The Coaching Profession

I am sure the first time you heard the word coaching, you immediately had an image of a popular football manager coming to mind.

It is interesting to note, that Coaching has its roots in the social sciences (anthropology, psychology, sociology), and growing through its use in many disciplines such as education, business, vocational guidance, training and even Human Resources among others, to the great emerging profession it is today. Dr. Vikki Brock (Master Certified Coach) has extensively researched and written an exciting book – The SOURCEBOOK OF COACHING HISTORY –  which tells us about the background of Coaching in detail. (Please visit for more.)

Well, history lovers, more in another post. This instance let us break down the word ‘Profession’.

What is a Profession?

There are various definitions of a profession.

  • The Oxford dictionary defines of the noun ‘Profession’ as ‘an occupation that needs special education or training, such as medicine or law’
  • The Merriam Webster Dictionary says that a profession is ‘an occupation (as medicine, law, or teaching) that is not mechanical or agricultural and that requires special education’
  • The Google Dictionary defines it as ‘a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.’
  • To Wikipedia, a profession is ‘a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain.’

A Professional

This is a person who is formally certified by a professional body by virtue of having completed a required course of studies and/or practice. This person’s competence can usually be measured against an established set of standards. Some examples of professions are, Medical profession, Legal profession, Teaching profession, Architects, Engineers, Aviators, Accountants, Financial Analysts, Human Resource Professionals and many more.

Characteristics of Coaching that make it a Profession:

  1. A Governing body

The most renowned body that governs the coaching profession, is the International Coach Federation (ICF). Based in the United States of America, ICF is tasked with the advancement of the coaching profession, and keenly regulates standards throughout the world, through a well-defined framework that is adopted by the many chapters or local associations around the world.

Another organisation, UK Based Association for Coaching, is also a professional governing body which is dedicated to promoting the coaching profession through best practice and raising the standards of coaching worldwide.

  1. Specialised Training

To become a coach, one must go through specific coach training, offered by an accredited organisation. The training curriculum should be accredited by The International Coach Federation (ICF), or any other similar professional body. According to ICF, this training should be between 30 – 125 hours , and encompasses the delivery of core coaching requirements that include: –

  • Internalizing the ICF Core Competencies of Coaching
  • Coaching Code of Ethics
  • Sessions where the learners practice the coaching using the recommended process and receive feedback from senior coaches, on which competencies they have demonstrated well and what needs to improve.
  • An examination – most are practical. Some colleges may offer a combination of written and practical.

 A formal qualification

On successful passing of the examination, the learner will be presented with a qualifying Certificate from the training facility (e.g. Certified Professional Coach, Certified Career Coach etc.). One can then use the initials of this qualification after their names.

In addition, The ICF, or AC also then provide professional credentials that can be pursued after attaining specific requirements. Credentialing of coaches serves to further enhance professional credibility, and give you comfort that the coach has invested in learning and developing their craft, for your benefit.

  1. Occupation

Coaching, just like any other work, is an activity that the coach carries out day to day. There are systems and processes that a coach puts in place to keep the occupation running. The coach is fully occupied in delivering this service to his/her clients. They create strategies, plans and products, schedules and marketing drives.

  1. Direct and defined compensation

Certified and credentialed coaches earn an income from their practice. Once you engage a coach and wish to proceed with an engagement, you will be presented with a contract and am invoice, to make the relevant payment for the services you will receive. Most credentialed coaches do this on a full-time basis and this is how they earn their living.

  1. Continuous Education

Like all other professions, coaches are required to continually improve their craft, and keep feeding their mind with knowledge that will help them impact their clients to grow and achieve their purpose.

The coaching bodies do offer opportunities for coach development through workshops, webinars, research opportunities, as well as through mentor coaching. Yes, a coach also needs a coach to keep growing! 😊