How to Become a Career Coach: 12 Certifications & Courses

Career coach certificationAre you someone who wants to help others achieve their professional dreams and fulfill their highest potential?

Does helping others who feel stagnant in their career seem like an exciting challenge for you?

Do you want to assist those who participate in interview after interview and hear nothing back?

Are you eager to serve others in beginning a new career?

Then becoming a career coach may be a good fit for you.

In this article, we will explore what it takes to become a career coach, as well as some of the best certifications and courses to help you succeed in this field.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Work & Career Coaching Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients identify opportunities for professional growth and create a more meaningful career.

How to Become a Career Coach

Career management is a process that all workers engage in, consciously or unconsciously. Career coaches bring the advantage of insight, information, and planned action to the pursuit of goals.

Hazen and Steckler, 2010, p. 312

Career coaching has become a popular industry for academics and educated workers who are encouraged to become sellable (Fogde, 2011). These individuals are tasked with creating unique resumes or curriculum vitae, having positive attitudes, responding correctly to different interview questions, and dressing appropriately for interviews. This is where the career coach comes in.

A career coach works with individuals or groups to determine the right job for them by helping them identify their skills and interests. The coach will develop a plan to help their clients find the right career path. These helping professionals can also help their clients achieve their desired level of success within their current roles.

Although career coaching has been practiced predominantly in a one-on-one model, this type of coaching can also be conducted in a group setting (Meldrum, 2021). Coaches provide counseling, coaching, and advice, as well as access to resources such as job boards, networking groups, and online courses.

On your path to becoming a career coach, you will notice that this professional field is often unregulated. While you could get a college degree and earn a certification, it is not critical to enter the field. Earning a degree or certification will allow you to stand out among your peers, demonstrate professionalism among your clients, and highlight your unique skill set.

Some certifications also allow networking opportunities, job board posting privileges, and a professionally accredited seal to display on your website or business card.

Besides education, soft skills such as communication, interpersonal, listening, speaking, writing, organization, technology, and coaching skills will also be beneficial.

Experience within the field is also a plus. Try to choose a program that includes fieldwork. If your chosen program does not include this element, there are alternatives to getting hands-on experience that we will discuss.

Once you become a career coach, it would be wise to remain current on the newest strategies and coaching techniques through continuous education. Continuous education is professional development and is also referred to as continuing education, continuing education credits, and continuing coach education units. Different entities use various terms; therefore, we will be referring to the chosen term called for by each program.

Qualifications of Career Coaches

Career coach qualificationsAlthough you don’t have to be licensed to practice as a career coach, it is advised that you participate in a coaching program.

According to Lyons (2022), the Harvard Business Review strongly recommends certification from the International Coaching Federation, which requires that the coach uphold a coaching code of ethics and engage in continuing education to recertify every three years.

While it is not necessary to get a college degree to become a career coach, you may pursue an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in psychology, business, counseling, or a related discipline. A degree will provide you with an advantage over other coaches and higher earning potential.

Furthermore, there are both hard and soft skills critical to entering and remaining in the field of career coaching. You should be self-aware, identify if you have these skills, and include them on your resume if so.

17 More Work & Career Coaching Exercises

These 17 Work & Career Coaching Exercises [PDF] contain everything you need to help others find more meaning and satisfaction in their work.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

Training in Career Coaching: 6 Certifications

In the United States and many other countries, a specific career coach certification is not required. However, certification is evidence of professionalism and expertise that can provide a competitive advantage when marketing your services and lead to higher earnings.

Here are a few options we found.



Udemy offers a Career Coaching Certification in Career Development Coaching. This coaching program addresses post-pandemic job searches, career development, and career change needs.

The program allows you to coach right away and provides over 21 hours of step-by-step video training and 312+ downloadable and ready-to-use resources. It revolves around the effective Knowdell Career Transition Process, which aims to aid individuals transitioning careers.

If you enroll in the course for at least 35 days, you will also gain access to the level 2 coaching program at no extra cost. This part of the program involves a hands-on coaching practicum that requires you to use what you have learned in actual fieldwork.

As a bonus, completing this level 2 certification also entitles you to a listing in the coaching directory for the Holistic Coach Academy.

Although this program is not accredited, it would be a great supplement to another degree or certification and an excellent method to foster experience within the field.

International Association of Professions Career College

IAP College

The IAP Career College offers a Career Coach Certificate course online that can be completed in four to 12 weeks, depending on your schedule.

For this certification, you will learn about career coaching, how to deliver coaching services, how to start your own business, and how to get your clients.

This program may also be great to supplement another coaching program, as it does not require any type of practicum and is not accredited by an agency.

National Career Development Association


To show your expertise to your clients, you may consider the National Career Development Association’s Certified Career Counseling Certification.

This certification can be awarded if documented experience can be provided and specific criteria are met. These criteria include 600 hours of clinical experience, 60 hours of approved continuing education, or the completion of specific courses. For the variety of options to qualify for this certification, be sure to visit their website.

This certification is not intended for beginning career coaches, but it would be a great addition once you have begun your practice.

International Association of Career Coaches


The International Association of Career Coaches provides three certifications for coaching:

  • Senior Professional Career Coach
  • Master Professional Career Coach
  • Senior Professional Resume Writer

These programs give you access to comprehensive hands-on experience, unlimited live feedback, and the chance to watch a master coach work with their own clients.

Center for Credentialing and Education

Center for Credentialing and Education

The Center for Credentialing and Education provides a Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) program.

In this program, you are required to complete 120 curriculum hours, take part in supervised career development hours, and abide by the GCDF code of ethics. You are, however, not required to complete an exam.

Several US states professionally recognize this program, as well as 23 other countries.

Career Directors

Career Directors

Career Directors offers Certification and Training for Career Coaches. These virtual certifications include:

  • Certified Employment Interview Consultant
  • Master Career Director
  • Certified Job Coach & Profile Writer

You could easily complete the program in as little as six weeks by committing three to five hours per week, or you could take as long as one year, depending on your availability.

Renewals are required for these credentials every three years.

Best Courses and Online Options to Consider

Reputable certifications are offered by organizations such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Association for Coaching.

These rigorous certification programs include a combination of training, experience, and assessment. Consider one of the following programs as a standalone certification.

World Coach Institute

World Coach Institute

The World Coach Institute provides various levels of certification, whether you want to begin a coaching career or add a niche to your coaching repertoire.

The Certified Career Coach program requires participants to meet twice weekly for eight weeks and embeds training practicum and buddy coaching each week.

Not only can you observe effective coaching sessions, but you will also get coached and be given feedback concerning your coaching. The ICF accredited this course.

Coach Training Alliance

Coach Training Alliance

The Coach Training Alliance’s Art and Science of Coaching Career Transitions certification is approved by the International Coach Federation as four continuing coach education units in the category of resource development.

This course is two weeks and requires 90 minutes per week of remote classes and two hours of self-study.

In this globally recognized coach training program, you will determine if career coaching is your true calling. You will also learn how to stay in the career coaching field, what it takes to build a successful career coaching practice, how to coach clients, and how to market your practice.

Career Development Network

Career Development Network

The world-renowned Career Development Network offers two certifications:

  • Job and Career Development Coach
  • Job and Career Transition Coach

Both programs include an overview of the changing nature of careers and job search techniques. The Job and Career Transition Coach program has three-day in-person or virtual options.

Both programs are offered in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia and include instructors from all over the globe.

These two options contain courses that are approved for continuing education hours for professions that require continuing professional development opportunities and continuing education hours mandated by the ICF.

Career Coach Institute

Career Coach Institute

Completion of the Career Coach Institute’s Certified Career Coach program entails:

  • Watching webinars
  • Reading the designated textbook
  • Completing chapter quizzes
  • A final exam
  • 50 hours of paid or unpaid coaching fieldwork

This certification is valid for three years and can be extended by taking 30 hours of continuing education credits.

Rider University

Rider University

Rider University offers a Life and Career Coaching Graduate Concentration and Certificate.

As a master’s in organizational leadership student, you could opt for the life and career coach focus or choose the certificate-only option.

Regardless, both programs are certified by the Center for Credentialing and Education, Inc. and are offered in a hybrid or entirely online format.

Resources From

We want to arm you with the best career coach resources, so head on over to Ultimate Career Coaching Tools, Questions, & Templates for the best tools.

Goal setting is an important element for career coaches and individuals seeking a career. In your practice, you will most likely require your clients to establish manageable goals. Our SMART Goals Worksheet will surely come in handy when creating appropriate, career-oriented goals for obtaining and progressing within a career.

As we mentioned, active listening will be a critical skill to have as a career coach. Our Active Listening Reflection Worksheet will come in handy whether you are trying to refine your own active listening or encourage one of your clients to enhance this soft skill. Likewise, our Effective Communication Reflection worksheet will help you strengthen your verbal and nonverbal communication skills to be a more successful career coach.

Our Past, Current, and Future Strengths worksheet can help clients determine their strengths, which is needed to apply to a future career. Our Goals and Strengths worksheet can also help when creating goals for a job search. Understanding your clients’ strengths will help you steer them in the right direction for a fulfilling career.

Career counselors, similar to career coaches, strive to help clients plan their careers. Unlike career coaches, career counselors require licensure and are employed by school systems, college career offices, private counseling firms, community agencies, and state departments of labor.

If you are considering career counseling as an alternative to career coaching, check out:

To determine if coaching would be a wise career move for you, consider completing the Is Coaching Right for Me? worksheet. This worksheet is a great tool to evaluate whether coaching would be an appropriate career choice for you.

A Take-Home Message

Deciding to become a career coach is an exciting commitment. It’s important to choose the right certification and training programs to be confident in your ability to help others reach their professional goals.

When deciding on a program that meets your needs, ask yourself:

  • Is this program accredited?
  • Does this program include all aspects of career coach training?
  • Is it delivered by passionate professionals highly experienced in the field?
  • Does it require practical fieldwork to put your knowledge into action?
  • Is there an assessment process required for the certification?
  • What types of support or networking opportunities are offered during and after the program?

Now that you are armed with the knowledge of how to become a successful career coach, we wish you the best of luck in entering this impactful helping field.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Work & Career Coaching Exercises for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

A career coach should have a mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills include career development, professional development, and career services. Soft skills include communication, interpersonal, listening, speaking, and writing skills.

Effective organization and a familiarity with technology will also be beneficial. Coaching is also a unique skill set that requires empathy, goal setting, active listening, and motivation.

Some career coaching certification programs include a coaching practicum. However, you may consider asking to observe an experienced coach or try a career coaching session out for yourself.

A career coach helps people determine in which career their skills will be most valuable and prepare the individual for that career.

Many career coaching certification programs allow you to go at your own pace. Some career coach certifications could take you as little as 12 hours to complete or as long as six months, depending on the type of program and the intensity you desire.

  • Fogde, M. (2011). Governing through career coaching: Negotiations of self-marketing. Organization, 18(1), 65–82.
  • Hazen, B., & Steckler, N. A. (2010). Career coaching. In E. Cox, T. Bachkirova, & D. Clutterbuck (Eds.), The complete handbook of coaching (pp. 311–323). SAGE.
  • Lyons, M. (2022, February 9). Do you need a career coach? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from
  • Meldrum, S. (2021). Group career coaching: A critical pedagogical approach. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 46(2), 214–225.

What our readers think

  1. Robin Shoor

    Thank you for this very thorough article. I am an independent college admissions counselor looking to expand my tool box to help students explore their personalities and options for a best fit career and major. Do you have any resources and/or assessments that you recommend; do any of the options in your article apply? Thank you.

    • Julia Poernbacher

      Hi Robin,

      I found two resources in our worksheet library that could be particularly useful for helping students explore their personalities and best fit career and major options:

      FIRST Framework Questions: This resource involves a series of questions based on the FIRST framework to understand the development stage reached by the client. It can help in identifying personal strengths and interests that are crucial for career and major decisions. Access it here.

      Career Visualization: This worksheet helps students to imagine in detail what it would look, feel, and be like to have their desired career. It’s a great tool for personal reflection and to clarify their career aspirations. Access it here.

      These tools can be excellent additions to your toolbox for assisting students in their journey.

      Warm regards, Julia | Community Manager

  2. Ali Greer

    The article provides an overview of the qualifications and certifications required to become a career coach. It emphasizes the importance of defining specific goals and tailoring coaching strategies accordingly. The article suggests various certifications and courses available, highlighting their features and benefits. It also provides resources from to support career coaches in their practice. Overall, the article offers guidance and insights for individuals interested in pursuing a career in coaching.


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