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The Best Executive Coaching Certification Programs, 2022

Everything You Need to Know About Becoming an Executive Coach

Now more than ever, company leaders are waking up to the value of investing in the all-around development of their top executives.

The corporate world can be an exhausting, anxiety-ridden place as today’s high-powered professionals navigate the balancing act of responding to urgent responsibilities, implementing long-term visions, and managing large global teams of people with varying approaches, perspectives, and backgrounds.

Even with strong interpersonal skills and robust industry experience, they often struggle to overcome daily pressures and find a clear sense of direction.

Add family, health, and personal life to the mix—and being an executive can become a 24/7, delicate endeavor.

To address these challenges, many corporations turn to Executive Coaches who can help their people grow and develop further to cultivate greater ease, joy, and balanced, compassionate power, maximizing their value far beyond what was previously expected.

If you’re interested in becoming an Executive Coach to serve these professionals in a meaningful way, you’ll want to equip yourself with the most powerful skills, tools, and techniques through industry certification.

In fact, doing so is fundamental to a bright future in this field. Proper training will directly impact your success—as mastery in the professional skill set of coaching often lends to exciting business opportunities or employment and strong client outcomes.

The journey begins here, where you can access all of the information you need to become a certified Executive Coach and get answers to your most pressing questions. From choosing a training program to understanding the costs – and everything in between – this guide has the insights to help light the path toward becoming an Executive Coach.

Begin reading the full guide below, or fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version that you can reference later.

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How Do I Become an Executive Coach?

How do I become an Executive Coach

Executive coaching continues to gain traction in the corporate arena, as companies of all types and sizes experience its value and reap the benefits. No longer stigmatized as a last-resort effort to correct weak leadership, the profession of Executive Coaching is now recognized as a necessity for guiding talented, high-potential employees to achieve optimal performance.

Organizational productivity, profitability and innovation–these assets all rely on having strong, capable leaders in place, which is why Executive Coaches are in high demand at many top corporations worldwide. They are also some of the highest paid coaches in the business.

Through executive coaching certification, you gain the skills needed for working with company leaders on developing the skills and perspectives to improve their team management efforts, develop a greater work-life balance and help reach their full potential. Of course, the road to becoming an Executive Coach involves a series of integral steps. Before moving forward, take some time to educate yourself on the process, set accurate expectations and prepare for the journey ahead.

STEP 1: Self-assess.

It may sound trivial, but don’t overlook this critical step. Do some soul-searching to decide whether a career in coaching is right for you.

No, your life doesn’t need to be perfect. But you do need to feel an innate desire to inspire positive change in yourself and others. Regardless of your age, life stage or experience level, the decision to pursue Executive Coaching should be based on an inner calling to serve others and the companies they lead.

So, ask yourself: Are you driven to understand and relate to the strengths and weaknesses of others? Are you able to show up with compassion and empathy? Are you willing to share your own transformative experiences to cultivate deep, rich relationships? Do you connect with people and feel motivated to use your natural abilities to help others succeed?

Answer these questions first, and if you find that the pieces fit, you owe it to yourself to make this path a reality.

STEP 2: Enroll in an accredited coach training program.

Graduating from an accredited coach training school requires a serious investment of your time, energy and financial capital, so be sure to choose a program thoughtfully. Consider whether each program option takes its mission and curriculum as seriously as you do. Compare school philosophies, methodologies, learning approaches, lesson content and access to ongoing support. Your program selection should also provide you with the opportunity to specialize in Executive Coaching so you can acquire more specific knowledge, skills and tools in this area.

While there are many coaching certifications out there, only a select few programs are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the coaching industry’s governing body for coaching and training schools. Since there are over 200 coach training programs available in the U.S. alone, choosing one with ICF accreditation is a distinct advantage.

There are three different types of accreditation or approval that the ICF offers: Accredited Coaching Training Programs, Approved Coach Specific Training Hours and Continuing Coach Education.

For a comprehensive coach-training experience, look for an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). ACTPs require at least 125 hours of coach-specific training that ensures participants have a thorough knowledge of the ICF definition of coaching, ICF Core Competencies and the Code of Ethics. Participants are observed during coaching sessions and must complete a final exam to ensure their coaching competency.

Many leading corporations select Executive Coaches that have a mix of rigorous coach training, ICF credentialing and specialization-specific tools to demonstrate the depth of expertise and competence in supporting high-potential executives.

STEP 3: Earn your professional coaching certification.

To become certified as a professional coach, you need to complete a program with an established set of core competencies and be evaluated on your proficiency in these areas. And although you don't have to be certified before offering Executive Coaching services, there are some significant, career-defining reasons to earn your professional coaching certification.

For starters, it’s an easy way to stand out in an increasingly saturated market. It boosts your reputation, establishes you as a true professional and provides an instant layer of legitimacy. Like it or not, prospective clients and employers will assign more value to an Executive Coach who has invested in a training program. They’re quicker to trust you, as well as more willing to pay handsomely for your services if they know you’ve been certified.

In addition, participating in a certification program equips you with the tools and techniques to be truly successful as an Executive Coach. And when you’re part of a community of certified coaches, you’re able to access a wide circle of peers, mentors and friends should you need to reach out.

Don’t forget, the coaching industry is still fairly new in the grand scheme of established careers, and there’s a great deal of room for change as the field continues to expand. In fact, certification may become the standard one day. In the meantime, having the competitive advantage of coaching certification will serve as a major stepping stone on your journey to becoming an Executive Coach.

STEP 4: Leverage the support of a mentor coach.

Having the resources to succeed as an Executive Coach is just as important as having the knowledge and certification, and you can benefit immensely from working with a mentor coach. Some coach training programs offer access to a mentor coach (and their coaching community at large) as part of their holistic model of student support.

STEP 5: Land paying clients, an Executive Coaching position or some corporate coaching contracts.

If you’ve chosen the right coach training school, the curriculum will have included either a strong business development program to get you familiarized with key business principles and comfortable talking with potential clients about your services, or specific training on how to utilize your Executive Coaching skills within an organization.

Interested in procuring a role as an internal coach? You’ll need to market yourself as a qualified employee based on the training, certification and experience you’ve acquired.

Planning to start a business as an Executive Coach? It’s time to put on your entrepreneurial hat. Use the training, tools and resources at your disposal to build the business, attract clients and forge successful relationships. Prepare yourself with Executive Coaching agreements and questionnaires, call prep forms, worksheets, surveys and centering activities, and business development and marketing tools.

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What is an Executive Coaching Certification, & Do I Need It?

As we’ve pointed out, professional coaching certification empowers you with the skills to more effectively help your clients succeed, the legitimacy to establish your position as an expert and garner more opportunities, the benefit of joining a larger community of certified coaches and preparation for the future, particularly should the industry ever become regulated and officially require certification. Planning ahead for these eventualities not only demonstrates foresight, but also positions you as an authority in the field of executive coaching. 

While some training programs offer an Executive Coaching Certification exclusively, it’s not necessary to garner this particular designation to excel as an Executive Coach. You can become a Certified Professional Coach through an accredited program that offers specialty training in Executive Coaching. At iPEC, for example, you get the best of both worlds: mastery in the professional skill set of coaching AND the specialty training to rise to the top of the Executive Coaching field.

Obtain Executive Coaching Certification from iPEC

All iPEC students start by acquiring knowledge and practice in Core Energy Coaching™ and Energy Leadership™, innovative and proprietary concepts that get to the root of challenges and inspire unparalleled outcomes. 

The Core Energy Coaching™ process helps you dig deep, uncovering your own belief systems as well as those of your clients. This allows you to gain a multi-faceted understanding from which you can gain better insight into your clients’ paths, strategies, and the decisions that have brought them to this point. 

Only when you fully understand where they’re coming from, can you begin to guide them to where they want to go: shifting their thoughts, energy, emotions, and beliefs in a way that’s thoroughly tested, proven, and holds the client accountable—for concrete success in the process—and for sustainable, robust outcomes, with the potential for positive ripple effects into every area of their lives. 

Forget sitting through dull, dry lectures that are tepid and boring. In iPEC’s Coach Training Program you’ll immerse yourself in the learning process, get immediate feedback from our highly skilled classroom trainers, and build invaluable relationships with other students in the program. In this way, coaching becomes a part of you, a natural way of being, something that comes effortlessly, automatically, and authentically. You become a coach.

As you grow through the process, seeing, feeling, and understanding the many challenges that will define and strengthen your abilities, you’ll master the skills you need to not only launch your own professional coaching practice, but thrive in it.  

Going Beyond the Basics

In the initial stages of iPEC’s Coach Training Program, you’ll gain a solid foundation of coaching skills, systems, and processes, enabling you to coach anyone, on anything, at any time. 

You’ll have the professional training to hear your executive coaching clients’ main challenges and goals, at a deeper level than ever before. You’ll understand the nuances of factors which influence their decisions, read and identify their inner blocks, energy, and the unspoken factors behind their everyday experiences—key drivers which can often be hidden from your clients’ awareness. 

And consider, since the various factors of a person’s life can be so interconnected—family, relationships, health, or other challenges are likely to come up in your work with executive coaching clients. So, the ability to coach anyone, on anything, right in any given moment can be invaluable. 

As you progress through the coach training program, you can access specialty training in Executive Coaching to acquire more specific knowledge, skills, and tools in this specific niche area. This will give you an even more dimensional understanding of your clients’ life experience, in addition to what you’ll be able to skillfully detect from your iPEC training.

When you’re ready to take the next step, iPEC’s advanced COR.E Dynamics Training will prepare you to initiate even faster, more sustainable shifts in the moment for your clients, creating powerful, sustainable outcomes in a fraction of the time, further adapting to and supporting your clients’ busy schedules.  

All the Skills You Need to Be Successful 

Through iPEC’s program, you not only earn three coaching certifications (Certified Professional Coach, Energy Leadership™ Index Master Practitioner, and COR.E Dynamics™ Specialist), but also become a specialist in our two research-backed assessment tools that are designed to give your coaching clients an immediate glimpse into their habits and behaviors. 

The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to executive coaching training, you’re not learning how to give advice. Instead, you’re learning to dig deep to uncover the tangled roots of challenges and issues that are holding your clients back, so that they can cut through the inner and outer clutter and take definitive steps toward their vision of success. 

You’re learning how to hold your clients’ goals at the forefront, trust they’re the most brilliant expert in their own life, and empower and facilitate the process of their unfolding. You help them uncover their own answers, shift their hidden inner blocks, and align their inner patterns and outer actions towards their ultimate success. It’s a truly magical and co-creative process which can shift your clients’ lives dramatically. 

With iPEC professional coach certification, you get the skills you need to truly engage your executive coaching clients, hold them accountable, and watch them blossom into true leaders that wield influence and power, yet also with a calm and sensible rationale. 

iPEC’s unique Professional Coach Training Program provides you with the skills and confidence you need to coach accomplished executives as they strive to achieve excellence in every area of their lives.

Take a look at this detailed article on the How and Why of Executive Coaching to get a deeper sense of why you’ll want to become professionally certified, as well as what to look for when choosing an executive coaching certification. 

If you’re ready to take the next step and launch your executive coaching career with an accredited, proven coach training program that can help you become a driving force in the world with a determined, ambitious clientele that are hungry for change, becoming professionally certified by iPEC can help you get there.

9 Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Coach Training Program for You

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What Type of Executive Coach Training Should I Expect to Receive?

First, let’s shed some light on what type of training you should NOT expect to receive: You will not be learning how to give advice. Any reputable coach training program operates with the understanding that each client is complete, whole and the expert in their own life.

Instead, you should be acquiring the skills to tackle the root causes of your clients’ challenges: their underlying thoughts, emotions and energy. As you help your clients shift hidden internal blocks, they’ll uncover their own insights, wisdom and perspectives, which leads to powerful and sustainable shifts in every area of their life.

As you embark on your learning experience, you should expect to develop a profound understanding of coaching, not merely as a set of skills, but rather as a way of being. Executive Coach training should begin with a focus on awareness and energy. You’ll need to discover the methods that support you in developing a new foundation from which you think and create success, shifting your perspective to one that empowers you to create the life you choose and foster a new way of being.

Your coursework should intuitively train you to engage people, helping them become more productive, happier and fulfilled in their careers and lives. It should give you the insight and tools to inspire and motivate others to do what they previously felt incapable of doing.

Nearly all coach training schools focus on teaching traditional coaching methods that help individuals, groups or organizations to clarify goals, create action plans and be accountable to them. But becoming a successful Executive Coach involves much more.

While conventional techniques often produce short-term successes, a more transformative approach is essential to foster long-term results. Transformative coaching digs deeper to uncover inner blind spots and cultivate new perspectives that support individual success on a sustainable level.

You’ll want to absorb methodologies that empower people to look deeply, honestly and objectively into their energy and mental programming in order to assess who they are and who they want to become. With the right coach training program, expect to learn about:

  • Supporting your clients as they establish and achieve new goals, raise their level of consciousness and open up new possibilities that were previously hidden from sight

  • Helping leaders step into new versions of themselves, make connections and become catalysts for culture shifts within their workplaces

  • Guiding clients to gain an outside perspective so they can reprioritize, think “big picture” and more clearly address the challenges they face in their personal and professional lives

  • Laying the foundation for clients to find better balance and build a more fulfilling, well-rounded life

  • Open up opportunities for them to improve their leadership abilities and engagement levels, increase business performance, make a greater impact at work and get to the next level of their career

  • Relating to and motivating clients who are C-level Corporate Executives, Board Directors, Executive Leaders, Presidents, Vice Presidents and high-potential employees

As far as the training delivery methods you can expect, styles and options vary from program to program. Just keep in mind that an amazing training program that has all the bells and whistles you could ask for will not do you any good if the material is not presented in a way that makes sense to you. Everyone has a preferred learning style, and it is important to consider how well you learn from the format the school provides.

Consider whether you require engagement styles that are visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (hands-on) or auditory digital (logic and reason). Perhaps you’d do best with a combination of all these. Everyone has a preferred learning style, and it is important to consider how well you learn from the various formats, which may include:

  • Virtual, self-guided lessons

  • Live classroom trainings that enable you to practice your skills in a supportive environment, get immediate feedback and build invaluable relationships with other students

  • A mix of self-paced modules, independent projects and group work

  • Material that is presented both in-person and on live webinars

  • One-on-one mentoring sessions to receive individualized coaching feedback, strategies and suggestions to improve your coaching ability

  • Opportunities to strengthen your skills through live sessions spent coaching your peers and being coached by them

  • Ongoing access to online recordings, resources and the coaching community

Coach training programs vary tremendously in the amount of time they require for completion. They can range from just 30 hours of training over a few days to more than 300 hours over the course of several months. This is an important distinction because as an Executive Coach, your clients will be relying on your support. You want to be certain that you are not only properly prepared to stand in those “important shoes,” but that you feel confident in your Executive Coaching skills and abilities.

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How Much Does Executive Coaching Certification Cost?

Now for the big questions on everyone’s mind: What type of investment will I have to make, and what kind of return can I expect to gain by becoming a certified coach? These are common and highly understandable inquiries. After all, you want to invest in something that’s going to have a lasting and positive effect on your career, life AND financial stability.

It’s not just your certification cost that’s at play, but also the training and tools you’ll need to earn your certification and begin making money. So, let’s start with some ballpark numbers around training. Coach training programs vary significantly in price, with unaccredited programs starting as low as $2,000 to $3,000, and accredited programs ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000 or more.

Executive Coaching career cost

The key to understanding the price of a program is to make sure that you know exactly what’s included in the cost. Some programs appear less expensive on the surface, but if you study them further, you’ll find hidden fees for things like:

  • Purchasing prerequisite courses or additional training to earn certification

  • Finding and hiring your own mentor coach

  • Acquiring additional books or materials

  • Paying for business development coaching or business development kits to help you start your business

  • Covering the cost of certification exams

Executive Coaching career cost

Tuition options that are all-inclusive can actually be more cost-effective. Additionally, some programs offer students a variety of tuition payment options, including loans, payment plans, and early enrollment reductions.

As far as ROI is concerned, paying off your investment and earning a living is as simple as the math: I need to make X amount of dollars to live my life how I want to live it, and I have the time to help Y number of clients, so I need to charge Z dollars for my services.

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What you really need to understand is that realizing true ROI potential is limited only by your fear. You have the power to see your vision and make it happen. As an Executive Coach, you can charge what you want, work when you want and choose your own clients. There are distinct opportunities for you to excel your bottom line and attract paying customers even before you complete a program, especially if you’ve invested in one that focuses a substantial portion of time on helping you build your own Executive Coaching practice through business development, branding and marketing.

Make no mistake, the Executive Coaching industry is ripe for potential earnings. Statistics show that 25 to 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Executive Coaches, and corporate titans such as GE, Goldman Sachs and Google are now spending more than $1 billion annually on Executive Coaching in the U.S. alone. Recent data from indicates that the average salary for Executive Coaching ranges from approximately $60,353 per year to $119,173 per year, and the 2018 Sherpa Executive Coaching Report states that, on average, Executive Coaches earn $386 per hour.

There’s also good news where client potential is concerned: The ICF Global Study reveals that three out of four coach practitioners with active clients (75 percent) said they expect their number of coaching clients to increase over the next 12 months, and more than six in 10 (63 percent) said they expect their number of coaching sessions to increase.

What you can expect to pay in training and certification costs, as well as the type of ROI you have the potential to garner, all hinge on how you approach the process and what decisions you make regarding your learning and investment opportunities. For more information about the key factors to consider when evaluating any coach training program and its ROI, check out this highly informative guide.

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What are the Best Executive Coaching Certification Programs?

When it comes to executive coaching certification programs, there is no “one size fits all” option. The “best” program for you is one that checks all your boxes and meets your unique requirements for building a successful career as an Executive Coach. 

As everyone has different needs, you’ll want to carefully evaluate the many programs available to determine how the course offerings, pricing, timetable and other factors will affect your journey as you become an executive coach.

That said, if you’re looking for data points to compare, here are some insights to consider.

A comparative study of the top ICF ACTP coaching schools in the continental United States, conducted by Education Service Center, Region 20 (ESC 20), was designed to formulate comprehensive information about the best coach training programs in the area based on ten categories of qualifying criterion.

The best coach training programs had the following points in common:

  • Curriculum Depth and Quality - This criteria looked at how involved the curriculum was, as well as the quality of the lessons taught, and the usefulness of the curriculum in real-world exercises and situations. A high quality curriculum helps students better understand the core facets of the professional skill set of coaching as well as prepare them for the significant challenges they’ll experience when working one-on-one with clients, no matter what their chosen specialization is.

  • Training Hours - Simply having a core curriculum isn’t enough to adequately prepare students for the situations they’ll face as a professional coach. They must also put in the required time both in terms of studying as well as learning and interacting, so that they learn to adapt to and foresee challenges and pivot accordingly as the scenario calls for it.

  • Trainer Quality - The instruction quality is only as good as the instructor themselves, so having a dedicated, supportive trainer is essential to getting the most out of a professional coach training program. A high quality trainer can not only offer professional advice, but can help students better prepare for their career path by offering suggestions and feedback on what they can improve.

  • Enrollment/Acceptance Process and Standards - Not everyone has what it takes to be an executive coach. But if you have the drive and determination, and you’re open-minded, flexible, and eager to change lives, you may be exactly what today’s executives need more of! Having a set of standards in place ensures that only those individuals who truly want to help change and improve lives are admitted and can work in their chosen field and specialty without wondering, “Did I make the right choice?”

  • Student Support - The best coach training programs are those which not only instruct their students but also support and help them, whether through one-on-one meetings, or online availability, having a support network of engaged instructors who are focused on student success in every aspect of their growing executive coaching career.

  • Graduate Support - Even after graduating successfully from the program, coaches can always use a little extra support. At iPEC, we’re here to help you whether you’re taking your first steps into the world of executive coaching or you’re a seasoned veteran tackling a particularly difficult challenge. We’re ready to offer the support and advice you need, because we’ve been there too!

  • History and Reputation - In the executive coaching world, reputation is everything. Since 1999, iPEC has been helping individuals coach, advise, and guide our leaders, CEOs, COOs, innovators, geniuses, and outside-the-box thinkers, helping them realize their full growth and potential in a way that helps them play an integral role in shaping their own lives—and the lives of others.

  • Website/Brochures - Even if you’re still researching possible coach training programs and haven’t made a decision yet, it’s important to have all the tools you need available at your disposal. A dedicated website and helpful, informative brochures can help not only provide the information you need but demonstrate in and of themselves the commitment that the staff has to your coaching success.

  • Certification Requirements - A crucial part of any coaching program is having requirements in place for proper certification. At iPEC Coaching, we have been accredited by the ICF, and also designated as an approved continuing education credit provider by numerous top-rated, esteemed organizations, so you can feel confident that you’re getting the very best in value, education, and preparation.

  • Program Costs/Return on Investment - The need for competent, understanding, and experienced executive coaches is only going to grow as more and more people find themselves in more demanding positions where they need to achieve their vision, create a work/life balance, and much more. iPEC Coaching delivers an unsurpassed return on investment in terms of not only creating a fulfilling career path, but one where you can truly make a difference.
best Executive Coaching Certification programs

The data findings and comparison efforts positioned the top three schools as follows:

  1. The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)
  2. The Coach Training Institute (CTI)
  3. The University of Texas at Dallas.

iPEC scored the highest points in Curriculum (10 out of 10), History and Reputation (9 out of 9), Graduate Support (10 out of 10), Student Support (4 out of 4), and Website (9 out of 10).

The University of Texas at Dallas scored the highest points in Website (10 out of 10), Graduate Support (9 out of 10), and Student Support (3 out of 4).

And CTI scored the highest points in Curriculum (9 out of 10), Website (8 out of 10), Trainer Quality (4 out of 4), and History and Reputation (8 out of 10).

Ready to begin your executive coaching journey?

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Take Your Next Steps with Confidence

You’ve taken a big step forward in exploring the path to becoming an Executive Coach. Certified Executive Coaches have the opportunity to make a profound difference in the personal and professional lives of today’s leaders, helping them streamline their organizations, discover greater fulfillment and significantly impact global evolution.

To become an iPEC Certified Professional Coach is an extraordinary, life-changing experience, one that results in realizations and relationships that will last a lifetime. Using your unique talents, combined with iPEC’s Core Energy Coaching™ process, you’ll not only create a real impact on your own life, the coaching industry and society as a whole, but you’ll also be preferred by executive clients and organizations the world over who seek rapid, sustainable and measurable results with the help of a masterful and successful coach.

Start your journey by speaking with an iPEC Admissions Coach to discuss your vision for the future and answer any additional questions you may have about Executive Coaching and certification. Fill out the form below to request a conversation.

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