The International Coach Federation (ICF)
The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the largest and most recognised global industry body. Its missions is to advancing the coaching profession by setting coaching standards, providing independent certification for coaches and accrediting coach training programs world wide.
Although the coaching industry is not regulated, people wanting to become a professional coach should train with an ICF accredited coach training school to know that the coach training they undertake is aligned with the ICF coaching standards and competencies and that their training will be recognised by the ICF when applying for coach certification.
The ICF offers a globally recognized independent credentialing program for coach practitioners. ICF Credentials are awarded to professional coaches who have undertaken and met the stringent education and coaching experience requirements and have demonstrated a thorough understanding of the coaching competencies that set the standard in the profession. Achieving credentials through ICF signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, understanding and mastery of coaching skills, and dedication to clients.
ICF accredits programs that deliver coach-specific training which aligns with the ICF competencies and meet the coaching experience requirements. ICF-approved and –accredited training programs must complete a rigorous review process and demonstrate that their curriculum aligns with the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.
Today, ICF is specifically recognized among coaching professionals worldwide for:
- Developing coaching core competencies
- Establishing a professional code of ethics and standards
- Creating an internationally recognized credentialing program
- Setting guidelines through accreditation for coach-specific training programs
- Providing continuous education through world-class events, Communities of Practice (CPs) and archived learning.
Coaching is Global. A very high proportion of graduate’s, more than 80%, coach on the phone and some do all their coaching on the phone. What that means is that your market is not just the market where you live, you can coach anyone from anywhere by tightly defining your niche. Coaching has no boarders or boundary.
Coaching is not Regulated. It’s not like therapy, psychology or psychiatrist which are regulated in most countries around the world. There is debate in the US about this but coaching is currently not regulated.
Coaching is a relatively new Discipline. It’s been around for a while. ICA has been train coaches for 15 years and its more developed in some countries than in others. It’s established as a field and it’s established as a profession. But in terms of a methodology or discipline it’s quite new and its draws on a range of other philosophies of discipline like emotional intelligence, organizational psychology, appreciative inquiry, cognitive behaviour therapy and some parts of psychology like positive psychology. So it brings in a whole range of thing.
These are the reason we have aligned our coach training with the ICF.
Firstly the ICF is global and growing with chapters all around the world. The ICF had the most robust list of coaching competencies which helps when coaching is not a regulated industry. So it’s very important to be aligned with the biggest industry body which gives some check and balances and to provides some sort of consistency and sign of quality throughout the world.
Coaching is a new discipline and one of the things that is not popular is ICF policies that they don’t recognize prior learning. If you are a therapist or a teacher and you come to the coach training often we find that people want to get some credit for the training they’ve already done in their psychology course in their teaching degree. The ICF is quite adamant on that. You might already be skilled in active listening but your listening within the context of the therapist and so re-learning that within the context of coaching is different.
Do I need to be Certified?
You don't have to be certified to be a coach however being a Certified Coach adds credibility to your coaching practice. Many organisations such as Ford don't hire coaches unless they are certified and in many countries especially in Asia it is expected that professional coaches be certified.
What is Coach Certification?
Coach certification refers to the completion of an accredited coach training program to a high standard and to the completion of a certain number of coaching hours and coaching supervision.
Why Become a Certified Coach?
The fantastic thing about being a professional coach is that you can actually coach from anywhere. It is the idea job for an expat or for someone wanting to work from home or balance work and home life. As a coach you can coach face to face but many coaches coach over the phone which means your potential client base is global. Choose when to coach so that your work fits in with your life and not the other way around.
Do I Need to Train to Become a Coach?
There is no mandatory requirement to train to be a coach. Anyone can hang up their shingles and call themselves a coach and some organisations offer coach training programs which can be completed in a few days but in our opinion this is not enough to make you a professional coach. The peak body which represents the coaching profession is The International Coach Federation and their credential is recognised world wide. If you complete an ICF accredited coach training program and to become a Professional Certified Coach, you will have completed 125 hours of Coach Specific Training in an Accredited Coach Training Program. This training is based around the core coaching competencies as set out by the ICF. You will also have completed 10 hours of mentor coaching and have logged 500 hours of coaching with at least 25 clients. So to answer the question of whether you need to train to be a coach, the answer is the ICF recommends at least 125 hours of coach specific training.
Not all Coach Training Programs are equal
Some schools offer coaching theory without any practice. Other schools don't include coaching supervision as part of the program which can leave students out of pocket hundreds of dollars if they need to find an accredited coach to undertake their supervision. Some schools don't offer the required number of coach specific training hours needed for ICF credentialling and some schools require students to pay extra for books, cds and study materials. So do your home work and enroll in a coach training program that is accredited by the International Coach Federation and one that includes the required number of coach training hours and one where coaching supervision is included as part of the course.
Madelyn is a Harvard Graduate and runs a Leadership Coaching Practice for Linkage. Linkage has had their own Coaching Certification process since before the ICF was formed. However, she understands the the value of the ICF and has had clients asking if she has ICF Credentialing. She is open to putting in the intensive work to accomplish this by September 30th to have her 1000+ coaching hours count.Madelyn Yucht
Can I Start Coaching Whilst Studying?
Yes you can start coaching whilst studying to become a Professional Coach. At International Coach Academy we offer peer coaching where you would firstly get to experience what it is like to be coached and be the client. You can then start coaching your peers and applying the skills and techniques learned in the classes. When you feel confident enough you can start coaching people outside the ICA community. We suggest coaching clients within your network to start off with and work your way up.
Do I Have to Register With Anyone To Practice Coaching?
The coaching industry is a voluntary self regulated industry. Coaches should adhere to the the The International Coach Federation code of ethics but there is no legal requirement to do so and no legal requirement to register as a coach. You can become a member of the ICF by paying an annual fee and once you have met the coach training, supervision and coaching hours set out by the ICF, you can apply for the designation of "Certified Professional Coach".