching calls for initial training, starting to work, and then getting more training.
The first step to becoming a coach is coach-specific training. Find a training program that is approved by the International Coaching Federation, ICF. Yes, there are other programs and they may or may not provide quality content and effective delivery. Because the coaching profession is maturing to a stage of self-regulation and the largest self-regulating organization is the ICF, the ICF has standards for approving training programs. Choosing from the hundreds of options available there simply makes sense.
The intention of training is to develop your competency as a coach. The ICF has Core Competencies and developing these is a process over time starting with an initial certification and then completing your qualification as a coach with advanced training. For example, the Certified Professional Coach class we offer is an initial step to learn coaching. For those marketing themselves as a professional coach it makes sense to complete the ICF membership requirements with either the Certified Master Coach or the Certified Coach Specialist programs. This is true for several reasons: 1. It is required to qualify for membership with the ICF and 2. The combination of programs develops an appropriate level of competency for doing the work. Sometimes people ask how long to wait between classes. The answer is completing your training as soon as your budget and schedule permit.
Membership in the ICF is much like saying, “Now I am a coach.” Consider it the equivalent of earning your degree in coaching. The ICF does have processes in place to go beyond the initial qualification as a coach to earning credentials – much like a Masters or Doctorate degree.
Please note that until you are trained on the coaching Code of Ethics, you will not know what you do not know. Ethics in coaching are different than ethics in other professions. Reading the Code of Ethics is only a start because it is in coach training that you really learn the implications and application of the complete Code of Ethics.
Becoming a coach means completing coach training, developing your competencies, knowing and living the Code of Ethics, and joining the ICF.