Earning an International Coaching Federation Credential like ACC or PCC

by | Mar 28, 2024 | CEO/Executive Directors | 0 comments

Coaching is a specific set of skills and an entire profession. But since anyone can call themselves a “coach,” coaching certifications and credentials can help coaches show their dedication to the craft. And a high-level of professionalism to their clients.

As the profession of coaching has developed, the International Coaching Federation has emerged as the pre-eminent global organization credentialing coaches, accrediting coach certification providers, and continuing to enhance the quality of coaching.

Three Levels of ICF Credentialing

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) offers three levels of credentialing

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

Each allow coaches to validate their skills, knowledge, and experience in the field. Earning an ICF credential means a coach has to meet tough rules about their education, experience, and skills. They need special coach training, hours working with real clients, guidance from a mentor coach, passing skills tests, and passing a comprehensive exam.

Going through the stringent ICF credential process shows coaches are dedicated to following the highest professional rules. It proves they have mastered core coaching skills and want to give clients an excellent coaching experience that follows ICF ethics and definitions of coaching. Having an ICF credential tells clients and companies that a coach has worked hard to develop their coaching abilities. It means they have proven they can lead effective coaching sessions.

Certainly, here’s a simplified description of the three ICF credentialing levels, their requirements, and the reasons a coach might want to pursue each. Each credential also has links back to the appropriate page on the ICF website for the most up-to-date requirements.

1. Associate Certified Coach (ACC)

The Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential is suited for coaches early in their career or professionals integrating coaching into their practice. This credential validates a coach’s understanding of core coaching principles and competencies.

Who the ACC is for: coaching looking to demonstrate foundational coaching skills, knowledge, and competence.

Requirements for earning the ACC:

  • 60+ hours of coach-specific training
  • 100+ hours of coaching experience with at least 8 clients
  • 10 hours of mentor coaching
  • Pass a performance evaluation
  • Pass the ICF credentialing exam

The most up-to-date requirements for earning your ACC can be found on ICF’s page “Associate Certified Coach (ACC) Credential.”

2. Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

The Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential is designed for established coaches who provide coaching services as their primary professional focus. The PCC distinguishes coaches with verified skills for effective coaching practice and substantial client experience.

Who the PCC is for: experienced coaches seeking to demonstrate proficiency in coaching skills, knowledge, and competence.

Requirements for earning the PCC:

  • 125+ hours of coach-specific training
  • 500+ hours of coaching experience with at least 25 clients
  • 10 hours of mentor coaching
  • Pass a performance evaluation
  • Pass the ICF credentialing exam

The most up-to-date requirements for earning your PCC can be found on ICF’s page “Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Credential.”

3. Master Certified Coach (MCC)

The Master Certified Coach (MCC) represents mastery of the ICF core competencies and coaching ethics. It distinguishes coaches with a high level of experience, skill, and an ability to engage in powerful coaching conversations.

Who the MCC is for: seasoned, expert coaches looking to evidence advanced coaching skills, knowledge, and competence.

Requirements for earning the MCC:

  • Significant coach-specific training (no set hours requirement)
  • Demonstrate completion of mentor coaching
  • Pass a performance evaluation
  • Pass the ICF credentialing exam

The most up-to-date requirements for earning your MCC can be found on ICF’s page “Master Certified Coach (ACC) Credential.”

ICF Credentials are a way of validating expertise

A professional coach can certainly be skilled and incredibly effective without an ICF credential like ACC, PCC, or MCC. But by pursuing these ICF credentials, coaches validate their coaching expertise, demonstrate their commitment to professional standards, enhance their credibility, and potentially expand their coaching opportunities and clientele.

These standards are well known in many circles. In fact, some clients and some corporations looking for coaches are choosing to only entertain coaches with ICF credentials.

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