9 Best Life Coach Certifications Online ICF Accredited 2021

12 min read

Are you an aspiring life coach looking for help choosing the best life coach certification programs?

If so, you’re in the right place. 

I’ve researched life coaching certifications and listed those which are most likely to lead you to prosperity within your professional coaching business. 

This guide reveals my top 9 highly recommended life coach certification programs.

You’ll discover the pros and cons of each training program. As such, this guide will help you pick the best one for you.  

Let’s dive into it:

A Step-By-Step Guide

The first step to choosing the best life coaching certification is to understand what qualification holds the most weight.

As of 2021, this is a certification from the International Coach Federation (ICF), and we’ll explore why shortly.

Your next step is to decide which ICF-accredited training program is the best.

Below, we’ll suggest the criteria that separate a great coaching program from a mediocre one – and compare nine highly-regarded life coach certification programs accredited by the ICF.

Finally, you need to decide what type of coach training fits best with your personality and other demands in your life. 

Best Life Coach Certifications
source: pixabay.com (StockSnap)

What is the best coaching certification? – International Coach Federation (ICF) is the standard

There are tons of life coaching organizations out there with their own certifications, but the International Coach Federation (ICF) is recognised as the best by most individuals in the life coaching industry.

It’s widely accepted that all ICF-accredited life coach training programs offer a high level of quality. 

All ICF coach training programs will help aspiring life coaches to develop a professional level of communication, active listening, trust-building, and knowledge of human behavior.  

All of these training programs require you to gain hours of live coaching experience under the supervision of a mentor coach.

What’s more, most of them will train you how to successfully launch your business as a professional coach.  

Honestly, the reputation of the International Coach Federation is reason enough to take an ICF-accredited training program.

Any potential client looking for advice on finding a professional coach is likely to be recommended to look for one accredited by the ICF.

In fact, many life coaches have reported that the coach directory on the ICF website has been a great source of clients for them. 

Coaching Tips
FREE Coaching Tips!
Enter your email below to get access to my proven self-growth tips and strategies!

There are three levels of ICF accreditations: 

  • Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC); 
  • Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC); 
  • Master Credentialed Coach (MCC).

The latter accreditations are more advanced and may help you to stand out from your competition. 

Even if another life coaching organization emerged with a better training curriculum, an ICF accreditation would still be more valuable because of its reputation, at least for the time being. It’s perhaps controversial to say this, but it’s human nature. 

The only other organization which could be considered a competitor of the International Coach Federation (ICF) is the International Association Of Coaching (IAC).

Interestingly, both organizations were founded by the late Thomas J. Leonard. 

A key distinction between the ICF and ICA is that the latter is less practical.

It doesn’t require you to rack up coaching hours under the guidance of a mentor. 

What is the best life coach certification program? – Criterias to compare

  • ICF accreditation.
    As explained above, this is arguably the most important aspect of your certification program to check.
  • Program length.
    On one hand, you’ll want to become a certified coach as soon as possible, so that you can start making money as a professional.
    At the same time, a shorter course is likely to mean training for more hours per week, and you’ll want to ensure that your workload doesn’t become too large to handle.   
  • Client coaching hours.
    Most courses require you to spend a specific number of hours coaching others under the supervision of a certified coach.
    This is often referred as Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours. 
  • Business training.
    On top of your life coach training, many certification programs will also teach you how to market your business.
    You may learn how to set up a professional coaching website, market yourself and attract clients. 
  • Price.
    Although a fantastic training program will easily pay for itself by allowing you to attract more life coaching clients and ultimately charge higher rates, you’ll still want to ensure that it is within your current budget.
    Most coaching programs offer payment plans. We have included details of these below. 
Life Coach Certifications
source: pixabay.com (lukasbieri)

The 9 Best ICF Accredited Coaching Certification Programs

In each of these coaching certification programs, you’ll be led by one or more professional coaches.

You’ll also be given lifetime access to PDFs, audio files, and video training content to help further your training throughout your life coaching career. 

Top ICF Coaching Programs

Coaching Training Alliance

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length:
Your life coaching training will take place for five hours for 22 weeks. You’ll be certified within six months, as students are given holiday weeks throughout the program.
🟢 Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours: 50
🟢 Upon enrolment, you’ll be given the Coach Training Accelerator – a 346-page textbook with more than 8 hours of audio files to aid your tuition.
🟢 12 group mentoring sessions. 
🟢 10 “Coach the Coach” sessions.
🟢 Learn how to set up your own business, build your own website, and market yourself.
🟢 Added emphasis of the business and marketing of coaching to attract paying clients
🟢 Free website server hosting.
🟢 Private Facebook group for additional support.
🟢 Esteemed faculty of “real life” practicing coaches
🟢 Virtual classroom and private forum access
🟢 60-90 minutes of weekly telesessions / 1-2 hours weekly self-study
🟢 20+ years in operation with over 10,000 coaches from 45 countries certified
🟢 Early adopter of ICF aligned and credentialed training
🟢 A+ rating from the BBB (Better Business Bureau)
🟢 Named one of the top 50 Most Admired Companies by Silicon Review
🟢 2020 Recipient of the Global Excellence Award – “Best Life Coach Training and Certification Provider – USA
CONS
🔺 You need to claim your spot about a month in advance.
Price:$3,497
Payment plans:
$1215 x 3 months = $3,645,
$549 x 7 months = $3,843 or
$427 x 9 months =  $3,843

The Coaching Training Alliance runs six-month courses.

It offers several start dates per month, with each course led by a different certified coach.

Classes are limited to a dozen participants. Spots tend to fill around 3-4 weeks in advance. 

Navigate to the Coaching Training Alliance website to discover the upcoming coach training programs, who they’re led by, and how many spots are left. 

Coaching Training Alliance also offers a free workshop, where you can get a taster of what the training program entails. 

Coach Training Alliance is clearly the leader when it’s about ICF certified Coaching Programs. I highly recommend their program.

iNLP Center

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length: Flexible.
The program is self-paced, although most students take between 6-8 months to complete it.
🟢 Continuing Coach Education (CCE) Hours: 60.
More CCE hours than other programs.
🟢 25+ group coaching sessions per week.
🟢 Free marketing course once you’re qualified.
🟢 Private Facebook group for additional support.
CONS
🔺 No weekly webinars available.
🔺 The program does not include one-on-one support after graduation.
Price: $2,400
Payment plans:6 x $420 = $2,520

You can start the iNLP Center online training program whenever you’re ready and it’s completely self-paced.

You can digest the material whenever it is suitable for you, but you’ll still be given feedback on your coursework with a mentor coach. 

iPEC Coaching

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length:
90 hours of live learning modules, split over 7-8 months.
🟢 Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours: 64.
🟢 Weekly coaching webinars.
🟢 25+ group coaching sessions per week.
🟢 Free marketing course once you’re qualified.
🟢 The ‘Business Toolbox’ resource will help you learn all the necessary aspects of launching a life coaching business.
🟢 The ‘Success Coach’ program will help to launch a successful coaching practice after graduating.
🟢 The SCOPE smartphone app can help to assess your performance.
🟢 Private Facebook group for additional support.
CONS
🔺 The program is not self-paced.
Price:$11,950
Payment plans:
Yes – and they’re interest-free.
Make a deposit of $1,995 or greater, then pay off the balance in 6-12 monthly payments.
A student loan is also available, with payments as low as $150 per month.

iPEC Coaching is based on its unique Core Energy Coaching™ process.

This focuses on teaching clients to create “choice” in how they think and feel. 

This coach training can take place online or face-to-face in 22 global locations.

You’ll need to check the iPEC website for a start date that’s best for you. 

Unlock Your Potential NOW!
Unlock Your Potential NOW!
Get FREE access to my self-growth area and achieve more fulfillment, success, control, and self-love!

CoachU

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length: Self-paced.
Fast-track 6-days course available (in-person).
There’s 77 hours of life coaching training.
You have up to 15 months to complete it, but most students finish within 6-12 months, based on the average student taking 2-4 courses per month.
🟢 Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours: 20.
🟢 Hundreds of free PDFs to use as a point of reference.
🟢 Learn how to set up your own business and market yourself to new clients.
🟢 You can retake classes for free for up to six months after graduation.
CONS
🔺 Less Continuing Coach Education hours than other programs.
🔺 No private group for additional support.
Price:
$3,195 tuition + $360 reference books = $3,555.
The fast-track course costs:
$4,585 + $360 reference books = $4,945.
Payment plans:
These are available but must be completed before you commence your life coaching training.

CoachU offers a wide range of coaching training programs.

The coaching program we’ll focus on is its ICF-accredited Core Essentials Life Coaching Training.

This teaches all of the ICF’s core competencies.

You can complete the online training at your own pace, or take an fast-track in-person course over the space of 6 days.

You’ll begin a virtual course with a one-hour initiation call.

These calls take place twice every month, so you’ll only have to wait a couple of weeks to get started.  

Coaching Tips
FREE Coaching Tips!
Enter your email below to get access to my proven self-growth tips and strategies!
Life Coach
source: pixabay.com (Nietjuh)

Life Purpose Institute

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length:
60 hours of life coach training, spread over either three days, three months or six months.
You’re required to attend two-hour classes once a week for the six-month coach training program, or twice a week for the three-month coach training program.
🟢 Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours: 10.
🟢 Online classes are limited to 10 people. 
🟢 One-on-one support from a certified coach outside of classes.
🟢 A user-friendly manual to help with each element of training.
🟢 ICF accreditation exam is available at the end of your advanced training.
🟢 A “business in a box” resource to help with everything needed to launch your life coaching practice. 
🟢 Life-long marketing support via the online Alumni Center.
CONS
🔺 5-days fast-track course is only available in San Diego.
Price:
$2,500.
Payment plans can be negotiated.

Life Purpose Institute prides itself on providing the most “personal coach training” available.

You can choose a Life Coach Certification or an Advanced Certification accredited by the ICF. 

You can choose for your online training to be spread over five days, three months or six months.

The five-day intensive course is also occasionally available as in-person training in San Diego. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Life Purpose Institute can effectively transform you into a certified life coach, you can sign up to one of its free online informational sessions.

If you want to dive straight in, check its schedule page to see when the next available life coach training session begins. 

Erickson International

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length:
70 or 154 hours of life coach training, depending on your choice of certification.
🟢 Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours: 10.
🟢 Group mentoring.
🟢 One-on-one feedback from professional life coaches.
CONS
🔺 The program does not include training on how to launch and market your online business.
Price:
$5,250 for online Erickson Coach ‘Qualification’ coaching.
$10,050 for online Erickson Coach ‘Diploma’ training.
Payment plans:
6 x $1,190 for online Erickson Coach ’Qualification’ coaching.
10 x $1,145 for online Erickson Coach ‘Diploma’ training.
Pay-as-you-go price:
$8,170 for online Erickson Coach ‘Qualification’ coaching.
$13,075 for online Erickson Coach ‘Diploma’ coaching

Erickson International focuses on solution-focused, systemic, client-centered, action-oriented coach training. 

There are two coaching programs suitable for life coaches seeking ICF accreditation.

The Erickson Coach Qualification or the Erickson Coach Diploma.

As well as online training, in-person training is available in 9 locations across the UK, Canada, and the United States.  

Certifications
source: pixabay.com (StartupStockPhotos)

Rapid Transformational Coaching (Marisa Peer) [not ICF Accredited]

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

PROS
🟢 Program length:
The program is self-paced.
8 days of face-to-face training, followed by 300 hours of online coaching – or 350 hours of online training.
🟢 Discover how to communicate with the subconscious mind. 
🟢 Learn how to help people break bad habits or to excel in sport, business, and the performing arts.
CONS
🔺 It may serve you better if you also complete a course accredited by the ICF.
Price: $4,950
Payment plans: Available.

I mention this program, even if it is not accredited by the ICF, because of the highly effective method based on hypnosis.

This can be an interesting alternative if you care less about certification and more about the impact of your coaching business. 

This rapid transformational coach training program combines the best elements of hypnotherapy, NLP and psychotherapy.

Marisa Peer is an award-winning therapist and widely recognized as the best in the UK.

Life coaches could certainly stand out from competitors in the coaching industry by learning from her.

Perhaps you’d consider her coaching after you have been accredited by the ICF.   

The Institute For Life Coach Training

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length:
88 hours of compulsory training, plus up to 42 hours of optional additional training.
🟢 Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours: 130.
🟢 As there are 10 hours of mentor coaching included within your training, there’s no need to seek it after graduation.
🟢 You’re offered plenty of flexibility as far as how quickly you complete the course.
🟢 Mentor coaching hours and peer coaching sessions are included.
🟢 Learn about the business side of coaching, as well as the personal side.
CONS
🔺 The courses aren’t offered as regularly as others.
🔺 No payment plans available (although you can pay for each of the modules separately if you prefer).
Price:
$7,700

This course is split into four modules; Foundations, Core Competencies, Coaching Skills, and Coaching Ethics. You’ll need to pass each module – by attending a minimum percentage of the classes and passing the exam – to graduate to the next module.

You’re given a degree of flexibility for how quickly you can complete the course – although you are expected to be able to commit to 4-5 hours of training per week. Most students graduate within 18 to 24 months of starting the course.  

The elective courses, which are available for no extra cost, could be useful if you’re looking to expand into a particular niche of life coaching.

To receive your certification, you’ll have to pass all four compulsory modules, as well as both a written and oral exam.

Certified Life Coach Institute

KEY FEATURES

PROS
🟢 Program length: 65.8 hours.
🟢 An immersive virtual masterclass taught on Zoom over two three-day periods.
🟢 Students are given a handbook upon enrolment and are taught everything else they need to know during virtual classes.
🟢 The CLCI hosts the courses regularly throughout the year.
🟢 Earn a $295 discount when you book Level 1 and Level 2 together.
🟢 Cheaper than most other courses.
CONS
🔺 No mention of Continuing Coach Hours being included in the course.
🔺 No mention of ongoing coaching after graduation.
🔺 Spaces fill quickly.
Price:
$1,995
Payment plans:
You can pay a $495 deposit and negotiate a payment plan with CLCI, but a service fee of $39 will be due, and interest will be charged on your remaining balance. Your balance must be paid in full at least three weeks before the course begins.

If you’re looking to be fast-tracked into a life coaching career, this virtual training from the Certified Life Coach Institute could be the answer.

The course is split into Level 1 (Foundational) and Level 2 (Advanced). You can choose to pay for and complete just one course if you prefer. However, you’ll need to complete both to qualify as an ICF-accredited coach.

The curriculum isn’t quite as broad as those on other courses, but it’s one of the cheapest courses on this list – and remains a solid option if looking to prioritize your speed of training over depth of training.   

How do you become a certified life coach?

When you sign up for any life coach training program, it will be made clear what it takes to pass the course and receive your accreditation. 

You’ll be delivered assignments throughout your training and often there will be a final exam to complete.

You may be required to attend a specific number of group coaching sessions, while most training programs require you to complete several hours worth of Continued Coach Education (CCE) hours. 

Provided all the criteria for passing the course are met, the training provider will deliver your certification immediately after you’ve completed it.  

Unlock Your Potential NOW!
Unlock Your Potential NOW!
Get FREE access to my self-growth area and achieve more fulfillment, success, control, and self-love!

What can you do with a life coach certification?

Technically, anyone can set up a website and start charging people for life coaching. 

Your life training certification is proof that you’re a fully-qualified professional coach. It will help customers feel comfortable that they’ll get a high-quality coaching experience. 

When starting a life coaching business, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of competitors who have a life coach certification, so it will be difficult to attract high-paying customers without one.

As such, a life coach certification is your key to launching a successful life coaching business.

When you complete your program, you’ll be given a hard copy of your certificate, plus a digital one to showcase on your website.   

Got any more questions? I’d love to help…

If you’re serious about launching a life coaching business, I couldn’t recommend a professional certification enough, especially if it’s accredited by the ICF. It should set you up to be a successful coach for life.

On the other hand, it’ll be near-on impossible to stand out from your competitors in the coaching industry without one.  

Hopefully, this guide will have given you a solid idea about what certification program is best for you. 

Good luck getting certified and launching your business as a professional coach! 

If you have any more questions, please do leave a comment. 

I’d be happy to help.

Coaching Tips
FREE Coaching Tips!
Enter your email below to get access to my proven self-growth tips and strategies!

Related Posts

11 ICF Core Competencies of Coaching – Easy Explained
28 Steps – ICF Code of Ethics
ICF Coaching Certification: A Complete Guide
(BCC) Board Certified Coach Vs. ICF – Complete Guide