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How to Become an ICF Certified Coach?

How to become an ICF-certified coach?

Dr. Paras
Dr. Paras
Jan 03, 2023

If you are wondering, “How do I become an ICF-certified coach?” This article is just the one for you. Becoming an ICF-certified coach amplifies your exposure as a coach, enabling you to kickstart a career in coaching on a global scale.

Coaching is an effective tool and catalyst that helps in motivating and uplifting people’s lives by supporting them through their journey of self-exploration and success.

Despite the consistent growth in the field of coaching, most coaching aspirants often wonder how to get ICF certification. But, with the right tools and guidance, coaching can be a rewarding and transformative career for many.

If you think it's your calling and you want to tap into the lucrative niche of coaching, this article breaks down the nitty-gritty of how to become ICF certified and how you can diversify your career in this field.

Understanding the Basics – How to Become an ICF-Certified Coach?

When it comes to laying down the facts about how to become an ICF-certified coach, the steps are very practical, to the point and achievable.

Nothing in the process is complicated, especially if you have the passion to learn more about the coaching tools, and associated resources to share your career in coaching and how to progress in this field on a global level.

Let us walk you through the different elements that go into the ICF credential application process for a coach.

Steps to Become an ICF-Certified Coach

As human beings, our brains retain information when they are presented in an organized manner. So, that’s exactly what we will do in this section of the article.

Following are the steps you need to follow to acquire your ICF credential:

  1. Sign up for the ICF-accredited training program.
  2. Begin with the ICF ACC/PCC/MCC Level, and complete the minimum number of training hours.
  3. Work with an ICF mentor coach to complete mentor coaching.
  4. Initiate the process of the ICF application. (Once accepted, you will receive an exam link)
  5. Clear the exam (CKA -Coach Knowledge Assessment)
  6. After successfully clearing the exam, you become a certified coach.

How To Become an ICF Certified Coach?

What is the Significance of Being an ICF-certified Coach?

While you are in the process of getting an answer to “How do I become a certified ICF coach?”, wondering why you need this accreditation is equally important.

Why should you aim for ICF-certified coaching programs and not the standard ones? What difference does it make? It all comes down to two things – authenticity and reliability.

ICF or the International Coaching Federation is a global regulatory body for coaches across the world. It has been in operation for the last 25+ years and has transformed the “golden standards of coaching.”

When you enroll in an ICF-accredited training program, you can proceed with the blind reliance that your future in coaching is well-polished and equipped with the best level of training, learning and awareness.

Is an ICF Coaching Certification Worth it?

There’s a reason why most aspiring coaches want to know how to become ICF accredited. Not just for recognition purposes, enrolling in an ICF-accredited coach training program ensures that a coach acquires the certification after rigorous rounds of learning and examination.

The profession of coaching was otherwise unregulated until ICF stepped into the picture. Since then, their core competencies have become a benchmark in the profession of coaching.

So, learning and familiarizing yourself with these concepts isn’t just for the sake of personal learning but also enables individuals to assure better coaching success with their clients.

What’s great about acquiring an ICF Coach Certification is the recognition and respect you get worldwide as a coach. Since this is a global governing body, its relevancy is represented everywhere in this industry.

Mastering how to get an ICF accreditation also allows you to brand yourself as a thought leader in the niche of coaching. You get to brand yourself in a more professional manner and gain the trust of clients. Having an internationally-recognized credential leads to greater trust and professionalism in the coaching process too.

So, if you are wondering if getting an ICF Coach Certification is worth it, we’d say you give it a go with your eyes closed. It can transform your life for the better – both in terms of acquiring clients and also branding yourself as an equipped coach in such a competitive market.

What are the three Levels of ICF-Accredited Coach Training Programs?

When discussing how to become an ICF-certified life coach, you need to familiarize yourself with the three levels of coaching certification offered by the organization.

They are as follows:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC)
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC)

Every level has different measures of coaching proficiency. The ICF holds live instruction, live practice and live feedback as some of their criteria to be certified as per the set standards.

1. Associate Certified Coach (ACC)

To become an Associate Certified Coach (ACC), the first step is to understand the breakdown of the coaching proficiency levels.

There are three paths that an individual can choose from for the ACC path.

They are as follows:

ACC PathICF Coach-Specific Training HoursMentor Coaching hoursCoach Knowledge Assessment
ACC ACTP Completion of an entire coach training program (125 hrs)10Yes
ACC ACSTH6010Yes
ACC Portfolio6010Yes

(There have been some modifications due to the COVID-19 impact and the same is displayed on their site.)

a. ACC ACTP Path (Level-1)

  • The ICF outlines the need for the completion of an entire ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) and the applicant needs to check the program’s approval as well.
  • The professional needs to complete a minimum of 100 hours (70 paid hours) of coaching experience.
  • The professional has to share details about work done with at least 8 clients that should occur at the start of the coach-specific training program.
  • The ICF outlines 25 of these hours that need to be held within 24 months from the time of the application submission for the ICF credential.
  • Completion of the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) is also a must.

b. ACC ACSTH Path

  • An ICF associate certified coach requires at least 60 hours of coach-specific training through an ACTP or ACSTH program.
  • It also requires 10 hours of Mentor Coaching (3 months) to be documented and submitted online. (Your mentor coach must be ACC and needs to have completed a full cycle of the credential through the renewal).
  • The professional also needs to display 100 hours (70 paid hours) of coaching experience with 8 clients at least.
  • The applicant also needs to submit an audio recording with a written transcript of a coach session.
  • The file needs to be uploaded with the application. This file will be used for performance evaluation.
  • The path also requires completion of the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA)

c. ACC Portfolio Path

  • This is meant for those professionals who are counting Continuing Coach Education (CCE) units and/or non-approved training towards the individual’s training requirements, as defined on the ICF website.
  • Requirements for these include 60 hours of coach-specific training.
  • The applicant needs to display the details about the completion of a training program they have enrolled for that includes information about the ICF definition of coaching, Code of Ethics, and Core Competencies.
  • An understanding of all is vital for coaching growth. It also needs to include a minimum of 100 hours (70 paid hours) with at least 8 clients.
  • ICF outlines that 25 of these hours need to take place within 24 months from the date of submission of the application.
  • The applicant needs to submit an audio recording and a written transcript of the coaching session online. Once again, completion of the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) is required at this level.

2. Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

An individual can select one of the three paths to become a PCC (Level 2) coach.

PathICF Coach Specific Training HoursMentor Coaching hoursCoach Knowledge Assessment
PCC ACTP Completion of an entire coach training program (125 hrs)10Yes
PCC ACSTH12510Yes
PCC Portfolio12510Yes

a. PCC ACTP Path (Level-2)

To become a Professional Certified Coach, PCC, the applicant needs to complete an entire ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). This also requires 500 hours (440 paid hours) which is the minimum for the coaching experience with 25 clients.

Around 50 of these hours need to occur within 24 months of the date of submission of the application to apply for this credential. As is mentioned for other levels, this also requires the completion of the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

b. PCC ACSTH Path

The individual needs at least 125 hours of coach-specific training through an ACTP or ACSTH program. It needs to include 10 hours of Mentor Coaching (3 months minimum) with 500 hours (440 paid hours) of coaching experience with 25 clients at least.

The applicant needs to upload two audio recordings and written transcripts of the coaching sessions online. These are used for performance evaluation. The applicant also needs to complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

c. PCC Portfolio Path

This is meant for professionals who are counting Continuing Coach Education (CCE) units and/or non-approved training towards one’s training requirements.

Their requirements include 125 hours of coach-specific training with performance evaluation. The applicant needs to demonstrate the completion of one of the best ICF-accredited coaching programs that adhere to the ICF definition of coaching, Code of Ethics, and Core competencies.

The applicant also needs 10 hours of Mentor Coaching (3 months at least) and the same needs to be documented in the online application. The applicant needs a minimum of  500 hours (440 paid hours) of coaching experience and the same needs to be documented.

The ICF outlines that at least 50 of these hours must occur 24 months prior to the submission of the application. Two audio recordings and written transcripts of the coaching sessions must be uploaded online for performance evaluation.

The ICF requires the completion of the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) to apply for this credential.

The ICF certification ensures coaches adhere to ethics while reassuring clients of their ‘model of excellence’ 

3. Master Certified Coach (MCC)

There are two paths an individual can select to become a master certified coach.

PathICF Coach Specific Training HoursMentor Coaching hoursCoach Knowledge Assessment
MCC ACSTH7510Yes
MCC Portfolio7510Yes

To become a Master Certified Coach, MCC, the applicant requires 200 hours of coach-specific training. This needs to include 10 hours of Mentor Coaching (minimum 3 months) with 2,500 hours (2,200 paid hours) and coaching practice with 35 clients along with many other details as outlined on their site.

The applicant needs to submit two audio recordings and written transcripts of the coaching sessions for a performance evaluation. The applicant also needs to hold (either currently or previously) an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) or the PCC ICF Credential.

The applicant also needs to complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) unless the applicant has previously passed when applying for ICF PCC certification.

The preparation that you go through for all the levels for an ICF coach training will prepare you at the highest level to be a professional coach. Initiating a change in others may often be a challenging process and coaching programs that are accredited with the ICF offer the best level of training in the industry.

All the levels outlined above require strict adherence to the coaching standards as outlined by ICF. This includes the values, ethics, and core competencies that form the foundation of a professional, and highly-skilled ICF-certified coach.

ICF accredited coach training program certificate
ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) Certification

How Much Does ICF Certification cost?

The ICF certification cost relies on multiple factors such as the chosen institute, expertise of the mentoring coach. The applicant has to bear the cost of the coaching program they are enrolling in and then pay the additional amount that ICF charges for the ICF Credential application process.

ICF Certification Cost:

Certification LevelCertification Cost
ACC$2400-$5000
PCC$4000-$6000
MCC$5500-$8000

ICF Credentialing Fees:

LevelsICF MembersNon-members
ACC$175$325
PCC$375$525
PCC ACSTH Path$650$800
PCC Portfolio Path$750$900
MCC$675$825

ICF certified coaching programs hold great value and offer a boost to one’s professional career. So, even if you are planning to coach independently or impart training to aspiring coaches, the credential ensures your returns on the investment made in the earlier stages are received with greater interest which you can capitalize on year after year! 

Final Words:

Matrrix is a leading centre of excellence when it comes to offering comprehensive ICF-accredited Coach Training programs. Curated by Dr. Paras, an internationally recognized coaching professional and MCC from ICF, these training programs are a reflection of his years of experience and expertise.

If you were confused about how to become an ICF-certified coach, we hope this comprehensive article answers all your queries in detail. For more resolutions on this topic, you can directly write to Dr Paras at [email protected] 

Frequently Asked Questions:

1) How much does it cost to get ICF certification? 

The ICF offers credentialing in multiple levels. The ICF life coach certification cost is as follows:

1. ACC: ICF Members: $100 USD, Non-members: $300 USD

2. PCC: ICF Members: $300 USD, Non-members: $500 USD

3. PCC ACSTH Path: ICF Members: $575 USD, Non-members: $775 USD

4. PCC Portfolio Path: ICF Members: $675 USD, Non-members: $875 USD

5. MCC: ICF Members: $575 USD, Non-members: $775 USD

For further queries on how much does ICF certification cost, we’d recommend reaching out to [email protected] 

2) Is ICF Coaching worth it? 

Yes, of course! If you are an aspiring professional, the ICF governs and sets the standards for coaching practices worldwide. You demonstrate core competencies of ICF for coaching excellence. Organizations benefit by hiring ICF coaches as they are assured of quality and a professional approach to coaching clients. 

3) What is an ICF certified coach?

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is an organization that governs and regulates the coaching industry. They offer coaching certification to individuals as well as organizations that offer programs to develop aspiring coaches. The process follows stringent rules with a skill evaluation.

4) How Do I Find An ICF Credential Coach?

Any person can claim to be a coach, and this might seem to be a cumbersome task for a person seeking an ICF credential coach. This also implies while choosing an appropriate ICF certified program or an ICF-certified coach where you also need to check the coach’s credibility (trainer of the program), training hours, and the overall reputation of the coach and the firm. 

You can verify the coach’s credentials by viewing a directory such as this one. Dr. Paras is listed here with the basic details outlined for those seeking more information. You can also visit the ICF Mentor Coach Registry where you only need to enter the coach’s name and check the ICF membership status and/or the ICF Credential status.

Dr. Paras

WRITTEN BY

Dr. Paras

ICF-certified (Master Certified Coach) and EMCC Master Practitioner and ESIA -Coach Supervisor Dr. Paras, and Co-Founder of Dr Paras Wellness Pvt. Ltd. with brand Matrrix has been focused towards initiating change and transformation in people. As a certified Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Mindfulness Coach, he brings a fresh approach towards learning the psychology of one’s thinking and behavior patterns. In his 18 years’ journey, he has trained, coached and mentored over 1.5 lakh individuals while certifying over 240 coaches. The leadership development programs of Matrrix have honed over hundreds of professionals while resolving workplace issues and ensuring higher ROI for firms.

Dr. Paras uses the power of coaching, counseling and positive psychology frameworks to resolve organizational issues, manage internal conflicts, and accelerate business growth. His programs for professional certifications in NLP, Mindfulness, Counseling, Coaching, and more have solidified his name as a transformation coach. Dr. Paras is also the founder of the Iinner Universe Education Foundation that runs Tava-Mitram (not-for-profit) to improve emotional wellness. He is also an avid blogger and social media enthusiast who loves keeping in touch with his international audience.

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