Blog Post: Do You Need a Certification or a Credential? (Re-Post)



We’re often asked, “Do I need a certification or a credential? What’s the difference anyway?” These are important questions. The answer to these questions affects two key categories: one, your confidence and two, your credibility.


A certification is awarded to show you have completed an educational program to gain knowledge in a specific area.

A credential is awarded following an advanced level examination which follows rigorous exam development protocols and is delivered through a third-party.

Coach Approach Ministries (CAM) offers certifications. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) offers credentials. More and more, these are beginning to overlap. The ICF is outsourcing key pieces of their credentialing process to the training schools. With CAM’s Executive Christian Coach (ECC) certificate, your coaching will be evaluated for approval at the ICF’s Professional Certified Coach (PCC) level.

When do I need a Certification?

Unlike counseling, a coach does not have a legal obligation to hold any certification or credential in most US states. This is an evolving issue so pay attention to local developments in your area. Anyone can call themselves a coach and market their services. These services however vary widely in scope and delivery. Many coaches are consultants, mentors, and even counselors who somehow think it is fancier to call themselves a coach instead of what they actually are.

As a true coach, you will want to educate your prospective clients on the definition of coaching, that you help people move from where they are to where they want to go by drawing out from client’s knowledge and experience. A great way to firm up this process is to show your coaching certification. This proves that you know the difference between coaching and other service professions and are trained in the basic competencies of coaching.

Depending on your coaching niche, a certification may be all you need to prove your ability. It is a great way to establish trust with clients who are not familiar with your reputation or work. It can create a needed conversation to educate your client on what coaching is and is not.

When do I need a Credential?

A credential with an established organization like the ICF proves to potential clients that you are not only trained, but you are experienced. It says you have agreed to a professional standard of ethics. When you carry a credential such as the ICF’s PCC, your reputation as a professional is now secure.

In my experience, organizations such as schools, hospitals, and mid to large companies often require their coaches to hold an ICF credential. You will not acquire any clients at these organizations without a solid credential.

Another benefit of a credential is confidence. Getting a PCC credential does not occur by jumping through training hoops. Your coaching competencies must rise to a professional level. A PCC is an earned credential that places confidence into the coach.


On our website (, you can take our “What Kind of Coach Are You?” quiz. It will give you one of four results: executive coach, life coach, ministry coach, or missional coach. To be an executive coach, working with business leaders, a credential is helpful. To work in the other three areas, a certification may suffice. However, we encourage all our coaches to work toward a PCC credential so that you can confidently expand and express the Kingdom of God through coaching.

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