Selecting the Right Coach Training Program - International Coaching Federation
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Selecting the Right Coach Training Program

Posted by Lillian LeBlanc, PCC | May 29, 2015 | Comments (10)

“I’ve been coaching for eons,” the woman said. “Besides, I have a masters degree and years of business experience. I don’t need a coach training program.”

The woman is right. At the same time, she’s terribly wrong.  Although anyone can call him or herself a coach without any coach-specific training, the road to masterful coaching requires deep knowledge of and intensive practice in the core competencies that separate real coaches from others who simply adopt the title.

Once you accept the importance of coach-specific training, how can you identify the program that is right for you?  The key phrase is “right for you.” To choose the best program, assess what you hope to gain from the training, identify the resources you can commit, and consider how you best learn and retain knowledge.

What do you hope to gain?

If you wish to obtain an International Coach Federation credential – and I hope you do – look for programs that enable you to take a direct path to credentialing.  Although some individuals may not understand the value of ICF credentialing, an increasing number of corporations are embracing its importance. Some companies will hire or contract only with ICF credentialed coaches who have demonstrated coaching competence and commit to continuous learning.

A program designated by ICF as an ACTP (Accredited Coach Training Program) is a comprehensive way to satisfy most of the credentialing requirements.  ICF also uses the ACSTH designation – Approved Coach-Specific Training Hours – for programs that conform to ICF’s rigorous educational requirements but may not incorporate developmental “mentor coaching” that is a prerequisite for ICF credentialing. For those who have coaching experience, a single ACSTH program may not provide enough class hours to fully satisfy the educational requirement for ICF’s mid-level PCC credential, (or even for the entry-level ACC) but an ACTP will.

What resources can you commit?

Like any educational endeavor, coach training takes time, focus and money.  An ACTP, for example, involves 125 hours of class time and extensive coaching practice sessions. These programs take several months from start to finish.

Even when a program is offered in virtual format, it’s important to attend and fully participate in all classes and out-of class activities. Coaching expertise develops exponentially over time; solid coach training programs include homework assignments and coaching practice among participants. If you’re embarking on a major life change such as an interstate move, having a baby, or accepting a new job, think carefully about the commitment you must make to the coaching program and to your transition. Will you have the energy to do your very best in both?

High-quality coach education is not inexpensive. ACTP programs usually cost many thousands of dollars and ACTSH programs can be expensive as well.  Coach training is, however, an investment in your own skill development and pays off in the exceptional support you will extend to your clients.  Nonetheless, you’ll want to be sure that you can comfortably meet a program’s financial obligation before you enroll in it.

How do you best learn and retain knowledge?

Assessing the “fit” of a program involves more than deciding whether you prefer online or in-person classes. Although that is an important consideration, the quality and personality of instructors as well as the “feel” of the program must be right for you. Seek out individuals who have attended programs on your short list and ask for their candid assessment – the good and the not-so good.  (Conducting a keyword search on LinkedIn is one way to identify these people.) Don’t simply assume that attendance or completion of a particular program indicates an individual’s satisfaction with it.


  • Invest in coach-specific training.
  • Determine the goals for your coaching career.
  • Use the ICF’s Training Program Search Service.
  • Consider the time, money and focus needed to successfully complete the program.
  • Talk with individuals who have attended programs that interest you and ask for candid feedback.


  • Assume that you don’t need coach-specific training simply because you’re an experienced coach.
  • Enroll in a program that is not built upon a proven foundation (such as ICF‘s core coaching competencies).
  • Underestimate the commitment that coach education requires.
  • Conclude that an individual who graduated from a coach training program would automatically endorse it.

Consider coach-specific training to become the very best coach you can be. It’s an investment that will yield a solid return for you and will also pay off in the quality of support you provide to your clients.


International Coach Federation Individual Credentialing

McConnell, K.: Executive and Leadership Coaches Gain Ground for Business, Corporate Clients. Columbus CEO, May 2015

Frankovelgia, C.: The Key to Effective Coaching. Forbes, April 28, 2010

International Coach Federation TPSS

Lillian LeBlanc headshot

Lillian LeBlanc, PCC

Lillian LeBlanc, MBA, PCC, is the principal of Ibis Coaching, LLC. An experienced leader, Lillian is a past president of the ICF Central Florida Chapter, and she served as a global board director and officer of the inaugural ICF Coaching in Organizations Global Board of Directors.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Additionally, for the purpose of full disclosure and as a disclaimer of liability, this content was possibly generated using the assistance of an AI program. Its contents, either in whole or in part, have been reviewed and revised by a human. Nevertheless, the reader/user is responsible for verifying the information presented and should not rely upon this article or post as providing any specific professional advice or counsel. Its contents are provided “as is,” and ICF makes no representations or warranties as to its accuracy or completeness and to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law specifically disclaims any and all liability for any damages or injuries resulting from use of or reliance thereupon.

Comments (10)

  1. Thank you for this succinct, well-done blog.

  2. Adil Bhesania says:

    I do agree, in principle, that coaching training from a reputed organisation helps. Nevertheless, there are world-famous coaches with an enviable track record (coaching CEOs and Presidents of countries) who have no formal coach training. Three people who come to mind are: Anthony Roobins, Marshall Godsmith and Jack Canfield.
    Regards, Adil

  3. Lillian LeBlanc says:

    Thanks for the comments, Micki and Adil. Certainly we can find examples of well-known coaches who may not have formal coach training. However, every coach can benefit from the knowledge and skill development acquired through a well-structured coach training program. Certainly it’s true that some “celebrity coaches” may not need the added credibility derived from successful completion of an excellent coach training program, or from obtaining an ICF credential. For most of us, though, coach training (and credentialing) offers the public a measure of evidence of our knowledge and as such, enhances our credibility.

  4. Right training and coaching is necessary to attain the better requirements of executive knowledge.
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  5. To choose the best program, assess what you hope to gain from the training, identify the resources you can commit, and consider how you best learn and retain knowledge.

  6. Ian Boreham says:

    Great post. I think there really is a shortage of qualified coaches in today’s organisations. Coaching employees has become somewhat of a lost art. I have just published a series of post on this topic that you can see at

  7. I appreciate this post.


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  8. Cynthi Knight says:

    Thank you for your message, it was helpful to hear counsel from someone not representing a particular program. I am in the research phase and trying to narrow down the options.

  9. Deb Pearl says:

    Thank you for all the tips on selecting the right coach training program. My friend really wants to find a good program, but she doesn’t know what to look for or how to prepare. I really like your tip about considering the time, money, and focus needed to complete the program. I think if she did some research on those things it would make it a lot easier to pick.

  10. If you are constantly helping others see their blind spots in life, make better decisions, grow their self-confidence, and work through problems effectively, life coaching may be the perfect career for you. The opportunities available to life coaches span from helping others with careers, relationships, finances, self-esteem, health, and more. Life coaching also has potential to be a financially rewarding career, with business opportunities available for you to charge what you are worth and engage in projects you feel passionate about

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