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How Much Does Professional Coaching Certification and Training Cost?

A Guide to Researching the Cost of Becoming a Certified Professional Coach


You’re beginning to acknowledge a power inside of you – one that has the people in your life turning to you when they’re facing down a problem. You’re the first port of call in everyone else’s emotional storm because you have a certain calming presence, an innate listening ear, and an uncanny ability to ask just the right questions to help others gain perspective.

With this special power comes a particular intrigue about the world of professional coaching, and you’re finally taking those oh-so-important steps to find out whether this is a realistic option in your life. As you consider the avenues for putting this ability of yours into greater focus, and you acknowledge the importance of acquiring both training and certification, you’re likely to confront the most practical question of all: How much does it cost?

Truthfully, the simple answer is not necessarily the best one. There are hundreds of professional training programs out there, and all of them offer different pricing models. But which ones provide the best VALUE for you and your future? That’s the real question prospective coaches need to ask, and it’s the one that this guide is designed to help you answer.

As you spend time researching the coach training and certification options available to you, you will soon realize that not all programs are created equal, which is why the costs vary so widely. There are fundamental factors to consider in your search for the most ideal path for you. Take advantage of this guide to uncover these essential elements and get answers to some of your most pressing cost-related questions.  

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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What Certifications Are Available for Executive and Life Coaching?

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To both serve clients in a meaningful way AND lay a strong foundation for supporting your own long-term success, you’ll want to equip yourself with the most powerful skills, tools, and techniques through industry certification. True, you don't have to be certified before offering professional coaching services, but there’s no shortage of career-defining reasons to do so anyway.

Coach certification gives you a competitive advantage in the market. It boosts your reputation, establishes you as a true professional, and provides an instant layer of legitimacy.

Participating in a certification program also equips you with the tools and techniques to be truly successful as a coach. And when you’re part of a larger community of certified coaches, you’re able to access a wide circle of peers, mentors, and friends should you need to reach out. This is a distinct benefit and a valuable opportunity as you move forward in your career.

Because coaching has become such a fast-growing field over the past decade, there’s a lot of information out there about coach training and certification, and it can be quite confusing.

Let’s sort out a few of the basics for you:

  • Certification – A certification program is one that requires you to complete a program that has an established set of core competencies; that evaluates you on your proficiency within these competencies; that has been audited by an accrediting agency; and that requires the institute delivering the program to be approved as an accrediting agency.
  • Certificate – A certificate program is typically a certificate of completion – meaning that you’ve completed the course work and have potentially been evaluated on what you’ve learned. While it can be extensive, this is not necessarily a certification and is not typically recognized by an industry association.
  • Certifiable – A certifiable program is one that certifies you in a new profession for $99 to $899. Unfortunately, because of the growth of coaching, there are those out there looking to cash in on the marketplace and its consumers, so buyers beware. There are some good programs that will help you learn about coaching, but watch out for those representing that they “certify” you. 

Note that in the latter two cases, the only one doing the “certifying” is the company itself. It’s not an industry-recognized certification by any association.

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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. Upon successful completion of an ICF-Accredited Coach Training Program, you’ll become a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), recognized by the ICF.

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 Coach Training Programs
  • Approved Coach Specific Training Hours
  • Continuing Coach Education

If you’re on the hunt for a comprehensive coach training experience, look for an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). In order for ACTPs to garner this ICF accreditation, they must ensure that participants gain at least 125 hours of coach-specific training so as to develop 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.

As far as the cost differential you can expect: Unaccredited programs can start as low as $2,000 to $3,000, while accredited programs range anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000 or more.

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What Types of Learning Experience Offer the Most Value?

As you face down a mountain of options for certification, you’re bound to wonder what the training experience will actually look like – and which types offer the most value to you. To help you develop a clearer picture, let’s first 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 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 lives.

Professional 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.

The 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 professional coach involves much more. 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 clients 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

Potential students often worry that coach training will force them to use tools and techniques that don’t feel authentic to them. This certainly does NOT have to be the case. It’s all about choosing a coach training program that offers the methods and experiences that fit your individual needs.

Here are some learning opportunities to consider prioritizing in your selection process:

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Elevating Your Natural Skills

Here’s the thing: You might already be coaching in some form, although you may not call it that or realize that’s what you’re doing. And even if you are aware that you’re actively engaging in coaching as a practice, you’re more than likely just skimming the surface in terms of acquiring the necessary skills, tools and processes to be highly successful. What you need is a program that can show you how much more there is to know about this field, as well as help you elevate your natural abilities to a level of effectiveness you may never have considered possible. So while you’re evaluating programs, consider whether transformative coaching skills are taught as part of the package. With transformative coaching, your job is to help your client uncover what’s really holding them back from sustained success. Along the way, they’ll probably feel more empowered and connected to their purpose, too.

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Becoming Your Best Self

What are your strengths? Do you find joy in helping others identify their gifts and passions? Are you into helping new moms with career changes and comfortably returning to work after maternity leave? Or helping entrepreneurs navigate the tricky line between expressing their creativity and living comfortably from the sales of their work? Maybe you’re into improving office culture by coaching up-and-coming managers and team leaders. 

The right program will offer you training and techniques for working with the clients of your dreams, whether you do so as a business owner or as an employee in a larger organization. In whatever capacity you choose to practice coaching, the more you understand and grow your own inner capacity, the more successful you’ll be in helping others recognize theirs. In fact, many in this field are surprised to learn just how much of their own transformation unfolds before they take the final steps toward a full-fledged career in professional coaching. Just as much as becoming a coach involves learning how to help clients or work cultures transform, it also involves discovering yourself from a different point of view and engaging in your own evolution.

At iPEC, the first part of our program equips you with coaching techniques and tools that can be applied to anyone, with any challenge, at any point in their lives. With that foundation, you can go on to any of the specialty track trainings that appeal to you. And while iPEC graduates are fully equipped to coach anyone on anything, digging deeper into a specialty area to work with the clients that resonate most with you can be a distinct advantage.

Charting Your Own Career Path

There’s a growing number of students who enter a coaching program simply to become more effective in their existing role. Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, or perhaps you have your eye on a promotion or new position. Regardless, the coaching skills you learn can drastically change the way you approach your job, your coworkers, and your projects, completely changing your workplace dynamic. When you’re considering different coaching programs, you should also determine whether the training offers continuing education credit (CEC or CEU) opportunities to maintain select professional credentials. If you’re looking for a promotion or to increase your perceived credibility, it can help to list those certificates (and your new Certified Professional Coach designation) after your name.

With regard to 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, which may include:

  • Virtual, self-guided lessons that play an important role in introducing and advancing key knowledge and facilitating a better understanding of coaching concepts
  • Live classroom trainings that enable you to practice your skills in a supportive environment, get immediate feedback, build invaluable relationships with other students, and acquire the kind of irreplaceable experiential knowledge that’s essential to becoming highly skilled in any professional endeavor
  • 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

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How Long Does Coach Training and Certification Take?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because 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 time component is a key distinction because as a professional coach, your clients will be relying on your support. You want to be certain that you’re not only properly prepared to stand in those “important shoes,” but that you feel confident in your professional coaching skills and abilities. Ultimately, you are dealing with real people in real-life situations, and it’s vital to develop enough professional acumen to both apply effective coaching practices AND understand when specific client challenges require more specialized care from medical and/or psychological practitioners.

The actual duration of a program can often be an important clue as to the quality and comprehensiveness of the training itself. Think about the time and effort afforded to learning and training needs in many other professional industries, such as accounting, law, education, medicine or technology. The more hours spent acquiring knowledge and gaining hands-on experience in a specific skill set, the more qualified and effective a professional becomes in their particular craft.

Woman with headphones

So let’s change the dynamic: Consider looking beyond the question, “How long will it take?” and ask yourself, “How thorough is the training I’ll receive, and how do I fit it into my life?”

Keep in mind there are opportunities for you to enroll in training while you work a full-time job, as well as to excel your bottom line and attract paying clients even before you complete a program. This is especially true if you’ve invested in one that focuses a substantial portion of time on providing you with the business development and marketing training to get you started on the career path that’s best for you.

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

Receive actionable insights on how to select a coach training program that positions you for success.

Download My Guide

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What Are the Key Areas of Expertise in a Coach Training Program?

As the coaching landscape broadens and this growing $2 billion industry commands more and more attention, coaches are becoming highly valued and sought after across all industry sectors. If you’re looking to make a career change or empower yourself to reach new heights in your current field, there are many specializations within the coaching industry that can have a huge impact on your future.

The coaching industry is less about “who you know” and more about “who knows you—and for what reason?” In short, the best way to become a go-to coach (whether you’re aspiring to be an entrepreneur or an internal or “in-house” coach) is to become known for your expertise in a specific niche. Far from limiting your options and potential clients, specializing increases your effectiveness and attracts people who will want to work with you. So when you’re evaluating potential schools, it’s important to ask yourself whether they offer opportunities to acquire additional insight into particular coaching specialties.

Here are some key areas of expertise to think about in your search:

Life Coaching: Learn to encourage others to discover and achieve their potential. You'll help clients identify their dreams, recognize what's standing in their way, and guide them in creating happier, more passion-filled lives.

Relationship Coaching: Learn to help people build happier, healthier relationships (at home, in the workplace, or in any personal situation) by addressing patterns and blocks, improving communication, and strengthening conflict resolution skills.

Transition Coaching: Learn to support clients as they navigate personal or professional change. Whether it's the beginning of a new career or life after divorce, you can help clients gain clarity and make the most of their new start.

Group Coaching: Inspired to create your own group coaching program? Discover the fundamentals of successful group coaching and develop specialized skills for facilitating an environment of communication, connection and mindfulness.

Couples Coaching: Become a skilled coach with focused training on the nuances of couples, so you can help partners find ways to overcome their challenges and heal their relationships – not just in the short term, but for the rest of their lives.

Parents & Teens Coaching: Learn to educate and empower teens (and their parents) to connect their inner passion and potential to outer goals and strategies in order to create extraordinary and sustainable results.

Health & Wellness Coaching: Learn to improve the wellbeing of clients by helping them thrive, not just survive. You'll find out how to guide and support clients as they develop healthier habits and lifestyles, whether they're adjusting after an illness or navigating particular health challenges.

Sports Performance Coaching: From overcoming performance anxiety to coping with injuries and understanding how to maximize practice efforts, learn how to support athletes and sports coaches in realizing their full potential and living more fulfilling lives.

Small Business & Professionals Coaching: Learn how to help entrepreneurs and business professionals stay focused on their goals so they can maximize their potential and create lasting success. Empower busy owners and employees to create balanced lives while improving the way they do business every day.

Leadership: Executive & Management Coaching: Develop the skills and confidence you need to coach accomplished executives as they strive to achieve excellence in every area of their lives. You can help clients realize tangible benefits, from increased business performance to a more fulfilling life.

Regardless of which coaching specialization appeals to you, pursuing a career as a Certified Professional Coach will provide incredible opportunities to inspire change, support growth, and develop a career based on YOUR passions and interests. As you think about the costs associated with various training and certification programs, don’t overlook the value inherent in institutions that provide both a solid foundation for universal coaching abilities AND the opportunity to develop expertise in your specific areas of interest.

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What Are the Best Certification Programs for Professional Coaching?

The “best” program for you is one that checks all your boxes and meets your unique requirements for building a successful career as a professional coach. That said, if you’re looking for some 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:

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  • Curriculum Depth and Quality
  • Training Hours
  • Trainer Quality
  • Enrollment/Acceptance Process and Standards
  • Student Support
  • Graduate Support
  • History and Reputation
  • Website/Brochures
  • Certification Requirements
  • Program Costs/Return on Investment

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).

Weighing Value with Cost for 4 Industry-Renown Schools

The Coaches Training Institute (CTI)

  • Oldest coach training school in the world
  • Accredited by the International Coach Federation
  • Program includes CPCC (Certified Professional Co-Active Coach) certification and ICF credentialing
  • Highly autonomous training framework
  • Weekend courses are full-day Friday, Saturday and Sunday; Midweek courses are full-day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; all at the same location
  • Required Fundamentals course is $925 with $250 registration fee
  • Packages are "pay as you go" from $5,905 to $11,140; $925 due at registration
  • A la carte options at $1,640 per course and $5,990 for Co-Active Certification Program ($250 to register)

Georgetown University

  • Academic program at Institute for Transformational Leadership
  • Options for training and certification in leadership development, leadership coaching, health and wellness coaching, group facilitation, and talent development
  • ICF accredited, but not all trainers are ICF-credentialed
  • Individual workshops span one to three days
  • Certification programs consist of several courses over several months (full-time Wednesday through Friday)
  • Tuition ranges from individual workshops at $395 to $1,795, to full certification programs at $7,875 to $13,995

Coach U

  • Instruction delivered via distance learning (internet administration and testing as well as teleconference class participation)
  • Core Essentials Fast Track Program (CEFTP) blends in-person modules with online delivery
  • Accredited by the International Coach Federation
  • 95+% of the international faculty is ICF credentialed at the PCC or MCC level
  • Courses are generally four to eight weeks
  • Distance learning programs cost $3,195 to $4,195 each; CEFTP and package tuitions range from $4,395 to $9,290

Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)

  • Blends live training (three separate, three-day modules), webinars, one-on-one mentor coaching and individualized support from a Success Coach for experiential, hands-on training and flexibility
  • Unique Core Energy Coaching™ process for transformational outcomes
  • Accredited by the International Coach Federation with ICF-credentialed instructors at the PCC or MCC level
  • Offers three professional certifications and fulfills the academics requirements to pursue ICF credentials
  • Option of accessing specialty tracks in addition to base program curriculum
  • Access to two proprietary, research-backed assessment tools, one of which delivers industry-groundbreaking ROI for quantifying the progress of any coaching engagement
  • Includes a business development program on how to start or advance your coaching practice, or offer your services in an organization
  • Lifetime access to educational content, specialty track training, and coach community
  • ALL-INCLUSIVE pricing at $11,950 (or three-day Life & Leadership Potential Training for $1,995)


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Valuating an Investment in Coach Training and Certification

You’re not going to be satisfied with a limited education that brings you limited success.

Whatever your goals and interests may be, it’s important that you have the opportunity and resources to live your UNLIMITED potential. That’s why it’s so crucial to choose a coach training and certification program with the best value, not just the lowest cost.

At the end of the day, you have to be really clear about what you’re getting for your investment.

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Among your checklist for evaluating what’s included (and not included) in your tuition and costs, think about whether each program offers (inclusively or separately):

  • ICF-accredited courses
  • Business development lessons
  • Mentor coaching
  • Practice coaching
  • Success coaching
  • Books and resources
  • Lifetime access to materials
  • Final exam and certification

Some programs appear less expensive on the surface, but if you study them further, you’ll find hidden fees for many of these elements. Tuition options that are all-inclusive can actually be more cost-effective. Additionally, some programs offer students a variety of tuition payment options, including student loans, payment plans, and early enrollment reductions.

What you can expect to pay in training and certification costs hinges completely on how you approach the process and what decisions you make regarding your educational opportunities. Of course you’ll always have practical financial considerations, like car payments, rent, mortgages, and college loans. Even with these very real responsibilities, there’s great potential inside of you to honor your current life, find creative solutions, and move forward on the investments in your future you’re most passionate about.

If your gut is pulling you toward coach training and certification, and you’re wondering how to make it work within your financial means, know that iPEC offers flexible options for financing. Through our student loan option, payments can be deferred until after Module III. Many students even have a paying client before they finish the program, which means you can start generating income before your first payment is due.

Never doubt that you’re worth an investment in yourself. Begin your journey by requesting an informational session with an iPEC Admissions Coach to discuss your vision for the future and answer any additional questions you may have about the costs of professional coach training and certification.

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