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Best Career Coach Certification Programs

How to Get Started as a Career Coach

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A career coach is an individual who assists people in identifying their career potential, interests, and plans. Some career coaches work within an enterprise or educational organizations as part of the human resource, organizational development, or talent management team and many career coaches work independently as business owners helping students, managers, and leaders maximize their career potential. And even though career coaches don't have to be certified, obtaining certification establishes your credibility.

We reviewed coach certification organizations, dozens of university programs, and franchise organizations offering proprietary certifications to provide you with the best career coach certification programs to match your goals and budget.

Best Career Coach Certification Programs of 2023

Best Overall : World Coach Institute

World Coach Institute

 World Coach Institute

Why We Chose It

We chose World Coach Institute (WCI) as the best overall career coaching certification program because it is well-recognized, available in 35 countries, and provides multiple niche certifications in addition to the Career Coach Certification (CCC).

For those striving to earn a career coaching credential while working or starting a business, WCI offers an affordable price around $2,500 with payment plans as low as $104 per month.

WCI also allows you to earn unique certifications such as Life Coach, Spiritual Coach, Family Coach, and Christian Coach. The curriculum includes content to help you launch and run a coaching business if this is your goal.

Students take part in lectures twice a week along with discussions and receive a textbook, coaching tools, forms, and the ability to observe up to 25 coaching sessions as well as get feedback on their own coaching. Students become part of a community with buddy coaches and peers. The 80-page Business Builder Program manual is a bonus for those wishing to launch and grow a coaching business,

WCI has been around since 2006 and provides individual assistance and support. It receives positive user reviews for its hands-on training, noting features like its positive learning environment, superb instructors, and career services. Additionally, its training programs meet International Coaching Federation (ICF)/BCC-approved coach-specific training hours (ACSTH).

Pros & Cons
  • Multiple career paths accommodate students and working professionals

  • Career Coach Certification program can be completed in as few as 8 weeks

  • Tuition is affordable with payment plan options

  • Requires 10 to 34 hours of self-study

  • Doesn’t meet requirement for Board Certified Coach (BCC) credential unless you already have significant coaching education and experience

Runner-Up, Best Overall : Career Coach Certification Program

Career Coach Certification Program

Career Coach Certification Program

Why We Chose It

The Career Coach Certification Program (CCCP) is our runner-up due to its robust curriculum, affordability, and open enrollment–no bachelor’s degree required.

The CCCP program is 100% online and available to participants in over a dozen countries worldwide. Its $1,200 program is all-inclusive, meaning you’ll receive the training you need to become certified by the end of the course. You’ll also get resources to use with your clients and tools to launch your own coaching business.

Because of its affordability and comprehensive nature, career coaches across industries from business to academia have completed this course and certification. Online reviews praise the soup-to-nuts approach, the coaching blueprint, and the holistic coaching format.

Pros & Cons
  • Complete six modules at your own pace, from six weeks to 12 months

  • 100% online self-paced workbook format

  • One of the most affordable full-service training programs with certification

  • Entirely self-study program

  • Must be a Professional Organization of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC) member to enroll

  • PARW/CC standard is not as prevalent as ICF or other international standards

Best Low-Cost : IAP College

IAP College

 IAP College

Why We Chose It

IAP College is best for those on a budget as well as those who wish to sell the idea of coaching certification to their corporate manager for reimbursement.

IAP College provides training and a career coach certificate you can use during job interviews or to secure a promotion at work. Note that it’s a certificate in name only and not recognized by any of the major career coaching organizations. But for those looking to demonstrate they’ve received coaching training, this one is a cost-effective option, with a standard price of $377 for a six-week, part-time class. However, the course offers intermittent sales, so keep an eye on deals.

IAP's other certifications include Bakery Owner Certificate and Closet Organizer Certification. Nonetheless, IAP Career earns hundreds of positive online reviews from students who appreciate the affordable training to help them stand out and grow their careers.

Pros & Cons
  • No prerequisites required to enroll

  • Ongoing course schedule with late enrollments accepted

  • Get certified in as few as six-weeks, part-time training

  • Lots of reading and little instructor or peer interaction

  • No Continuing Education Units (CEUs) provided

  • Certification not recognized by any third-party career coaching organization

Best for Academic Career Coaching : NCDA Certified Career Counseling

Career Coach Institute

 Career Coach Institute

Why We Chose It

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) offers multiple professional development and credential programs such as Certified Career Counselor and Certified Master of Career Services. It's our choice for best for academic career coaching.

NCDA is a division of the American Counseling Association (ACA).

Many of the courses are tailored to career coaching for specific industries such as higher education or private practitioners. Research-based courses run from two months to 15 weeks and are taught by licensed instructors with significant experience. Instructor-led courses are offered in traditional face-to-face sessions, online, or as a hybrid. Courses run from $1,000 to $1,700 per course and may be reimbursable by your employer.

Even so, you'll need an educational degree before you qualify for the NCDA's coaching certification program, and once you finish the program, you credentials might not be relevant or appropriate in a business coaching setting.

Pros & Cons
  • Credentials available for academic and traditional career coaching

  • Affordable programs

  • Continuing Education Units available to support continuing education requirements

  • Requires educational degree as a prerequisite

  • Credentials may not be relevant or appropriate in a business coaching setting

  • Training courses are offered based on instructor availability

Best for Licensed Counselors and Therapists : Career Development Network

Career Development Network

 Career Development Network

Why We Chose It

The Career Development Network offers two affordable and robust certifications that provide CEUs for continuing education.

For $1,500, the Career Development Network provides a thorough career coach training program which certifies one as both a job and career development coach and a job and career transition coach. It’s been providing career development training since 1979 and includes business-focused career coach training as well as certifications for established professionals to earn CEUs.

Although the Career Development Network usually conducts in-person, three-day events as a way for practitioners to quickly obtain a career coach certification, trainings are being conducted online until further notice. Like IAP College and Career Coach Institute, the proprietary certification you receive is from the same organization that offers the coach training. However, it’s recognized by coach matching agencies like Noomi as a recommended coach training organization that serves members worldwide.

Even so, the Career Development Network's website leaves a lot to be desired. It's not user-friendly or intuitive. It requires users to download brochures and material.

Pros & Cons
  • Career Transition Coach Certification Program, provides two coach certifications

  • Course can be completed in as little as three days

  • CEUs satisfy continuing education requirements for licensed professionals

  • The Career Network certification may not be recognized by other certification organizations

  • Website is dated with downloadable brochures rather than dynamic navigation

Best Full-Time Degree Program : Rider



Why We Chose It

Rider University in New Jersey is much less costly per credit hour than competitive universities, offering the same Board Certified Coach and Center for Credentialing and Education, Inc. credentials.

At $1,300 per credit hour, the Rider Life and Career Coaching certificate are much less costly than academic programs at other universities including New York University and Georgetown University that cost $1,483 per credit hour up to $4,449 per course. 

With a 11:1 student-faculty ratio, you’ll get expert input that can’t be found in an online self-paced certification course. Courses can be taken in person or online. SAT and ACT scores are not required for application to the university.

Even so, you'll have to have a bachelor's degree before you qualify for Rider's coaching certificate program. You'll also have to attended courses during an academic calendar year.

Pros & Cons
  • Only one course is required for those with a master’s degree in behavior science

  • Students can earn either a graduate certificate (18 credits) or a master’s degree

  • Must have a bachelor’s degree and apply to the university

  • $1,300 per credit hour, while less than others, is still expensive

  • Courses are offered on an academic calendar: August 1, December 1, and May 1

Best Self-Paced : Career Coach Institute

Career Coach Institute

Career Coach Institute 

Why We Chose It

Because it’s self-paced and virtual, students can complete the Career Coach Institute training while employed and it uses a blended e-learning approach with webinars, CDs, textbooks, and quizzes.

The Career Coach Institute was founded in 2001 and uses a proprietary coaching model referred to as “Quantum Shift! Coaching.” We chose it for its robust online program developed using e-learning methodology. The program costs about $5,000 according to the website, but your price may be lower due to specials that could bring it closer to $2,000. 

Flexible scheduling and financing make it a flexible option for those who aren’t seeking a globally recognized coaching certificate. Many of its alumni, including experienced practitioners, boast about how the program helped them grow their coaching business to six figures.

The Career Coach Institute offers the Certified Career Coach (CCC) credential.

Pros & Cons
  • Blended learning approach supports working professionals and parents

  • Program focuses on helping students establish a coaching practice/business

  • 100% satisfaction guarantee (refundable up to the end of the third week)

  • Affordable with financing options available

  • Re-certification requires 30 CEU hours every three years

  • Proprietary certification may not be recognized by global coaching organizations

  • Actual pricing available only once you choose to register

Best Stand-Alone Certificate : Udemy Career Coaching Certification

Udemy Career Coaching Certification

Udemy Career Coaching Certification

Why We Chose It

Udemy Career Coaching Certification offers affordable eight- to 10-hour training and certification courses hosted by a multitude of accredited (and non-accredited) providers, each of whom offer their own version of a career coaching certificate.

Certification through low-cost courses on Udemy's Career Coaching Certification makes sense for those working within a non-profit or smaller company on a tight budget who want credentials to improve their promotional opportunities. These courses are also helpful for those wanting to dabble in career coaching, add on to their existing skills and education, or have a piece of paper that states they’ve completed a career coaching certification.

Because of the low cost, attendees may find these courses exposed them to the career coaching field with little financial risk.

Because the coaching industry is unregulated and there is no standard, a certificate from the Udemy Career Coaching Certification course may suffice to convince your employer or business clients that you’ve received ample training in the career coaching field.

Despite its affordability, Udemy's course time frames vary widely, from one to 17 hours, and those who require some assistance from a live instructor will be disappointed to find that courses are offered through self-paced video and downloadable content.

Pros & Cons
  • Most affordable option for those looking for a quick certificate of training

  • Courses run $12 to $20, and you can complete one or more for specific skills

  • Some courses are accredited and provide CEUs

  • No prerequisites

  • Course time frames (one to 17 hours) and quality vary considerably

  • Self-paced video and downloadable with little or no instructor interaction

Best Variety of Certification Training : Coach Training Alliance

Coach Training Alliance

Coach Training Alliance

Why We Chose It

We chose Coach Training Alliance for the breadth of coach training it offers as part of The Certified Coach Program.

The Coach Training Alliance costs about $3,500 for both of its career coaching programs: Career Coaching Mastery Certification Program or The Art and Science of Coaching Career Transitions. It also offers free workshops to learn more about the program before you enroll. Once certified, you can move on to organizational, leadership, or executive coaching.

For example, you could study organizational coaching for your enterprise, career transition coaching, or certification for yogis. It offers 22 IFC-certified programs with training that prepares you to coach individuals and groups, launch your business, or author your first book.

Online company reviews mention good teachers, a positive environment, and good career preparation.

But keep in mind that this certification program is expensive compared to some competitors, and you won't get in-person instruction. Everything is completed online.

Pros & Cons
  • Six-month online course led by an instructor with weekly calls and mentoring

  • Focus on your unique interests while adhering to ICF standards for certification

  • Business-building skills included for your career coaching profession

  • There’s no fast-track option

  • Entirely online with no in-person session

  • At $3,500, this certification is pricey compared to competitors

Final Verdict

The career coaching program you choose depends on your goal like getting a promotion or starting your own business, as well as your starting point. All of these coaching certification training firms can provide you with a certificate. However, we recommend you find training that culminates in a certificate with global appeal, like career coaching training from World Coach Institute, even if it costs a bit more than a proprietary certificate.

If you’re not sure where to begin, World Coach Institute offers a reasonably priced and reputable program you can complete in a short time frame.

Compare Providers

Program Category Cost / Timeframe
World Coach Institute Best Overall $2,500 / 8 weeks+
Career Coach Certification Program Runner-Up, Best Overall $1,200 / 6 weeks to 1 year
IAP College Best Low-Cost Certification Program with No Prerequisites $149 / 6 weeks
NCDA Certified Career Counseling Best for Academic Career Coaching and CEUs $950 to $1,700 / 2 months+
Career Development Network Best for Licensed Counselors and Therapists $1,000–$1,500 / 3 days+
Rider Best Full-time University Degree or Certificate Program $1,300 per credit hour, 4 months
Career Coach Institute Best Blended e-Learning Program $2,000–$5,000 / 12 weeks
Udemy Career Coaching Certification Best for a Stand-Alone Certificate $12–$20 per course / 1–2 days
Coach Training Alliance Best Variety of Courses for Certification  $3,500 / 6 months

What Is a Career Coaching Certification Program?

A career coaching certification program is a training program that covers the skills and knowledge required to be an effective career coach and to achieve certification that you possess such skills. In general, a career coaching certification program should provide:

  • Tools to help you assess individual and group career skills and goals
  • Strategies to help individuals maximize their potential, including resumes and interviews
  • Skills to track career progress and individual goal achievement
  • A caring mindset focused on listening and helping others maximize their strengths
  • A certificate or badge you can use to demonstrate your coaching competency

Several well-established U.S. and worldwide certification organizations provide standards and certifications for career coaches, such as the Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). Unlike an accounting certification like CPA, there is no one agreed-up coach certification, nor is there one universal standard for a “career coach.”

These membership and best practice coaching organizations offer guidance for career coaches, including coaching standards, certifications, recommended training organizations, networking, and career coach search services to help you grow your coaching skills or business.

Do I Need to Get Certified as a Career Coach?

Whether career coach certification is required depends on your employment situation. Here are a few examples:

  • As a school career counselor, your district may require career coach certification.
  • As an HR professional, your boss may be impressed with–but not require–certification.
  • As a licensed therapist, your practice may request you obtain career coach certification.
  • As a business owner, you may want career coach certification to market to your clients.
  • As a volunteer working with military veterans, your career coach certification adds value.
  • As a freelance coach on Noomi, the platform requires you to list your certification.

The benefit of getting certified through a career coaching organization is that the certificate is more likely to be recognized by your employer or client as valid. Some even offer a coach search service to help clients find you. However, career coach certification is unregulated and varies. You’ll find each business or credentialing organization offering its own version of a certification. 

Unlike a licensed therapist or an insurance agent, no one governing body regulates who can call themselves a career coach. Therefore, various non-profit organizations have filled the gap with recommendations and standards. Two of the more common are the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). But your industry or country may have its own standards, so make sure you research those before registering for a career coach certification program.

How Much Does Career Coaching Certification Cost?

You can earn a career coach certificate for as little as $12 by completing an online workshop. However, for a certification that’s recognized broadly, expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for training and materials. You will often have to provide proof of practical experience as a career coach, either during your training program or on the job.

How We Chose the Best Coach Certification Programs

This list of best career coach certification program providers was culled from hundreds of training firms and coaching organizations that offered coach certification programs. We also focused on about 50 programs in which career coaching was the major focus, although many also offer executive coaching, transition coaching, or leadership coaching programs.

To narrow down the list, we prioritized those firms recommended by coaching organizations in adherence to their robust standards. However, some of the proprietary programs were so robust that they were added. 

We dismissed any that were over-priced (some as high as $18,000 for a course) to bring you top-rated but affordable options along with some lower-cost certifications. We also omitted training programs in which details such as pricing or program content and structure were hard to come by. 

Before finalizing the list, we looked at online reviews and student feedback, eliminating any that had poor ratings.

Smiling teacher writing on whiteboard in language class

 Maskot / Getty Images

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