Coaching terms: Did you know their meaning?

Coaching terms: Did you know their meaning?

Individuals and organizations, who are interested in coaching education, often don’t understand the differences between certification, credentials and accreditation. Many coaching schools promote their certificates as internationally recognized but often its not clear what international certificate really means. The International Coach Federation (ICF) as the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals, strongly insists on making a clear distinctions between these coaching terms.


Each coaching schools has its own certificate that their students get at the end of the training. Real value of those certificates is usually questionable, as well as the criteria for issuing certificates. Usually the criteria are set by the person who is leading the program and in most cases all individuals who paid the program and met minimal criteria get certificate at its end.


Credentials are given by independent professional associations. Credentials are professional standards of coach associations and they are given to individuals. Credentials means that:

  • coach has attended specific number of coach training hours,
  • coach has specific number or years of coaching hours with real clients,
  • coach passed Coach Knowledge Assessment
  • coach’s coaching skills were evaluated by ICF independent professional mentors

Individual ICF credential needs to be renew every 3 years. For renewal of individual credential coach needs to attend specific amount of continues coach education hours and for certain level of accreditation coach needs to pass additional evaluation.

For example, I got my ICF credential in 2010 and so far I needed to renew it 2 times. Right now I am without credential as I need several more hours of continues coach education. After more than 2.000 hours of coaching it might look like nothing special but at the same time it is one of the criteria that makes a difference when it comes to professional coaching.

Credential shows that coach is in process of constant improvement and that independent organization is evaluating coach.


ICF gives accreditation to training programs. Those training programs that fit ICF criteria get ICF accreditation. It means that accredited program meets ICF standards for training delivering. Every several years ICF accredited programs are re-evaluated so that standard of accredited programs remain high.

In the end, I would highly recommend you to search for the right training and programs when you decide to upgrade or develop your coaching skills.

Peđa Jovanović, Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Certified PCM Trainer

If you are interested in ICF accredited coach training programs Atria Group organizes ICF accredited coach training programs in Belgrade, Prague, Podgorica and Lisbon:

  • “The Art and Science of Coaching” Erickson College
  • “PCM Coach” Kahler Communication