Do coaches need ICF accreditation is a question that crops up every now and then in The Fully Booked Coach Facebook Group
As I am sure you know, coaching is entirely unregulated.
There’s no governing body and you cannot be struck off.
As such, the ICF is somewhat of a paper tiger.
The ICF (International Coaching Federation) has no legal parameters they have to adhere to in the same way as other professional bodies do.
Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC), Board Certified Doctors, and Attorneys who have passed the bar have to operate within very strict legal requirements.
And the organizations who license them have real teeth and serious clout.
They can cut your career very short if you step over the line. And you can even face criminal charges.
Yes, the ICF can indeed revoke your membership in the highly unlikely event they catch you stepping over the line, but they cannot stop you from coaching.
Do coaches need ICF accreditation to attract more clients?
Walk down any high street and ask 100 people what they think the acronym ICF stands for.
My guess is, one person will know.
She will be a coach.
I have been coaching full-time for almost 18 years and do you know how many times I have been asked if I had ICF accreditation?
And that person hired me even though I said I didn’t.
Note: I did have 7 months of formal life coach training. I simply wasn’t aware of the ICF when I booked my training in 2004 and don’t even know if there training was available in the UK at that time.
The reality is, as coaches we get asked about our qualifications far less than we imagine we will be when we get underway.
That doesn’t mean formal training isn’t important, I spent north of $25k on a lot of training both in the UK and the US.
Training will build your confidence and (presuming it’s good training) ensure you’re a competent coach equipped to help your clients.
It’s just that its efficacy in helping you attract clients is overestimated.
When you probably do need ICF accreditation
Let me do a 180-degree pivot here and say there is a situation where you almost certainly should take the ICF route.
That’s executive and some business coaching.
If you want to coach in the corporate sector you’re probably going to need that credibility.
In such situations, you’re probably going to be dealing with HR departments in the early stages.
And trust me, I worked with HR departments for a number of years and they will want to see the certificates and proof of competency.
The Human Resource department is there to mitigate risk and any potential liability. As such, they have a tendency of playing things safe.
They don’t want to roll the dice on somebody who sounds credible but has nothing to back it up with.
Especially when they have somebody sporting the MCC (Master Certified Coach) moniker applying for the same position/opportunity.
If that is your target market then do your due diligence and take a look at the ICF.
In Summary – do coaches need ICF accreditation in 2023?
The ICF has done and continues to do, some good work.
They promote coaching and keep the standard as high as possible within their limitations.
However, you’re going to be needing at least $5k and probably closer to $10k to get training from an ICF-accredited organization.
You’re also going to need about 18 months.
If both of those restraints pose no problem and it doesn’t mean you’re left with no marketing budget, then I would say, go for it.
Just do it because you want to be the best coach you can be rather than because you think being ICF accredited will bring you in any more paying clients.
What’s your take?
Please let me know what you think about the ICF and what your path to becoming a coach looked or will look like.