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The Best Career Coach Certifications in 2024

In this guide, you’ll learn what the best career coach certifications are.

We’ll cover…

  • The best career coaching certifications (ranked)
  • What credentials you need to become a career coach
  • How to become a certified career coach

Want to learn more? Read on!

The best career coaching certifications 

As a career coach, you work with individuals or corporations to support those who want to improve their career. You might work with a specific type of client (such as engineers or managers) and/or in a career coach niche (helping people get promoted, increase their salary, or reskill). 

And if you’re looking to get certified first, that’s exactly what you’ll learn today. 

Here, I’ve listed the best certifications to become a career coach. 

Just a quick note: 

While I and my team have reviewed these certifications, we haven’t gone through the programs. 

That said, my recommendations are based on the overall reputation of these certification programs and reviews. All of them are accredited or they’re programs by top universities – so the best programs out there. 

Want to learn more? Read on. 

Best overall: Career Coach Certification Program

Best self-paced: Career Coach Institute

Best short course: New York University  

Best for established career professionals: Columbia University

Best low-cost option: Goodwill Academy

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Best for worldwide recognition: World Coach Institute

Best for future workplace career coaches: Center for Credentialing and Education

Best for beginners: IACC

Best leadership coaching certification: Brown University 

Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) 

Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches 

The Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) program is detailed, focused, and affordable. Over 2,000 students have completed the program and become successful career coaches. 

So what makes the CPCC program different? It’s a self-paced course with:

  • A 600-page training manual
  • Six hours of video training
  • Downloadable resources you can use with future clients
  • Personal phone coaching with the program director

You’ll learn fundamental career management and job-seeking techniques to help your clients succeed. The course also teaches core coaching competencies.

You’ll also learn how to build your own coaching business. As part of the testing phase, you’ll be asked to create a business plan. 

Course length: From 12 weeks to one year, depending on your pace

Program cost: $1,195

Accreditation: CPCC (own accreditation)

Mode of delivery: Self-paced + personal telephone coaching + live Q&A sessions

Become a Certified Career Coach™

Career Coach Institute

Want flexibility on how and when you study? The Career Coach Institute created this fully self-paced, short program with you in mind.

It includes a book, worksheets, and weekly webinars to guide you through the course in under three months. 

The curriculum covers unique topics like how to use social media when job-seeking and resume design secrets. 

The program also balances career management, coaching skills, and business development so you have all the tools you need to succeed. 

What’s more, this career coaching certification program is affordable and fits your schedule. So if you’re working a 9 to 5 and want to build your coaching business on the side, this is the program for you. 

Note: You have to complete 50 hours of paid or unpaid coaching to qualify for the certification after the course. In other words, you aren’t automatically certified after completing the program.

Course length: 12 weeks

Program cost: $1,997

Accreditation: CCC (own accreditation)

Mode of delivery: Self-paced + occasional live webinars

Columbia Coaching Certification Program

University of Columbia 

The University of Columbia Certification Program isn’t specific to career coaching but it will train you in practical coaching skills.

There are three components to it: 

1. Front-end Coaching Intensive

This module lasts five days. You’ll learn different coaching models and how to use them to guide clients to achieve their goals. You can take this course as a standalone, but you won’t qualify for the ICF certification.

2. Coaching Practicum

Part two is where you put the skills you learned in the five-day intensive to the test. You’ll coach clients, attend live learning classes, and complete a field project.

That field project could be a business plan for your future coaching business or a paper on your signature coaching program.

You must log at least 50 coaching hours with clients (paid or unpaid) to pass this stage.

3. Advanced Coaching Intensive

This final part of the program lasts five days. The aim is to apply the skills and knowledge from the first two parts of the program. You’ll learn more about leadership coaching, critical thinking, performance, and coaching managers.

You also learn about group coaching and coaching ethics.

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The program is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). So the Columbia University program is a great first step to becoming a certified career coach.

Course length: Eight months for the full program

Program cost: $8,500 for Front-end Coaching Intensive online tuition. $10,400 Front-end Coaching Intensive in-person tuition. $19,100 for Front-end Coaching Intensive, Coaching Practicum, and Advanced Coaching Intensive online tuition. $22,900 for Front-end Coaching Intensive, Coaching Practicum, and Advanced Coaching Intensive in-person tuition.

Accreditation: ACC (ICF accreditation)

Mode of delivery: Online or in-person 

Goodwill® Career Coach and Navigator Professional Certificate

Goodwill Academy/Coursera

If you want a short, affordable course, Goodwill offers a great option on Coursera. 

The program is made up of four sections: 

Foundations of Career Navigating and Coaching

The first part of the program focuses on the core competencies of coaching and how to position yourself in the career coaching market.

Client Intake, Assessments, Skill Analysis, and Planning

This section teaches you how to accurately assess your client’s strengths and challenges as they go after their career goals.

Supporting Clients

This part is all about how to coach. You’ll learn how to help your clients develop interview skills and find new opportunities.

Career Support Community and Resources

The final part of the program covers how you can keep up with the job market and support clients in different ways.

Course length: Two months 

Program cost: $59/month 

Accreditation: Goodwill® Career Coach and Navigator Professional Certificate (own accreditation)

Mode of delivery: Online self-paced 

Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF)

Center for Credentialing and Education

The Center for Credentialing and Education has a career development accreditation that recognizes you as a professional career coach. 

Topics include employability skills, client assessments, career development programs, technology in job-seeking, and developing career programs. This curriculum works especially well for career coaching within the workplace.

The CCE doesn’t provide its own program to qualify for accreditation, but you can take any accredited program from their list of training providers. 

Here’s a short list of providers you can look into that all follow the GCDF curriculum:

Course length: 120 hours

Program cost: ~$1,450 (depending on the training provider you choose)

Accreditation: GCDF (own accreditation)

Mode of delivery: Depends on the training provider

Certified Career Coach (CCC)

World Coach Institute

The World Coach Institute is an eight-week program you can take as a self-study or live online course. 

This program covers the core competencies of coaching as recognized by the ICF. It includes a 25-session coaching practicum and peer coaching to help develop your skills. 

Curriculum topics include: 

  • Career coaching: How to help clients discover, define, and achieve their career goals.
  • Personal foundation: How positive mindset and values-based living further success.
  • Foundational coaching skills: How to use coaching questions, active listening, and road mapping to coach your clients.
  • Setting up your business: How to build a brand for your coaching business.
  • Marketing your business: How to use marketing channels to book your first coaching clients.

Course length: Eight weeks

Program cost: $3,247

Accreditation: CCC and CPC; option to apply for ICF ACC accreditation

Mode of delivery: Live online class or self-paced

Senior Professional Career Coach (SPCC)®

International Association of Career Coaches (IACC)

The International Association of Career Coaches is dedicated to training and representing the best career coaches. 

The Senior Professional Career Coach (SPCC) teaches the basics of career development. 

At the end of the course, you have a three-day live event all about setting up your coaching business. You’ll get access to a business toolkit that has everything you need to build your brand from scratch. 

Course length: 12 weeks

Program cost: $2,000

Accreditation: SPCC (own accreditation)

Mode of delivery: Online self-paced with a three-day live virtual event in week 11

Leadership and Performance Coaching Certification

Brown University

The Brown University certification is for career coaches who work with executives and leaders.

The curriculum focuses on leadership skills. You’ll learn core concepts like decision-making, critical thinking, and relationship-building. 

Brown University partnered with ACT Leadership to create this program. ACT Leadership is accredited by the ICF. So if you want to qualify for an ICF accreditation too, this is an excellent place to start. 

Course length: Eight months

Program cost: $10,495 online tuition; $11,495 hybrid tuition

Accreditation: ACC ICF accreditation (optional)

Mode of delivery: Online or hybrid

Now you know the best career coach certifications out there, let’s talk about what career coaching is.

What is a career coach? 

As a career coach, you help your clients define and achieve their career goals. 

For example, you:

  • Advise clients on how to make career transitions
  • Help your clients build new skills to further their careers, including negotiation and communication skills
  • Give practical feedback to help your clients improve their resumes, cover letters, and interview skills
  • Show how clients can use social media to tap into the unpublished job market
  • Network to find the best job opportunities
  • Advance their careers, get promotions, and more 

And you could help clients at any stage of their careers. 

Everyone from college graduates to high-level executives hire career coaches.

But are you qualified to become a career coach? 

Let’s find out. 

What credentials do you need to be a career coach? 

Career coaches don’t need any credentials to get started. 

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

Here’s the thing:

The coaching industry is unregulated. So anyone can create a coaching business. 

And as a career coach, your future clients only care about whether you can help them.

Take my student Emily Liu. 

She was a recruiter and headhunter for Fortune 500 companies. So she knew what these top companies wanted. And she used that knowledge to create her coaching business Cultivitae. Now she helps clients find job positions they’re passionate about at companies they love.

Screenshot of Cultivitae website

Or let’s look at another one of my students, Anna Cosic. 

Anna had an amazing career as a top-level executive for many companies. Her leadership and management skills helped her work around the world. Now she helps women land executive roles using her experience.

Screenshot of Anna Cosic's website

Bottom line: If you have the experience, you can start career coaching today. 

You don’t need a certification unless you want one.

However, if you do, then you need to find the right certification. Here’s how. 

How to become a certified career coach 

There are two major steps to becoming a certified career coach. The first is to choose the right certification program. The second is to book your first clients. 

Let’s take a look at both.

How to choose the right certification program

How do you know if a coaching certification program is the right one for you? 

Ask yourself these questions: 

Does the school or program have a good reputation? 

Unfortunately, there are many scams out there. Look at the credentials of the coaching school before you buy.

What do former students say about the program? 

Search for testimonials from former students about the program. You can use social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit. Many coaching schools also allow you to reach out to former students for honest feedback.

What do you want to learn? 

Read the curriculum in detail before signing up. Some programs are focused on leadership coaching. Others spend more time helping you build a career coaching business. Choose a program that covers the topics you want to learn the most.

How do you want to study? 

Most programs are online but there are some hybrid options. Do you want a fully self-paced course you can fit around your 9 to 5? Or would you like to be part of a live learning community?

Does the program include mentoring? 

Some programs include supervised coaching practice and mentoring. This is great for getting feedback on your coaching technique.

By asking yourself these questions, finding the course you’re looking for will be easier.

After you’ve got your certificate, you can start building your career coaching business. 

Let’s talk about that next.

How to book your first career coaching clients

Once you’ve gone through your certification program, it’s time to start looking for your first paying clients. 

For this, use this simple process: 

1. Know what your clients want

Think about who your clients are and what their desires are for working with you. 

Do you work with female executives? 

Or do you work with career transitioners who need to reskill? 

Get clear on who your client is and what they want to achieve.

2. Know YOUR solution

Once you know what your clients really want, you need to use your expertise to create a solution. 

As a coach, this would be your signature coaching program that gets your clients from A to B.

3. Give a “quick win”

When you start a new coaching business, you have no audience or no brand recognition. So to build that trust with clients, I recommend creating a “quick win” solution. 

For example, your quick win could be to give feedback on your client’s LinkedIn profile. It’s just enough to show you can help them create results and that their goals are possible

4. Offer the “quick win” for free

The easiest way to do this when you’re starting out is to offer a free coaching session of 20-30 minutes.

Let the client know the awesome result they’re going to get from the free session. Then at the end of the session, you can talk to them more about how they can work with you to achieve their bigger goals.

Check out this video for more tips: 

Next steps

There you have it! 

Those are the best career coach certification programs.

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

You’re one step closer to growing a coaching business that allows you to stop trading time for money. 

But how do you attract the right clients? 

Grow your business? 

Get my proven blueprint for growing an online coaching business that replaces your 9-5. 

Read more

How to Become a Career Coach

Why You DON’T Need a Coaching Certification

The Best Life Coaching Certifications

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

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