By Charlotte Morse

A common question that pops up in conversations with graduates, students and prospective students revolves around certification and credentialing for coaches. Is there a difference? Do I need both? How do I get certified? How do I get credentialed?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is changing their credentialing process effective October 1, 2016 so it is timely to address these questions. If you are already a certified coach, read through the changes below carefully, as it could be advantageous to apply for your credential before the changes take effect.

Before stepping in, let’s throw one more term into the mix—accreditation. This often adds to the misunderstanding, and a quick explanation can easily eliminate this from the confusion.


Only coaching programs are accredited (not individuals). The accreditation application is a rigorous process through which schools commit to deliver curriculum based on the ICF core competencies, while meeting minimum training and mentoring requirements. The ICF has granted the Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) status to over 200 coaching programs worldwide. We are proud that Coaching for Transformation is an ACTP.


Graduating from an ACTP holds many benefits, one of which is recognition as a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). Certification comes from the coaching school, not the ICF. As a graduate of Coaching for Transformation, you become a CPC and can add those initials after your name wherever you’d like—your resume, marketing materials, professional profiles, etc. There is no additional cost for certification and it lasts a lifetime—it never has to be renewed.

As a Coaching for Transformation graduate, you will follow the ACTP path if you choose to apply for a credential.


A credential is an extra step that is totally optional for certified coaches. The credential adds an additional level of professional recognition and demonstrates a commitment to continued learning and adherence to a detailed code of ethics. The ICF is the world’s largest credentialing organization, and offers credentials at three different levels.

Credentials must be renewed every three years and the current fee for the credential application is $100 – $775. The cost is driven by the level of credential and status of ICF membership (optional).

Choose from Three ICF Credentials

Your coach training and level of experience determine which credential is right for you. All credential applicants must pass the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC)
    • 60+ training hours
    • 100 coaching experience hours
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
    • 125+ training hours
    • 500+ coach experience hours (effective 10/1/16)
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC)
    • 200+ training hours
    • 2500+ coach experience hours

Download a comparison chart.

Changes to the Credentialing Application

Beginning October 1, 2016 at 12 am ET, the following requirement changes go into effect for the ACC and PCC credentials:

ACC Requirements

  • 100+ hours of client-coaching experience following the start of your coach-specific training. (At least 75 must be paid hours)
  • A minimum of 25 of the 100 hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application
  • A minimum of 8 clients

PCC Requirements

  • 500+ hours of client-coaching experience following the start of your coach-specific training. (At least 450 must be paid hours)
  • A minimum of 50 of the 500 hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application
  • A minimum of 25 clients

If you would like to learn more about becoming a certified coach, check out the Coaching for Transformation program or attend a free Power of Coaching teleclass.

If you’re ready to add a credential to your professional status, get all the details about the credentialing process at the ICF.