Choosing Coach Training

At ICF Ireland we are often asked for advice on choosing a coach training programme – but it is our policy not to recommend any specific provider.

However if you want to obtain an ICF professional coaching credential, we would encourage you to look for courses that have Accredited Coach Training Programme (ACTP) or Approved Coach-Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) status with ICF, or at least have a minimum of 60+ hours of coach specific training.

Learning coaching skills is different to most other types of training in that it is very experiential, and ultimately transformative for  the learner –  so it’s not just about the academic elements of the course.

First of all it’s always good to have your personal learning objective clear before selecting a course – here are some questions that might help;

  • Are you planning to become an independent / self-employed coach?
  • Is there a particular area of coaching you want to specialise in e.g. business, sport, career… etc?
  • Do you want to learn or develop coaching skills to help you in your job or day-to-day living?
  • Are you looking to formalise your experience in coaching skills and perhaps progress your career by getting a recognised qualification?
  • Is there some other reason you’re interested in completing a coach training course?

If you’re clear about what you want to achieve, then here are other factors to consider.

  1. Content – what will the course cover?

If you are familiar with how the course content is structured this can help you decide whether the course will meet your needs. All coaching courses are likely to have at least some of the following elements but it’s likely that the main emphasis will be on practical skills development and application.

  • Coaching / behavioural psychology
  • Coaching theory & models
  • Peer coaching (coaching classmates as part of skills development)
  • Pro-bono coaching (a required amount of practice coaching on clients)
  • Reflective group work – reviewing student’s coaching skills perhaps facilitated by tutor
  • Recorded / observed coaching sessions with feedback from experienced coach
  • Reading and written assignments
  • Reflective journaling
  • Reflective assignments based on self-awareness and learning applied…
  • Final thesis or dissertation depending on the level of course
  • Training on setting up and marketing your coaching business
  1. Training / Education Provider and Course Facilitator

Find out what training providers offer the type of course you’re looking for; obviously you will be looking for testimonials or recommendations from people you know or previous students. Is the training provider well known and well regarded in the field?

It’s also worth finding out as well as the quality, standard and reputation of the company providing the training, who is / are the trainer(s) who are likely to be presenting the course? Your connection with the tutor can have a big influence on the dynamic of the course.

  1. Awards / accreditation

There are several types of awards available for courses in Ireland so it’s worth clarifying what award(s) are given for the course you’re interested in. Depending on what you want to use your qualification for, consider how well recognised the qualification will be and who you’re likely to need it for (e.g. is it recognised only in Ireland if you want to work internationally?) Sometimes accreditation is an extra step (additional work / assignment and probably an extra fee)

  • Recognition by Professional Coaching Bodies such as International Coach Federation (ICF)
  • QQI – Quality & Qualifications Ireland (formerly HETAC / FETAC) ie Level 5,6,7, 8, 9 courses such as Diploma, Degree, Masters
  • Educational / Industry Institutes – e.g. Institute of Leadership & Management (City & Guilds London) and others
  • Other
  1. Structure of course

Depending on your own work commitments or schedule, you may have a preference for courses that are run over weekends, or a block of a few days at a time, or evenings over several months, or even full time…

  1. Location / learning format

Courses are offered by providers in Ireland and overseas. Some organisations provide in-house training to their coaches. It’s important to know how you learn best, and consider whether face to face / group learning works best for you. Alternatively you could consider distance or online learning if you find that effective – bear in mind that the skills are mostly learned in practising coaching and that a distance or online course needs to facilitate students to do that.

  1. Cost

Depending on whether you or your employer is paying for the course, this can be a significant deciding factor. Courses range in cost from a couple of hundred euros up to several thousands – at the end of the day it depends on the potential the course has to create value for you.

Short courses of a few days may be a useful introduction and cost relatively little, but for example to become a member of ICF, you need a minimum of 60 hours of coach specific training.

  1. Specialisms

Aside from the core coaching skills which are essential for effective coaching, further coach education programmes can be available in specific areas such as business or executive coaching, sports, nutrition coaching and many more.

So hopefully if you are considering completing a coaching qualification, these factors will help you figure out what is going to work best for you.

To find a list of ICF approved courses, click here: