Which coaching qualification to choose? It’s a minefield….

There are many wonderful, helpful and powerful coaching qualifications that we can take….. and a few turkeys too! This blog navigates maps out the do’s and don’ts of coaching qualifications, to make sure that you choose the one that serves you best

Firstly, it’s important to decide the reason for choosing a qualification. It’s likely that it will fit into one of four categories

  • I want to learn the skills so I can start coaching
  • I want to develop existing skills so I can coach at a more advanced level
  • My credibility will be improved because of having a coaching qualification
  • My access to opportunities (jobs or freelance) will improve because of the qualification

In truth, it’s probably a combination of two or more. At Love Your Coaching, we often find that people turn up on day 1, saying “it’s all about the qualification, not the skills” but by day 6 they say “I’ve really improved, haven’t I?!”

If you have started to research the different routes to learn coaching, you will know what a minefield it is. So let’s demystify it. Below is a table that maps out the major routes to coaching excellence with pros and cons of each. And if reading a table isn’t your thing, then buzz straight down to the summary!

Pathway Detail Benefit Pitfall

One of the three major coaching bodies:

EMCC/ICF/AC

Various levels of qualification, based on competencies and number of hours completed

Rigorous approach

Guaranteed level of quality once you pass

Steeped in research

You are associated with coaching specialists

Not so well known outside coaching and learning/development circles

First qualification asks for 100+ hours practice

Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) 3 levels of qualification, based on theory and practice

The qualification body and brand is well known in all sectors

Courses are both practical and theoretical

Providers only have to assess on theory, not practice, so you could pass by writing a good essay about coaching, and not be able to coach well!
University qualifications Postgraduate courses, including theory, coaching psychology

High credibility by being a university qualification

Quality controls should be rigorous

Interesting research base

Can be too theoretical

Often more expensive than commercial options

Unaccredited/in-company qualifications A huge variety of programmes, covering coaching, NLP, psychology and other associated areas

Flexibility in approach

May be tailored to the needs of the group

Often the trainers earn their living from coaching

Not recognised by many people who purchase coaching

No external body monitoring quality of provision

May be confusing coaching with other skills

 

The table above may provide some clarity, or may confuse things even further!

We have spent many hours discussing and agonising over which is the best qualification to offer. And our conclusion is that the ILM is the one. Our reasonings are several:

  • The ILM’s credibility in many sectors, its acceptance as a bona fide qualification by sponsors and budget holders means that it can lead to work for qualified coaches
  • That they challenge us, as providers, to be very rigorous in our provision
  • But.. they give us enough freedom and autonomy to deliver coaching training in an engaging, informal way with plenty of practice

Whichever the pathway you choose, there is some best practice to look out for. When researching potential providers, you will have your list of things to ask about group size, location and other practical aspects. But also ask them:

  • How practical are the courses?
  • Will you watch me coach and give me feedback?
  • What is your pass rate?
  • Do you support me right up to the time that I get the qualification?
  • And …. How much do you help with the next steps in my coaching career?

The answers will tell you whether they are the provider for you

Whoever you choose for your coaching qualification, congratulations on even considering it. Coaching is becoming a must-have leadership skill, an opportunity for freelancers to have another string to their bow, and something that is immensely rewarding. Help yourself at this stage and choose the qualification and the provider that works best for you!

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