10 Essential Steps To Get Your ICF ACC Credential

If you’re reading this article it’s very likely because you are thinking about becoming a coach and you’re gathering information about what needs to be done to get an ICF credential. First, we want to acknowledge that you are choosing the path of coaching excellence by thinking of the standards you need to meet.

An ICF credential is by no means mandatory to call yourself a coach. However, having one shows the dedication and commitment to high standards of coaching practice. It means your coach training was serious, you were assessed on your coaching skills, you have some experience, and you took an exam.

In this article, we are going to look at the 10 essential steps you need to take in order to receive your ICF ACC credential.

1. Reflect on your motivation

The first step is almost always to reflect. Why do you want to become a coach? What’s important to you about moving towards this career?

There are a few other questions you can think of:

  • What do you hope to gain from becoming a coach?
  • Who do you want to coach?
  • What problems do you want to support others to solve?
  • How is the coaching profession aligned with your core values and purpose?

Knowing your motivation to become a coach and your vision of what it could look like will help you identify the right training for you.


Once you are a bit clearer on the type of coaching you want to offer, you can search for the coaching course that will support your development.

We cannot emphasise enough on the importance of opting for a course that is accredited by the ICF.

Why is it so important? Because those courses are usually longer than the others and meet educational criteria that were reviewed and approved by the ICF. That means the programme was reviewed by an external team of experts and deemed satisfactory according to their standards.

Going for an accredited coaching course is certainly an investment in terms of time and money. If you don’t, you may run the risk of having to redo a training at some point, in order for you to improve your skills or go for a credential, as we’ve seen some of our alumni do.

Where do you find such courses? Go on the ICF website. They have a search engine that will show you their accredited courses.

You can have a look at our Level 1 Professional Coaching Skills Certification to see what you can expect from an accredited course.


In order to apply for your ICF ACC credential, you need to have 100 hours of coaching, including a minimum of 75 hours of paid coaching, and 25 hours of probono coaching. 

In order to keep track of your experience, you will add each coaching session you facilitate in a spreadsheet. You can start tracking your coaching sessions from the first day of your coach training.

We shared an ICF Coaching Log template you can download for free. Get it here.


Our advice is not to wait for your coach training to be over to start practicing. Improving your skills comes with practice, so make sure you can do as much coaching as possible while you are learning during your course.

You can ask family members and friends if they know anyone who might need coaching. You can also ask your colleagues, and see with your manager if there is an opportunity to offer coaching internally in your company.

We have an article about how to get your first 100 hours of coaching.


The following step on your journey to your ICF ACC is going to be to finish your coach training. It sounds obvious, but it’s harder than what it looks like.

Very often, the coach training will start with some prework, then the classes will take place, and finally there will be some self-study to complete. This last part – the self-study – is the hardest for people to complete. The classes usually require a lot of commitment, and so when they are over, it sometimes feels like the training is over. 

Make sure that you remain committed and motivated to meet all the requirements of your coach training. The longer it takes you to complete the self-study, the harder it will be to stay motivated. Don’t wait too long after the classes are finished to do the self-study.


Once you have finished your ICF-accredited Level 1 coach training and you have reached 100 hours of coaching, you are ready to apply for your ICF ACC credential. Congratulations!

You can go on the ICF website to start your application.

The information you will be asked:

  • The name of your training provider,
  • The amount of coach training you completed,
  • The certificate you received from your training provider, and
  • The total amount of coaching hours you have done, and how many were paid and probono.

You will also be asked to pay the application fee at that point.


While the ICF reviews your application, which should be a matter of days since you have completed a Level 1 certification programme, you can focus on the final stage of the process: the ICF Credentialing Exam.

Every coach who applies for an ICF credential has to take this exam. It is a 3-hour test that can be taken in person or online, which is designed to assess your ability to apply the ICF framework (competencies and code of ethics) to specific coaching scenarios.

You can learn more about the exam in this article.


Once the ICF has reviewed your application, you will receive an email from them to book your slot for the exam. There are a lot of different options, so make sure you choose the one that works for you. This is quite intensive, so if you decide to take it at home make sure you will not have any distractions. You should also book it at a time of the day and the week where you know your energy level is high, to make it as easy for you as possible to remain focused.


The day of the exam, put yourself in the right mindset.

You completed an accredited coach training. You have experience. You went back to the materials to prepare. You are ready for this.

When answering each item of the test, make sure to pick the answers that are most aligned with the ICF competencies and code of ethics.

Once the exam is over, you’ll immediately see the results. The passing grade is 75%.

10. WAIT FOR THE COnfirmation email

If you passed the exam, you will simply have to wait for an email from the ICF officially granting you the ACC credential, which should not take too long.

You got the email. Congrats, you're an icf-CREDENTIALED ACC coach!

Congratulations for committing to and successfully completing each step of this process. You can now add the ACC logo on your website and update your coaching bio!


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Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

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