According to the ICF, over 65 percent of clients expect their life coach to have an ICF credential. That statistic alone should inspire anyone interested in becoming a life coach to take ICF certification seriously. The first step is to understand the ICF certification requirements and then to adhere to them. ICF certification will separate you from other life coaches, and it will enable your life coaching career to soar.

Why You Should Get an ICF certificationWhy You Should Get an ICF certification

The following are four important reasons why you will want to pursue an ICF certification:
1.Internal recognition
There are many other certification programs for life coaches, but most of them are region specific. If you want to be recognized as having an international brand, an ICF credential will accomplish this. The ICF has positioned itself as a market leader in credentialing life coaches and is now recognized by both coach and client as the gold standard in life coaching. The best part is that the ICF has a presence in hundreds of countries around the world, so you can use the credential to establish your practice anywhere around the globe. This international recognition is also valuable when you need to attend international events, either as a speaker or an attendee.
2.An awesome learning environment
Most people learn better in a structured and relational environment. All ICF-accredited programs must offer plenty of interaction, practice, and feedback for their students. This is one of the main ICF certification requirements. You will be offered a unique opportunity to learn in a highly relational environment, providing you with a better chance of grasping those core competencies of life coaching. The feedback process not only helps you identify where you need to improve, it also encourages you to grow. The collaborative environment helps you to network with instructors and students, which makes the learning process not only quicker but also more fun.
Stand out of the pack3.Stand out of the pack
Life coaching is not a regulated field, and almost anyone who feels he or she could be a good coach can start marketing themselves as one. Unfortunately, a majority of these coaches actually mistake coaching for consulting, counseling, or mentoring, even though they brand their business as a life-coaching service. The surest way to stand out from all the fads in life coaching is to observe the ICF certification requirements and obtain your credential. This will show your clients and prospects that you are different from the other life coaches who may not really understand what life coaching is all about. It helps your clients to trust you more and this trust is crucial in the coaching process. Without trust, the client may not be comfortable sharing important information with you, and no significant progress will be achieved.
4.Earn more
ICF certified coaches earn more for their services. This is true both for those that are in private practice and those that are employed as in-house life coaches for companies. Your value as an employee is higher, as the employer understands that you have invested considerable time and money into your training in order to earn your credentials. The ICF certification can, therefore, be a bargaining chip for better remuneration. ICF certified life coaches who are in private practice can also justify charging a higher hourly rate. Since the majority of clients know that only serious life coaches will have the ICF certification, they will also expect them to charge a higher rate than those that are not duly certified. It is, therefore, safe to infer that attaining ICF certification has an excellent return on investment.

3 Important Tips to Help You Become ICF certified

1.Accredited programsACSTH Accredited Programs
This is perhaps the most important of the ICF certification requirements, because everything else hinges on it. When choosing the program or school through which you want to study life coaching, make sure the school or program is ICF accredited. The reason the ICF accredits programs is to ensure that individuals are taken through a comprehensive training that equips them with the most important core competencies, thus making them excellent life coaches. Even though the various programs and courses will have different structures, there are requirements that the ICF has put in place as a quality control mechanism. In short, if you are looking to become ICF certified, make sure to only register with ICF accredited schools.
2.Keep a coaching log
If you are already a practicing life coach who is seeking ICF credentialing, start preparing for the process by keeping a detailed log of your coaching hours. The log should have the beginning and ending dates of a coaching session with a client, the full name of the client, his or her contact details, and the number of hours logged. Keep a separate log for paid hours and pro-bono hours, because obtaining ICF certification requires meeting a minimum number of coaching hours. The exact number of hours will depend on the credential you are applying for.
The ACC credential requires at least 100 hours of coaching, 75 of which must be paid hours, and the 100 hours need to be from at least 8 different clients. In addition, a minimum of 25 of these hours must have been logged within 18 months of submitting your application for the ACC credential.
If you are a PCC candidate, the ICF will require you have to have logged a minimum of 500 coaching hours, 450 of which must be paid. These hours should be logged from at least 25 clients, and 50 of the logged hours should be within 18 months of submitting your application for the PCC credential.
If you are applying for the MCC credential, you will need to have logged a minimum of 2,500 hours and 2,250 of those hours should be paid hours. These hours should be logged from at least 35 different coaching clients.
3.Save written coaching agreements
Recording a client in your coaching log without their consent can land you in trouble. To avoid any legal issues, be sure to obtain written coaching agreements from clients and keep them on file for future reference. You can include a segment in the coaching agreement that asks for the consent of your clients to be added to the coaching logs. Obviously, this part should be communicated to the client, and he or she should understand they are not obligated to answer to the affirmative. The ICF might decide to contact some of the clients in your logs when you apply for credentialing, so it could come as a rude shock to them if you haven’t asked for their consent.
The ICF has compiled a succinct list of requirements that you will need to meet before you qualify for any of their three credentials. All of these requirements are explained clearly on their website. If you are just starting out as a life coach, the best approach would be to work backward, i.e. to understand all the ICF requirements first and then endeavor to meet them before you apply for the credential. The ICF is quite stringent on their certification requirements, and you must meet the entire lists, or your application will not be approved, necessitating a new application. To avoid this back and forth, take the time to make sure you have adhered to their obligations and conditions beforehand, and only then submit your application.
Find out more about the ICF Certification Requirements.
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