How To Identify The Best ICF Coach Training Program For You
With so many coach certification programs to choose from, how do you decide which is right for you? Here's 8 proven strategies to help you make the decision.
Originally published in June 2020, this blog has been revised and expanded to include new resources and information.
As life coaching makes its way into the mainstream, more and more people are not only hiring a coach, but considering what it might take to become one themselves.
Today the coaching industry enjoys strong consumer trust, with many successful executives and public figures openly sharing how working with a professional coach has helped them achieve their goals.
Gone are the days when life coaching was considered dubious. (Well... mostly anyway! But here's what you can do if somebody cringes when you say you're a life coach.)
Want to know what's really helped to elevate the coaching profession over the past decade? The International Coach Federation (ICF).
But what is the ICF, exactly?
As an unaffiliated nonprofit organization, the ICF is dedicated to overseeing the emerging field of professional coaching. They also make industry-leading endorsements and recommendations for selecting a training program. Because of this, consumers have a safety net against fake programs... and practitioners who simply don’t know what they’re doing.
(At Lumia Coaching, we've been ICF accredited for years, and offer a training pathway toward getting your ACC ICF Credential as well!)
With so many training programs out there, how do you identify the best ICF accredited life coach training program for you? Whether you're considering getting trained here at Lumia or elsewhere, it's important to assess personal fit.
If you’re considering becoming a life coach, here are a few tips for choosing an ICF accredited coach training.
Do Your Homework
You’d be surprised by just how many people sign up for a coaching training program without first shopping around. Friend, these programs can be a large investment so doing a little research is worthwhile. Devote enough time up front to searching for a program that meets your interests, schedule, and personality.
This is the fun part!
Look into coach training programs, take down notes, bookmark important pages. Imagine yourself in the programs you see described.
- What does it feel like, what's the company vibe?
- What are the program outcomes?
- Does their philosophy on coaching align with yours?
- Are these "your people"?
As you explore, keep in mind that there is a fine line between doing your homework and over-researching.
Know the difference between due diligence and procrastination. Sometimes, it’s easy to say you’re researching coach training programs when really, deep inside you DO know what you want… but something is holding you back. Most often that “something” is fear.
Wondering if you're ready to take the leap? Check out the blog 5 Signs that You're Ready.
The first step into your new career as a life coach is simple. Enroll in a good coaching training program.
But guess what? Many people stall out right here, and never take another step toward making their intention a reality. What sets a successful life coach apart is that they know when to contemplate, and when it’s time to act!
Talk To Other Coaches
Connecting with more than one certified professional coach in the industry can be illuminating. A good life coach certification program will hook you up with alumni so you can ask about their experience.
There are also many life coaching groups on social media platforms like Facebook. Consider joining a few online groups and getting involved in the conversations. Ask about what ICF accredited coaching program other people are enrolled in or have graduated from. Find out what trainings they would recommend.
Follow coaches you admire who are working in the specialties that interest you. Watch what they're doing, and find out how they got there. Observe. Ask questions. Build your network.
Remember your objective in talking to other coaches.
Your aim is to develp a better understanding of various coaching programs, and their reputations. When asking questions about training on social media, you may encounter people offering up cheap programs or coaching services. Nothing wrong with that! Just look into each offer carefully before signing up. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are plenty of life coaches willing to point newcomers to the field in the right direction... without selling you anything.
A word on free labor:
When we send a direct message asking for recommendations or insight from working coaches we need to be mindful of the impact. It's poor form to jump on their website to schedule a free new client discovery call to “pick their brain” on how to become a coach yourself. Bear in mind that responding to an unsolicited request for advice takes time.
If you wish to go deeper than a brief email exchange or alumni interview, this is a service you should be prepared to pay for. Many aspiring coaches request a roadmap from successful coaches on “how they got there.” Remember that their generosity in answering our questions pulls time away from serving their clients and running their business.
If you want more personalized support to achieve your goals, paying for a coaching session with someone you admire is not only a professional courtesy, but a wise investment in your future.
Check Instructor Credentials
OK! You’ve identified a short list of International Coach Federation accredited coaching certification programs that fit you best. Now it’s time to look at the credentials of their trainers.
Yes, instructors within the program should be certified coaches -- not just the program itself!
Dig into the website and see if there’s a page dedicated to the faculty. Check if the trainers and coaches have strong expertise. If their educational background is readily available, especially the courses they have taken, that’s also helpful information to know.
Here's the deal: not every successful certified professional coach needs to be ICF crendtialed. However, the program's trainers should have life coaching certifications and/or loads of real world expertise in the subjects they teach.
Is Mentoring Included? Find Out!
The value of mentoring and support from a certified professional coach cannot be overstated. This is an often overlooked, but essential ingredient for any strong life coach certification program. It’s valuable to have one-on-one mentoring both during and after your training. Working with clients can be tricky at times, and having a seasoned coach to debrief sessions with will accelerate your professional growth.
Most coach trainings offer some form of one-on-one mentoring. But how this is provided can differ widely. Some have mentoring packaged into the curriculum. Others include it as an optional add-on, which means you will need to pay for mentoring separately.
Look for a comprehensive International Coaching Federation certification programs that includes some mentoring or ongoing support. Especially if you’re considering an online life coaching certification program.
Be Wary of Big Promises
Chances are you will stumble across coaching training programs that promise too much and charge too little.
Life Coaching Certification for $49? It’s out there.
And... you’ll get what you pay for! When a life coach certification program feels like it’s too good to be true, take a step back and assess. Trust your intuition. Verify. Take a closer look at testimonials of graduates from the coaching schools you are considering.
So how much should it cost to become a life coach?
There’s a program that is right for just about any budget. Comprehensive programs to help you become a certified professional coach will include live instruction, personal support, and practice hour requirements in order to get certified. Expect tuition for most high quality life coach training program to run between $2,500 - $12,000.
Getting a life coach certification requires a lot of effort. Aside from understanding how to identify the best program for you, you’ll also want to make sure you have enough space for it in your life.
Believe it or not, so many aspiring coaches don't fully play this out before signing up. They enroll in a coach training program, only to realize they can’t juggle their existing priorities with the coursework. Unable to dedicate enough time to it, they either defer their enrollment or fall behind and feel perpetually strained.
Consider if you are in a place in your life where you can maximize your investment.
Before you enroll, make sure you understand the graduation requirements and time involved to get there. It is going to include classes, homework, practice sessions, and personal reflection.
Know Your Budget
Another aspect people often wrestle with is the financial one.
- Are you truly able to afford the celebrity coaching training program you’ve fallen in love with?
- Will you be working full time while enrolled in the program? If so, will the time you dedicate to becoming a life coach impact your current income or productivity?
Putting together the program tuition is an important factor. Most coaching training programs offer payment plans to help make the investment fit into your budget.
The expenses do not end here, however. It’s not just about how much your chosen program will cost. You’ll also want to look at the downstream effects:
- How might shifting your focus to coaching impact your existing work, and income?
- What are the startup costs once you get certified?
- Will you be affiliating with an existing coaching platform, or creating your own?
- What are the costs of running a solo coaching practice?
Thinking through how you plan to implement and use your new coaching skills is an important part of the equation.
How About Your Lifestyle?
Finally, consider who YOU are!
While most ICF accredited coaching programs have the same skeleton, they each have very different “personalities”. This is evidenced in the way they structure the program, who their instructors are, and the alumni community that develops around the program.
Some are flexible and accessible online for people who are working full time, with classes offered on nights and weekends - like Lumia's life coach training program. Others assume this will be your primary focus, or may require participation at in-person weeklong or weekend intensives.
Consider your life as it is today.
- Do your schedule and priorities align with the programs you are attracted to?
- Does the program fit your personality and values?
- Do you like the instructors?
There are many programs to choose from, so take your time. Post-graduation, your alumni network can be a tremendous resource as you step into the coaching industry. Make sure the program you are considering attracts the kind of people you’d want to hang out with and learn from over the long haul.
As you consider the pathways to becoming a life coach, don’t just ask: “How do I get certified?” Reframe that question to: “Does this program fit who I am, and who I am hoping to become?”
Ready to Dive In?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, business instruction to prepare you for liftoff as an entrepreneur.