How to Become A Certified Business Coach

Table of Contents

Hey coach!

Today I’m breaking down the process of choosing a business coaching certification program into three simple steps with all the information you need to make the best decision for your coaching business.

If you are building a side gig or career coaching entrepreneurs, small businesses, corporate executives, or anyone else in the realm of business, you’ve probably wondered if you should get certified.

Short answer: YES!

Long answer: Keep reading…that’s what I’m here to show you.

Maybe you haven’t decided yet if now is the right time to make that investment in your future: we’ll get to that.

You may have gone so far as to look up ‘business coaching certification’…and then panicked because there are too many programs to choose from. No need to panic! This piece was written just for you.

And if you’re a seasoned business coach just looking for some direction as you narrow down your choice of certification program, just scroll down to points 2 and 3, where I go over just that.

Alongside the growth of the coaching industry, the number of coaching certification programs has grown as well. It can easily feel like you have too many options at your fingertips, and with hefty price tags.

(If you haven’t decided that you want to be a business coach, go back to our article on the three steps to starting your coaching business. If business coaching is your niche, you’re in the right place!)

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In this piece we’ll go over why getting certified is a good idea, the questions to ask yourself before choosing to get certified as a business coach, and four certification programs we recommend depending on your goals.

1. Why get business coach certified?

As a business or executive coach, you have a great toolkit available for getting new clients and broadening your expertise– life experience, a great online presence, stellar testimonials, you name it. A certification is not required to be a successful business coach–which is part of the reason coaching can be such a great low-cost career shift!

However, certification, especially one tailored to your emphasis on business and executive leadership, gives you credibility, a wealth of knowledge, and a leg above the competition. Especially if you want to work with corporate organizations or speak at industry conferences further down the road, getting certified is a crucial step.

Even if you have the results to prove you’re a great coach, displaying a badge of certification– even just of learning the International Coaching Federation core competencies– will give you lasting credibility.

Furthermore, if you feel limited in the coaching services you offer by your lack of experience or education, a thorough and specialized certification program will expand your toolkit with accredited methods that you can use to better your programming and launch your clients even further into success.

To sum it up, certification is more than another line on your checklist for growing your coaching business, it’s a golden ticket to a flourishing business coaching career.

2. How to decide on a certification program?

Now that you’ve recognized the importance of completing your business coaching certification, it’s time to choose a program.

Business coach certification can be a significant financial investment, especially if you’re at the start of your coaching journey.

Choosing the right coaching program will be a choice that makes a big difference to your career– so give it the thought it deserves!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options, so make sure you have carefully evaluated the goals and needs of your coaching business before you make this big decision!

Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do you want to coach corporate executives, small business owners, or everything in between?
  • Do you want an internationally renowned certification that would carry clout in, for example, Asia as well as the United States?
  • Are you getting certified because you want to gain more knowledge and wisdom to inform your coaching services, or will you depend on a really well-known accrediting body for your marketing efforts?
  • During your research, make sure you carefully evaluate where your current qualifications land you. Some certifications act as launchpads to other more advanced certifications. Some require a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. It is equally important to avoid a certification for which you are over-qualified as one for which you are under-qualified!

Your time commitment is also an important factor to weigh during the decision-making process– most organizations offer certifications that can be completed over the course of about six months, but some offer fast-track options that might be more up your alley.

The gold standard of all coaching certification accreditation is the International Coaching Federation. Once you’ve completed an accredited certification program in any field, you can separately apply for the ICF certified coaching credential, which has three levels dependent on your hours of education and coaching experience. If your goals include going beyond the first level of Associate Certified Coach, look for a certification program that offers the requisite additional hours of training at a discount (like the John Mattone certification described below)!

All accredited business coaching certifications– especially the most competitive and reputable–require substantial tuition fees. Remember, you’re investing in your future and that of your clients!

An ICF–accredited course will give you the most bang for your buck, but a cheaper program, from a generic online education company or an entrepreneurial coach who runs their own certification program can still give you a great boost as a business coach.

Some reasons to choose a non-accredited coaching course include:

  • You are early on in your career
  • You aren’t sure about being a coach, or are considering leaving the business sector for another branch of coaching
  • You have a solid client pipeline and know they don’t care about accreditation
  • You are short on cash

If any of these describe you, choosing a more affordable non-accredited business coaching certification might be the safest path– and you can always invest in a more prestigious program later on!

Because we believe that a good coaching certification program is a worthwhile investment, all recommendations in the following section are for ICF-accredited programs.

3. What are the best certification programs?

While the programs available are as diverse as the types of great people like you who become business coaches, here is a rundown of some of the most reputable certifications available based on different needs.


The Academies Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach Program (CELDC)
The Academies offers a more affordable option for business and executive coaches that is well-grounded in neuroscientific research. Since this is a shorter 30–hour program, you will have to combine it with further training to achieve full ICF coach credentials. This option is a great choice if you are at the start of your business coaching career and want to expand your coaching knowledge toolbox while getting the ICF core competencies out of the way.


John Mattone’s Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching Certification
John Mattone used to coach Steve Jobs, so we can safely consider him an expert! The great thing about his Intelligent Leadership coaching program is that you can start with a short three-day intensive that packs a huge amount of learning into a short period of time. Even better: if you choose to go on to more advanced certification through John Mattone, you will receive a tuition discount on the subsequent programs. If you don’t have a lot of time but know you want to dive right into your business coaching journey, this is the program for you!


The College of Executive Coaching
The CEC’s programs are among the more expensive, but if you already have (or are working on) an advanced degree you’ve already demonstrated your commitment to further education. Their Personal and Executive Coaching Certification offers both a fast-track option and a longer-term course with only a two hour weekly commitment – both offering the same ICF accreditation. Whether you’re a psychologist, an MBA, or a clergyman, the College of Executive Coaching will build on your existing education to help you develop your expertise in coaching.


The Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership
IECL is very clear about recruiting mature professionals, so if you have neither a bachelor’s nor workforce experience, a more introductory program like The Academies is probably a better choice. Their simple 3-level structure allows you to work your way up to a full ICF coaching accreditation over a longer period of time while getting the core competencies out of the way at the beginning so you can start applying those important lessons to your coaching methods right away. Their international renown is a great boost if you want to add a more global angle to your coaching too!

Conclusion: Using your business coaching certification to your advantage

Congratulations! You’ve completed hours of classes, whether over six months or a weekend intensive, and you have a certificate of completion from one of the business coaching certification programs we recommend. Maybe you’re even applying for your first ICF credential! So…now what?

Having a business coaching certification is a lot more than a logo you put in the corner of your website. Your certification is a differentiator and a huge beacon to potential clients signalling that you have put in the work necessary to become the expert that can help them succeed in their business leadership goals.

When you talk to potential clients, remind them that the hours you put into training were specifically geared toward their needs. Since potential clients might not be well-informed about the coaching space, consider adding a section to your website with details about the core competencies, psychological principles, and leadership skills you learned while completing your coaching certification.

You’ve invested a lot of time and money into your coaching education, and your clients deserve to recognize the powerful assets that working with a certified coach brings them! If you don’t already sell digital materials based on your coaching system, use the lessons you learned in your certification training to make your first downloadable guide or even an online course!

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In conclusion, here are some answers to common FAQ about business coaching certification:

How do you become a business coach?

Becoming a business coach can be as easy as purchasing a business license, setting up a website, and recruiting clients. Pursuing an ICF-accredited coaching certification in addition will accelerate your career even further.

Which coaching certification is best?

The best coaching certification depends on your needs and the stage of your coaching career. The Academies Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach Program (CELDC) is a great choice if you’re just starting out!

Do you have to be certified to be a business coach?

No, you don’t! If certification is an investment you’re not ready to make, you can launch your business coaching services and market yourself with testimonials and other proof of results.

What is business coach certification?

Business coach certification is an educational training program that gives you internationally recognized credibility in your field. Choose a program that meets your needs and matches your expertise!


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