Does a coach need to be certified? That’s a common question for those interested in hiring — or becoming — a coach.

If you’ve ever asked yourself this questions, you are not alone! And you are asking a very important question.

Though the industry is not regulated, certified coaches often have more training, expertise, and credentials than coaches who aren’t certified. 

Here’s what you need to know when you’re wondering if a coach needs to be certified.

The coaching industry is not regulated, meaning you do not “need” to be certified to practice

While coaching as a profession is becoming more common and as more individuals and businesses hire coaches, there is still a gray area as to the designation of “coach.”

Unlike therapists or counselors, the coaching industry does not have a law that requires coaches to get a certification or license before calling herself a coach.

If you know anything about the coaching process, this might scare you… the fact that anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves a coach.

After all, coaching is a deeply personal process that can involve sensitive subject matter. And you are entrusting your coach to help guide you through major life and business transformations.

So, does this mean you should look for a certified coach?

Keep in mind, there are many unregulated industries. For example, anyone can call himself a consultant without having any credential. Anyone can call themselves a marketing expert or blogger just the same.

But when you’re hiring a coach to help you achieve major milestones, you want to make sure you have the best experience. 

You need to consider if credentialing is important to you when hiring a coach.

As a coach who attended a reputable coach training program and is certified through IPEC, I can attest to the validity that certification provides. (I can also attest to the fact that I would never hire a coach who was not certified!) I’m not getting paid to say or write this, it’s my firm belief.

Also, consider these facts from a recent ICF study:

  • 76% of coaches agree that people expect them to have a credential
  • 83% of coaching client says it’s important or very important that their coach hold a credential
  • 93% of clients who partnered with a certified coach report satisfaction with the experience

What is true “coaching” anyway?

Coaching is a word that gets thrown around to describe a lot of different things, including advising, consulting, counseling, and therapy. All of these things are different than true coaching.

Keep in mind…

  • Coaching is not always used to describe real coaching. A lot of coaches aren’t coaching at all, but doing something else entirely. Coaching is not advising, consulting, or therapy. A coach’s responsibility is to guide their clients through process that helps the client realize their own potential, goals, and actions that best serve them in their life and business. (Not sure if you need a coach or consultant? Read more here to see the difference.)
  • Real coaching requires skills and techniques to help clients get what they want out of the experience. A trained coach will know how to spot thought patterns and limiting beliefs that might be standing in your way. A trained coach has exercises and tools to help you clarify what you want, reframe your thoughts and feelings, and visualize your future. A trained coach can help you see — and change — your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions.
  • Coaching is a highly personalized process and requires handling sensitive information. Because it is highly personalized, it relies on you as the client to share details about your situation, your belief system, and your thoughts and feelings about a variety of things. Coaching is interactive and based on you as the individual. It’s not a one-size fits all approach, and you want a coach who can work with you as the individual you are.
  • Coaching requires trust between the client and the coach. As a client, you want to trust that your coach has the bandwidth, expertise, and ability to help you with your specific situation. This is not something you want to take lightly. You’re investing your time, money, energy and trust with this person, and you want to be sure she has the skills to back that up.

How to know if you should hire a certified coach?

I can’t speak for you, but I would give you this guidance. Consider what type of coach you are hiring and what results you want to get out of your coaching experience.

For example:

Are you hiring a marketing coach? 

If you’re hiring a coach for a very specific task, such as marketing or sales, it’s most important to you that they have expertise in that specific area (and rightly so!) There is, however, still a benefit to hiring a certified coach even in this case. A certified coach can work with you to find your best sales or marketing strategy based on your personal strengths and goals, versus an expert who just gives you the strategy that works for them (that may not necessarily work for you).

Are you hiring a life coach? 

If you’re hiring a life coach, consider what expertise they have to be able to guide you to make changes in your own life, relationships, or health. A certified coach will be able to guide you and take you step-by-step through a clearly defined process and help you figure out what is best for you. Someone who just gives you advice on your life is not a life coach (and something you likely don’t need to pay for!)

Are you hiring a business coach? 

If you’re hiring a business coach, it’s integral to hire someone who 1) has started a business, 2) is currently running their business, and 3) has helped others start and/or grow their business. While you could hire an advisor or consultant to help you set up your business, a certified coach provides a different level of support. A certified coach is often equipped with skills and training to help you work on your mindset, beliefs, and other intangible things that directly affect your success or failure as a business owner.

Remember, just because something worked for one person does not mean it will work for you.

The benefit of coaching is that it’s a process that facilitates you being more YOU in your life and business, which results in you making better decisions and taking more aligned actions to get where you want to go.

Is hiring a certified coach a guarantee of success?

No, hiring a certified coach is a guarantee of success. The thing with coaching is that it is highly dependent on the amount of work and commitment YOU put into the process.

But hiring a coach who is certified helps stack the odds in your favor. 

No matter what type of coach you hire — even if they ARE certified, you’ll want to do your homework and make sure that particular coach is the right coach for you.

Check out this resource on 10 questions to ask when hiring a coach can help you be more prepared when finding the right coach for you. 

Want to learn more about coaching and whether it’s right for you?

Schedule a no-strings consult with me here.