In my more than a decade of coaching, I have received many inquiries from individuals wanting to explore being a coach. My usual first question to them is: “Why do you want to be a coach?”

Whatever we choose to do in life, it is always good if we can begin by understanding what motivates us. The right motivation is typically the basic ingredient needed to experience satisfaction in whatever career we eventually choose.

Many “coach-wanna-bes” respond to my question by saying that they are interested in coaching. However, when I probe further as to what exactly it is in coaching that they have an interest in, many are not able to find the answers.

Fair enough — if they have not done it before, and do not know exactly what is involved, they would not be able to say what exactly they are interested in.

The answer I always hope to hear is “I want to be a coach so that I can help others to be more effective, to be better leaders” and so on.

The key thing about coaching is the desire to help others — to be better leaders, to make better decisions, to find the right career direction and so on. Once you have the right motivation, you can pay attention to the following areas:


There are at least two schools of thought. The first believes that there is no need to go through any formal training before one can coach others. The second takes the opposite stance that one has to be properly trained before attempting to help anyone else.

I belong to the latter school of thought. Properly delivered, coaching can be powerful and life-impacting. If so, then shouldn’t it be done properly? And if you want to do it professionally, shouldn’t you be trained?

It does not matter what your profession was — anyone can train to be a professional coach. A common myth is that coaches evolve from human resource (HR) professionals. Well, I was in the HR profession, but I know of quality coaches who come from a different background.


There are at least two independent, professional coaching bodies, one in the United States and the other in Britain, that offer coaching accreditation. The typical route to achieving accreditation is the training and the clocking of coaching hours. Once you have attained these two, you can apply for professional accreditation.

Coaching experience

As coaching becomes more popular in Singapore, freshly minted coaches face the challenge of establishing a name for themselves. It is useful to anchor themselves to a larger company so they can begin building up their experience and credentials.

Begin with the end in mind — what is the niche you want to create for yourself? Here are some options — you can become a career coach, an executive coach, a work-life coach, a spiritual coach or a life coach.

Coaching community

As a new coach, it is useful to register yourself as a member of a professional coaching body. Here in Singapore, there is at least one — the Singapore Chapter of the International Coach Federation (US).

The reason why I suggest this is so you can network with fellow coaches and continue to learn more about coaching. Everyone can do with a coach — even coaches. Peer coaching is one of the activities that is commonly organised by such coaching bodies — and you can then take advantage of this and get yourself coached by a peer coach.

As the coaching industry grows, I look forward to more professionally trained coaches joining its ranks. For sure, this will mean there will be more coaches and, hence, more choices for coaching clients, resulting in more competition among practising coaches. This will help to raise professional standards even more, and this can only be a good thing.


Article by Paul Heng, founder, managing director and executive coach of NeXT Career Consulting Group, Asia. For more information, visit