ICF Coaching Credential Guide
Thank you for caring enough about coaching to be interested in working towards your ICF coaching credential.
The ICF’s website must be your go to place to research on how to get certified as an ICF Credentialed Coach.
Many of our qualified certified life coaches, business coaches and specialty coaches have walked the path of becoming ACC, PCC and then MCC credentialed.
I’m going to give you my personal advice, inspiration and guidance to help you on the path towards coach certification, be as smooth as possible.
As someone who holds an MCC ICF credential and as a teacher of MCC and PCC coaches, I can also offer you valuable insight into some of the most limiting obstacles that you are likely to face.
I want you to avoid the mistakes that many make, and hopefully accelerate your journey.
Aim for MCC levels of skill
To achieve a MCC ICF coaching credential is a wonderful goal to have. It’s not easy to achieve but I believe that it’s worth it, and even striving for it makes us better coaches. And after all, is that not what we are truly aiming for? To be the best coaches we are in service, changing lives and making a positive difference in the world.
At the time of writing this, the ICF require the following for each level of certification.
ACC Associate Certified Coach:
• 60+ hours of coach training
• 100+ hours of coaching experience
PCC Professional Certified Coach:
• 125+ hours of coach training
• 500+ hours of coaching experience
MCC Master Certified Coach:
• 200+ hours of coach training
• 2500+ hours of coaching experience
Please have a look on their website for their latest certification criteria.
You will also need to compile a log to prove your coaching experience.
And you will need proof of your coach training, the easiest of which is to complete an ACTP accredited coach training course. If you complete an ACTP course that has more than 200 hours of training time, then you can tick off that box and focus on accumulating your 2500 hours of coaching to reach MCC.
InnerLifeSkills offers 162 and 213 hours on our ILS Master Coach course. 213 hours is our ILS Master Coach MCC course.
That’s the technical information that you need. I promised you more than what you could get from the website. So here is my suggested plan for you.
If you haven’t yet chosen a coach training course click here to learn more about what you need to do to choose the right course for you. This includes our 10 Point Coaching Course Checklist — which is a must do before you invest any time or money into your coach training.
Once you have chosen the correct coach training course, use the following plan to guide yourself towards becoming a credentialed coach.
Why bother to become an ICF credentialed coach?
Becoming an ICF credentialed coach is not easy.
There is a price for everything. Becoming an ICF credentialed coach is not easy. It takes time and money, and there is a certain amount of red tape.
That’s why only the truly committed and dedicated travel this path. For many of us including myself, (I have an ICF MCC credential) the effort has been worth the time and money.
If you choose to go this route here are some things to consider.
Here are some of the reasons why investing time and money to become an ICF credentialed coach could be worth it:
Attract higher calibre clients.
If you want to attract your ideal client, and become fussy about whom you’d want to serve, there is something about reaching PCC and MCC levels that awards us that type of authority and confidence.
When I was a young coach I was desperate for experience and income so I coached anyone who wanted coaching. This had its advantages, but it wasn’t always ideal. As I have matured as a coach, my MCC credential, along with my success has given me the opportunity to choose who I want as my clientele.
I am now able to attract a higher calibre of clients. This could be an excellent reason for you to work towards becoming a credentialed coach.
Command higher fees.
If you want to put in the effort and money that is required to become a credentialed coach, you will most likely gain confidence and credibility, so that you can command higher fees. Certainly, a MCC coach can ask for a higher rate per hour than an ACC or PCC coach could.
Have confidence in your services.
So many good coaches suffer from self-doubt. This is in fact what makes a good coach truly great. Only the ignorant, or charlatans don’t doubt themselves and start coaching without skills or qualifications.
By achieving ACC, PCC and MCC certification, you can claim your confidence and ease self-doubt.
These credential levels are not paper-thin, they are real. Your skills are tested and your competencies have to be evident in order to be awarded these credentials.
So once you get confirmation that you have been awarded certification, this can give you a huge boost in confidence. You can confidently stand anywhere in the world as a credible and capable coach.
Belonging to a respected community.
Many of us are fighting the good fight of building our solo careers. It feels good to belong to a community of respected professionals and to have the backing of an international organization that has the kind of standing that the ICF does.
Some of us don’t do much more other than belong to the organization and occasionally read some of their surveys and valuable articles. Others attend chapter meetings and become actively involved in the ICF community, who offer regular training and supportive professional development events.
It’s up to you just how much you interact with the community, but it does feel good to belong.
Have clear milestones to aim for.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to aim for your coaching credential is to have very clear defined milestones.
When you understand the difference between ACC, PCC and MCC coaching, you can clearly tell where you are at in terms of your skills and competencies.
You can find your gaps and systematically work towards improving your skills. To know that you have achieved PCC and then MCC levels of competencies is a great boost. And to have them on your radar as you continue to develop is inspiring and motivating.
Please avoid some of these mistakes on your journey towards becoming credentialed as a coach.
1. Choosing a coaching course that limits you to ACC coaching.
If you’ve already made this mistake as some of my coach students realized when they signed up with InnerLifeSkills (and compared the quality of coaching training), not to worry.
Mistakes teach us invaluable lessons, and it can be good to know how not to coach. Just make sure that you actively seek more training hours from good quality training providers.
If you are still choosing a course, use our checklist to find the right coaching course for you. Even if you don’t choose InnerLifeSkills to study with, I still want you to choose wisely.
2. Choosing a coaching course that denies you the flexibility needed for MCC coaching.
So make sure that you’re not pushed into a coaching mould when you’re studying.
3. Not starting a coaching log from day one.
I would have been able to certify as a MCC coach, which needed 2500+ hour’s of coaching years ago, had I started my coaching log earlier.
Please start your coaching log now, so that you don’t regret it later.
Every half hour of coaching counts. Even a certain percentage of pro bono coaching can be added and still counts towards the hours you need. Please look at the ICF website for examples and requirements for their coaching log which does change from time to time.
4. Not understanding the key differences between ACC, PCC and MCC coaching.
The sooner you have this clarity the better. I believe that you will fast track the process to be able to coach at a master level if you clearly understand these differences up front.
5. Believing that it takes years to become MCC competent.
But just because it takes many years to accumulate that number of coaching hours, does not mean it will take you many years to gain MCC competencies.
I have seen coaches take less than a year, and for some dedicated students, even 6 to 8 months to already display master levels of competency!
So please believe in yourself, use the tips that I’m offering you here and work towards achieving this rewarding level of competency as soon as possible.
I would suggest that you don’t settle for ACC and PCC competencies, there is nothing wrong with these levels they still provide value, but the life-changing coaching rarely happens at high PCC levels. And I want to get you there as soon as possible because I believe the world needs master coaches out there changing lives one conversation at a time.
6. Failing to listen and learn from examples of MCC coaching.
Imagine trying to learn master cooking skills without ever eating or tasting the food? Imagine trying to learn master guitar skills without ever listening to guitar music?
Hearing examples of MCC coaching, of PCC coaching and even ACC coaching is helpful. Listening to master coaching will train your ear. You’ll hear what it takes. This accelerates your learning path dramatically. All of our InnerLifeSkills coaching students gain access to audio examples of recorded coaching sessions.
Please avoid these mistakes and use the following plan to help you.
Your fast track to MCC coaching credentialing
So here is my personal advice and plan for you to fast track you to MCC!
1. Understand the difference between ACC, PCC and MCC coaching as soon as possible.
Understand this before you start studying. It can help you to choose the right course for you. Make sure that you study with a training provider that teaches MCC levels.
2. Start your coaching log from day one.
Don’t regret that you didn’t start logging your hours from the moment you started coaching. Even pro bono coaching can be logged.
3. Aim to achieve MCC competencies within one year.
Don’t settle for “since it’s going to take so long to reach MCC I might as well relax and settle for coaching at ACC and PCC levels” – get to the life-changing master coaching levels within one year, this is not difficult to do if you have the right training.
To help you achieve MCC in less than a year I strongly recommend listening to audios of coaching sessions.
Learn MCC master coaching by listening to examples of MCC coaching sessions. Find a MCC coach and listen to them coach or listen to audio examples of MCC sessions.
4. Practice coaching daily in small doses.
Our lives are so busy that it can be hard to find chunks of one or two hours to practice coaching.
Because coaching is a skill it needs application.
You can’t learn to play the guitar by reading about it you need to pick up the guitar. Instead of waiting for the one hour that you need to find every few days, practice the coaching skills in small doses.
Choose one technique or method, put it in your diary as a reminder and practice that one technique or method in every conversation that you have for the next day or two.
When you feel that you’ve improved on that one technique or method, then move onto the next one. If you do this you will find yourself improving and mastering your skills very quickly.
Then when you do have your one hour to practice coaching as a complete session, make sure to practice with someone that is low risk.
It’s not always ideal to practice with family and close friends, unless this is all you have.
5. Learn to authentically market coaching as soon as possible.
If you don’t learn how to market coaching, you won’t even be able to get free clients to practice on. Knowing how to authentically and ethically ask people to say yes to your coaching, is how you get more practice.
And since practice is the only path to mastery, the more practice you can get the better.
Once you have your training in place it’s time to do, do do. To do a lot of coaching you need to get a lot of people to coach. This is good because it’s going to teach you how to get paying clients later.
Please read my guide to getting your first 100 clients to learn how to ethically and authentically market yourself as a coach.
Summary of your guide to ICF coach credentialing
• Avoid my top mistakes.
• Start your coaching log today.
• Make sure your training is MCC level.
• Make sure your training enables you to be flexible as a coach.
• Aim for MCC competency within one year.
• Practice daily in small doses rather than waiting only for big chunks of time.
• Learn to market yourself as a coach even when you’re practicing with free coaching.