Some people think that in order to become a career coach or career counselor all you need is a little experience and your own website. The truth of the matter is that it is a good bit more difficult than this to actually become a career coach. More and more companies and regular people want a career coach who is certified or at least has done some trainings.
It is hard to really get the necessary experience you need in order to be a professional coach without doing one of these programs. Of course, having a background as a life coach or really anything in the helping profession is a plus. The more experience you have working with clients, the better a career coach you are going to be.
Do Your Research
The first thing you always want to do is some research. Before you embark on the journey of becoming a career coach, make sure that it is actually the right choice for you. Make sure that you understand the job description for professional coaches and what exactly will be expected of you. There are many great online resources that can answer these fundamental questions. This social work website has some really good information careers.socialworkers.org
Know What is Expected
Generally, you are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, sociology, or business. There are some related fields of study that might also suffice but these are the big ones. It will be almost impossible to become a certified career coach if you do not have a bachelor’s degree. If this is truly the path you want to go on and you don’t have one, you should start by looking into undergraduate schools first.
You will be expected to work with people in groups and one-on-one. As a career coach you will provide structure and counseling for people specifically regarding their work. This means you might help them find a new job, talk to them about job satisfaction, read over job applications or resumes, hold mixers or networking workshops, and more. It is important to remember that as a career coach you are not a therapist. You are there mainly to help people reach their full potential professionally.
Career Coach Trainings
There are a number of different trainings that you can do in order to become a certified professional coach. Unlike some other psychology fields there is not one governing body that you need to be certified with. Instead, there are a few different governing bodies that offer different certifications. One of the biggest and most reputable is the International Coach Federation. This organization accredits different training and certification programs and you can also be certified through them once you have completed a training. When you are looking for a training program you should make sure that they are accredited with the ICF. You can check if your program is accredited with them here.
Becoming a Certified Professional Coach
There are a number of different certifications you can chose from. If you want to be a certified career coach, you are going to need to decide which certification is right for you. Here are some of the different certifications and the requirements for them.
ACC- Associate Career Coach
For this path you will need to start by completing a career coach training program. Again, you will need to pick one that is accredited with the IFC. You will then need to complete 75-100 hours of client career coaching. Additionally, you need to log 10 hours of mentor coaching. Finally, you need to take the coach knowledge assessment which is an exam offered through the IFC. Once you have done all of this you can submit your application for certification online.
PCC- Professional Certified Coach
In order to get this certification you need to complete an accredited training program. You then need to log 500 client hours working with people as a career coach. You also need 10 mentor coaching hours. Additionally, you have to submit materials for a performance evaluation. This includes uploading two audio recordings and two transcripts from client sessions with your application. Finally, you must take the coach knowledge assessment, then you can submit your application online.
MCC- Master Certified Coach
This certification requires all of the same things as the PCC with one big difference. In order to apply for this certification you must have logged 2,500 hours of client time. The application for this certification is also slightly more expensive than the other two. It costs $575 for members of the IFC and $775 for non-members to apply.
It is important to note that there are other training programs that end with a certification process. If you are doing one of these you might not need to pursue certification with the IFC. However, you should check to make sure that the certification is reputable and that it will open all the doors you need it to!
According to PayScale the median annual salary for a career coach is $41,570. On the high end people make roughly $55,000 per year. The biggest difference in salary for career coaches has to do with years of experience. Like many fields, the more experience you have the more you will get paid.
How much you can make as a professional coach also depends on where you live. There are certain states where career coaches make a great deal more than the national average. For example, in New York the median annual salary for a career coach is $54,372 and people make roughly $76,000 on the high end. Some other cities with above average pay include Denver, Columbus, and Portland.
Once you have done your research and decided what kind of certification you want to do you are ready to become a career coach. There is a lot of potential to make a good living and help people as a professional coach.