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Do you need ICF accreditation to succeed as a life coach?

ICF - International coach federation

This post about ICF accreditation is supporting material for our breakdown of the essential elements of life coach certification training programs.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the largest and most credible professional life coaching association. Should you join ICF as a coach? And should you only take training from an organization that is itself accredited by ICF?

Our answer to both of the above is a resounding yes. Let’s get straight to clear reasons why.

Here are three reasons to take only ICF-approved training.

These reasons to take only ICF-approved training are written with a long-term view. There may be good courses out there that are not accredited by ICF, and not all approved programs are of the highest caliber. ICF accreditation does not save you, the consumer, from having to do your homework.

Yet the reasons to get involved with ICF, first through your life coaching school, are clear. First and foremost, you’ve got to consider the future of the industry.

1. The Coming Regulations

We don’t know many people in the field who can’t wait for government regulation but, let’s face reality. It’s inevitable. Like every other industry that has taken hold to influence the lives of people, life coaching will ultimately be regulated. The sentiment is already in the air. Bills have already been propose to Congress in some states in the U.S.

As of this writing, the field is not regulated by any state authority but it’s clearly only a matter of time; how much time is anyone’s guess. When regulation sweeps across the industry, you do not want to be caught by surprise.

How might ICF accreditation save your business when the regulations come? Well, there’s no guarantee, but if the coaching industry mirrors counseling, you may praise your ICF credential with all your might.

The working theory is that when government regulators take over, those with the highest credentials in the field could be grandfathered into state licensure. We had this experience in the U.S. State of New Mexico in 1994. At the time, there was no regulation of mental health counselors. When the state stepped in, those with minimum qualifications from other sources were automatically granted licensure. Those without them lost out.

This is a serious issue. It’s a little more work to go all the way and get credentialed by ICF after completing your coaching course, but there is no reason not to do it and plenty to risk if you don’t.

2. Third Party Review of Courses

For a training institute to earn accreditation by ICF, they must endure an extensive review process. An auditor from ICF reviews all course materials and teaching methods. They also verify the experience and credentials of the course designer and training staff.

While there is no guarantee that an ICF-accredited training organization will meet your individual needs, it helps to know that an objective third-party has reviewed the staff and educational materials according to minimum quality standards.

ICF is known for denying credentials to both individuals and organizations that lack quality. They aren’t merely trying to get paid for a stamp of approval. ICF is legitimate. Not all training organizations are.

3. ICF Accreditation Actually Raises your Credibility

ICF is becoming more and more recognized as the industry-standard credential in life coaching. It’s not unheard of for prospective clients to only seek coaches who have the ICF credential. And if you want to coach in the business sector, an ICF credential is non-negotiable. Businesses in the U.S. who hire coaches are already ignoring non-credentialed applicants.

With this trend in mind, why not follow it with your livelihood? There are those who resist the inevitable but the pragmatists among us recognize that regulation has its advantages and that being prepared is the prudent course of action.