Almost ten years ago, I decided that I wanted to become a professional coach. Working in leadership and human resource roles for some of Canada’s largest employers in the financial services sector gave me many opportunities to coach people. I learned that I loved being a coach — aka a strategic thinking partner and an impartial, confidential, accountability advocate.
While still working full-time for my employer and with their consent, I attended coach training (on my own time and dime). Back then, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) was not as well known as the global leader and gold standard for professional coaches. I received my first coaching certification from an organization whose training was not recognized by the ICF.
So I started again and took more coach training. This time, I found a training program that would check all the important boxes in order to meet my coaching goals.
As of the date of this post, I am awaiting a decision from the ICF regarding my application to be recognized as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC).
If you are looking to become a professional coach certified with the ICF, I invite you to continue reading.
Over the years, I have learned a great deal about coach training, mentor coaching, and the ICF.
This post is intended to help you:
The ICF is the gold standard in coaching accreditation. Coaches who attain the ICF credential — whether ACC, PCC or MCC — stand out above other coaches as they have been given the stamp of approval by the world’s largest non-profit professional coach accrediting organization. ICF coaches are proven to have met core competencies, rigorous coach training requirements, and comply with the ICF code of ethics.
The ICF reports over 53,000 members and growth projections for the coaching industry continue to soar. It is an exciting time to become a professional coach!
Even with the continuous rise in the number of coaches, it remains an unregulated profession. As such, there is no governing body as with registered counsellors, therapists, or board certified doctors or lawyers.
Although the ICF does not have the legal ability to stop you from coaching, they can revoke your membership and accreditation. They have a scrupulous code of conduct and ethnical guidelines to which ICF accredited coaches must adhere.
To quote Maria (Julie Andrews) from the Sound of Music, "Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”
There are three paths to becoming an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the ICF.
This is the most common path and it requires candidates to complete:
It takes about 14 weeks from the submission of your ICF application before you hear back with their decision. Be patient and, as needed, contact the ICF directly if you have questions about the process or the status of your application.
Generally, the ACTP programs are for coaches who are considering skipping the ACC accreditation and wish to proceed directly to the PCC level where a minimum of 125 hours of approved coaching hours are required. Coaches pursuing this path already are coaching 20-40 hours a week while in the coach training program.
You do not need to complete 10 hours of mentor coaching. You do need to complete the CKA exam.
You also need to complete 60 hours of ICF approved coach specific training just as is required for the ACSTH path.
Consider the Portfolio path if you are taking non-approved training toward the ICF coach specific training requirements. You need at least 60 hours of this training and you will need to provide the ICF with “robust documentation” and that the training “includes the ICF definition of Coaching, Code of Ethics and Core Competencies, and is organized in a scope and sequence that encourages your growth as a coach”(ICF website).
All the other requirements apply including: 10 hours of Mentor Coaching over a minimum of three months, a minimum of 100 hours of coaching experience, one recorded and transcribed coaching session, and completion of the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).
Once you’ve completed:
You’re now ready to apply for your ACC. Be sure to select the correct path for you. Your choices are the ACSTH, the Portfolio and the ACTP. The most common is the ACSTH path.
Once your performance evaluation (recorded coaching session) is approved, you will receive an email from the ICF with a link to complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).
At present, the entire application process can take between 14 to 18 weeks. It helps to be patient and continue building your coaching hours.
You will want to track all your coaching hours. The ICF now requires that you attest your coaching hours as part of the experience requirements. Even with the attestation, you may be selected for an audit whereby you will be required to provide the ICF with access to contact information for your clients. It is important that you secure your clients’ consent as part of your coaching agreement with them.
I use a coaching hours tracking spreadsheet provided by Cathy Shaughnessy of Perspective in Action. There is also a coaching hours tracking tool available to download from the ICF website. It is called the ICF Client Coaching log template.
There is a lot to consider when applying for your ACC, but it is not a complex process. It just requires a good understanding of the ICF requirements.
The great news is that you are not alone in this journey. Additionally, I’ll be facilitating a webinar on this very topic for Coaching Out Of The Box on June 23 at 2pm EST. Please contact [email protected] for more information or to register for this free webinar.