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Best Executive Coaching Certification Programs

How to Get Started as a Coach

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An executive coach assists corporate executives and business owners in identifying their leadership strengths, while building their organizations and careers. Some executive coaches work within larger organizations as part of the human resource, professional development, or talent management teams, while others work solo as entrepreneurs. 

We evaluated over 50 executive coach certification programs worldwide to determine the very best. We found that the best executive coach certifications provide you with executive coaching tools, best practice methodologies, practice and feedback, and instant credibility with your clients. 

Best Executive Coaching Certification Programs for 2022

Best Overall : Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership

Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership

Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership

Pros & Cons
  • ACTP-accredited instructor-led courses offered online

  • Fast-track program available

  • Study at your own pace

  • IECL coaching services are primarily marketed to the Asia-Pacific region

  • Onsite events are based in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and China

Why We Chose It

The Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL) is recognized as an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) and is known for being affordable, offering online instructor-led courses via Zoom.

IECL is designed for experienced coaches. The courses cost AU$3,850 to AU$6,300 plus tax. IECL Members are charged lower rates. After paying the annual membership cost, you will still come out ahead. However, IECL provides free materials such as a blog, podcast, and videos to learn more about coaching or to get feedback on executive coaching practices.

Once you become a student, you’ll have the benefit of a coaching network (IECL Academy) with access to communities of practice, alumni, and resources to support your executive coaching practice.

IECL Academy includes an e-learning software tracking system to manage your training progress. You’ll participate in a peer group of co-learners, sharing feedback via online discussions. 

The IECL course and certification are available to executive coaches worldwide, and it prepares the learner for more advanced education.

Runner-Up, Best Overall : Coach Training Alliance

Coach Training Alliance

Coach Training Alliance

Pros & Cons
  • Instructor-led telecourse with weekly calls and mentoring over a six-month period

  • Is accredited and meets the standards of ACSTH and ICF

  • Includes business-building skills for those who wish to launch their own firm

  • Courses are more geared toward those with some form of professional experience

  • Participants sign up for a fixed course timeframe, not self-paced

  • Entirely online with no onsite networking sessions available

Why We Chose It

Coach Training Alliance is our runner-up due to the variety of ICF coach certification programs available. You’ll find workshops that will prepare you to coach individuals and groups, start your own executive coaching business, or publish your first book.

You’ll receive a free assessment to determine if you have what it takes to be a coach. In addition, the Coach Training Alliance offers free workshops, such as the Becoming a Coach workshop to learn more about the program before you enroll. 

The Certified Coach Program costs $3,747.

Participants provide rave reviews, citing solid instructors and a positive learning environment.

Best for College Grads : College of Executive Coaching

College of Executive Coaching

 College of Executive Coaching

Pros & Cons
  • Supports coaches in multiple disciplines, e.g., healthcare, internal coaching, psychology

  • Provides live workshops with experienced, engaged faculty

  • Offers value-added certifications such as EQ, Strengths and Supervision Certifications

  • Requires a graduate degree or current enrollment in one

  • More expensive than some of the other programs

Why We Chose It

For educated, experienced, and senior professionals and business owners, the College of Executive Coaching provides a fast-track way to add the ICF’s PCC or BCC credential to your existing degree and certifications.

The College of Executive Coaching supports post-graduate students to obtain their ICF Professional Coach Certification (PCC) or Board Certified Coach (BCC) with a variety of options, including an intensive short course, a two-week online program, and multiple virtual course offerings. 

However, the certification program is pricey, costing from $8,490 to $10,800, depending on whether or not you take advantage of distance learning, discounts for multiple students, or additional factors.

The College of Executive Coaching was founded by Dr. Jeffrey E. Auerbach, a coach since 1986. Students like its focus on ethical standards and high-quality content taught by PhD-level instructors. Online company reviews are mostly positive, noting the powerful learning experiences and breadth of tools.

Best Low-Cost Option : The Academies Inc.

The Academies Inc.

 The Academies Inc.

Pros & Cons
  • Online program can be completed in a few hours a week using Zoom

  • You can obtain an executive coaching certificate for less than most competitors

  • One-on-one online training is available for those unable to attend scheduled sessions

  • More than one course is required to meet ICF prerequisites for ACC, PCC, or MCC

  • Live classes offered two hours a week at a fixed day and time

  • Online reviews are scarce and inconsistent

Why We Chose It

The Academies is our best low-cost option due to its affordability, small classroom size, and online program that can be completed in 8 to 12 weeks.

Courses through The Academies, LLC, often cost four payments of $675 or one payment of $2,597, but some are a bit more or less. However, until you click the link to enroll in the class, you are unable to see either the price or the schedule.

Classes are held once a week for two hours on Zoom, based on the instructors’ availability. The Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach training results in a proprietary certificate and serves as 30 hours toward an ICF-certified coach designation.

The Academies is based in the U.S. It was launched by Susan Britton, an ICF-certified Professional Certified Coach (CCC) and author of seven career books. In addition to the Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach program, it offers a Career Management Coach Certification and a Brain-Friendly Job Search Coach Certification program.

The Academies students rate it highly. Many of the online testimonials attest to the leadership of the CEO in addition to the quality of the executive coaching training programs, commenting on the customized approach, robust tools, and global focus.

Best for Non-Degreed Coaches : Co-Active Training Institute

Co-Active Training Institute

 Co-Active Training Institute

Pros & Cons
  • Virtual training is offered with weekly online sessions

  • The program content is accredited by the ICF

  • Extensive, multi-stage training

  • Long-term commitment over many months

  • Co-Active is one of the more expensive executive coach certification programs

Why We Chose It

Co-Active Training Institute is more costly due to the required academic coursework and practice required, but may be faster and less costly than spending four to six years at a university.

If you don't have a college degree and are starting from scratch, you’ll appreciate the one-on-one certification and personalized feedback in addition to a professional network. Those benefits may warrant the costs of over $12,000, as you can complete the program while working or managing your coaching business.

Co-Active Training Institute requires you to work with a professional coach through their organization, or a PCC or MCC certified by ICF. Paying for that one-hour-per-month coaching will increase your overall costs. College credits are available for those who wish to add executive coaching to an existing degree program.

Co-Active Training Institute receives strong third-party customer reviews which highlight its usefulness in developing and applying insight and effective communication. If you lack a college degree, it may be one of the few ICF-accredited executive coaching programs available to you.

Best for Working Professionals : Center for Executive Coaching

Center for Executive Coaching

 Center for Executive Coaching

Pros & Cons
  • Program can be completed in two to four months

  • Weekly webinars or go at your own pace with recorded webinar content

  • Distance learning available along with a proprietary textbook

  • ICF designation requires participation in live webinars and supervised coaching

  • Costly

Why We Chose It

Center for Executive Coaching offers flexible learning options available to professionals regardless of where they live or work. Those who have a master’s degree can fast-track their ICF designation. However, the prerequisites are flexible based on your work/life experience. A prior degree is not mandatory.

Depending on the training format you choose, you’ll pay between $5,000 and $7,500 for the coach training program. But you’ll receive the Center for Executive Coaching's proprietary systems, such as The Leadership Dashboard and KPIs, in addition to content required to achieve ICF certification.

Online reviews for the Center for Executive Coaching are top-notch, even on industry sites such as Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Participants rate it highly,  touting the certification prep and practice along with the professional instructors.

Once you enroll, you’ll have access to a member area with a just-in-time library and a variety of executive and leadership assessment tools to use in your coaching practice.

Best Academic Certification Program : Royal Roads University

Co-Active Training Institute

 Co-Active Training Institute

Pros & Cons
  • Six-month accredited blended learning program

  • Transferrable credits can contribute to a master’s degree

  • Financial aid available

  • A separate application process is required to apply for ICF certification

  • Class enrollment is on an academic calendar year (April, August, January)

  • More expensive than many of the non-academic executive coaching programs

Why We Chose It

Royal Roads University’s Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching meets the ACTP requirements through the ICF. Graduates will receive their PCC hours as well as the Certified Executive Coach designation.

Enrollment into the graduate program at Royal Roads University, like all university programs, requires an existing degree. Costs for the entire program run from about $10,000 or $12,000 depending on whether you are a domestic or international student. While it doesn't specify, these are likely Canadian dollars as the university is located in Canada. Even though Royal Roads University is located in Canada, credits are transferable and financial aid may be available.

Although curriculum, timeframe, enrollment process, and certifications are similar to programs at U.S.-based schools like George Washington University or New York University, the cost for executive coach certification is much lower at Royal Roads University.

Best for Global Certification : Academy of Executive Coaching Limited

Academy of Executive Coaching Limited

 Academy of Executive Coaching Limited

Pros & Cons
  • Course content is accredited by ICF, EMCC, and AC

  • Both in-person classroom (worldwide locations) and online virtual courses offered

  • Course can be completed in as little as four months

  • Requires degree or equivalent industry experience

  • May not have great name recognition

  • Onsite courses require travel and lodging

Why We Chose It

The Academy of Executive Coaching Limited (AoEC) offers the Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching as well as accreditation through three international coaching organizations including the International Coaching Federation (ICF), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), and the Association for Coaching (AC).

The benefit of AoEC is that the certification is renewable and the training you receive is recognized by multiple accredited coach training organizations. The worldwide locations make this robust program available to student attendees in Poland, Ireland, UAE, and the UK, as examples.

You can choose either classroom or online options; the cost of 4,500 GBP is more affordable than attending a similar program at a university. Course participants rate the academy favorably,  noting the coaching models and balance between theory and practice.

AoEC was founded in 1999, has 14 locations globally, and has trained over 13,000 people worldwide. It provides its student alumni with a knowledge bank full of podcasts, videos, and best practice coaching tools.

Final Verdict

The best executive coach certification programs will help you assess your coaching competency and provide hands-on feedback in addition to classroom content, and that's why we picked the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership as our top choice overall. Proprietary programs, global accredited universities, or a franchise may be appropriate depending on your executive coaching goals; browse our other picks to find the one for you.

Prices and quality of executive coaching certification programs vary as widely as the certifications themselves. Some require you to begin with a master’s degree whereas others are open to anyone with experience and interest. Make sure to choose a program that aligns with the accreditation requirements of a coaching organization serving your geographic area.

Compare Providers

Best Executive Coach Certification Programs
Program Category Cost/Timeframe
Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership Best Overall  AU$3,850 to AU$6,300/self-paced
Coach Training Alliance Runner-Up, Best Overall $3,600/6 months
College of Executive Coaching Best for College Grads $10,000/3 days to 4 months
The Academies Inc. Best Low-Cost Option $2,597/2-3 months
Co-Active Training Institute Best for Non-Degreed Coaches About $12,000/4-6 months
Center for Executive Coaching Best for Working Professionals  $5,000-$7,500/2-5 months
Royal Roads University Best Academic Certification Program $10,000-$12,000 (Canadian)/6 months
Academy of Executive Coaching Limited Best for Global Certification 4,500 GBP/4-6 months

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Executive Coaching Certification Program?

An executive coaching certification program provides you with the training and practical experience to achieve accredited certification through a coaching organization. It’s a certificate, like a degree or diploma, that proves you’ve completed the required training and possess the requisite executive coaching skills.

In general, an executive coaching certification program should provide:

  • Methodologies to help you assess executive and leadership skills and goals
  • Tools to maximize executive potential, like strategy and communication
  • Skills to track organizational progress and individual goal achievement
  • A professional mindset focused on listening and bringing out the best in others

There’s no one agency that establishes standards for executive coach certification or requires executive coaches to use a specific job title. Nonetheless, executive coach certification establishes your credibility as a business-savvy executive who can provide tools and insight to maximize leadership potential for individuals and organizations.

What Do I Need to Get Certified as an Executive Coach?

If you’re working as an executive coach within an organization, your employer will likely want you to have certification, but not all clients will demand it. Most executive coaches are certified, although the certification criteria varies. Not all certifications are equally recognized.

Here’s a list of some common executive coach certification titles promoted by various organizations:

  • Board Certified Coach (BCC) through Center for Credentialing and Education
  • Professional Executive Coach (PCC) through ICF
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC) through ICF
  • EMCC Global Individual Accreditation (EIA) through EMCC
  • EMCC Global Supervision Individual Accreditation (ESIA) through EMCC
  • Certified Professional Coach (CPC)

If you wish to be an executive coach, having a bachelor’s degree and corporate or business experience helps. Executive coach certification builds upon your industry experience and education, assuring your employer and clients that you possess the skills and training they require.

How Much Does an Executive Coaching Certification Program Cost?

An executive coaching certification program usually costs from $1,000 to $20,000 or more, with the average being in the $3,000 to $5,000 range for those who already possess a degree. Contributing to higher-end costs are the extra training and coaching you’ll need if you don’t already have a degree. The more expensive programs provide you with the hands-on experience and education you need to meet the certification prerequisites.

How We Chose the Best Executive Coaching Certification Programs

This list of the best executive coach certification programs was created by reviewing about 50 coaching organizations. To narrow down the list, we prioritized those accredited by coaching organizations in compliance with their robust standards. However, some of the proprietary executive coach training programs were robust enough to be included. 

We culled out any that were overpriced (some as high as $18,000 for a course) to provide you with affordable options.

We also omitted training programs for which details were hard to come by, or that required a hard-sell consultation to get information on the program. (That’s usually a sign that the program is overpriced.) Before finalizing the list we looked for online reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings, and customer feedback, eliminating any that had poor ratings.

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