This is a question a lot of people wonder about. There are several criterions upon which you can base your decision, but, when it comes right down to it, personality, connection, and rapport are, to me, some of the most important. No matter how experienced and credentialed your coach is, if you don’t LIKE him or her, and don’t like working with her, then all that experience and money are going right out the window.

Most coaches offer a free session, so you can each get a feel for your styles, and whether they are a good fit. Take advantage of it. Consider it like an interview process. If you come away from a session feeling uninspired, talk to another coach. You might want to set up a free session with several different coaches, so you can see who you relate to the most. Most coaches should be more than happy to refer you to another qualified resource if you ask.

However, as you begin your search, there are some credentials you will come across, and it may be helpful to understand what they all mean.

Any coach who is certified has studied coaching through an official coaching program that offers certification at the end of the course. Now, some courses are quick, fly-by-night / learn-in-a-weekend, and others are longer term. If training is important to you, ask your coach what program they participated in, and how long it was. Training programs are tracked by number of hours. So, it’s possible to do, say 40 hours of training in one week, or, elapse it over a few months, it depends on the program policy, and the choice of the coach.

The ICF, or International Coach Federation,, is the international accrediting board. Because the coaching profession is fairly new, there are no university degree programs. The ICF was established to create a central repository of guidelines, regulations and ethics for the coaching community to abide by.

If a training program is accredited by the ICF, it means they adhere to the ICF guidelines and course content layed out by the ICF. Consider that some non-accredited programs are in the midst of applying for ICF accredited status. This process can take up to two years, depending on backlog. So, just because a training program is not accredited today, does not mean they do not adhere to ICF guidelines.

All levels require a rigorous exam to be completed in addition to the achievements outlined below.

ACC – Associate Certified Coach
• Your coach has at least 60 hours of official training
• They have at least 100 hours of coaching experience

PCC – Professional Certified Coach
• The coach has at least 125 hours of training
• and 750 hours coaching experience.

MCC – Master Certified Coach
• The coach has at least 200 training hours
• and 2500 coaching hours.

Use the complimentary session with your coach to ask any questions you have about these formalities, and to get clarity on the coaching process. Coaching is NOT consulting, and it is NOT therapy. In coaching, the client and coach are partners in creating and obtaining the client’s desired goals. As a client, you will be expected to take action towards those goals. If you currently want change in your life, you should be ready to take proactive and conscious steps towards that goal, which usually involves you making some personal changes, and accepting the responsibility you have in taking those steps. If you are not yet ready to make these changes, you probably won’t get a lot out of coaching. It’s not that a coach doesn’t want to help you; it’s that the very nature of coaching is client-focused, and demands that the client is ready to commit to taking action towards the changes and goals they want. Most coaching lasts 1 – 3 months, and it’s very rare to complete an entire issue in one session.

When you are ready to hire a coach, make sure you know what you want from the coaching, that you feel understood by your coach, and that you like working with them. If these main elements come together, you are sure to go far with coaching.

Author's Bio: 

Heather Markel is President of Spice Up Work Coaching, based in New York City. She specializes in helping people find joy in the workplace by tapping into their unique skills and passions. She has over 16 years of sales and marketing experience. Want to know more? Visit