A recent International Coach Federation study provides a pulse check on the coaching profession.
The study, commissioned by ICF and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, is the second of the profession's kind, following its first global industry study in 2006. The 2012 study reached professional coaches in 117 countries, with 7,700 ICF members responding to the survey. Of the 12,133 valid responses received, 4,400 were from non-ICF members.
According to ICF President Janet Harvey, "The picture was even better than we had hoped for, considering that during the five years between studies, the world suffered the greatest recession since the Great Depression."
The study resulted in these main findings:
- The profession appears to be growing, with an estimated 47,500 professional coaches generating close to $2 billion in annual revenue.
- The profession remains concentrated in high-income regions of North America, western Europe, and Oceania, with more than three in four coaches operating in these areas.
- Evidence suggests that coaching is growing more quickly outside of high-income areas, in regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Coaches are looking confidently to the future and expecting an increase in demand during the next 12 months, leading to predicted growth in annual coaching revenue.
- The profession's main obstacles to tackle during the next 12 months include educating untrained individuals who call themselves coaches, increasing the awareness of coaching benefits, and determining whether coaching should be regulated.
Regarding this last finding, Harvey notes that practitioner coaches recognize it is their responsibility to build client awareness of coaching's distinction as a practice. "Just because you've been a trainer doesn't mean you'll be a good coach," she says. "This is an opportunity for the training field in general to help people see the value of investing in coaching."
Harvey points out that ICF's code of ethics, code of conduct, and bylaws—available on the organization's website—define the standards by which professional coaches model their behavior.