From aspiring to accredited: the path to excellence in professional coaching

4th October by Lee Robertson

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Accreditation is the cornerstone of the coaching industry and it is the definitive way to showcase your competence, credibility and commitment as an executive or team coach.

In this article we explore why accredited coach training is essential, with a focus on accreditation from the industry’s most respected bodies such as the Association for Coaching (AC), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF), among other relevant organisations.

International Coaching Federation (ICF) accreditation  

We’ll start with ICF accreditation as the International Coaching Federation is the largest of the professional bodies with over 50,000 members worldwide*. ICF offers three credentials which correspond with the depth and breadth of education undertaken and experience required to earn it and also entails evaluation, coach mentoring and exams for the aspiring coach.

Those starting on the coaching career path would initially work towards the ICF’s Associate Certified Coach (ACC) level which comprises completing 60 hours of coach specific education with a Level 1 ICF accredited coach education provider and 100 hours of client coaching experience.

ICF PCC accreditation - Professional Certified Coach (PCC) - is the next level up and requires a deeper understanding of the ICF competencies. ICF PCC coaching hours are higher at 125 hours of coach specific education on a Level 2 coach training programme and 500 hours of client coaching experience.

The Master Certified Coach (MCC) level is the highest tier of ICF coaching accreditation and needs the coach to have completed 200 hours of coach specific education and 2,500 hours of client coaching experience.

European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) accreditation

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) is the second largest professional body with 10,000 members*.

The EMCC Global EIA is an internationally recognised award that demonstrates that an individual practising as a professional mentor/coach has the appropriate level of knowledge and the ability to apply it effectively in their practice.

Coach training organisations apply for their programmes to be awarded at four levels with accreditation at Foundation, Practitioner, Senior Practitioner and Master Practitioner.

As an example, the AoEC holds the Global Quality Award (Practitioner level) which is conferred by the EMCC for its Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching. Graduates of this programme will have completed the training requirements for the EMCC Global Individual Accreditation at Practitioner level.

Association for Coaching (AC) accreditation

The Association for Coaching (AC)is based in the UK and has approximately 5,000 members in 85 countries*. AC Coach Accreditation is made up of two pathways: Executive Coach Accreditation Schemes for those working primarily in an organisational context and the Coach Accreditation Schemes for all other coaches.

Its Executive Coach Accreditation Scheme offers eight levels: Foundation Coach, Foundation Executive Coach, Coach, Executive Coach, Professional Coach, Professional Executive Coach, Master Coach and Master Executive Coach. Each accreditation band is aligned to differing levels of core knowledge and hours of coaching experience. In addition, the Association for Coaching (AC) Coach Accreditation, Accelerated Route is available to those who have completed training with an AC Accredited Course, Accelerated Route provider.

Accredited coach training programmes are designed to provide you with a deep understanding of coaching techniques, methodologies and best practices. They offer a structured curriculum that covers various coaching models, communication skills and strategies for addressing diverse client needs. Through choices like ICF coaching courses or other coaching and mentoring qualifications like ILM accredited programmes which are available via ILM approved centres, you gain the expertise and mastery required to excel in the profession.

While the AC, EMCC and ICF are prominent players in the coaching field, it is essential to choose the right accreditation that aligns with your coaching goals and target client base. These and others including the Association for Professional Executive Coaching & Supervision (APECS) and the World Association of Business Coaches (WABC), signify your commitment to ethical practice and excellence in coaching.

The bottom line is that each accreditation body offers unique perspectives and areas of specialisation, enabling you to tailor your coaching practice to specific needs. Which one you choose will depend entirely on personal choice when it comes to their codes of conduct, ethics and competencies.

The key to a successful coaching career is a combination of accreditation and ongoing professional development. While accreditation provides the foundation of your expertise and credibility, continuous learning and staying up-to-date with the latest coaching methodologies ensure that you remain a trusted and sought-after partner in personal and organisational growth.

In the competitive world of coaching, credibility and excellence are paramount. Clients and organisations will seek out coaches who can support their leaders and teams to success. To stand out and thrive in this profession, it is pertinent to invest in accredited coach training that aligns with your chosen accreditation body.

Accredited coach training and accreditation with a professional body are your ticket to a successful and fulfilling career as a professional executive or team coach. Embark on this journey with determination and enthusiasm and you will be on the right path to reaching new heights in the diverse and dynamic field of coaching.

  • As of October 2023