www.usatriathlon.org has a listing of coaches that have passed some level of certification - so you know they at least know something .
then you gotta ask what do you want? a local coach or an online coach. how much interface do you want? do you need someone to hold your hand or are you ok w/ a training plan and the occasional email? does your training/racing philosphies match up?
prices vary depending on the level of participation you want from the coach.
I think it's always good to have someone you can talk to and provide guidance especially on stuff like swim form where you really need outside eyes to catch your flaws. I had a coach when I did team in training and he was a good guy but haven't hired one since but that's me a BOPer who is happy just training and getting the occassional race Tshirt. have seen coaches help fast age groupers improve even more and know folks who just swear by their coaches.
goals for 2011:
break 19minutes for 5k
break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic
break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)
Ditto, on the above. What a coach SHOULD do is maximize your time. give you specific training for YOU not necessarily your race.
anyone can give you a "sprint tri training plan" and reply to your e-mails.
a coach should find your strengths, weaknesses and apply them to your training in a manner to reach your goals
with a maximum ROI.
find a friend or training partner that has a coach or had one. ask them about there experience.
feel free to e-mail me if you like. I will be glad to answer any questions and can point you to some other good resources. "non coaching" options.