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Your Comprehensive Guide to Coaching Accreditations

Aug 29, 2023

Do coaching qualifications hold a critical role in becoming a coach?

Amidst the abundance of leadership development training and executive programmes available, we might wonder if the pursuit of a formal coaching qualification is truly essential and if it makes you indispensable. 

If you’re new to the world of coaching, this blog is designed to provide you with an overarching understanding of the significance of coaching qualifications and the diverse range of coaching qualifications in the market. 

Unlike regulated industries, the coaching industry remains largely unregulated and pretty much allows anybody to claim the title of a coach without substantial training. 

The accessibility to start a coaching practice with minimal to no qualification has blurred the lines of professionalism. 

Why a coaching qualification is important 

However, the landscape is evolving as corporations are increasingly seeking coaches who not only possess coaching experience but also hold credible qualifications and recognised credentials from esteemed accreditation bodies.

According to a study conducted by the International Coaching Federation, a staggering 85% of clients place value on coaches who possess a recognised certification. 

You may read more on the impact of a coaching qualification in this article.

So how do we know if a coach is qualified? 

When assessing coaches or coaching programmes, a key aspect of the evaluation process involves examining accreditations from well-respected organisations. 

These coaching accreditation bodies are organisations that establish and uphold standards of excellence, ethics, and professionalism within the coaching industry. 

They play a crucial role in ensuring that coaches meet specific criteria and competencies to provide high-quality coaching services.

These bodies often set guidelines for coach training programmes, assess coaches’ skills, and grant credentials that validate a coach’s expertise and credibility.

But there are so many coaching accreditation bodies in the market. How are they different? 

What distinguishes these coaching accreditation bodies are their distinct learning modalities, foundational coaching principles, codes of ethics, and graduation criteria.

Certain accreditation bodies qualify their students based on outcomes of successful coaching experiences, while others prioritize the demonstration of specific coaching skills. 

When choosing an accreditation body, ensure that you conduct your own research and find one that is aligned with your objectives, budget, values and learning style. 

Here’s a list of coaching accreditation bodies 

This non-exhaustive list aims to provide you with an overview of the more reputable coaching accreditation bodies out there.

The information provided is collated from their respective websites. However, for the most accurate and up-to-date details, it’s advisable to visit their official websites and verify the information firsthand.

1. The Association for Coaching® (AC)

The Association for Coaching® (AC) is a leading independent, and not-for-profit professional body dedicated to promoting best practice and raising the awareness and standards of coaching, worldwide.

Their purpose is to inspire and champion coaching excellence, to advance the coaching profession and make a sustainable difference to individuals, organizations and society. 

Types of accreditation: 

  • Coach Accreditation
  • Coach Accreditation – Accelerated Route
  • Recognized Accelerated Pathway
  • Coaching Supervision Accreditation
  • Supervision Accreditation
  • Leader Coach Accreditation
  • Team Coach Accreditation

Year of establishment: 2002
Number of credential holders: Unknown

Accreditation process: Demonstration of core coaching skill according to AC guidelines, coaching experience (client contact hours), an online assessment

2. International Coach Federation (ICF)

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization for coaches and coaching. ICF is dedicated to the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.

Types of accreditation: 

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

Year of Establishment: 1995
Number of Credential Holders: More than 40,000

Accreditation process: ICF coach training hours, mentorship hours from certified coaches, coaching experience (client contact hours), demonstration of coaching skill via performance evaluation, essay submission, an online examination, continuing coach education. Click here for more info.

3. European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC)

The EMCC exists to develop, promote, and set the expectation of best practice in mentoring, coaching, and supervision globally for the benefit of society Their vision is to be the ‘go to’ body in mentoring, coaching, and supervision

Types of accreditation: 

  • Foundation
  • Practitioner
  • Senior Practitioner
  • Master Practitioner

Year of Establishment: 1992
Number of Credential Holders: More than 10,000

Accreditation process: EQA coach training hours, mentorship hours from certified coach, length of coaching experience, coaching experience (client contact hours), client feedback, continuing coach education.

4. The International Association of Coaching (IAC)

The IAC seeks to provide a highly accountable professional development model for aspiring and experienced coaches, as well as professionals in other fields, so their mastery of coaching is valued and contributes to evolving human potential worldwide.

Types of accreditation: 

  • Certified Masteries Coach CMC (IAC)
  • IAC® Master Masteries Coach (MMC)

Year of Establishment: 1992
Number of Credential Holders: More than 10,000

Accreditation process: Length of coaching experience, client contact hours, client feedback, mentorship hours from certified coach, an online assessment

5. Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE)

The CCE is a not-for-profit organization that advances professional excellence in practitioners and organizations with assessments, business support services and credentialing.

Types of accreditation: 

  • Board Certified Coach (BCC)

Year of Establishment: 1992
Number of Credential Holders: More than 10,000

Accreditation process: Varies for each route. Bachelor’s degree or higher in any field of study, professional coach training hours,  must hold a qualifying current and active coaching certification, coaching experience, one professional endorsement,  an online examination and continuing coach education.

To sum up…

So can anyone become a coach? At Bailey Balfour, we believe that coaching is a skill and must be practiced. We are accredited by the International Coaching Federation and follow the highest standards of coach training. 

We firmly believe that anyone can step into the role of a coach, provided they approach it with a growth mindset and dedication in impacting others. Learn more about how we do it in our free preview of our coach certification programme. 

Are you ready to get started? We can’t wait. Join us for our information session at the events page to find out more or book a call with us. 

Are you ready to get started? 

Train with leader’s trusted coach certification academy. Join our upcoming cohort and become a certified coach in 6 months. Find out more

Jean Balfour ICF Accredited Professional Coach and Managing Director of Bailey Balfour

Jean Balfour

Founder & Programmes Director


About the Author

Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.

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