Enquiries about the ICF requirements for credentials are very common in the courses we deliver. It is normal not to fully grasp the different criteria for each of the accreditation level. All these abbreviations can be quite obscure at first and there is so much information out there that it can be very confusing.
If ACC, PCC & MCC and Levels 1, 2 & 3 do not mean anything to you, make sure you check these articles before looking at the requirements below. Once you know what they’re about, come back here and everything will make sense.
TRAINING CERTIFICATE ≠ ICF ACCREDITATION
Completing a coach training doesn’t equal getting an ICF accreditation.
Training and accreditation are in fact two very different things: one enables the other. Completing a coach training is one of the requirements for an ICF accreditation.
It is essential to grasp this to set the right expectations and avoid disappointment: no training can guarantee that you will get an ICF accreditation. The ICF reviews each credential application without involving the training provider.
It also means that you need to factor the cost of the application for the ICF credential as an additional expense. Getting an ICF accreditation is recommended but not mandatory to practice as a coach. You can reflect on the cost/benefit to see if this is something you want to pursue, or simply postpone at a later date when it will make sense for you to get an ICF accreditation.
ICF REQUIREMENTS FOR ACC
The following criteria need to be met before you apply for an ICF ACC credential:
Ideally, the training should have the Level 1 or Level 2 programme accreditation. We say “ideally” because it will be cheaper and faster for you than going the “Portfolio” route.
If your coach training is not ICF-accredited, you can still apply to the ICF ACC via the Portfolio path. Be aware that you will need to provide a lot of documentation about the course, including: proof of completion, list of hours delivered synchronously and asynchronously, evidence that the course was comprehensive and included the ICF framework, class outline or syllabus, and student materials (handouts, slides, etc.).
If you are unsure if your course was accredited or not, contact your training provider.
You need to have completed at least 100 hours of coaching with individual clients or in a group/team setting. You should track these hours in a coaching log (an Excel document) where you keep notes of the name and contact details of your clients, as well as the amount of coaching hours you have done with them.
In your log, you should make a distinction between paid coaching and probono (free) coaching. You can do a maximum of 25 hours of probono coaching out of these 100 hours.
You can only count hours from the start of your coach-training course. The coaching you do before your coach training will not count towards your credential.
10 hours of Mentor Coaching with an experienced ACC, PCC or MCC coach are required. It must be completed over a period of 3 months. 7 hours maximum can be in a group setting, the rest will need to be individual sessions.
If you have completed a Level 1 or Level 2 programme, the Mentor Coaching is part of your training. You will not need to do additional mentoring hours.
All coaches, regardless of the programme they attend, need to pass the ICF Credentialing Exam.
The ICF Credentialing Exam is a 81-item online questionnaire that measures the coach’s coaching knowledge and skills. Each item is a scenario describing a coaching situation and presents four response options. You are asked for each item to select the best action and the worst action among the options provided for that scenario.
It is the last step to complete as it is only made available to you after you apply to your ICF credential.
To learn more about the exam, you can check this page.
ICF REQUIREMENTS FOR PCC
In order to apply for the second-level accreditation, ICF PCC, you need to meet the following criterias:
Ideally here as well, the training should have the Level 2 programme accreditation. If you have done an initial coach training of less than 125 hours, it means you will need to complete it with another course.
If it is not ICF-accredited, the same rules apply: you will need to provide a lot of documentation about the course, including proof of completion, list of hours delivered synchronously and asynchronously, evidence that the course was comprehensive and included the ICF framework, class outline or syllabus, and student materials (handouts, slides, etc.).
You need to have completed at least 500 hours of coaching. 50 of these 500 hours can be probono coaching, the other 450 will have to be paid coaching.
If you have your ACC, the coaching hours include the first 100 hours that you already submitted for the first-level accreditation. The counter doesn’t go back to zero.
You will need to have completed 10 hours of Mentor Coaching with your programme is ACSTH-certified or not certified at all, you will need to an experienced PCC or MCC coach (ACC coaches can’t mentor for the PCC accreditation). The same criteria apply here: 7 hours maximum can be in a group setting, the rest will need to be individual sessions.
If you have completed a Level 2 accredited programme, you will not need to do additional Mentor Coaching hours.
You will need to retake the ICF Credentialing Exam, even if you have taken it for your ICF ACC.
You can apply to the PCC credential without having the ACC accreditation.
ICF REQUIREMENTS FOR MCC
Unlike the PCC accreditation which coaches can apply for without holding an ACC accreditation, the MCC credential requires that applicants to have been granted PCC beforehand.
The training requirement is minimum 200 hours of coach-specific training. This means doing another training on top of the programmes you completed for ACC and PCC.
For the MCC accreditation, you will need to do a Level 3 accredited course. You can also use the Portfolio path if you have detailed documentation about the non ICF-accredited courses your completed.
The experience required for MCC is a big step as you need to have completed at least 2,500 hours of coaching with at least 35 clients. At least 2,250 of these hours must be paid.
Mentor Coaching is a requirement if you are applying to your MCC via the Portfolio path. It will be included in a Level 3 programme.
Every time you upgrade your credential, you will need to take the ICF Credentialing Exam. It is one of the requirements for MCC candidates.
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