How to choose the best executive coaching certification program for you

The last time we looked, there were almost 200 coaching certification programs approved with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). How do you sort through all of the noise to find the best executive coaching program for you? Following are some consideration while deciding on the best executive coaching program. Please review. If you think that the Center for Executive Coaching would might be your best executive coaching program based on the criteria below, please take a close look at our programs or reach out anytime for a strategy session.

Does the approach get results with clients?

To deserve the title of best executive coaching program, the program should have a primary focus on clients, results for clients, value, and a return on investment on your fees and time spent coaching. We have found that too many coach training programs rarely mention the client or results. To us, that’s negligent. When you join the Center for Executive Coaching, we bake client results, value and satisfaction into everything we teach. For instance, we show you how to set up each session right up front to assure that coach and client agree on an outcome that would be valuable to the client. We teach you how to set up an engagement to be sure that a 5-10 times return on investment is possible. We offer coaching solutions for specific challenges that clients face, including how to track and measure results. Clients demand value and results for their time and investment in coaching. Join a program that starts with the client’s needs and how they define value.

Does the program provide a great return on investment to you?

It is not inexpensive to gain executive coaching certification. The best executive coaching program should be able to justify a return on investment. In the case of the Center for Executive Coaching, a single client engagement more than pays back your investment in tuition. In the executive coaching market, fees range from $1,500 up to $7,500 on a monthly basis. The average engagement lasts six months up to eighteen months, and longer when coaching business owners. If you do the math, you can see that it is not hard to justify the cost of our tuition – especially when we provide proven solutions and unmatched business development guidance and support.

How flexible is the program for your busy schedule?

A top criteria for professionals seeking executive coaching certification is flexibility. We are all busy. If you are looking for the best executive coaching certification program, be sure that you choose one that works with your schedule. At the Center for Executive Coaching, you can learn in a variety of ways. First, we have a variety of tracks of live, interactive webinar classes from which you can choose, and you can even switch among these tracks anytime. We offer hours of live classes via webinar each week. Each class stands on its own, because we teach in mini-modules that explore different aspects of executive coaching. You can also join our 3-day intensive seminar if you prefer an accelerated, intensive format. Finally, if you wish to go at your own pace online, all of our classes are recorded and right there for you to learn or refer to anytime. We also review your coaching skills anytime by reviewing recordings. Finally, if you want the ICF designation, you receive 10 hours of mentor coaching over three months (per ICF requirements), so that it is not hard to fit into your schedule. In short, we believe that no other program offers the flexibility we do, which could make this the best executive coaching program for many professionals.

What is the quality of the fellow students in the program?

One place where not all coach training programs are the same is in the quality of participants. At the Center for Executive Coaching, we attract top professionals with a track record of success. Many are current or former leaders in their organizations. We attract leaders from all sectors – for profit, non profit, education, and government. Our members have come from some of the most well-respected and best-known organizations in the world. Also, while we don’t require an advanced degree, many of our members have advanced academic credentials from top schools, including degrees in business, psychology, law, medicine, and technology. Many of our members have told us that the people they meet at the Center for Executive Coaching was a wonderful bonus for them, and made our program the best executive coaching certification program for them.

What is the quality of the instructors?

At the Center for Executive Coaching, we are a small program with hand-picked instructors. You will work directly with Founder and Director Andrew Neitlich, who teaches one of our three tracks of webinars and also most of our seminars. Andrew has built a successful coaching practice, written best-selling books about coaching and leadership along with developing the acclaimed Coach Master Toolkit, and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. Our ICF Mentor Coach, Sheri Boone MCC, is known worldwide for her outstanding teaching style, practical approach, and ability to show participants how to coach to the ICF core competencies while also getting results with clients. An expert on the top assessments in the field teaches you about how to use validated data as a coach, and is available for support anytime. We also have faculty members who teach other tracks and who have demonstrated that they get results with clients and have built a successful coaching practice.

How soon after starting can you get clients?

With the Center for Executive Coaching, you can start your practice as soon as you are comfortable doing so. We have been quite impressed with how quickly our members launch their coaching practice. Many get started well before they even achieve their certification! We think that this is partly due to the high quality and passion of the professionals who join us, along with the fact that you gain access to all of our content in an easy-to-use and massive member area. We also provide support from day one to help you get going.

Does the program provide actual coaching solutions that are proven to get results?

One overlooked criteria for a best executive coaching program is whether the program gives  you actual coaching solutions, tools, and methods. Some programs force you to ask never-ending open-ended questions that will frustrate executive and leadership-level clients to no end. The Center for Executive Coaching provides you with a library of solutions to the most pressing challenges that clients face, along with detailed instruction about when and how to use these solutions. These solutions and toolkits are proven with coaches in 32 countries over almost 20 years!

Can you start any time or do you have to wait?

Many professionals want to start an executive coaching certification program to fit openings in their schedule. You can start the Center for Executive Coaching program anytime due to our rolling admissions process. This works because, when you join, we give you a thorough orientation and foundation. Then we teach in mini-modules that stand on their own. Also, because we are a small, boutique program, you get to know members very quickly.

How big is the program?

We know one coach training program that claims to teach 50% of the coaches in the market. That’s not us. We work hard to train the majority of the successful coaches in the market! We are a small, boutique program. That way, we provide you with personalized support anytime you need it, both during and long after you graduate.

What are opportunities to meet with and work with fellow participants?

Networking is often a top consideration when seeking the best executive coaching certification program. The Center for Executive Coaching offers many opportunities to meet your fellow members: you work together during live classes, including breakout groups to practice coaching and network; we have an exclusive alumni group on LinkedIn; we match you up with coaches to practice coaching and get to know each other; you can join a 3-day seminar to work closely with fellow members and get to know them over three days; you will work closely together during the ICF Mentor Coaching program (if you choose the ICF training option), because that cohort is limited to 10 coaches. Also, our members often reach out to each to form specialty networking groups, for instance, in healthcare, finance, and technology. Finally, if you still have a request to meet certain types of participants, let us know and we will do our best to facilitate that.

Do you explain how to use the top assessments in the field?

Yes. In fact, your member area has the equivalent of a survey course giving you demonstrations and instruction about the best known, most highly validated and reliable assessments in the field. We even give the you the opportunity to take a leading assessment as if you were a coaching client, so you experience the way that assessments can accelerate results. In addition, we show you how to lead an effective 360-degree verbal assessment with clients. Most importantly, and why we are a best executive coaching certification program, we show you how to use assessments to get results and help your client be an even better leader, not just to read back a report to your client.

Will you be able to work directly with the founder?

Yes. You can even start now. Andrew Neitlich’s personal cell is 941-539-9623 (Time zone: USA Eastern Time; please call between 8 am and 7 pm Eastern Time). You can email him at or on his personal email at We don’t think that other executive coach certification programs give you this much access to the founder. Do you prefer to meet with admissions representatives or second-level faculty members, or directly with the founder when you decide on your best executive coaching certification program?

Is there ongoing support?

The Center for Executive Coaching comes with ongoing support. Reach out anytime with anything you would like to discuss about your executive coaching practice. Whether it is a difficult client or a marketing challenge, we will help. Often we can get on the phone with you the very same day, in case of urgent situations. For instance, many of our members are internal coaches who want to launch their own practice later on. They are grateful for the ongoing support when they make the transition.

Can you match us up with other participants to practice coaching?

Yes. In fact that’s a feature in our member area. You can add yourself to our directory of coaches wanting to practice coaching. We make it easy for you to practice and accumulate coaching experience hours. Note that the ICF allows barter coaching with other coaches to count as paid hours, and so this feature of our program makes the ICF process much easier for you.

Do you help to set up a practice and attract clients?

This is often a critical question for professionals seeking the best executive coaching certification program for them. Lots of programs claim to help you with business development. The Center for Executive Coaching provides unmatched support: hours of instruction about the A to Z of setting up a practice and attracting clients; how to choose a niche; how to get known in the market; how to price; sample templates; sample marketing messages; online marketing and programs; how to have authentic and natural selling conversations that close engagements; and how to keep clients over the long term. You can also reach out anytime for personalized support. We even review your marketing message, LinkedIn profile, website, and specific client situations.

Is it relevant for both internal and external coaches?

Yes. We train people who want to start their own practice and we also work with top organizations to train their internal coaches.

Is the program accredited with the International Coaching Federation as a Level 2 Coach Training Organization?

Ours is, and has been for some time. This means that when you complete our ICF training program, you can apply to the ICF via their easiest way. This makes a big difference in terms of getting certified quickly.

Is travel required?

Many professionals don’t want to travel, and yet many coach training organizations require extensive in-person training. Not with us. You can learn at your pace, without any travel at all.

Will it take a long time to get certified?

Some programs take a year or more to certify you. The Center for Executive Coaching can award you our Certified Executive Coach certification in 2-4 months. If you have a Masters Degree or higher, you can be ready for the Board Certified Coach certification application in about 4 months. The ICF training process taks six months. We help you complete your training as quickly as you are ready to move, within the requirements of organizations like the ICF.

Does the program emphasize academic theory or a more practical approach?

This is an important choice in choosing the best executive coaching certification program for you. Many university programs are tedious for already-successful professionals, because they emphasize theory instead of how to actually coach clients and get results. In fact, many of their faculty don’t even have executive coaching practices. At the Center for Executive Coaching, we are grounded in best practices and theory, but we show you how to apply theory with a practical approach. That’s why we provide you with 30 coaching solutions and toolkits with a proven methodology to help clients through the top leadership challenges they face.

Does the program teach a fixed philosophy that you have to follow?

One of the dirty secrets in many coach training programs is that they are supposed to teach a flexible, unbiased coaching mindset, and yet they force students to subscribe to their philosophy or beliefs. In some cases they are evangelical about their values and philosophy, which can make the new coach feel very uncomfortable. At the Center for Executive Coaching, we take an eclectic approach to coaching leaders, executives, and business owners. We start with the client’s goals. Then we show you how to create a coaching plan that helps the client get the results they want. Our content is based on best practices and proven research from leadership, management, positive psychology, cognitive psychology, emotional intelligence, and the emerging field of neuroscience. It is extremely flexible, and helps you find the right approach for each client.

Will there be a lot of jargon that could make clients – and participants — cringe?

One way to know that a program is NOT the best executive coaching certification program is if they rely on lots of jargon. Unfortunately, many coach training programs force some cringe-worthy language on their students, and this causes their clients to roll their eyes. To us, using coaching jargon hides behind empty words instead of providing practical tools and methods that clients value. We show you how to coach by using the same language that executives, leaders, and business owners use, so that they are comfortable working with you. Clients don’t want jargon or fluffy language. Neither do most professionals who are seeking a top executive coaching program. We avoid jargon and speak in plain, clear language.

Is there more of a life coaching approach or an approached focused on coaching leaders and executives to success?

Buyer beware! Many self-proclaimed executive coaching programs are actually life coaching programs in disguise. If you are like most professionals looking to get into executive and leadership coaching, these programs will feel like they sold you with a bait-and-switch approach. They will frustrate you. The Center for Executive Coaching is focused on coaching leaders and executives. We never were a life coaching program and we never will be (many of these programs had to pivot their branding to executive coaching because they saw that their students weren’t getting anywhere in life coaching!). Of course, we offer modules about shifting limiting perceptions, improving work-life flow, handling overwhelm and time, increasing energy, and handling personal domains that might relate to the client’s overall satisfaction. Regardless, we understand that in the market for executive and leadership coaching, you first get hired when the leader has an issue that is keeping them from performing at their best. Clients expect an executive coach to have practical approaches that help them be better leaders. That’s where we excel.

Do the program offer additional certifications besides Certified Executive Coach, at no charge?

We are surprised at how limited many coach training programs are in their scope. We believe we might be the best executive coaching certification program for you because, at no extra charge, you can earn these certification: Certified Executive Coach, Certified Career Coach, and Certified Business Coach. You can also create a research project about a coaching solution in your market to earn a specialty certification (e.g., Technology Leadership Coach, Healthcare Leadership Coach, Women’s Leadership Coach, Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Coach…). If you have a Masters Degree or higher (not required for our program, just for this certification), you can apply for the Board Certified Coach certification through the Center for Credentialing and Education with our program. And, of course, we are an accredited ACTP with the International Coaching Federation so that you can earn a designation with them; this is the only program that costs a bit more due to the additional mentor coaching required.

If you have a Masters Degree or higher, is the program approved to offer the Board Certified Coach (BCC) Certification through the Center for Credentialing and Education?

Ours is, at no extra cost. The BCC is a good option for those with advanced education, because it is a faster path to a third-party credential.  Note: You don’t need a Masters degree to join the Center for Executive Coaching, just to apply for the BCC.

Do you have to go through yet another annoying application process?

Many professionals have been through so many application process for jobs and schools that they can’t stomach another one. All we ask is to review your bio or LinkedIn profile and have a quick call with our Founder and Director to confirm fit. Our marketing consultant tells us that this is a bad idea, that we should make our program seem more exclusive the way other programs do, by forcing you to fill in a lot of paperwork. Don’t worry. We will both know whether there is a mutual fit with a quick call. We seek already-successful professionals who are quick thinkers and passionate about developing others and helping them to be more successful.

Is the price reasonable?

We are in the middle range of pricing for executive coaching certification programs. We haven’t raised our prices in ten years, and a price increase is overdue. Scroll down our overview page to see a program price comparison.

What if I have an immediate situation that requires support?

One criteria for a best executive coaching certification program is accessibility. Anytime you need support as a member, we are here for you. We don’t cut you off once you graduate. Founder and Director Andrew Neitlich, along with our other faculty members, are happy to get on the phone or a web call with you to discuss your challenge and provide guidance and support. We don’t know any other program that comes close.

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