Coaching training is not cheap and it makes sense for you to find the right training course to meet your needs. It is also true that because coaching as a profession is in its early stages there is much confusion about what course to chose. Like all other professions as time goes by coaching training standards will become clearer. However, at the moment what is important is that you chose a first level training course in coaching with a UK university accreditation attached to it. A university accreditation means that the course is likely to be looked favourably on in the future and it does mean that the course has given itself up for external validation and therefore is deemed by an academic body to meet certain basic requirements.
The next step is to decide whether you want to undertake a Life/Personal Coaching training or an Executive Coaching Training and then check out the credentials of the course. There are a number of courses in the Executive and Life/Personal Coaching arena that are university accredited so see whether the course is linked to a UK based Professional Body. This will make it easier for you should you decide at a future date to seek accreditation with that professional body. If it is not but you like the course then all is not lost as all you may have to do is to complete additional paperwork in relation to the training you undertook.
What is important is that you consider the individual syllabus for the course you are interested in attending. Some courses are more academic in nature and some place more emphasis on practical skills. Again, this is where your personal preference comes into play. All good courses discuss the theory of coaching and place an emphasis on skills development. However, some make it 50/50 whilst others focus more on the academic side making it 40/60 in favour of academia.
If at all possible speak to graduates of the course you are drawn to. Many courses would be happy to put you in touch with past students if this would help. If you join one of the coaching on line forums such as Eurocoach or the Coaching and Mentoring Network you will have access to existing coaches who can share their experiences with you. Alternatively, become a member of a professional body with an on-line Forum where you can post a request and ask for views on the coach training that members have undertaken. It is a good idea to become a member of a professional body anyway if only at the most basic grade whilst considering training as you will find the discussions and information provided useful in thinking about your coaching career and future coach development. Professional bodies keep you up-dated on current thinking.
At this stage what is most important is that you seek out a sound first level coaching programme at Diploma level. Once you have qualified as a coach you can consider undertaking additional specialist training in areas to support your basic knowledge. For example, you may want to know more about psychological coaching or coaching for particular clients groups or a particular approach such as Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC) or Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Although it is still desirable to seek out a course that has a university accreditation attached to it, it is not essential as you are adding into your existing knowledge base as you will already have your diploma. Most professional bodies ask that coaches undertake 30 hours of professional Continued Professional Development (CPD) annually and you can use this to fulfill this requirement.
There are currently 3 key UK professional bodies that you may find useful to consult given the stage in your development that you are at. These are: The Association for Coaching UK, The European Mentoring Coaching Council, and The International Coach Federation. In addition, the CIPD also offers advice in relation to coaching training. What is crucial is that you think about what you want to achieve with your coaching qualification. For example, if you only want to develop coaching skills to make you more effective in, say, an HR function then maybe a basic coaching skills course will suffice. However, if you are keen to undertake a full training then consider what you want to use this for? Think ahead and imagine yourself in 3 or 5 years from now, what do you see yourself doing?
At the moment many people are wanting to enter the coaching field but as the majority of coaches are self-employed, this means that if you decided you wanted to be a full-time Executive Coach you would have establish yourself and find a market for your services. You could, of course, consider seeking one of those rare positions as an internal corporate coach. However, such positions are not easy to come by.
In summary then:
1. Always seek a course that is University accredited
2. Be clear about what you want you want to do with coaching qualification
3. Talk to as many people as possible about their experiences of different training courses