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What is a Board Certified Coach?

board certified coach

What is a Board Certified Coach? This short post explains this life coaching credential. 

A Board Certified Coach is a life coaching credential endorsed by the Center for Credentialing and Education, which is an affiliate of the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).

A Board Certified Coach credential is not a life coaching certification, but a professional endorsement of a life coaching certification or individual life coach.

Within the booming field of life coaching, there are hundreds of coach training institutes that offer life coaching certification to people who want to go into business as a coach.

There are also a few credentialing bodies that offer third-party oversight to the field. These private organizations attempt to set standards and offer support to the non-regulated field that is life coaching.

The Center for Credentialing and Education is one of those third-party standard-setters. Life coach training institutes may apply for accreditation so that their programs qualify students to earn the Board Certified Coach credential.

Individual life coaches who qualify may apply to become a Board Certified Coach in order to add a professional credential to their resume and receive the additional benefits of belonging to the Center for Credentialing and Education.

Is it necessary to be a Board Certified Coach to practice as a life coach?

No. To legally call yourself a life coach and practice as such, no third-party credential is required. And since no government body regulates life coaching, there are no state licensing requirements in the United States, either.

In other words, the life coaching industry is the Wild West. No formal regulation, only a few professional organizations positioning themselves to set standards of their own accord.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is another private accrediting body. ICF is the largest and most well-known in the industry, followed closely by the Center for Credentialing and Education.

What’s important about professional credentials like Board Certified Coach?

Since there is no legal reason to become a Board Certified Coach, many life coaches are not eager to get this credential. Moreover, typical coaching clients are not familiar with life coach credentialing and do not base their choice to get coaching on the coach’s membership to third-party accrediting bodies.

There may, however, be compelling reasons for life coaches to get credentialed. (Remember, getting a credential is not the same as getting trained and certified as a life coach from a life coach training institute).

The reason to take the additional step and get your coaching credential, whether from the International Coach Federation or the Center for Credentialing and Education, is related to future government regulation and oversight.

If and when there comes a day that individual governments begin to regulate the field and require state licenses to practice coaching, common sense suggests that members of credentialing organizations are more likely to be grandfathered in.

Common sense doesn’t always translate well when governments are concerned, however.

There’s no way to know if the field of coaching will ever be regulated or how certified and credentialed coaches will fare compared to merely certified or even non-certified coaches, but the risk of losing the ability to practice under such circumstances may not be tolerable.

If you have any doubt or want to take every precaution to protect your career as a life coach, get quality training and certification plus a professional credential.