A critical guide to Certification in Life Coaching, the Do’s and Don’ts
Are you looking for certification in life coaching, confused by so many choices?
Here are some valuable do’s and don’ts, essential tips and insights to consider before leaping into your certification in life coaching.
#1: ICF ACTP CERTIFICATION AND SOME
- DO choose Life Coach Certification with ICF Accreditation.
- DON’T rely on ICF Core Competencies alone, add more to your coaching toolbox and life coaching skills.
Certification in life coaching with the backing of the ICF – International Coaching Federation opens doors, establishes credibility and builds your confidence as a professional Life Coach with valuable services to offer.
DO explore and choose an ACTP Accredited Coaching Training Program rather than an ACSTH Approved Coach Specific Training Hours. ACTP means the ICF has not only audited the course contents and the training program, but they’ve also vetted the assessment process. If you ever apply to the ICF for an ACC, PCC or MCC credential, an ACTP life coaching certificate will make the process quicker, cheaper and you won’t need to complete an oral assessment with the ICF (because you would have completed this in your ACTP program).
An ACTP ICF accredited certification course tells you you’re getting world-class benchmarks in professional coaching with the ICF Core Competencies.
DON’T focus only on getting ICF competencies.
DO make sure that box is ticked that you have an ACTP program behind you—do go beyond ICF competencies.
Add coaching tools to your toolbox that give you the flexibility and freedom to coach anyone anywhere. This will help you stand out from your competition and build multiple-market income streams.
These do’s and don’ts are recommendations hard-earned from decades of training natural coaches to become go-to Master Coaches.
Tip #2: BE MORE THAN A LIFE COACH
- DO start with life coaching skills.
- DON’T trap yourself in a Life Coach box, get the BIG 4 Coaching Services.
Start with life coaching skills because they’re broad and will serve you in all niche markets, even executive coaching services benefit from life coaching tools.
For most clients, a life coaching toolbox will serve you well but please don’t limit yourself to only life coaching skills.
Our top Master Coaches are successful because they haven’t put themselves in a Life Coach box. They have several niche markets as streams of income so that if one dries out, the others sustain them.
They also have comprehensive coaching toolboxes (over 50 coaching processes) to enable them to coach in what we call—the BIG 4 most in-demand coaching services:
- Life Coaching,
- Enneagram Coaching,
- Executive Coaching
- and Business Coaching.
Ideally, you want to look for certification that will give you the BIG 4.
“But I don’t want to study 4 courses and spend more time and money,” you may argue. But the good news is that the right coaching certification program covers all 4 services in 1.
The foundation core competencies (listening skills, questioning skills and coach presence skills) are the same for all 4, but the processes and toolboxes are different.
Also, we strongly suggest you don’t call yourself a “Life Coach” as a title.
DO build a brand that communicates what we call the “Dream Destination” – where your clients want to get to in their lives and careers.
DON’T be another life coach, in an ocean of life coaches.
Tip #3: TO-DO-LIST COACHING
- DO start with to-do-list action planning, goal setting coaching.
- DON’T bind yourself to surface one-dimensional coaching… to change lives we need to coach with depth.
DO get certification in life coaching (plus enneagram, executive and business coaching) that gives you the most flexibility and freedom.
DON’T opt for one-dimensional to-do list style coaching (only goal setting and action planning). This style of coaching tends to stay surface.
There’s nothing wrong with goal setting and action-plan coaching, all coaching has an element of this, but if you’re the kind of coach that wants more, and wants to create empowering spaces for clients to have “Aha!” breakthroughs, then you need a toolbox that can help you to coach with depth.
That’s what our brand of Master Coaching, InnerLifeSkills specializes in—we help you to build Inner Wells for your clients, we give you the tools to guide them to overcome their Inner Obstacles and free their Inner Wealth.
DO build a coaching toolbox at master level competencies so that you can hold spaces for your clients at a profoundly deep level.
DON’T get the certification in life coaching that binds you to surface coaching.
BONUS Tip #4: SELLING HOURS TRAP
- DO look for certification in life coaching that helps you multiply your income.
- DON’T get caught in the “selling” individual hours trap.
Think about it. If you have to sell individual coaching sessions, you’re going to need approximately 20 to 30 new clients per month. That’s a lot of new clients to try to find every month. Yes, some will be repeat clients, but you may find yourself in trouble if you set out with this coaching business model.
Even super marketing savvy coaches find filling 20-30 client hours a month almost impossible. Plus, this puts a ceiling on your coaching income potential.
Instead, you want the kind of flexible freedom orientated toolbox and life coaching certification that lets you coach a handful of clients for an extended time, 6-12 months.
Not only is this a more abundant business model, but you’ll have a bigger impact on your clients’ lives. To do this, you need to have a bigger toolbox to sustain a long-term coaching relationship. Imagine using only a few coaching processes again and again for the same client—over many months.
DON’T have fewer than 20-30 coaching processes to dip into.
DO have the BIG 4 toolboxes (life, executive, enneagram and business coaching) so that you can say yes when your client asks, “Oh, can you coach my team at work, and help me with my family personality clashes, and coach my daughter to build her side-hustle?”
DO meet your client at their place of need so that if a relationship issue comes up, you can coach relationships confidently. And if a business-building topic comes up, you can coach that.
DO build a robust, comprehensive toolbox.
DO build the kind of toolbox that can help you to easily custom-build long-duration coaching solutions and programs for your few clients.
If you were a singer, you’d to be able to sing more than three or four songs, right? If you were a chef, you would want many recipes to draw on. A master coach needs to learn a lot of coaching processes to be able to be flexible, creative and intuitive in their coaching.
Many of our top Master Coaches have such a comprehensive toolbox, they can serve the same clients for decades. They win referrals and 5-star reviews because they custom build the coaching solution that WOWS their clients.
FAQ ABOUT CERTIFICATION IN LIFE COACHING
What is the most recognized coaching certification?
ICF Accredited Certification = life coach certification ICF accredited is respected and sought after worldwide.
“The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization for coaches and coaching. ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.”
Source ICF website.
You will have a choice of life coaching certification online or at a venue or self-study – our InnerLifeSkills ICF ACTP courses are online live with an expert trainer, to groups from around the globe.
How many hours do I need for certification in life coaching?
Whether you plan to apply for an ICF credential or not, we recommend you use the ICF guidelines for choosing your certification duration.
- To achieve entry-level 1 ACC Associate Certified Coach, you need to complete at least 60 hours of coach-specific training.
- For Level 2 PCC Professional Certified Coach, you need at least 125 hours of certification.
- For Level 3 MCC Master Certified Coach, you’ll need to work towards at least 200 hours of training.
Remember that ICF competencies are not always enough in today’s competitive coaching field. Consider the InnerLifeSkills Master Coach Certification worth 213 hours ACTP.
Is a coaching certification worth it?
If it’s the right certification, yes absolutely.
Clients are becoming more and more discerning. Corporate clients seeking executive coaches usually insist on ICF ACC, PCC or MCC, or at the least that you have an ICF ACTP certificate.
Aside from the credibility and client-attracting power of having an ICF certification under your belt, there’s also the confidence of knowing you are coaching at world-class standards.
When you’ve got this caliber of certification behind your name, you’re going to find (as most of our graduates tell us) you’ll feel that last little push needed to step into the world to claim your abundant, purposeful career as a life coach—and hopefully also have all Big 4 toolboxes including executive, enneagram and business coaching.
Please don’t consider free life coach certification! Before you commit to certification in life coaching, sample this free life coaching course (no certification, but you’ll take away real coaching skills and processes to use).
Do you need to choose a coaching niche before you sign up for certification?
Who Should (or Shouldn’t) Get a Life Coach Certification?
Anyone who wants to empower and enlighten others can benefit from quality coaching training and life coaching skills.
But a lot of aspiring natural coaches think that coaching is the same as training, mentoring and giving advice; they are shocked after signing up for an ICF certification program to realise they can’t give advice or add their expertise to their coaching. Make sure you know what Life Coaching is.
Before you choose your coaching certification, make sure that:
- You know if you want to be a PURE or BLENDED COACH
- Your Life Coach Training Certification will help you be a PURE or BLENDED COACH. Some courses focus only on PURE with no room for BLENDED.
Are you a pure coach by nature or a blended coach?
- PURE COACHING = NO ADVICE-GIVING.
- BLENDED COACHING = A MIX OF PURE NO ADVICE-GIVING WITH MENTORING, CONSULTING, THERAPY, MANAGING OR TRAINING.
Approximately 85% of our InnerLifeSkills Master Coaching graduates are what we call Blended Coaches. They MIX Pure Coaching with their area of expertise. We support and train both.
Following strict ICF standards and definitions, a professional coach gives zero advice. And this is often a shock to new coaches who pride themselves in being natural coaches and being that light for others, where they know what to say and love guiding people.
Now they want to get certification and discover the no advice rule!
Does this mean you have to give up your coaching dream? No.
But it does mean being careful about choosing Life Coaching Certification that supports Blended Coaching.
- DO choose a program that supports BLENDED coaching if you plan to add your expertise, mentoring, consulting or guiding to your coaching.
- DON’T devalue the role of PURE coaching, even if you end up mixing it into your services.
Advice lands in fertile soil when we master pure coaching.
Our guidance lands far better for our clients when we use PURE COACHING for those who give advice.
- Sometimes it’s right to empower someone to find their solutions.
- And other times, we know it will be helpful to offer expertise and guidance.
We become better mentors, leaders, managers, consultants, teachers guides by learning PURE coaching.
One of the massive advantages of learning PURE COACHING is we don’t need to be experts in our clients’ lives and work to coach them.
If you learn PURE COACHING, you can coach brain surgeons and athletes, mountaineers and economists, parents with ADD children and artists—all without knowledge in these fields.
You can coach anyone because, with PURE COACHING, you don’t need expertise in those areas. You only need professional or master coaching skills!
Many of our graduate coaches discover that blended coaching makes their hearts sing. They LOVE how powerful it is to have both, to be able to dip into ICF core competency pure coaching, as well as blending in their expertise and guidance.
Your Life Coach Certification Journey Summary
Most professional singers have training to master their craft. They need to develop muscle memory and turn talent into a professional skill-set. And of course, they need to create a repertoire of songs and find their lane, their genre, to express their purpose.
Your Life Coach Certification journey is similar.
- Get quality ICF ACTP Certification e.g. InnerLifeSkills Master Coach.
- Start small with short module coaching courses or go all-in with a 200+ hour course.
- Make sure you go beyond ICF Competencies – build a comprehensive toolbox.
- Choose a coaching certification that gives you flexibility and freedom to coach anyone, anywhere, on any topic.
- Remember to build your brand and go beyond being a Life Coach – add the BIG 4 coaching services of life, enneagram, executive and business coaching.
- Escape the selling life coaching hours trap, have a toolbox that allows you to only need a few clients for longer-term, more lucrative coaching.
- Consider PURE and BLENDED COACHING to add your expertise.
- Don’t only offer surface to-do-list goal setting and action plan coaching.
- Build inner wells, help clients transform inner obstacles (like fear, procrastination, sadness) and free their inner wealth (talent, intuition, wisdom, aha breakthrough solutions). That’s what InnerLifeSkills Master Coaches do.
- Make sure your certification helps you be able to CUSTOM BUILD coaching solutions to become your client’s GO-TO coach.