Coaching Blog

7 Concerns About the New Board Certified Coach (BCC) Credential

Posted by Julia Stewart

BCC - Board Certified CoachYesterday, I received a letter in the mail congratulating me on my new BCC (Board Certified Coach) credential from CCE (Center for Credentialing and Education).

 

It was nice to get, but no surprise.

CCE, a non-profit which has been certifying a variety of counselors for years, recently stepped into the realm of business, executive and life coach certification, with this very impressive-sounding new credential. But any executive, business or life coach who was previously certified by the ICF or IAC and who could demonstrate that they already have coach-specific training, got grandfathered into the BCC for $100. The only catch was that we had to take a norming exam to help CCE establish appropriate exam questions for future coaches who test for the BCC.

Even though I have reservations about the new BCC life coach certification, I decided to take the plunge and get it for the following reasons:

  • Life coach certifications from independant not-for-profit certifiers are generally the most respected in coaching, because with no regulation, coach training schools (at least the ones that are disreputable) sometimes have very low coach certification requirements (or no requirements other than a fee). 
  • I think competition between not-for-profit certifiers is good for coaches, their clients and the coaching industry, because it forces the certifiers to listen to us and upgrade their services in order to stay relevant. So a new not-for-profit coach certifier may be positive for the profession.
  • At this stage of the game, no single life coach certification organization is the recognized leader, worldwide. The ICF claims this distinction, but most coaches do not agree, especially in fast-growth markets, like Asia. So it may be a good idea to be certified by more than one not-for-profit life-coach certification organization.

That said, I have plenty of reservations about the new Board Certified Coach credential and don't plan to use 'BCC' after my name in most situations - at least not yet. Here's why:

  1. As one of my colleagues, who is certified by both the IAC and ICF, recently commented, a certification from an organization that mainly certifies counselors may further confuse the public about the difference between coaching, therapy and counseling. Appearances to the contrary, business and life coaching are completely different from either counseling or psychotherapy. Coaching is based on different paradigms and does not target clients who are mentally ill or in crisis. A decade or so ago, when I became a coach, the profession of coaching was under attack by psychology professionals, who claimed we were practicing therapy without a license. Then a landmark lawsuit in the state of Colorado established life coaching as a separate profession from psychotherapy.  Furthermore, the reason coaching is still not legally regulated anywhere is because coaches don't work with vulnerable populations. Since that landmark case, therapists and counselors have jumped on the coaching bandwagon in large numbers, because they aren't hamstrung by regulations, they've seen how effective coaching can be and because they can charge more for it. As another coaching colleague commented: The confusion between coaching and therapy isn't because coaches are practicing bad therapy; it's because too many therapists are practicing bad coaching. One of the reasons I decided to get the BCC anyway, is so I can watch from the inside how CCE's influence plays out and can speak up as needed. If CCE does its job well, it could actually cut down on the confusion and erroneous assumptions that counselors and therapists sometimes make when they hang out their Life Coach shingles.
  2. CCE bases the BCC credential solely on college degrees, coach-specific training and passage of a multiple-choice test. Reputable life coach certifications always require demonstration of coaching skills. Why? Because unlike virtually any other profession, including counseling and psychotherapy, efficacy in business and life coaching is not based on expert knowledge, but on the skill of assisting coaching clients to leverage their own knowledge, thoughts, actions, gifts, etc. In other words, coaching is a skill set, not a knowledge base. A degree has little or nothing to do with competency in coaching. Coach training is a very good thing, but doesn't automatically ensure a skilled coach.  And multiple-choice tests measure knowledge, not coaching skills. To get my stamp of approval, CCE needs to add an oral test to their certification requirements.
  3. CCE claims its multiple-choice test is the first scientifically-based measurement of coaching knowledge, but is it really? The 'science' is based on the answers to test questions that coaches who are certified by the 'less scientific' IAC and ICF gave on BCC norming tests. In other words, it's piggy-backing on knowledge collected by thousands of non-science-based coaches and calling that scientific. In any case, one of the reasons coaching has rocketed to the forefront of human development is because coaches have been free to mix findings from neuroscience and positive psychology with ancient wisdom traditions, plus their own insights and intuition, to create new approaches to human growth. Science is good, but results are what matter.
  4. CCE claims to be the first certifier of coaches that is itself 'accredited'. That's good, but it may not mean what you think. Usually, when we talk of accreditation in education, what we're referring to is the 'gold standard' in accreditation, which in the United States (which influences education around the world), means that your educational institution is accredited by a not-for-profit regional accrediting agency that is in turn, approved by the U.S. Department of Education. CCE is not accredited by such an agency. I tried to trace its accreditation back to the USDE, but only got as far back as an agency that accredits engineers (not exactly related to coaching). To my knowledge, no not-for-profit coach certifier, nor educator of coaches, possesses the gold standard in accreditation. That doesn't mean they aren't good, it just means they don't have the ultimate stamp of approval in education. (Beware though, of phony 'associations' that are invented by un-scrupulous 'coaching schools' or more-aptly, certification mills, just so they can claim to be 'accredited' by somebody.) CCE's accreditation doesn't make it a better source of life coach certification. In fact, they may not understand the profession of coaching as well as either the ICF or IAC.
  5. There has been some suggestion (unconfirmed) that the CCE may require its Board Certified Coaches to administer a psychological profile that measures the mental health of new coaching clients, in order to refer them out to psychotherapists. This would be no more appropriate than requiring Certified Financial Planners to test the mental health of their clients (after all, behavioral economics is the latest hot specialty for therapists), or requiring bartenders to test their customers for alcoholism (shouldn't some of those barflies be in rehab?). I know many psychologists believe 90 - 100% of all people are at least neurotic and could benefit from therapy, but coaches aren't in the mental health business, are untrained in the area of diagnosis and in many locations it would actually be illegal for an untrained professional to try to diagnose a mental illness. What coaches are responsible for is helping their clients reach the clients' desired results. If coaching isn't effective in reaching those results and the coach suspects psychotherapy could help, they can best serve their clients by sharing that observation and declining to waste the clients' money by continuing the coaching. But coaches testing for psychopathology? That won't serve coaching clients (but might serve counselors and therapists), because the real test of whether coaching will 'work' for a client is not the client's diagnosis, but whether or not the client is ready to take full responsibility for his/her own life. If it comes between keeping my BCC or succumbing to a requirement to administer  psychological tests, I may give up the credential and I'm sure I'm not alone. But I am so far taking a 'wait and see' attitude towards this.
  6. CCE's ethical standards for BCCs are more appropriate for counselors and therapists than for life coaches. That's not automatically bad, but suggests that CCE itself, is confused about the differences between counseling and coaching. For well-written and appropriate ethical standards for coaches, view the ICF's ethical standards.
  7. The BCC hasn't yet stood the test of time. Thus far, the Board Certified Coach credential is not widely recognized, nor is it the the gold standard in coaching. At this writing, Master Certified Coach credentials from the ICF and IAC share that distinction. For the time being, I would recommend the BCC only as a provisional certification, on the level of the ICF's ACC (Associate Credentialed Coach), that a new coach might want, while they work toward a more recognized coach certification.

What do you think? Share your comments and concerns about the new Board Certified Coach credential in the comments area below.

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Topics: Coaching, executive coaching, certification requirements, Coaches, coaching clients, coach, Become a Certified Coach, CCE, life coach certification, certified life coach, certified business coach, future of coaching, coach training schools, coaching vs. therapy, Master Certified Coach, BCC

Life Coach Salary: How Much Money Do Professional Coaches Make?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life Coach SalaryWant to know what kind of salary a life coach makes?

I wrote about international coaching salaries in the 2012 Trends in Business and Life Coaching post, based on the new ICF coach survey, which sheds light on the parts of the world where coaches earn the most. But a Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey of international coach salaries just came out, so here's some new info, broken down by type of coach.

It's important to note that executive, life and business coaching incomes vary wildly, (anywhere from free to thousands of dollars per hour) so these averages may not represent what most coaches actually make. However they do offer some clues.

Average coaching salaries according to Sherpa:

  • Executive Coaches make $325 per hour
  • Business Coaches make $235 per hour
  • Life Coaches make $160 per hour

What's the difference between a life coach, a business coach and an executive coach? Sherpa's definition of an executive coach is someone who coaches executives on behavioral issues, which basically means an executive coach is a life coach for executives.

I take issue with Sherpa's definition that business and life coaches are consultants and advisors. Real coaches are neither consultants, nor advisers. Real coaches help their clients think and act more resourcefully, resulting in personal growth and achievement and for that reason, coaches usually make a lot more money than consultants or advisers.

In my experience, new business and life coaches can charge $100 - 200 per hour and veteran coaches with established results can often charge $250 - 600 per hour. What makes the difference is the skill of the coach and who they coach.

It's pretty extraordinary that someone who coaches by phone in their jammies from their home office could charge more than a Park Avenue lawyer, but it happens - if their clients get incredible results and can afford to pay for them.

Here's how: most successful coaches only have a few clients. According to Sherpa,  coaches average between 6 and 6.5 clients per week. When you only coach a few clients, you can be at your best virtually all of the time, which makes it possible to give incredible service and results. That's when you can charge a lot.

So average annual incomes, according to Sherpa, range from $55K to $116K. That's pretty close to past ICF survey averages for a life coach (or business or executive coach) salary.

Learn more about life coach salary rates and how to set your own coaching fees:

 
Get the FREE Life Coach Salary eBook

Topics: business coach, executive coaching, money, Coaches, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, business consultant, life coach salary, Life Coaching

10% of Coaching Schools Go Out of Business Every Year

Posted by Julia Stewart

coaching schoolsThe Sherpa Executive Coaching Summary, a large-scale annual survey on the state of executive, life and business coaching, was just released yesterday, with a startling statistic that 10% of all coaching schools worldwide go out of business every year - every year.

I've heard this statistic tossed about in reference to specific years, but now it's becoming an annual trend? This flies in the face of an old coaching myth, that the real money is in coach training, not coaching. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Why are coaching schools going out of business when the profession of coaching is still growing?

1. One theory is that there are too many coaching schools. As Donna Steinhorn mentioned in her recent The Truth About Coach Training post, 10-12 years ago, there were only a few coach training schools, but now there are well over 100 coaching schools, worldwide. Sherpa says there are actually over 300 coach training schools in the world. In fact, peer.ca, which tries to compile all the coach training schools worldwide, lists 508, as of today.

That means around 50 coaching schools will go out of business this year. Will one of them be yours?

2. Another theory is that many professional coaches, believing the myth that 'the real money is in coach training', started coaching schools when their businesses were challenged recently during Depression 2.0. If that's the case, I'm guessing most of them have/will go out of business, because it is actually much more expensive and time-consuming to run a quality coach training business than it is to run a coaching business.

Personally, I made more money per hour as 'just a coach' than I do running School of Coaching Mastery. Education, done well, is labor-intensive and labor is expensive.

Why do I do it? SCM is a labor of love for me. I have a vision of one million master coaches worldwide and I'm just getting started.

3. Another theory of why 10% of coach training schools go out of business, is that coach training has become a commodity. There is so much competition that schools are competing on price, rather that value. This was further supported by the incredibly high unemployment rates of the past few years, when people were desperately trying to start coaching businesses with little or no money.

When money is extremely tight, unlikely promises, such as the promise of one coaching school mentioned by Sherpa, that you can 'Become a Certified Professional Life Coach in Just 16 Hours' for $397 or $497, or whatever the price du jour is, become alluringly tempting. If such a school also brags about their 3000 successful graduates, you have to wonder about their criteria for 'success'. I've talked to quite a few 'graduates' of these 2-week wonders (because eventually they realize they need more training and contact me) and not one of them has told me they ever got a single paying client.

So in the race to the bottom, some schools, even the huge schools that were founded in the mid-nineties, have become less profitable. And if you're not in it for love, you'll get out if there's not much profit.

School of Coaching Mastery is about to turn five years old in March. We've weathered Depression 2.0 and our international Ultimate Coach Training coach-students are spreading their masterful coaching skills to thousands of grateful (paying) clients. 

I wouldn't close this coaching school for anything. I've got too much work to do to get those one million master coaches out there changing the world for the better.

What do you think? Do 10% of all coach training schools really go out of business each year? Why or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section, below.

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Topics: Coaching, executive coaching, coach training, School of Coaching Mastery, free coach training, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, coach training schools, coaching schools, economy

Career Coaching Spikes Says CNN Money

Posted by Julia Stewart

CNN Money LogoOn September 29th, CNNMoney wrote, "Should You Hire a Career Coach?"

In it, Christopher Metzler, associate dean for human resources studies at Georgetown University, says, "Any time there's an economic downturn, career coaching spikes,"

With job searches now averaging 25 weeks, it's no surprise that the out-of-work are looking for every competitive advantage they can find. And while career coaching is not cheap,  one session averages $161, it more than pays for itself, if you land a great job a few months earlier than you would have otherwise.

There are pitfalls, however. As the article points out, not everyone who calls him/herself a career coach is skilled or qualified to help you reach your goals. And the quality of coach certifications varies widely. Some coach certification training programs take only a weekend to complete, with every participant guaranteed a certificate just for showing up. (I recently spoke to a coach who completed one such program. She confirmed that it was "pretty much a joke.")

Two places you can find career coaches who have pledged their professionalism, are the coaching trade organizations, IAC and ICF. Each has a Find-a-Coach feature. You can also find career coaches at Mastery Coach Exchange, where you can easily connect with and find out about your coach, before trying them out.

Other coaching specialties that do especially well in economic downturns are business and corporate coaching, executive coaching, and money coaching, but even fields like life coaching do surprisingly well, especially now that there are lower-cost options.

Here's the full CNNMoney article on career coaching. Check out their sidebar for more interesting information about it.

Read the Coaching Commons article on the same subject here.

Topics: business coach, corporate coaching, executive coaching, Career, ICF, Coach Certification, Life Coaching, IAC, certified coach, economy, FIND A COACH

"Everyone needs a coach." Says Google CEO

Posted by Julia Stewart

Watch video advice from Fortune 500 leaders on CNN.com

No wonder coaching is still one of the top growth careers even in 2009. No one would deny that Google's a successful company. If Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, says everyone needs a coach, what might you accomplish with your own coach?

 

 

 

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Topics: corporate coaching, Coaching, executive coaching, coach, everyone needs a coach, Google CEO

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