ICF Certification

ICF Certification Journey

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The journey into the coaching world is like entering an orchard. It has trees, bushes, shrubs, and creepers. But sometimes it becomes dark and confusing. Similarly, whenever we think of entering the coaching world, the first thing that pops into our brain is how to become a coach. We wonder where to begin, what path to take, who to talk to, and how to proceed. This can sometimes be an appalling state but in reality, this is supposed to be easy and not horrifying. 

Well, we understand you and we are there for you. Not to rescue you, because you are not lost, but just confused. So, here is a guide to help you through your coaching journey. Let us first begin by understanding what exactly is ICF or International Coaching Federation.

International Coaching Federation

ICF is an acronym for International Coaching Federation. ICF is a global body that is dedicated specifically to promote the profession of coaching. ICF is working towards establishing high standards, providing independent certification, and establishing a global network of qualified coaches. The International Coach Federation (ICF) continues to offer the only globally recognised, independent credentialing programme for coaches. 

Aspiring coaches or even professional coaches who seek certification and credentialing can earn their requirements with ICF. Professional coaches who have met rigorous academic and experience standards and demonstrated a thorough comprehension of the coaching skills that set the standard in the field are awarded ICF Credentials. A coach’s commitment to ethics, expertise, and mastery of coaching skills, and dedication to clients is demonstrated by earning ICF qualifications. Not only this but ICF also provides programs that are specifically designed to meet the needs of what a coach needs in any training program. So if you are looking for a coach-specific training program then ICF is what you need. Now that you are clear with what exactly is ICF, let us discover the functions of ICF.

Role of ICF- International Coaching Federation

  • Developing core coaching competencies that are a primary requisite of a coach
  • Creating a code of ethics and professional standards that coaches all around the globe should follow
  • Developing a certifying program that is recognised around the world
  • Setting standards for coach-specific training programmes through accreditation
  • Continuous learning is provided through world-class events, Communities of Practice (CPs), and archived learning.
  • Conversations on the future of coaching are being led and informed by ICF  all around the globe.

ICF Credential Pathways 

Before jumping into the specific pathways, one must first be familiar with the term- Credential Pathways. So, ICF Credential pathways are levels of attaining certification and becoming a coach. So, there are three Credential pathways provided by International Coaching Federation:

  • ACC – Associate Certified Coach
  • PCC – Professional Certified Coach
  • MCC – Master Certified Coach

The number of recorded coaching experience hours and the number of hours of training received determine these levels. The application process for an ICF Credential is different depending on the level of Credential you want and where you got your coach-specific training. So let us discover each one of these pathways one by one.

ACC 

ACC stands for Associate Certified Coach. ACC is the first path provided by ICF. Here, Applicants have three pathways to choose from, for ACC Credentialing. For each of these paths, the candidate must have completed a time period of at least 60 hours of coach-specific training, 100 hours of client coaching experience, 10 hours of mentor coaching over a three-month period, and pass a performance assessment of their coaching as well as the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

The training(s) you used to complete the 60-hour coach-specific training requirement influences your application path.  Examine the criteria below to see which path best suits the training you’ve received or are considering.

ACC ACTP Path

ACTP stands for Accredited Coach Training Program. ACC ACTP Path is one of the three ACC Paths. When fully completed, an ACTP programme comprises at least 125 hours of student interaction time, 10 hours of mentor coaching, and a performance review process.

The basic requirements of the ACC ACTP Path are as follows:

  • Completion of an ICF-accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP)* from start to finish.
  • Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 100 hours (70 paid**) of coaching experience with at least eight clients.
  • At least 25 of these hours must be completed within the preceding 24 months of completing the certification application.
  • The Coach Knowledge Assessment must be completed (CKA).

ACC ACSTH Path

ACSTH acronym stands for Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH). So now the question stands what exactly is ACSTH. ACSTH is not a coach training program but rather it is where Institutes and other bodies who wish to impact and impart coach training to people can get their ICF accreditation.

The basic requirements of the ACC ACSTH Path are as follows:

  • An ACTP or ACSTH programme with at least 60 hours of coach-specific training is required.
  • Mentor Coaching for a total of 10 hours over a minimum of three months, as evidenced on your online application. Your Mentor Coach must be an ACC in good standing who has completed a full cycle of the credential, including renewal.
  • Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 100 hours (70 paid*) of coaching experience with at least eight clients. At least 25 of these hours must be completed within the past 24 months** of completing the credential application.
  • Evaluation of performance (audio recording and written transcript of a coach session to be uploaded with your application).
  • The Coach Knowledge Assessment must be completed (CKA).

ACC Portfolio Path

Next comes the ACC Portfolio Path. The basic requirements of the ACC Portfolio Path are as follows:

  • A minimum of 60 hours of coach-specific training with thorough documentation is required. You’ll need to show that you’ve finished a comprehensive training programme that includes the ICF definition of coaching, as well as the Code of Ethics and Core Competencies, and is organised in a scope and sequence that supports your development as a coach.
  • Mentor Coaching for a total of 10 hours over a minimum of three months, as evidenced on your online application. Your Mentor Coach must be an ACC, PCC, or MCC in good standing who has completed a full cycle of their credential (via renewal).
  • Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 100 hours (70 paid*) of coaching experience with at least eight clients. At least 25 of these hours must be completed within the past 24 months** of completing the credential application.
  • Evaluation of performance (audio recording and written transcript of a coaching session to be uploaded with your application).
  • The Coach Knowledge Assessment must be completed (CKA).

Note:

The ICF Credentials and Standards Board has temporarily allowed an increase in the proportion of eligible pro bono coaching hours for ACC applicants who apply before December 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19’s prolonged impact. 

The previously announced interim measure, which was supposed to expire on December 31, 2020, has been extended. Because the percentage is rising by 20%, ACC applicants can now use 30 hours of pro bono coaching toward their experience requirement (up from 25 hours).

PCC 

PCC stands for Professional Certified Coach. PCC is the second path provided by ICF. Here, Applicants have three pathways to choose from, for the PCC Credentialing. For each of these paths, the candidate must have completed a time period of at least 125 hours of coach-specific training, a minimum of 500 hours of client coaching experience, 10 hours of mentor coaching over a three-month period, and pass a performance assessment of their coaching as well as the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

The training(s) you used to complete the 125-hour coach-specific training requirement influences your application path.  Examine the criteria below to see which path best suits the training you’ve received or are considering.

PCC ACTP Path

ACTP stands for Accredited Coach Training Program. PCC ACTP Path is one of the three PCC Paths. When fully completed, an ACTP programme comprises at least 125 hours of student interaction time, 10 hours of mentor coaching.

The basic requirements of the ACC ACTP Path are as follows:

  • Completion of an ICF-accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP)* from start to finish.
  • Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 500 hours (440 paid**) of coaching experience with at least 25 clients. At least 50 of these hours must be completed within the past 24 months*** of completing the certification application.
  • The Coach Knowledge Assessment must be completed (CKA).

PCC ACSTH Path

ACSTH stands for Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH). So now the question stands what exactly is ACSTH. ACSTH is not a coach training program but rather it where Institutes and other bodies who wish to impact and impart coach training to people can get their ICF accreditation.

The basic requirements of the PCC ACSTH Path are as follows:

  • An ACTP or ACSTH programme with at least 125 hours of coach-specific training. 
  • Mentor Coaching for a total of 10 hours over a minimum of three months, as evidenced on your online application. A PCC or MCC in good standing must be your Mentor Coach.
  • Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 500 hours (440 paid*) of coaching experience with at least 25 clients. At least 50 of these hours must be completed within the past 24 months** of completing the certification application.
  • Evaluation of performance (two audio recordings and written transcripts of coaching sessions to be uploaded with your application).
  • The Coach Knowledge Assessment must be completed (CKA).

PCC Portfolio Path

Next comes the PCC Portfolio Path. You must take the PCC Portfolio path if you want to use Continuing Coach Education (CCE) units and/or non-approved courses to fulfil your training requirements. The basic requirements of the PCC Portfolio Path are as follows:

  • A minimum of 125 hours of coach-specific training with extensive documentation is required. You must show that you have completed a comprehensive training programme that covers the ICF definition of coaching, the Code of Ethics, and the Core Competencies, and is organised in a scope and sequence that promotes your development as a coach.
  • Mentor Coaching for a total of 10 hours over a minimum of three months, as evidenced on your online application. A PCC or MCC in good standing must be your Mentor Coach.
  • Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 500 hours (440 paid*) of coaching experience with at least 25 clients. At least 50 of these hours must be completed within the past 24 months** of completing the certification application.
  • Evaluation of performance (two audio recordings and written transcripts of coaching sessions to be uploaded with your application).
  • The Coach Knowledge Assessment must be completed (CKA).

Note:

The ICF Credentials and Standards Board has temporarily allowed an increase in the proportion of eligible pro bono coaching hours for ACC applicants who apply before December 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19’s prolonged impact. 

The previously announced interim measure, which was supposed to expire on December 31, 2020, has been extended. Because the percentage is rising by 20%, PCC applicants can now use 30 hours of pro bono coaching toward their experience requirement (up from 25 hours).

MCC 

MCC stands for Master Certified Coach. MCC is the third path provided by ICF. Here, Applicants has only one pathway. 

The basic requirements of the MCC Path are as follows:

  • 200 hours of coach-specific training.
  • Mentor Coaching for 10 hours over a minimum of three months. Your Mentor Coach must be a current MCC member. This cannot be the same Mentor Coaching that was used to apply for a previous ICF Credential.
  • Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 2,500 hours (2,200 paid*) of coaching experience with at least 35 clients.
  • Evaluation of performance (two audio recordings and written transcripts of coaching sessions).
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential is currently (or previously) held.
  • When applying for ACC or PCC, take the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) unless you’ve already passed it.

Note:

The ICF Credentials and Standards Board has temporarily allowed an increase in the proportion of eligible pro bono coaching hours for ACC applicants who apply before December 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19’s prolonged impact. 

The previously announced interim measure, which was supposed to expire on December 31, 2020, has been extended. Because the percentage is rising by 20%, MCC applicants can now use 30 hours of pro bono coaching toward their experience requirement (up from 25 hours).

These are the paths of credentials provided by the ICF. So in order to become an ICF certified coach one needs to be accredited and attain these paths according to the certification, they require, i.e. ACC, PCC, or MCC. If you require more information about how to become a coach download our Guide to become a coach.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is International Coaching Federation?

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is an acronym for International Coaching Federation. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is a global organisation dedicated to promoting coaching as a profession. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is trying to create high standards, provide independent certification, and build a global network of certified coaches.

What are the roles of the ICF- International Coaching Federation?

  • Developing core coaching competencies, which are a coach’s first and most important requirement
  • Developing a code of ethics and professional standards that all coaches should adhere to
  • Creating an internationally recognised certification programme
  • Accreditation is used to set criteria for coach-specific training programmes.

 

What is Associate Certified Coach?

The acronym ACC stands for Associate Certified Coach. The first path provided by ICF is ACC. Over a three-month period, the candidate must complete at least 60 hours of coach-specific training, 100 hours of client coaching experience, and 10 hours of mentor coaching, as well as pass a performance evaluation of their coaching and the Coach Knowledge Assessment.

What is Professional Certified Coach?

The acronym PCC stands for Professional Certified Coach. For PCC, candidates must complete at least 125 hours of coach-specific training, 500 hours of client coaching experience, 10 hours of mentor coaching over a three-month period, and pass a coaching performance exam as well as the Coach Knowledge Assessment.

What is Master Certified Coach?

Master Certified Coach is the abbreviation for Master Certified Coach. ICF offers MCC as a third option. Applicants have only one option here. The MCC Path requires 200 hours of coach-specific training at a minimum. Mentor coaching for a minimum of three months, for a total of ten hours. A current MCC member must be your Mentor Coach. This cannot be the same Mentor Coaching that was used to apply for an ICF Credential in the past.

What are the requirements of ACC ACTP?

Completion of an ICF-accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP)* from start to finish.

Following the start of your coach-specific training, you must have a minimum of 100 hours (70 paid**) of coaching experience with at least eight clients.

At least 25 of these hours must be completed within the preceding 24 months of completing the certification application.

The Coach Knowledge Assessment must be completed (CKA).

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