How to Find the Right Program TO BECOME A CERTIFIED COACH

Achieving Goals, Career Enrichment
10/24/18 - Katie Bennett

The coach training world is confusing, convoluted and extremely difficult to navigate. We get questions all the time from coaches who would like to join the ALV team but don’t yet have their coaching credential. We are happy to provide guidance to help explain the industry and help you find the best coaching training program for you. There are a couple things for you to think about before you start diving into the specific training programs:

What are your goals?

Are you looking to start your own coaching practice? Or perhaps you want to join a larger coaching organization like ALV? Maybe you want to be an internal coach within an organization or you simply want to utilize coaching skills to be better at your job. Your vision for the future and how you plan to utilize your coaching skills will impact which training program you should select. For example, some programs teach skills to build a coaching practice for those who want to have their own coaching business. If you want to do this, you may seek that type of program out. If you want to work internally in a company, this may not be as relevant.

Is it ICF accredited?

Unlike some of our sister fields like counseling, there is very little governance and regulation of the coaching industry. For example, to call yourself a therapist, you legally need to have a certain level of training and hold an official credential. There is no equivalent regulation for coaches. Anyone can call themselves a coach, whether or not they have been through a coach training program. However, there is an organization called the International Coach Federation (ICF) which accredits coach training programs and ensures they meet a certain standard. This can be an effective vetting process as you evaluate prospective training program. There are still plenty of fantastic training programs which aren’t ICF accredited, so you’ll need to determine if this is a priority for you based on your goals. If you are attracted to a program which is not ICF accredited, I would encourage you to do a thorough review of the curriculum to ensure it is comprehensive and covers the skills you want to learn. You can compare it to the ICF core competencies which are listed here. You can view the database of ICF accredited programs here.

Does it have a specialty?

Perhaps you know that you want to focus on career coaching or you have a particular interest in coaching executives. Many coach training programs have a specialty they are aligned with, and others have multiple tracks which you can choose from based on your area of interest.

What is the time frame?

Most coach training programs span six-months to one-year. There is no right or wrong length; it is simply what works with your timeline and commitments. However, the ICF requires that you complete a minimum of 60 hours of training and 100 hours of coaching to meet the lowest credential level. Even if you decide not to register your credentials with the ICF or go with an ICF accredited program, this is still a good baseline to ensure your program is thorough enough to teach you the skills you’ll need to be successful.

What is the format?

The majority of today’s top coach training programs involve a combination of in-person and remote training. Some, however, are purely online. Make sure that as you do your research and narrow down your list, you think about how you best learn. Is it important to you to have face-to-face interaction? Do you like the flexibility of completing work online in your own time?

The other important structural factor to consider is type of cohort. Are you aligned with a cohort of 6 or 60? Are you aligned with a cohort at all? What is the tenure and demographics of the other students in this program? Are these people you can learn from and who will be additive to your network?

Understand the different formats included in the programs you’re considering, and select a program with a format that works for you.

Who are the instructors and coaches?

The best coaches are also self-aware and coached themselves. So does the coach training program give you a coach for you to work with? Who are these coaches and what is their experience level? Make sure the coaches you are working with and the trainers involved with the program are people whose careers you respect and would like to emulate, since they will be the ones helping you pave your own coaching career path.

What does it cost?

Cost may also factor in here. Most coach training programs cost $8-$10k. It is good to be aware of these costs up front so you can begin to budget for the program of your choice.

Here are some coaching training programs which we highly recommend based on our own research and where we have hired coaches from to join the ALV team:

Coaches Training Institute (CTI)

Description: A 12 month, ICF-accredited program, consisting of five in-person experiential workshops, followed by a six-month virtual certification program.

Why we like it: CTI is one of the oldest and most reputable coach training programs, having trained over 55,000 coaches. It takes a holistic approach to coaching which will successfully prepare you to coach in a variety of contexts from health to career to leadership.

Visit website to learn more.


Description: The iPEC coach certification program consists of 3 phases. Each phase launches with a 3-day in person training followed by 8-12 weeks of virtual training. The program spans about 9 months in total and is available in 20 different cities throughout the US and Europe.

Why we like it: iPEC is a well-respected, comprehensive program with different tracks depending on your preferred specialty (e.g., executive coaching, relationship coaching, career coaching). It trains you on not just coaching skills but also what you will need to build a successful practice, so it is great for those interested in launching their own coaching business. iPEC continues to invest in resources and opportunities to support its network of coaches even after their training is complete.

Visit website to learn more.

Northwestern University: Organizational and Leadership Coaching Certificate (OLCC)

Description: This is a year-long program which teaches coaching skills and also provides context for how coaching can be an effective change agent within an organization. The program is a hybrid model of in-person and online training.

Why we like it: This program is extremely comprehensive and perfect for those interested in coaching in a corporate environment or for those who are looking to integrate coaching into their leadership style. You will train and work alongside a network of established professionals and highly successful faculty. The OLCC curriculum will prepare you to be an effective coach and consultant ready to work with top organizations, and yet the holistic coaching methodologies taught can be applied to a variety of coaching scenarios.

Visit website to learn more.

Hudson Institute of Coaching

Description: This is an eight-month program consisting of three four-day in-person sessions, on-going remote interactions, coaching, mentoring and extensive reading. Locations include Santa Barbara and NYC. It is geared toward senior leaders interested in developing coaching skills to use internally in their organization or to utilize as an independent coach.

Why we like it: Hudson is a process-driven program focusing on a “whole person” model. While it teaches critical skills required to be an effective coach, it also emphasizes self-awareness, personal development and continual learning as just as important to be a well-rounded and successful coach.

Visit website to learn more.

NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI)

Description: This brain-based program launches with three days of in-person training followed by weekly virtual sessions and self-study. It is offered in a number of cities all around the world and takes a scientific approach to understanding human behavior.

Why we like it: NLI’s coach training program is rooted in neuroscience and focused on process and outcomes. The organization has a powerful brand which is recognized globally. Not only are you receiving evidence-based coach training, you are partnering with an organization which collaborates with top neuroscientists, leadership experts, and large organizations around the world to produce groundbreaking research.

Visit website to learn more.


Description: CoachU’s Core Essentials training program includes 77 hours of live-facilitated virtual training sessions. It teaches coaching methodologies as well as business practices for operating a successful coaching practice.

Why we like it: CoachU is one of the longest standing coach training programs founded by Thomas J. Leonard, known internationally as the “Father of Coaching.” It offers flexibility in pacing your coursework to graduate in anywhere from 6-15 months. The coursework is directly aligned with the ICF’s core competencies which makes the process streamlined for those intending to register their credentials with the ICF after training.

Visit website to learn more.

Ama La Vida

Description: This is a 12-week training program focused on teaching fundamental coaching skills in an organizational context. It combines one-on-one sessions, eCoaching and workshops to equip you with the tools required to be an effective coach and leader.

Why we like it: Our ICF accredited coach training program is perfect for leaders, HR business partners and anyone else who wants to utilize coaching practices and techniques to be more successful at work. The unique blend of one-on-one support and eCoaching modules maximizes what can be learned and achieved in a short time-frame at an affordable cost.

Visit website to learn more.

We are so excited for you as you begin this journey and see how transformative coaching can be. We hope this helps you find the right program for you and your goals. We are always happy to be a resource for other coaches and the coaching industry in general, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

Newsletter signup - newsletter-signup page
Want to receive our thoughtfully crafted emails and updates to help you grow, challenge yourself and take action? Enter your details below. No spam, we promise!

Avatar photo
Katie Bennett

Hi I'm Katie, one of the coaches and co-founders here at Ama La Vida. I am passionate about helping people break through who they "should" be and what they "should" do in order to find their core and live with authenticity. When I'm not coaching or working hard to build the business, you will likely find me on a plane or in a restaurant. I love travel, wine and food, and also spending time with my little (not so little) labrador, Millie. Give me a shout out at any time!

Latest Articles from Katie Bennett
Related Articles

What are your professional goals? It’s a question that can make even the most seasoned professionals pause. Whether you’re just starting out or well into your career, setting professional goals is crucial. It’s about more than just climbing the corporate ladder. It’s worth taking the time to figure out your professional goals. This process is […]

Read More
woman looking at computer writing down notes in her journal

Let’s face it, no one ever teaches you how to navigate your career. At best, we get half-hearted questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and “Do you know what you’re going to do when you finish school?” From there, you can try to find a mentor or hope for […]

Read More
woman working and taking notes

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of making a career decision? Have you ever felt afraid that the wrong choice might impact your immediate future, long-term happiness, financial stability, and overall lifestyle? If so, you’re not alone. These feelings are common symptoms of a condition known as career paralysis—a state of feeling stuck […]

Read More