Behind the Numbers: Why 85% of Coaching Clients Look for Certificates or Credentials

As the coaching industry continues to expand in 2023, clients are becoming increasingly discerning in their choice of coach, placing a high value on certification and credentials. In fact, according to the ICF’s 2022 Global Consumer Awareness Study, 85% of coaching clients say it’s important or very important that their coach holds a certification or credential.

That’s a massive percentage. But what’s driving this demand, and why should aspiring coaches consider investing in professional certification?

Raising Client Confidence with Professional Coaching Certification

A driving force behind the increasing client emphasis on certification is the desire for quality assurance. Clients want to know that the coaches they work with have been through a rigorous training process, ensuring that they possess the necessary skills and expertise to guide them effectively.

The International Coach Federation (ICF)—often referred to as “the gold standard” of coaching certification—has several levels of credentialing, which indicate that a coach has completed thorough training designed to develop and refine their coaching skills:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC)
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC)

By pursuing an ICF Credential through an accredited coach training course, coaches can demonstrate their commitment to upholding industry standards, ultimately boosting client confidence in their abilities.

Essentially, it’s like having a seal of approval that tells clients they’re in good hands.

Coaching Certificates & Credentials: A Competitive Edge

The coaching profession currently lacks “one-body” regulation, which can make it difficult for clients to differentiate between qualified practitioners and life coaches who may lack the necessary training or experience.

By seeking out certified coaches, clients can feel more secure in their choice, knowing that they are working with someone who has undergone a standardized evaluation process.

It’s just like choosing a certified mechanic to fix your car, or a licensed contractor to renovate your home—except that they’re trusting you with themselves! Naturally they want to know that you have received proper training and have the skills and experience to do the job well. (After all, you wouldn’t want a self-taught dentist performing a root canal, would you?)

The same applies to coaching: clients seek certified professionals to ensure they receive guidance in the most important areas of their lives from a professional with proven expertise.

For ambitious, aspiring coaches, obtaining a professional certificate or ICF credentials can be a valuable differentiator in an increasingly competitive industry.

This not only helps them establish a unique identity but also builds credibility and trust with potential clients. And trust, as we know, is the foundation of any great relationship—be it personal or professional.

The Impact of Trust on Coaching Success

In addition to the more practical benefits of certification, holding a credential can also have a positive impact on the coach-client relationship. When clients know that their coach is certified, they are more likely to feel a sense of trust and respect, fostering open communication and rapport.

For the client, having a professionally certified coach can feel like having a trusted friend—who also happens to be an expert in their field!

This strong foundation can be crucial for achieving successful coaching outcomes, as clients who trust their coach are more likely to:

  1. Be open to feedback
  2. Engage in self-reflection
  3. Take on challenging goals
  4. Embrace change and growth
  5. Commit to the coaching process

The trend toward valuing certification among coaching clients can be seen as part of a larger movement to professionalize the industry. As the coaching profession continues to evolve, there is a growing push for industry-wide standards and best practices.

By investing in certification, aspiring coaches can contribute to this effort, helping to raise the bar for the profession as a whole, while helping to create an environment conducive to growth and transformation for their clients.

The Cultural Shift Towards Lifelong Learning

The growing expectation for certification among clients also reflects a broader cultural shift toward valuing professional development and lifelong learning.

In the 2020s, individuals are constantly seeking new ways to improve their skills and stay ahead of the curve. This mindset extends to their choice of coach, with clients looking for practitioners who have invested time and effort in honing their craft.

By pursuing certification, aspiring coaches can signal their dedication to continuous improvement, aligning themselves with client values and further differentiating themselves among other practitioners.


  • In 2023, the trend of clients increasingly placing value on coaching certification and accreditation continues
  • 85% of clients find certification important according to ICF’s 2022 Global Consumer Awareness Study
  • Key reasons for the emphasis on certification:
    • Raising client confidence through quality assurance
    • Differentiating coaches in a competitive market
    • Aligning with the cultural shift towards lifelong learning
    • Improving coach-client relationships and fostering trust
  • Certification contributes to professionalizing the coaching industry and upholding standards


The demand for certified coaches among clients is driven by a range of factors, from quality assurance and differentiation in a crowded marketplace, to a desire for professional development and the building of trust in the coach-client relationship.

For those considering a career in coaching, pursuing certification is not only a springboard for your personal expansion and honing your abilities; it’s a way to sync up with the desires of your future clients and play an integral part in elevating the coaching industry as a whole.