Becoming a Coach

What are the requirements to become a coach?

There are no strict education requirements for starting a coaching career. Depending on where you live, you may not even be required to be certified or licensed to begin coaching.

However, successful coaches realize that a well-rounded education is imperative for a successful and professional career. Aspiring coaches can choose a number of different paths when starting a career as a professional coach. There are numerous coaching certificate programs, for instance.  Professional coaches may also have, or choose to earn, degrees in areas such as counseling, pyschology, or organizational development.

If you are considering a career as a professional coach, you may wish to hire a coach and find a training or certificate program that suits your interests. Visit our Sponsors page to explore some of these options.

Finally, you may wish to consider getting credentialed.  Depending on the organization or specific clientele that you are targeting, acquiring a coaching credential may be required or highly recommended.  In addition, credentials help expand the credibility of the profession around the world.  Studies show that obtaining a professional coaching credential demonstrates high professional standards, commitment to a strong code of ethics, and high knowledge and skill level.  It also reinforces the integrity of the coaching profession nationally and internationally.  For the latest information on coach credentialing programs in the U.S. and beyond, we recommend you contact the International Coach Federation

Becoming a Career Coach

As the career paths of most people have become more varied and transitions in and out of specific jobs more common, the field of career counseling has expanded rapidly.  New specialty areas within the career counseling and coaching field are emerging, such as Transitions Coaching, Retirement Coaching, and Life Coaching. If you are interested in learning about the field of career coaching or counseling, there are a number of Institute of Coaching resources available. 

Becoming a Leadership Coach

Leadership coaching, also known in the profession as executive coaching, is one of the most sought after and expanding segments of the coaching industry. It is a specialized area that typically requires the individual to have extensive experience in leadership roles within business or other professional organization. Leadership coaches may have a variety of backgrounds, including human resources, psychology, or business, but they typically develop coaching expertise with executives during a professional career that includes a focus within a specific organizational setting.  Most executive or leadership coaches combine skills in coaching with additional services that might include psychometric testing, leadership assessment, organizational consulting, change management, or other professional services in the training and development arena.  For more information on leadership coaching, see the following resources:

Becoming a Health and Wellness Coach

One of the fastest growing focus areas within professional coaching, health and wellness coaching is still relatively new to most people. Companies, like Institute of Coaching sponsor Wellcoaches, have developed specific curriculum and programs designed for health professionals of all kinds to add coaching to their portfolio of services. Individuals with backgrounds in nursing, counseling, social work, yoga, nutrition, and other health-related service fields are finding that adding or focusing their practices on coaching has been extremely successful and effective in helping to optimize the health and well-being of their clientele. Health and wellness coaches may help address a wide variety of health-related issues and concerns, such as obesity, stress management, addiction and recovery, diabetes management, depression, and general fitness.  For more information on the evidence-based research and emergence of the field of health and wellness coaching, we recommend the following resources: 

The Emergence of Positive Psychology as a Coaching Practice

Over the past twenty years, there has been a major paradigm shift within the field of psychology that has re-balanced the focus from pyschopathology, or what is "wrong" with an individual, to include a positive, strengths-based approach to understanding human thriving and optimal performance. The rise of positive psychology and evidence-based research demonstrates the effectiveness of positive-focused coaching and therapy interventions and has also provided coaches with an expanded repertoire for building their careers as coaches. The popularity of positive psychology has impacted the delivery of coaching services in just about every domain, including leadership coaching, career coaching, and health and wellness coaching.  For more information on how positive psychology is emerging as a specific focus within the coaching profession, we recommend the following resources: