Not only does this ICF figure under-estimate the number of coaches worldwide but it also (1) underestimates the number of coaches around the world who work informally, but also offer their services as coaches; (2) does not include all those people who engage in some form of coaching, but either chose not to complete the ICF survey or were not in contact with the survey request; and (3) could reflect the low reliability of their survey method (Carr, 2015).
In essence, a number of organizations have attempted via a survey method to discern the number of coaches worldwide. None have presented a compelling argument about the reliability or validity of the their total figure. Consequently, the number of coaches worldwide has mostly been a guess. And there are many reasons why an organization like the ICF would underestimate the number of coaches worldwide.
But there are two additional calculations—that even though estimates—can yield some useful data. According to the latest figures available, there are approximately 665 coach training schools now in operation (Coach Directory). If, by conservative estimate we guess that each coaching school graduates 50 participants a year, that adds another 33,250 graduates each year to the existing to the worldwide total of coaches. Fast forward to 2015 the total, given attrition plus additional persons calling themselves coaches, the number of coaches worldwide is more likely to be closer to 250,000.
The second additional calculation—and one that is more difficult to determine—is the number of persons who currently call themselves coaches yet have no coach-specific training. Many of these practitioners come from management consulting, motivational speaking, or marketing. In most cases they have added “coaching” to their repertoire. Note that this is not a criticism of the legitimacy or credibility of the coaching they provide; it is mentioned to illustrate an additional source of persons to add to our “number of coaches” estimate.
Many coaching experts have stated that anyone can benefit from having a coach, yet the number of actual clients willing to hire a coach is finite. If we add up the numbers mentioned so far, as well as other sources of help that are not coaches, including self-help and self-coaching, and all the psychology and social work practitioners, then the ratio of potential helpers per client gets much larger.
What this means is that there is an exceptionally large pool of coaches competing against each other for the same client base. An August 2015 search of the Internet using Google reveals that there are more than 84 million websites listed when the term ‘coaches’ is used (while at the same eliminating other terms such as ‘sports, bus, clothing’ and other terms not associated with life and business coaches).Download Article 1K Club
December 30, 2016 at 6:54 pm
Fabulous article. As a 20+ year organization development professional schooled in the NTL methods, I’ve been, well, disgusted, to see work taken from my plate by “coaches.” Where I would have listened, offered (not required), and helped with feedback on various approaches for setting and achieving goals (or not goals), I’ve been told I can’t “coach” in some Federal Agencies because I’m not “ICF certified.” Meanwhile, some of the folks I’ve met in the “coaching profession” seem woefully unbalanced and bereft of use-of-self skill. What a mess, and you captured it. Thank you.