A career coach is an individual whose role is to assist 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. A career coach may be referred to by many titles such as a life coach, a business coach, or a career transition coach.
There’s no regulatory agency that requires a career coach to be certified or to use a specific job title. Nonetheless, career coach certification establishes your credibility—whether within your existing organization, or independently to launch and grow a career coaching business.
We reviewed coach certification organizations, dozens of university programs, and franchise organizations offering proprietary certifications to come up with the best career coach certification programs to match your goals and budget.
Best Career Coach Certification Programs of 2021
- Best Overall: World Coach Institute
- Runner-Up, Best Overall: Career Coach Certification Program
- Best Low-Cost: IAP College
- Best for Academic Career Coaching: NCDA Certified Career Counseling
- Best for Licensed Counselors and Therapists: Career Development Network
- Best Full-Time Degree Program: Rider
- Best Self-Paced: Career Coach Institute
- Best Stand-Alone Certificate: Udemy Career Coaching Certification
- Best Variety of Certification Training: Coach Training Alliance
Best Overall : World Coach Institute
Why We Chose It: We chose World Coach Institute (WCI) because it is well-recognized, available in 35 countries, and provides multiple niche certifications in addition to the Career Coach Certification (CCC).
Multiple career paths accommodate students and working professionals
Career Coach Certification program can be completed in as little as 8 weeks
No prerequisites are required
Tuition is affordable with payment plan options
Requires about 40 hours of self-study
Provides 60–82 Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) approved hours, but doesn’t meet the requirement for Board Certified Coach (BCC) credential unless you already have significant coaching education and experience
For those striving to earn a career coaching credential while working or starting a business, WCI offers an affordable price ranging from $2,500–$2,800 with payment plans as low as $79 per month. In addition, WCI allows you to earn unique certifications such as Life Coach, Spiritual Coach, Family Coach, and Christian Coach. For those wishing to establish a coaching business, the curriculum includes content to help you launch and run a coaching business.
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. For those wishing to launch and grow a coaching business, the 90-page Business Builder Program manual is a bonus.
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, real-world practice, and career services. Additionally, its training programs meet International Coaching Federation (ICF)/BCC approved coach-specific training hours (ACSTH).
Runner-Up, Best Overall : 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 is needed.
Complete six modules at your own pace, from six weeks to 12 months
100% online self-paced workbook format
Earn a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) certification
One of the most affordable full-service training programs with certification
Entirely self-study program with videos requires significant reading
You must be a PARW/CC (Professional Organization of Resume Writers and Career Coaches) member to enroll
PARW/CC standard is not as prevalent as ICE or other international standards
The CCCP program is 100% online and available to participants in over a dozen countries worldwide. Its $1,200 program is all-inclusive, meaning that 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, four hours of one-on-one coaching support and feedback, 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.
Founded in 1990, PARW/CC is one of the oldest career coaching organizations. In addition to providing the training, your membership provides visibility to help market your career coaching services.
Best Low-Cost : 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.
No prerequisites required to enroll
Ongoing course schedule with late enrollments accepted
Can complete 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
IAP College provides you 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 (for example, in February 2021, the course is $149).
IAP created this program themselves, along with other certifications they offer such as “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.
Best for Academic Career Coaching : NCDA Certified Career Counseling
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.
Targeted to non-profit, academic, and social service career coaching
Affordable programs can be completed in as little as 40 hours
CEUs available to support continuing education requirements
Requires educational degree as a prerequisite
Credential may not be relevant or appropriate in a business coaching setting
Training courses are offered based on instructor availability
As a division of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the National Career Development Association has been focused on career development since being founded in 1913 as the National Vocational Guidance Association.
Many of the courses are tailored to career coaching for specific industries such as higher ed, military/veterans, or private practitioners. Research-based courses run from two months to 15 weeks and are taught by licensed degreed instructors with significant experience. Instructor-led courses are offered in traditional face-to-face sessions, online, or as a hybrid.
If you work in a social services setting such as with military veterans, workforce development, or career counselor, NCDA courses are the most likely to help you achieve the certification you need to advance in your career.
Courses run from $950 to $1,700 per course and may be reimbursable by your employer.
Best for Licensed Counselors and Therapists : Career Development Network
Why We Chose It: The Career Development Network offers two affordable and robust certifications that provide CEUs for continuing education.
One course, Career Transitions Development, provides two coach certifications
Course can be completed in as little as 3 days
CEUs satisfy continuing education requirements for licensed professionals
The Career Network certification may not be recognized by other certification organizations
Website is a bit dated with downloadable brochures rather than dynamic navigation
For between $1,000 and $1,500, the Career Development Network provides two thorough Career Coach training programs: the Job and Career Development Coach and the 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, training (as of February 2021) 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.
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.
For those with a master’s degree in behavior science, only one course is required
Students can earn either a graduate certificate (18 credits) or a master’s degree
Certificate is recognized by multiple career coaching organizations
You must have a bachelor’s degree and apply through the university application process
$1,300 per credit hour, while less than others, is still steep
Courses are offered on an academic calendar: August 1, December 1, and May 1
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 $1,800 per credit hour up to $8,000 per course.
With a 10:1 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.
Rider is ranked in the top 100 universities by U.S. News and World Report which rated it #27 out of 100 for Best Value Schools in 2021.
Best Self-Paced : 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.
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 3 years
Proprietary certification may not be recognized by global coaching organizations
Actual pricing available only once you choose to register
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.
Best Stand-Alone Certificate : Udemy Career Coaching Certification
Why We Chose It: Udemy Career Coaching Certification offers affordable 8–10 hour training and certification courses hosted by a multitude of accredited (and non-accredited) providers, each of whom may offer their own version of a career coaching certificate.
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 of the courses are accredited and provide CEUs
No prerequisites are required
Udemy courses are offered by a variety of instructors
Star ratings show popularity of course, not quality of content
Course timeframes (1–17 hours) and quality varies considerably
Video and downloadable (self-paced) with little/no instructor interaction
Certification through low-cost courses on Udemy's Career Coaching Certification makes sense for those working within a non-profit or smaller company who have little to no budget but wish to add to their 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 simply to have a piece of paper that states they’ve completed a career coaching certification.
Because of the low cost, attendees may find these courses give them exposure to the career coaching field with little financial risk. In some cases, your employer may not be concerned with the authority of your coaching certificate, but may simply wish to know you’ve been trained in the basics.
Because the coaching industry is unregulated, and there is no one standard, a certificate from 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.
Best Variety of Certification Training : 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.
Six-month telecourse 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
The Coach Training Alliance costs about $3,500 for either of its career coaching programs: Career Coaching Mastery Certification Program or The Art and Science of Coaching Career Transitions. In addition, it 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.
The career coaching program you choose depends on your goal (e.g., get a promotion, start your own business) and your starting point. All of these coaching certification training firms can provide you with a certificate. However, we recommend that 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.
|Best Career Coach Certification Programs|
|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.
Certifications and memberships in professional organizations or trade associations can have a positive impact on pay.” And Burning Glass Technologies’ research shows that certification, in general, can boost salaries by as much as 18%. Similar research from PayScale showed that individuals who received certified professional coach training through iPEC were promoted more often than their HR peers, and earned 28% more pay.
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.
What 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, BBB ratings, and student feedback, eliminating any that had poor ratings.