Just as not all coaches are created equally, neither are coaching schools and training programs. Here are 10 questions to consider or ask your coach training provider, before you enroll on your coach training certification.
1. Is the program accredited? And for how many hours?
Whilst accreditation is not a requirement for coaches, it is advisable to select a coach training program that is. This means that the program has been assessed and regularly reviewed by an external body. As with all industries that are not regulated though, there are some pitfalls to look out for.
- Just as not all coach training programs are not created equally, neither are accreditation bodies. The requirements for accreditation vary widely from organisation to organisation, and some courses that are accredited are not as comprehensive as others. It pays to review the criteria for each level of accreditation to ensure that you investing in a credible and comprehensive program. The most widely respected coach accreditation body is the International Coach Federation.
- Even with ICF accreditation there are a number of things to be aware of. There are 3 main paths to achieving credentialing with ICF; ACTP, ACSTH and the Portfolio path. ICF requires a minimum number of coach specific training hours as a major part of credential application and those courses that are CCE or ACSTH marked may not have the minimum number of 60 hours. It pays to check if credentialing is something that you are planning for. (ACTP courses all meet that criteria)
2. How is the training delivered?
Is the course delivered in person, or online? Check if there is a requirement for you to attend any live workshops or trainings as part of your certification. This may mean additional costs both in time and money. It’s also important to understand how much live training is provided with online courses; are you left to study alone, or do you have mandatory class time that you need to commit to?
3. How big are the class sizes? What level of attention will I get?
Whenever you are learning a new skill, the amount of feedback that you receive whilst you are honing it, will directly impact your results. Think of a mass exercise class vs working 1:1 with a personal trainer – the more individualised the attention, the better your form, and therefore the more confident you can be about your results. Check to make sure that the class sizes are small, and that you get plenty of time to ask questions of your trainer.
4. What is the curriculum?
A better question may be, what is the focus of the program? Your coach training provider should be able to provide you with an outline of the topics covered so that you can see if the course fits with how you wish to use your coaching skills.
5. What experience do the trainers have? Does the provider help you with the business end of coaching? To what degree
Do not assume that because someone is teaching a subject that they are an expert in the subject. Check that the lead trainer is, in fact, qualified and experienced. Also, look for references or testimonials from their coaching clients as well as their students; teaching and coaching are not the same thing.
How much real world coaching experience has your trainer had? And in what fields? If you are planning to launch an Executive Coaching Practice, and your trainer has never coached in a corporate environment, is that important to you? Be aware of the level of experience of your trainers, and if this information is not readily available, then ask.
Gaining your skills and certification is one thing, but what do you do with it after that? Arguably a larger learning curve for a lot of coaches is how to take those skills and earn a living from them by consistently attracting quality clients, and learning the skills that make a business profitable. Does your coach training provider offer this type of training as part of your course, and if so, to what degree?
6. What practical 1:1 feedback will I get on my coaching skills?
Getting feedback on your skills as a coach is key to becoming a masterful change maker, and supervised coaching sessions are one way to receive feedback, as is peer coaching where you are coached and coach your fellow students. Be sure to ask how much feedback you will receive on your coaching skills, and by whom.
7. Can you get support after the training is complete?
Just as passing your driving test is the gateway to really learning to drive, your coaching qualification heralds the beginning of your coaching career, and there are bound to be bumps in the road as you shift into gear. Will the organisation offer you support as you grow your coaching experience and business, and at what cost?
8. What is involved in achieving certification?
If completion of the course materials is the only prerequisite to achieving certification, then the value of the qualification is questionable. A credible course should require a level of assessment and evaluation of the coach’s skills before issuing certification. Be clear on what is required to graduate. Stringent criteria is not a bad thing, (and is a requirement of ICF accredited courses.)
9. How much does it cost?
What is the total cost of the course and options for payment? Do you need to pay extra for assessments? Is there a payment plan available? And is there a surcharge for paying by installment? Are there necessary textbooks or course materials that are not covered in the advertised cost?
10. Is there a refund policy?
Sometimes, even with the best of intentions by both parties, things turn out to not be a great fit. What is the refund policy? Can you get your money back if it turns out that the course or trainer is not for you? Also, what will happen if you are unable to complete the course due to personal reasons? Can you receive a partial refund, or be credited with time to complete any necessary live training?
Make a list of what is most important to you in a training provider and add more questions as necessary to ensure that you choose a great fit for your development into Life Coaching.
Embarking on a coach training certification is exciting and something to look forward to. By asking these questions at a minimum, you can be sure that you are entering into this stage of your career with your eyes open.