Data shows coaching industry is in good health

27th April by Lee Robertson

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Data from the 2023 ICF Global Coaching Study (GCS) has revealed that the coaching industry is in good shape with strong growth in revenue and practitioner numbers.

Commissioned by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the GCS examines the size and revenue of the coaching industry worldwide, perspectives on trends and the business and practice of coaching. 2023’s study received a total of 14,591 valid responses from 157 countries from both ICF members and non-ICF members.

Coaching on the rise – more professionals joining the ranks

2023’s GCS tells us that, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, the profession has continued to grow at robust pace. It estimates that the number of coaching practitioners exceeded 100,000 for the first time, reaching 109,200 and an increase of 54% on 2019’s global appraisal.

It reports that the number of coaching professionals grew in all regions with the highest growth seen in the emerging regions of Asia (86%), the Middle East and Africa (74%) and eastern Europe at 59%. The Latin America and the Caribbean markets grew in line with the global industry average of 54%, while the more mature regions registered solid growth of 42% in Oceania, 51% in western Europe and 47% in North America.

Capitalising on a trending profession - buoyant market value

The coaching profession has also seen a healthy uptick in its market value. The 2023 GCS estimates that active coach practitioners generated annual revenue from coaching worth $4.564 billion US dollars which represents a 60% increase over 2019’s estimation. The highest value markets were North America at $2,088 million, western Europe at $1,421 million and Asia at $248 million US Dollars.

With over nine in 10 (91%) coaching professionals saying they currently have active clients this estimated 55% increase in active coaches is deemed to be the main factor driving the rise in the total annual revenue.

Moreover, the average annual revenue/income from coaching is thought to have risen by 12% between 2019 and 2022, to $52,800 US dollars. But annual income stats vary widely around the globe, with more than one in two coaches (53%) reporting less than $30,000 income from coaching alone.

Climbing the ladder in coaching – accreditation matters

The report also showed that credentials and accreditation are significant when doing business as a coach. At 80%, most coaches agreed that their clients expect coaches to be certified/credentialed with 42% strongly agreeing and 38% somewhat agreeing with this statement.

More than eight in 10 coaches (86%) said that they are a member of one or more coaching organisations - an increase from 79% in 2015 and 82% in 2019’s findings. The report also identified that 85% of coaches said they hold a certification/credential from one of the coaching industry’s professional bodies which was up on 69% in 2015 and 74% in 2019.

Market demographics – who is coaching and who is being coached?

Coaching professionals

The data tells us that almost one in two coaching professionals (48%) are from the Generation X age cohort with 40% in North America to 62% in eastern Europe. Baby Boomers ranged from 16% in eastern Europe to 49% in North America with boomers outnumbering Generation X coaches in Oceania and North America. Globally, Millennials accounted for one in 10 coaching professionals with the highest numbers in eastern Europe at 21% and just 8% in North America and 7% in Oceania.

The number of female coaches has also been steadily rising with 72% in 2022 – a small increase on 70% in 2019 and 67% in 2015’s study. The largest increase in the female share was seen in the Middle East and Africa, up from 66% in 2019, to 72% in 2022.

Most striking was that almost all coaching professionals (93%) offer services in addition to coaching. Consulting topped the list at 59%, followed by training at 58% and/or facilitation at 55%. On average, coaches offer almost three (2.8) services in addition to coaching, and this remains unchanged since 2015 and 2019.

The coaching client

In 2022, a little over one in two coaches said that their clients were mostly managers (31%) or executives (25%). This combined total of 56% represents a small increase compared with 2019 at 52%

On average, coaches said that 57% of their clients were sponsored and 43% were primary clients. Compared to 2019, the sponsored share has increased (up from 52%) while the primary share has fallen slightly from 48%.

The study discovered that the majority of coaching clients were female with a 58% market share. When compared to 2019’s GCS, the average female share of clients has not changed significantly on 57% in 2019.

Clients aged between 35 and 44 years were the age group most frequently in receipt of coaching services at 37%, followed by coachees aged between 45 and 54 at 32%. At 21%, around one in five clients were 35 or younger. This was considered similar to 2019’s findings.