Becoming a professional coaching practitioner is an incredibly rewarding yet difficult career path. You need to have the personality (and the heart) for it, as well as the ability to connect with people and help them work through their problems and grow.
Naturally, it helps to have a wide range of knowledge about the world around you—as well as yourself. You must be able to show people that you understand them and can guide them to long-term success.
If you have the drive, the passion, and the motivation to become a coach, here are a few things you can do to get started.
1. Think about your niche
The first step to becoming a coach is to think about what area(s) you want to specialize in. This could be anything from relationship coaching to career coaching.
Once you know what your specific coaching niche is going to be, you can start to build up your knowledge in that area and become an expert on the topic.
Of course, you don’t have to decide on a niche before you start training, but it can be helpful to have some idea of what you want to focus on and the type of clients you would like to help.
2. Get certified
If you’re serious about becoming a professional coach, then you’re probably already aware of coaching certification programs. Becoming a certified/ICF accredited coach shows potential clients that you are serious about your career and more importantly, that you have the skills to help them.
According to the ICF’s 2020 Global Coaching Study, 93% of coaching practitioners have gone through training that was accredited/approved by a professional coaching organization—up from 89% in 2016.
That means that no matter what niche you’re focusing on, it’s very likely that you’re going to be competing against mostly—if not all—certified coaches. Therefore, it’s recommended that you become an ICF accredited coach as well if you want to be taken seriously and have a successful coaching practice.
The 3 Levels of ICF Accreditation:
- ACC – Associate Certified Coach
- PCC – Professional Certified Coach
- MCC – Master Certified Coach
These levels are determined by the documented number of coaching experience hours and the number of hours of training received. The International Coaching Federation maintains high standards for professional coaches, and requires that ICF Credentials be renewed every 3 years.
Finding a reputable coaching certification program is essential to your success as a coach. Four Streams Coaching offers several coach training programs that will give you the skills and knowledge you need to become a successful coaching practitioner, whether you are looking to become certified or not.
3. Build up your experience
Once you get certified and/or ICF accredited, of the best ways to advance your career as a coach is to gain experience by volunteering your services. There are many organizations that work with volunteers to provide coaching services. It can be a great way to get some real-world experience and build up your portfolio.
Additionally, you can undergo coaching supervision, which is important to maintain your ICF credential. Coaching supervision offers coaches an opportunity to access continuous professional development through reflection and dialogue in a safe, supportive and confidential space. It helps maintain standards and professionalism in the coaching industry—and it’s a great source of development and support for coaches.
The ICF supports Coaching Supervision for professional coach practitioners as part of their portfolio of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) activities.
4. Market yourself
Once you have built up your experience and qualifications, it’s time to start marketing yourself as a coach. In 2022, this involves much more work than just ordering some attractive business cards.
You need to cultivate a strong online presence and personal brand. In short, this could involve creating a website, writing articles or blog posts, or even giving talks or workshops.
There are many ways to market yourself as a coach, and it’s important that you find the channels that work best for you and your target clientele.
5. Continue your education
Even after you become a certified coach, it’s important to continuously learn and grow. This could involve taking additional coach training courses, reading industry-related books and articles, or attending conferences and networking events.
As a professional coach who’s serious about helping their clients, you should never stop learning and investigating new approaches to help your clients reach their goals. Additionally, the ICF requires that credentialed coaches complete at least 60 hours of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) every 3 years in order to maintain their ICF credential.
Becoming a coach can be an extremely rewarding career—but it takes dedication and hard work to succeed. If you have the passion, training, and skillset to help others, then coaching could be the perfect career for you.