5 Things to know before you choose your coach training program

Magda Walczak  •  Jul 13, 2018  •  8 min read

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5 Things to know before you choose your coach training program

Coaching has a rich history in business and professional life, but it’s only in recent years that coaching has become more formalized and recognized as a profession. To support that change, coaching credentials were created and global best practices developed. To ensure coaches have the necessary tools at their disposal, coach training programs started as well.

Even though coaching is not regulated (yet!), there are certain standards and competencies expected from a coach. What’s more, clients (especially corporates) are now demanding coaching credentials before hiring for internal or consulting coaching positions.

Awareness of coaching is continuously growing and more tools are available to coaches than ever before. The future of coaching is bright! Unfortunately, this fast growth coupled with lack of formal regulation creates many opportunities for dishonesty and even scams.

As you’re considering training as a coach, there are a few things to look for when evaluating your program. It’s a substantial investment both in terms of time and money, so it’s worth doing a little extra homework before you commit to a coach training institute.

We put together the following list of questions you should ask when inquiring with coach training providers.

1. Is the program accredited?

What this means:

There are three main coaching bodies that provide coaching credentials. These are ICF, EMCC and CCE. All three of these bodies have developed requirements for coach training providers to ensure the curriculum delivered aligns with coaching best practices. These coach training providers obtain their accreditation and must renew it periodically. This of this like a business license that’s specific to coach training.

What to look for:

Most coach training institutes will be very transparent with their accreditation. Look for ICF, EMCC and CCE logos on their websites. If you don’t see that, just ask them. Be sure to verify that they are accredited and in good standing by going to the coaching bodies’ websites. ICF, EMCC and CCE have directories you can search to verify accreditation.

Furthermore, make sure that the program you undertake is one of the coach-specific, accredited programs, not another training offered by the company.

If your training is not coach-specific, your application will be denied. Therefore, please realistically assess whether your training meets these definitions:

Coach-Specific Training is:

  • Training from an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) or a program that has received the ICF Approved Coach-Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) designation
  • Training that is specially marketed a teaching coaching skills, that teaches coaching skill or teaches how to apply technical skills in a coach-like manner and teaches coaching skills in accordance with ICF Core Coaching Competencies

Training that is not accepted as Coach-Specific Training:

  • Training that is marketed a teaching other skills, even though the skills can be used by a coach in some manner, doesn’t to count as Coach-Specific training
  • In addition, personal development courses (such as Forum, Landmark, Life spring, Life Training, Science of the Mind, etc.) do not count as Coach-Specific training
  • Finally education in other areas such as psychology counseling, NLP, etc., does not count as coach-specific training unless it was actually taught as coach training from an ICF Core Competencies’ perspective.

Make sure you ask for the curriculum of any program before you make a commitment.

Why it is important:

If the program doesn’t have their accreditation, you will not be allowed to apply for a coaching credential upon completion. It’s like going to university, paying for tuition and attending classes just to be told that you don’t get your diploma and you haven’t earned your degree.

2. Are the trainers credentialed?

What this means:

The aforementioned coaching bodies all award coaching credentials (see our guide here). When you consider a coach training program, you should ask whether the trainer(s) you’ll be working with have their coaching credential. Be sure to also ask what credential they have.

What to look for:

Many coaches will put their credential acronym after their name on their LinkedIn profile. Look for things like ACC, PCC, MCC, SP, BCC (see full list here). You should ask the person you’re corresponding with about your coach training program to let you know what credential your trainer holds. You can also ask the trainer directly. Once you know what coaching credential they have, you can go to ICF, EMCC and CCE’s websites to verify this information.

Why it is important:

For the same reasons why historians teach history at universities and biologists stick to teaching biology. You should have subject matter expertise to teach others on the subject. In the coaching world, that expertise is evidenced by obtaining coaching credentials. To get those, coaches must not only complete training and demonstrate knowledge, but they must also log coaching hours with clients.

Over and above that, a credentialed trainer has gone through the process that you’re just embarking on. This means they can be a true resource to you because they’ve “been in your shoes.”

In general, you should look for trainers who have PCC or MCC level coaching credentials.

3. Is mentoring included in the quoted price or is there an extra cost?

What this means:

As part of your course, will you be provided with a mentor? And if yes, is that cost included in the price of the program or is it extra? Many coach training institutes charge extra for mentoring so a low training course price on the surface can double with the addition of mentoring charged separately. It’s important to note that mentoring can be provided only by credentialed coaches.

What to look for:

When you are quoted the course fees, look for language like “mentoring included” or “mentoring not included.” If you don’t see either of those, ask the question directly, “Is mentoring included in the fees? If yes, how many hours are included? If no, what is the cost of mentoring?”

Why it is important:

1:1 and/or group mentoring is required as part of applying for many coaching credentials and it can be quite costly.

4. Are you able to talk to a trainer?

What this means:

Are you able to have a conversation with the person (or one of the people) who will be training you? Even if you don’t want to speak to the trainer, is the training institute willing to arrange a call?

What to look for:

Ask to speak to the actual person doing your training, or to one of the people in cases where multiple trainers work with one group of learners. If the specific trainer is not available, ask to speak to another trainer of the same calibre that you will receive in your training program.

Why it is important:

This helps you avoid a “bait and switch.” Sometimes a provider will advertise that they use PCC trainers and when you pay and show up on your first day, you find out it’s someone inexperienced who’s not a coach.

By the way, depending on the program, it may not be possible to speak to the trainer you will work with. For example, many companies have you work with different people depending on the module. That’s fine. Just be sure that you can connect to someone so you have a point of contact and point of reference for what to expect from that provider in general.

5. Do they overpromise to “sell” you?

What this means:

In the end, coach training programs are expensive and an overzealous sales person who isn’t part of the training department may promise you things that sound too good to be true.

What to look for:

Very quick, unconditional “yes” to all your requests, reluctance to put things in writing, immediate offer of discounted fees, no installment payment options, language like “we can sort that out later,” etc. Also, look for things that sound just way too good to be true.

For example, they tell you that you can get your PCC credential in 3 months. Well, that’s not possible because ICF requires programs to be spread out over a minimum length of time.

Or they may tell you that they give you clients for all the coaching hours you need to log. This may be true, but likely based on a hidden fee.

In any cases like this, just get answers in writing and ask detailed follow-up questions.

Fortunately, this problem is mostly prevalent at very small training companies with a “anything to get the sale” attitude, or at large companies where salespeople are separate from the training institute.

Why it is important:

Coaching is not a regulated profession so if the program doesn’t deliver, there’s really no recourse for you, the learner. It’s best to be smart, ask lots of questions before you commit.

If there are other warning signs or attributes you think should be included in this post, please comment below so that we may edit and include them. Thank you for your contributions!

Magda Walczak

Magda

Magda Walczak is CEO of Coacharya and looks after strategy, technology, marketing, and customer experience. She's also the author of Saylor's tale, a children's book.

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