Coach Training versus Other Professions – A Comparison

One challenge potential coaches have shared with me is how to find affordable coach training. In December I wrote an article with six suggestions on how to start coach training without going into debt. (Link with title of article)

In response to that article I received an email from a coach in which she shared that “while some coach training programs are over priced… I don’t think $6K is too much. Coaching is a profession that requires commitment, time and investment, just like other professions.”

All of this lead me to these two questions:

  1. How does the cost of coach training compare to the cost of training for other professions?
  2. How many hours of training are needed for certification?

Challenges With This Type of Comparison

There are some inherent challenges with this. Are we comparing apples with apples or apples with oranges? Or even apples with eggplants? (I believe it was the latter.) Some professions have regulations stipulating what training must be taken in order for someone to get a license and practice in that profession. This will differ between countries and even between individual states and provinces. For the purposes of this article I chose U.S. based training and professions regulated in Washington State.

Given all that…. just use these figures as a ballpark comparison… I didn’t include exam fees or books unless they were included in the total price. The sources of data for each profession can be found at the bottom of this article.

Profession Tuition Training Hours
for Certification
Coaching $6355 125 (min) $50.84
Certified Counselor $8700/yr
approx. 2880 hrs
4 yrs FT $12.08*
Certified Dietician $8592/yr
approx. 1984 hrs
4 yrs FT $17.32*
Personal Training: No training is required, just the passing of an exam.
Here are examples for 2 exam prep courses & a full PT training program.
Prep Course #1 $129 7.5 hrs $17.20
Prep Course #2 $900 32 hrs $28.12
PT Training $5900 500 hrs $11.80
Massage Therapy $11,088 500 (min) $17.80
Animal Massage $3000 300 (min) $10
Manicurist $4820 600 (min) $7.42
Barber $7275 1050 (min) $6.93

* Tuition is based on credits. The cost per hour calculation is based on 1 credit being equal to 16 hours of class time. In addition, the tuition is for a Washington State resident. Out-of-state students would pay quadruple that rate, effectively moving the cost per hour on par with coach training.

All professions above, with the exception of coaching and personal training, are regulated professions in Washington State that require a license to have a private practice. (For details visit:


Coach training is more expensive, on a per hour basis, than the other professions noted. As noted under the comparison table, tuition at the universities would be on par with coach training if out of state tuition fees had been used.

Personal training, like coaching, is not regulated as I write this article (Feb 2011). In other words coaches and personal trainers do not need to be licensed to call themselves a personal trainer or a coach. Most of the associations that certified personal trainers in the U.S. did not require any previous training or education, other than CPR and First Aid. Some required a high school education. Most, but not all, coach training organizations do not require any previous education or professional training/experience either. The exception would be coach training programs designed for therapists and helping professions.

This, however, may change for personal trainers. In 2008, the Fitness Professional Licensing Act was proposed in New Jersey. It if passed it would require professionals to have a minimum of 300 in-person hours of training, including 50 hours of supervised unpaid internship. Exempt would be those with Associate or Bachelors in PE, Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology or Adult Fitness. (Maryland and Georgia also tabled proposals in 2008 to license personal trainers).

I was surprised by the number of hours (both training and apprenticeship) required to practice as a manicurist and barber. A barber needs twice as many hours of training as a licensed massage therapist!

The number of hours needed to become an ICF Professionally Certified Coach (PCC) pales in comparison to the other professions notes here, with the obvious exception of personal training. The Master Certified Coach credential requires 200 hours of training. But… you do not need to be certified in order to have a private coaching practice, like you do with the regulated professions noted in the table.

What Do You Think?

What are you thoughts about the training and fees for coaching as compared to the other professions? Should the ICF require coaches have more than 125 hours to be certified?

Source of Data Per Profession:

Coaching: I used the average tuition calculated for the Affordable Life Coach Training post. 125 hours is the minimum hours of training needed to apply for the ICF Professional Certified Coach credential (in addition to the other requirements such as coaching hours, passing the exam etc.)

Certified Counselor: Based on the tuition fees and 180 credits required for a 4 year undergrad degree from the University of Washington. Tuition fees are for a Washington State resident. Fees quadruple for non-residents. A Certified Counselor can have a private practice.

Certified Dietician: Requires a 4-year undergrad degree in human nutrition, foods and nutrition, dietics or food management. The fees are from Washington State University for Washington state residents. To call yourself a Certified Nutritionist you must get a Masters or PhD in the topic area.

Personal Training: There are no minimal training requirements that I could find. This profession is not on the list of regulated professions in Washington State (link below above table). The 7.5 hour training is from ACSM and the 32 hour ACE exam prep training is from Triton in Texas. Other than an undergrad degree in Kinesiology, the only lengthy training I found was the 500 hour training provided by the National Personal Training Institute.

Massage Therapy: 500 hours of training are required from a state approved school. Fees and hours are the average of those for: NW School of Massage, Cortiva, and Massage Connections.

Animal Massage: 300 hours of training for either small animals or large animals is required. Fees and hours from the NorthWest School of Animal Massage. They actually offer 450 hours of training but since only 300 hours are required, I used the tuition cost for 300 training hours.

Manicurist: 600 hours of training and 800 hours of apprenticeship required. Fees and hours from Total Cosmetology Training Center.

Barber: 1000 hours of training and 1200 hrs apprenticeship required. Fees and hours from Total Cosmetology Training Center.