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Do you need an ILM coaching qualification to be a coach?

February 15, 2024

At Crisp CPD, we commonly get asked the question – do you need ILM qualifications to be a coach?

Many people coach, and call themselves such, without undertaking a course or an ILM coaching qualification. The term itself has no universal definition, though there is an acknowledgement it involves helping others with their learning, development and / or training. My favourite definition is this:

“Coaching is the art of enabling others to have their own insights”

There are all sorts of coaches in all sorts of environments (sports, life, nutrition, wellbeing, business et al) so we could argue that, in a very real sense, coaching is what you (and those being coached) deem it to be.

And yet, there are professional bodies, qualifications and courses that exist to promote coaching as a profession, with suitably trained individuals undertaking important and rewarding work. There are codes of ethics, supervision and on-going CPD. The ILM – Institute of Leadership and Management –  is one such body with an international recognition.

In short, getting an ILM qualification to be a coach is a choice. We are talking about business or organisational coaching here. Most sports coaches (such as a football coach) will require a professional qualification.

At Crisp Professional Development we believe that transformational coaching is the key methodology for raising self-awareness and enabling behavioural change in individuals and organisations. This improves performance, well-being and leadership capability. We only use qualified and experienced coaches. We are also committed to providing the best coaching qualifications.

Kizzy Harris, Crisp Professional Development associate and ILM Level 7 Executive Coach comments about her ILM qualification:

“ILM is a well-recognised and respected qualification. One of the key benefits of ILM is that both the assignments and coaching practice are work-based. I found that this really stretched my understanding and application of coaching in the workplace. This in turn enabled me to make a significant contribution towards developing a coaching culture within my organisation. As a mentor, I see the investment a business makes being returned through the growth of knowledge, skills and behaviour of not only the trainee coach but also of all those they work with whilst training and post qualification.”

What qualifications do you need to become a coach?

If you are interested in developing your coaching skills, what is the best ILM coaching qualification for you? It will depend on personal circumstances, budget and your appetite for written work and reflection. There are many coaching qualifications out there, below we summarise the most meaningful:

Coaching courses for managers : these are usually one or two day coaching courses that introduce the key concepts and behaviours of coaching in the workplace. These types of courses are for you if you want to manage people using a coaching approach, and are helpful for holding performance and wellbeing conversations. Click here to find out more.

ILM 3 in Coaching : an entry level coaching qualification for people who want to coach in the workplace, and who want a coaching qualification to back up their practice. Expect four days of group learning, to undertake 6 coaching hours and to write up three assignments. This usually takes people 6 to 9 months to complete. Click here to find out more.

ILM 5 in Coaching : this is the entry level coaching qualification for leaders who want to coach or people who may be considering a career as a coach. Expect six days of learning workshops, 18 hours of coaching practice and three assignments. Usually takes 12 to 18 months. Click here to find out more.


Higher level qualification and CPD: these include ILM Level 7, EMCC practitioner and beyond. By this stage you will have had experience of coaching and would be undertaking or seeking a career in coaching, either as an independent or within an organisation. We highly recommend our friends at Catalyst14 for these courses.

We are going to be launching a virtual ILM Level 5 Certificate in Effective Coaching & Mentoring soon- please get in contact with us if you have any queries regarding this on the number below or email us at [email protected]

If you have more questions on coaching qualifications, or if you need recommendations on the the best coaching qualification for you, please call us on 01392 409 198.

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