15 Best Coaching Certifications To Become The Ultimate Coach

Life Coaching Certifications

Coaching is an unregulated industry, it’s true. But with the ICF’s latest statistics reporting that 55% of clients expect their coaches to be certified, getting the right credentials has become more important than ever.[1]

So what does it involve, and what kind of certification should you be training for? This guide can help you find an accredited training provider of life coaching certifications that suit your goals and lifestyle, so that you can distinguish yourself as a truly stand-out coach.

Before you begin, we recommend starting Quenza’s 1-month, $1 trial. Quenza’s easy-to-use suite of digital coaching tools will help you develop others with unique, engaging resources from anywhere, enhancing your professional impact for better results.

How To Become A Certified Coach

Professional coaches offer clients the guidance and support they need to set goals and make positive changes to their lives, careers, or health. While the coaching industry isn’t officially regulated, and no credentials are needed to practice, certifications can go a long way to helping you stand out in the field.

For professionals pursuing accreditation, coaching certifications provide useful knowledge, tools, and skills that can help you practice. Available both online and face-to-face, they typically look like structured curricula that combine lessons and theory with practical experience.

Not all of these are necessary, but if your goal is to be seen as a certified, reputable, and professional coach, you need to have:[2]

  1. Knowledge about the certification or licensing regulations on coaching in your country, state, or region
  2. A well-rounded education in the field you’d like to practice in (e.g. business, health, wellness, or life coaching)
  3. A qualification such as a certificate, Diploma, or Degree in your niche
  4. A coaching credential from a recognized coaching institute such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

While it’s not strictly required, many coaches also pursue qualifications in related areas to coaching such as counseling, therapy, or psychology. These may come in useful by providing you with practical skills such as listening, problem-solving, and building professional rapport.

Which Type of Certification is Best?

For professionals pursuing accreditation, coaching certifications provide useful knowledge, tools, and skills that can help you practice.

Because there are so many types of coaching available today, there’s no one perfect certification for every aspiring practitioner.

The best type of course, broadly, should include modules that covering a relevant range of valuable coaching topics that will come in useful when you practice.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re looking for a solid, reputable coaching certification:

  • Will this course cover theory and practical coaching skills?
  • Can I afford this course? Is financial support available?
  • Is it available online, offline, or as a blended learning solution?
  • How long does it take, and can I study at my own pace?

Ultimately, the best certification for you will be a learning experience that’s convenient, valuable, and realistically affordable, given your budget. It’s a good idea to research others’ reviews of the course, too, before you commit to any decisions.

A Look At ICF Coaching Certifications

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is perhaps the best-known credentialing body in the field, with 60 ICF Chapters now in existence worldwide since its founding in 1995.

While the ICF offers its own credential pathways, ICF-accredited courses can also be run by a wide array of institutions globally. To meet the criteria for ICF-accreditation, programs that offer coach-specific training must undergo a rigorous review process and prove that their curriculum lines up with the ICF’s Code of Ethics and Core Competencies.

What are ICF Credentials?

There are three types of ICF Credential Paths:[3]

  1. Associate Certified Coach (ACC): Involving 60+ hours of ICF-accredited training hours and 100+ hours of coaching experience
  2. Professional Certified Coach (PCC): Requiring 125+ hours of training and 500+ hours of coaching experience.
  3. Master Certified Coach (MCC): 200+ hours of training and 2500+ hours of coaching experience.

12 Best Coaching Certifications

Life coach certification programs impart professional skills such as coach-client communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and how to work with different clients in various contexts.

3 Life Coaching Certifications

If you’re interested in starting your career as a life coach, we’ve reviewed some of the top life coaching certifications available here:



IPEC Life Coaching Certifications OnlineiPEC offers a well-rounded curriculum that takes you from ‘Day One’ to a fully-certified life coach with iPEC’s Certified Professional Coach (CPC) qualification.

All the theory and practical training you need to start or change careers to life coaching is included in a 10-12 month, during which time you’ll earn three separate credentials.
The program includes three live, intensive training modules, but the majority of learning is done online through webinars and other self-study resources.

NameCertified Professional Coach (CPC)
InstitutionInstitute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)
Good ForBeginners, Career Changers



CLCI Life Coaching Certifications OnlineFor practitioners who are short on time, the Certified Life Coach Institute (CLCI) offers an intensive short course that runs for just three days (33 hours) on Zoom.

This course will teach you the ICF Core Competencies of working as a life coach, coaching strategies and techniques, and practical strategies to start and develop your business.
While this course is great for beginners, learners will still need to complete two levels to qualify as an ACC per the ICF.

NameLevels 1 and 2 Certified Life Coach
InstitutionCertified Life Coach Institute (CLCI)
Good ForBeginners



ILCT Life Coaching Certifications OnlineThe ILCT’s Professional Certified Coach (PCC) program is a comprehensive, intensive course for coaches with 500 hours of coaching experience already.

It includes 130 training hours spread out over 18 to 24 months, covering topics such as ICF Core Competencies, Coaching Ethics, Practical Coaching Skills, and electives.

At the end of this ACTP course, students are required to take an oral and written exam plus a Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) examination for the title of PCC.

NameProfessional Certified Coach (PCC)
Institution Institute for Life Coach Training (ILCT)
Good ForAdvanced, Professional Life Coaches

3 Health & Wellness Coaching Certifications

For coaches who are keen to start or further a career in health coaching, the following courses offer ICF-accredited programs in the field.

  1. The Health Coach Institute (HCI): The HCI is an approved training provider recognized by the Canadian Health Coach Alliance and Federation of Holistic Therapists, with a 6-month online Health Coaching Certificate.
  2. Wellcoaches® School of Coaching: Wellcoaches® offers a Certified Personal Coach pathway for non-health professionals, a Certified Health and Wellness Coach pathway for credentialed health professionals, and a Lifestyle Medicine Coach Certificate for advanced practitioners.
  3. The National Society of Health Coaches (NSCH): The NSCH runs an 85+ hour self-study Evidence-based Health Coaching (EBHC)® for Healthcare Providers that comes with 1 year of complimentary NSCH membership.

Recommended: 5 Best Health Coaching Apps & Software for Wellness Coaches

3 Executive and Business Coaching Certifications

If you’re ready to build your career in executive coaching or business coaching, some of the following courses may interest you:

  1. The Center for Executive Coaching (CEC): CEC offers an Executive Coaching Certification through their distance learning ACTP program. This ICF-accredited pathway takes 6 to 8 months to complete and can connect with other CEC coaches so that you can accumulate coaching hours.
  2. The Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL): The IECL’s Level One and Two accreditation programs include three levels of Organisational Coach Training for C-suite executives, with online and face-to-face learning options available.
  3. Coach Training Alliance (CTA): This Certified Coach Program from the CTA is good for aspiring business and executive coaches that takes place online. It covers both business and marketing elements of coaching, as well as professional skills and tools for practice.

3 Career Coaching Certifications To Consider

If you’re considering career coaching, here are some programs that can help you get certified:

  1. World Coach Institute (WCI): The WCI’s Career Coach Certification program provides 60+ hours of coaching hours and takes place over 8 weeks. This CCC course has three pathways offering different modes of study.
  2. Coach Training Alliance (CTA): There are two career coaching certifications offered by the CTA – its Career Coaching Mastery Certification Program and The Art and Science of Coaching Career Transitions. Both of these approved programs are ICF-accredited.
  3. Institute for Career Coaching (ICC): The ICC offers a range of pathways for aspiring career coaches, such as its Beginning ICF Accredited Certified Career Coach course and Advanced ICF Accredited Holistic Career and Life Coach programs. Both courses run for 6 weeks.

You might also like our 2022 guide to the best career coaching tools available.

3 Online Coaching Certifications To Consider

Still looking for the right online coaching certification for you?

These institutions and programs can all be followed online:

  1. Coach U Core Essentials Program
  2. Well College Global
  3. The Coach Training Academy

Best App and Software For Your Practice

It’s important to remember that coaching theory and skills are one thing, but the ability to run an efficient, growing online practice is another.

It’s important to remember that coaching theory and skills are one thing, but the ability to run an efficient, growing online practice is another.

A good set of easy-to-use digital tools is essential if your day-to-day work will involve designing coaching resources, structuring programs, and delivering your solutions. Not to mention evaluating your impact to enhance your programs, collect client feedback, and give regular, personalized feedback to those you coach!

Quenza life coaching certifications
Online coaching software like Quenza (pictured) can help you with all the practical aspects of starting, running, and growing a digital coaching practice.

Quenza is designed to simplify your workflow as an online practitioner, by giving you everything you need to create beautifully professional custom resources and deliver them straight to your clients from anywhere.

With Quenza, you can easily build, personalize, and share coaching forms, activities, assessments, worksheets, and contracts all under your practice brand, and offer an ever-growing list of engaging programs for groups and individuals.

If this all sounds like part of your strategy, take a look at our Step-By-Step guide for How To Start An Online Coaching Business.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that online coaching is popular – and that’s not set to change anytime soon! Getting credentialed can help you stand out as a professional who is always ready to improve, and who can practice ethically with the very latest knowledge in their field.

Have you gained your accreditation through one of these programs? Share your experience with your peers below!

If you’re keen to share inspiring, engaging online coaching programs under your own custom brand, don’t forget to begin your 1 dollar, 30-day trial of Quenza.

You’ll find all the tools you need to share powerfully engaging coaching solutions in Quenza’s online toolbox, while running your coaching business seamlessly from any device.


About the author

Catherine specializes in Organizational and Positive Psychology, helping entrepreneurs, clinical psychologists and OD specialists grow their businesses by simplifying their digital journeys.

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