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Coach Credentialing, Certification and Accreditation

ICF is arguably the best known and far-reaching Coach regulatory organization in the world.  As ‘guardians of the profession’, ICF is committed to upholding the professionalism of Coaching.  To this end it has established credentialing and certification processes. 

All information on this page reflects our understanding of the ICF Credentials, Accreditation and Certification, as described on the ICF Website:  www.coachingfederation.org. 

ICF Credentials

A coach who has met the minimum requirements of the International Coach Federation (ICF) is award one of three credentials:

ACC:  Associate Certified Coach.  Minimum of 60 hours of ICF approved training, 100 hours of coaching experience and at least 8 clients.

PCC:  Professional Certified Coach.  Minimum of 125 hours of ICF approved training, 500 hours of coaching experience and at least 25 clients.

MCC:  Master Certified Coach.  Minimum of 200 hours of ICF approved training, 2500 hours of coaching experience, and at least 35 clients.


Radiance Coach Trainers are ICF members, and are all either MCCs or PCCs

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Credentials

Credentialing is important to any profession:  it validates the client will be getting a certain standard of coaching.  ICF has 3 Credentials (see sidebar). In order to achieve an ICF credential, the applicant must demonstrate his/her level of knowledge of the ICF Core Competencies (8 competencies that govern ‘good’ coaching).  This is done by sending ICF recordings of the applicant coaching a client for 20-45 minutes.  This recording is assessed against standards for that particular level of credential, and the coach might pass or fail. 

Why are credentials important to you?  Because most business, the government and other organizations rely on these credentials when hiring coaches.  It is a validation of training and experience.  As a professional, you want to demonstrate to potential clients that you are serious about your work, and have the backing of ICF to prove it. 

Certification

Certification is the process whereby Accredited Coach Training Programs (Level 1,2 and 3 Organizations - see below) do the work that ICF normally does to ensure a coach is coaching at the appropriate level.  Only accredited organizations can give out certifications that are recognized by ICF to streamline the credentialing process.  A Level 2  Certification program will be at least 125 hours of coach education, and includes 10 hours of mentoring plus passing two assessments of a PCC level recording.  Certificate programs are typically more rigorous than other coach education programs, preparing the student to have the confidence and skills necessary to establish their coaching business upon graduation.

Why is Certification important to you?  Because with a Level 1 or Level 2 certification, attaining an ICF credential becomes much easier.  Once certified coaches meet the coaching hours and number of clients requirements for the ACC or PCC credential, they need only send in their Certificate, attest to the number of hours and clients, and take the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) exam to apply for the credential. 

Note that you don’t need a Certification to attain a credential!  It just makes it easier.  If you get your coach education hours from other sources, in order to attain your credential you will need to get an additional 10 hours of mentoring plus send in one or two (ACC or PCC) recordings to be assessed by ICF.  If you fail the assessment(s) you can try again in 3 months.

Radiance Partners, LLC offers a full Certification, ACTP Coach Education Program and has applied to transition to Level 1 and Level 2 accreditation.

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Accreditation

Accreditation in Coaching Accreditation means different things for different coach regulatory organizations. For ICF it means approving coach training programs to offer different levels of training.

To indicate the extent of the coach training program, ICF offers several different levels of ICF accreditation: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and CCE:

Level 1 Training (formerly ACSTH - Approved Coach Specific Training Hours) approved courses are training programs that prepare the student to qualify for the ACC credential. Graduates using Level 1 training for credentialing must use the Level 1 Application which includes a requirement for 10 hours of mentor coaching, and passing the Coach Knowledge Assessment exam to qualify for a credential. Requirements to be accredited by ICF as a Level 1 Organization include:

  • Minimum of 30 hours of coach specific training
  • At least 80 percent of all training delivered in synchronous activities
  • At least 80 percent of all training delivered on the ICF Core Competencies & ICF Code of Ethics
  • Minimum of 5 observed coaching sessions by an experienced coach
  • At least 10 hours of mentoring
  • Comprehensive final exam that evaluates a student’s coaching competency at the ACC level

Level 2 Training  (Formerly ACTP-Accredited Coach Training Programs) are ‘all inclusive’ programs that offer full coach training at the PCC level. Students who complete all the certification requirements of a Level 2 program receive a certificate that is accepted by ICF as proof that training requirements are met at the PCC Level. This certificate, along with validation of required experience hours, number of clients, and passing the Coach Knowledge Assessment exam is all that is required to apply for the PCC. Requirements to be accredited by ICF as a Level 2 Organization are:

  • Minimum 125 hours coach-specific training
  • At least 80 percent of all training delivered in synchronous learning activities
  • At least 80 of all training hours are focused on the ICF Core Competencies & ICF Code of Ethics
  • Minimum of 6 observed-coaching sessions with an experienced coach
  • At least 10 hours of mentoring 
  • Comprehensive final exam that evaluates a student’s coaching competency at the PCC level
  • Director of Education is an MCC or PCC

Level 3 Training  (a new offering) are programs for PCC coaches who want to achieve their MCC. Students who complete all the certification requirements of a Level 3 program receive a certificate that is accepted by ICF as proof that training requirements are met at the MCC Level. Having this certificate does not replace the current requirements for attaining the MCC.  All MCC applicants must still send in two recordings to be assessed by ICF. Requirements to be accredited by ICF as a Level 3 Organization are:

  • Minimum 75 hours coach-specific training at the MCC level
  • At least 50 percent of all training delivered in synchronous learning activities
  • At least 80 of all training hours are focused on the ICF Core Competencies & ICF Code of Ethics
  • Minimum of 5 observed-coaching sessions with an experienced coach
  • At least 10 hours of mentoring 
  • Comprehensive final exam that evaluates a student’s coaching competency at the MCC level
  • Director of Training is an MCC 
  • All instructors hold an MCC 

CCE (Continuing Coach Education) are separate training modules for supplemental or advanced training. Providers may provide a certificate, but it can only be used to prove hours of training. Graduates using CCE training for initial credentialing must use the Portfolio Application path which includes assessment of 1 or 2 recordings, 10 hours of mentor coaching, and passing the Coach Knowledge Assessment exam to qualify for a credential. CCE providers must have their classes approved by ICF in order to display the ICF CCE logo.


                

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