Your Path to Become a Certified Coach

Published On: June 28, 2021

Path to Become a Certified Coach

Written by Lindsay McKay

A career in professional coaching can be deeply rewarding and fulfilling. Your path to becoming a certified coach will involve intense personal development and a steep learning curve. The coaching mindset you will learn can translate into skills such as mentoring, parenting, managing, and building a terrific life for yourself and others. With so many people joining this lucrative industry, there needs to be a way to stand out and become successful. Read on to learn the path of becoming a certified coach, from finding your niche to gaining clients.  

Find Your Niche 

Whether you are planning on becoming a life coach, business coach, or career coach, it is helpful for yourself, your future marketing efforts, and future clients to choose or create a niche for yourself. The steps to finding your niche include: 

  • Identify your interests, passions, and what you enjoy doing in your work life 
  • Identify potential problems you can solve, be as creative and specific as you look 
  • Do some research to see if others are in your niche, or a way to make it more specific and unique to you 
  • Test your idea by talking with others and see if people have problems, you did not think of that you could solve for them 

Let's walk through an example; you realize you enjoy working with more than one person, such as a relationship, partnership, family, or organization. Your background happens to be in nursing in a maternity ward, and you have years of experience with parents and families struggling with a new baby at home. You think you can help ease the transition and help solve the problems most families/parents face. You do some research and see that they are birthing coaches and parenting coaches, but nothing about the transition. You talk with parents you know and fellow nurses, and they all seem interested. You may have found your potential coaching niche.   

This example shows you can take your career background and create a unique, specific niche. 

Choose Your Pathway 

A key to succeeding and being reputable in the coaching industry is to get certified through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The ICF is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession. They advance the profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals. To get certified, you must take a coach certification program through an accredited institution. The ICF offers several levels of certification, including Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and the Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Ashton College’s training program can help you gain these credentials. All credentials include paid coaching experience with clients, so these credentials take time to earn, and it is best to understand all the criteria before starting it.    

The ACC is an entry-level certification and has three potential paths. To apply, you must complete a 60-hour training program, 100 hours (70 paid) coaching experience with eight clients, and completion of a knowledge test. Some paths have additional requirements such as mentorship hours and performance evaluations.   

Learn more about ACC pathways on the ICF website: ACC Paths  

The PCC is the gold standard certification with the three same potential paths as ACC but with an increase in hours across all criteria. To apply, you must complete at least 125 hours of coach-specific training, 500 hours (440 paid) coaching experience with 25 clients, and completion of a knowledge test. Some paths have additional requirements such as mentorship hours and performance evaluations. 

Learn more about the PCC pathways on the ICF website: PCC Paths 

Get Educated 

A comprehensive life coach training program is essential to becoming any type of professional coach—life coach, business coach, or otherwise. Gain foundational coaching theory knowledge, learn how to cultivate trust to create a safe environment with your clients, and how to establish a coaching practice with our 160-hour training program. 

Gain Clients  

Gaining clients once you start is no easy task. To help out with this challenge, students will learn how to market themselves as a coach and create a welcome package for potential clients. This is where having a unique niche is extremely helpful, so you can target a very specific audience with a relatable problem you can solve. The biggest hurdle to getting clients is getting your name out there. So, make connections with your classmates, join online communities, go to public events, talk with people and just offer help or a listening ear. Everything takes time, especially such a lucrative career as a professional coach.   


The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog


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