Create positive change and achieve extraordinary results.

Let the International Coach Federation help you begin your journey as a coach. 

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The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

For many, coaching is a life-changing experience that dramatically improves their outlook on work and life while improving leadership skills. Coaching helps people tap into their potential, unlocking sources of creativity and productivity.

Individuals who partner with coaches have reported several benefits, including improved:

2017 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study

1  Ask Questions

At this time, coaching is not regulated by any country or state. However, if you are serious about becoming a professional coach, your first step needs to be obtaining coach-specific training.

Professional coaches say the No. 1 obstacle to the industry is untrained individuals who call themselves coaches. (Source: 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study)
Getting training to become a coach will give you credibility in the industry and help you build your professional network.

Before you invest in training to be a coach, ask yourself the following questions:

Am I passionate about helping clients pursue their own solutions?

Many people research how to become a Life Coach or Business Coach because they’ve been told that they “give great advice.” However, coaches aren’t in the business of giving advice.

Coaching is driven by the client. As a coach, you will be responsible for:

  • Discovering, clarifying and aligning with what the client wants to achieve.
  • Encouraging client self-discovery.
  • Eliciting client-generated solutions and strategies.
  • Holding the client responsible and accountable.
Do I have the skills and knowledge to start a coaching business?

Learning how to coach is the first step in building your career in coaching. Unless you are an internal coach (a professional coach practitioner who is employed within an organization and has specific coaching responsibilities identified in your job description). You will need to identify your coaching niche, develop your personal brand, market your services and build your client base. This material isn’t covered during coach training, so it will be up to you to get the training and skills you need for developing a coaching business.

ICF provides opportunities such as the Business Development Series to assist coaches with marketing and growing their businesses.

What else
do I have
to offer?

Although some coaches build successful businesses based entirely on their coaching services, for a majority coaching is only one source of overall revenue.

According to the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study, coaches spend an average of just 13.9 hours per week working as coach practitioners and report average annual revenues of $47,900 USD from coaching.

Other common revenue streams cited by coaches include consulting, training, facilitation, mentoring, teaching, counseling, speaking engagements, workshops/webinars and publications.

Another option, especially for new coaches, is to keep your “day job” while coaching part-time as your schedule allows.

Many prospective coaches also find it helpful to work with a professional coach themselves. To find an ICF-credentialed coach, use ICF's Credentialed Coach Finder (CCF).Access the Credentialed Coach Finder

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2  Get Coach Training

The International Coach Federation accredits programs that deliver coach training. We do not offer training for becoming a coach. (We do offer professional development for practiced coaches.)

Coach training that is accredited by ICF has gone through a rigorous review process and demonstrated that its curriculum aligns with the ICF definition of coaching, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics. By choosing ICF-accredited coach training, you can be confident that you are getting high-quality training.

ICF-accredited coach training will also help you meet the requirements for ICF Membership and Credentialing.

To find an ICF-accredited coach training program, use ICF’s Training Program Search Service.

3  Join ICF

The International Coach Federation is the world’s largest organization of professionally trained coaches.

To become an ICF Member, you must complete at least 60 hours of coach-specific training that meets ICF standards. The best way to accomplish this is by enrolling in ICF-accredited coach training.

As an ICF Member, you will enjoy instant credibility by identifying yourself as part of the world’s largest community of professionally trained coaches. You’ll also have access to local and global networking opportunities, cutting-edge business development and marketing education, and a variety of research and resources to help you become the best coach you can be.

“ICF Membership creates a lot of credibility and people give you the respect that you deserve.”
Jared Douglas Ouko (Kenya)
“You get a lot of benefit by joining ICF. You get the value of being able to prove you are a professional coach and a sense of belonging to a community.”
Kentaro Hayashi, Associate Certified Coach (Japan)

4  Earn a Credential

If you are serious about developing your coaching business, consider pursuing an ICF Credential after your coach training. More than 20,000 coaches hold an ICF Credential. These practitioners represent the best in the coaching industry.

The ICF Credential is the only globally recognized professional coaching certification. With an ICF Credential, coaches demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and commitment to high ethical and professional standards.

An ICF-accredited coach training program will count toward the training requirement for your ICF Credential.

ICF Credential-holders have fulfilled rigorous education and experience requirements and demonstrated their commitment to coaching excellence. To earn an ICF Credential, a coach must:

77% of coach practitioners agreed that clients expect them to be certified or credentialed.
2016 ICF Global Coaching Study

of consumers who experienced a coaching relationship reported that it was important for coaches to hold a credential.
2017 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study

Consumers are more likely to recommend a coach who holds a credential than a coach who does not.
2017 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study
“Being a credentialed coach is how I say to the world, ‘I am a professional coach.’”
Julia Mattern, Professional Certified Coach (USA)
“Once I got on the Credential pathway, I realized that there is so much more to learn. It gave me a lot of self-confidence in my coaching skills.”
Inta Sellick, Professional Certified Coach (Australia)

Ready to start your journey?

Contact us for help along the way.

Contact ICF
The International Coach Federation (ICF) seeks to advance the art, science and practice of professional coaching and exists to lead the global advancement of the coaching profession. Learn more at
International Coach Federation
2365 Harrodsburg Road, Suite A325
Lexington, KY 40504