Becoming Credentialed


Becoming an ICF Credentialed Coach

1.    Why should you care about obtaining an ICF credential?

The International Coaching Federation has been engaged for more than a decade in advancing the field of coaching and furthering its professionalization.  An ICF credential indicates you have attained a level of coaching education and experience that shows prospective clients you are indeed a professional who takes coaching seriously. Amidst a sea of others who simply call themselves coaches, you stand out because you adhere to a code of ethics in how you conduct your coaching and continually improve upon what you offer your clients through continued coach education.

2.    What are your options for obtaining your first ICF coach credential?

The first level is the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and it can be obtained in one of two ways:  either by completing an ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) program or by submitting a portfolio application.

Individual credentialing requirements for the ACC are described in general at

a)    Accredited Coach Training Program Option: If you choose to attend an Accredited Coach Training Program, then you’ll want to select an ACTP program that fits your interests.  One resource is ICF’s “Find a Training Program” located at sure to select “ACTP” within the program option block to find appropriate programs that qualify as a comprehensive training program.

Some coaching schools are located within the DC Metro Area, such as the Georgetown Institute for Transformational Leadership and George Mason University’s “Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance Certificate Program.” Others either visit the area or require you to attend a specific location to conduct intensive workshops to offer a “part of the program can be completed at a distance” option; and then other programs offer “all of the program can be completed at a distance” option.

Review the school’s curriculum, program format, and ICF accreditation as an ACTP to ensure you select a school that meets your needs. Application Requirements for the ACTP path currently include:

    • Completion of an entire ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP)
    • 100 hours of client coaching experience
    • $100 USD application fee for members, $300 USD for non-members

For a description of the ACC ACTP requirements and application, refer to

b)    ACC Portfolio Option: If you attend a school that isn’t ICF ACTP accredited, such as the Northern Virginia Community College Coaching Certificate program, or obtain a mix of different coach training programs, you will need to submit a portfolio to apply for your ACC credential.  Application Requirements for the portfolio path currently include: 

    • 60 hours of coach-specific training
    • 100 hours of client coaching experience
    • 10 hours of work with a qualified Mentor Coach ,
    • Exam
    • Minimum skill requirements for ACC
    • Application, review, and exam fee: $300 members, $500 non-members

For a description of the ACC Portfolio path and application, refer to: see a sample ACC portfolio application, refer to

If you have obtained 750 hours of client coaching experience, you may choose to apply for a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential directly if you meet the ACC requirements and never applied for the ACC certification. If that is your situation, you will want to refer to

3.    How do I submit my coaching experience for the ACTP and Portfolio applications?

ICF advises you to immediately log all your client coaching hours so you will be able to submit them with your application, but you must ask clients for their consent to include them on the log. The information will only be used by ICF to evaluate your application.

Clients include individual, group, internal, and third party. Internal clients are those that you coach as part of your job description within an organization. You cannot include coaching of direct reports.  Third party coaching is when a coach is specifically paid by an organization to coach a client or when the coach volunteers to coach a client on behalf of an organization that receives payment.  These various groups of clients and logging of their information is described at

The ICF website suggests that you use a spreadsheet like the following that includes:

  • The client’s name and email address
  • The start and end date of the coaching relationship
  • The number of paid and pro bono hours



Individual/ Group


Start Date

End Date


Pro Bono

Juan Gonzalez






Sales Group - Li Ming

Group (5 members)





Client A (IN Corp.)






To receive your ACC credential, you need to log at least 100 hours with a minimum of 8 clients and 75 of the hours need to be paid hours. You must submit the log with your online application.

Note there is no specified minimum amount that you must charge for your hours to qualify as “paid.”  The ICF global credentialing office verified this by telephone on August 22, 2013.  In fact, the ICF website states that payment may be in any amount, or barter of goods or services, including coaching in exchange for coaching.

With respect to coaching groups, the ICF website states that each individual in a group counts as a client for the purpose of meeting the requirement of 8 total clients.  The ICF website states that “group coaching can be done with only 15 members or less. You cannot multiply hours times participants in the group [emphasis added]. If you coach 15 people for 1 hour, you can only count that as one hour of coaching, not 15 hours.”

Internal and Third-Party Coaching Clients are logged the same way unless there is a confidentiality policy that restricts disclosure of client information.  In that case, the ICF global website instructs you to:

Provide a reference letter from a contact person at the organization who is familiar with your work. The reference letter must include:

  • The name and contact information for the contact person
  • A description of the role of the contact person in the organization
  • A description of your role in the organization
  • Confirmation of the organization’s confidentiality policy
  • Confirmation of the information that you have logged for confidential clients


For internal or third-party confidential clients, you must also log:

  • An alias for each confidential client (for example, “Confidential Client 1”)
  • The email address of the contact person at the organization
  • The start and end date of the coaching relationship with each client
  • The number of paid hours that you coached each client

4.    How can I get coaching experience to get my required 100 hours of coaching experience needed?

To build your coaching confidence, you might want to begin with one person on a pro bono basis until you refine your coaching technique. If you feel that you are ready to go, you might want to solicit people you know who are interested in coaching or directly market desired clients either on a pro bono, barter or fee basis.

Our ICF DC Metro chapter offers volunteer coaching opportunities through the Community Outreach committee described at You can complete a “Volunteer to coach or promote coaching (form)” by going to

ICF global also offers coaching opportunities through its “Reciprocal Coaching Program” that allows members to practice coaching with each other. The program is described at

The hours obtained through this program qualify as paid hours because there is an exchange of services with both people coaching.

5.    For the ACC Portfolio Path, what is considered coach-specific training?

The ACC Portfolio application located at defines coach specific training:

Coach Specific Training:

In order to qualify for your ICF ACC Credential, you are required to complete at least 60 hours of Coach-Specific training. This training may come from ICF approved providers (ACSTH and/or ACTP) or from providers that have not been approved in advance by the ICF. Your training must be comprehensive and include the ICF Definition of Coaching, all 11 ICF Core Competencies, and the ICF Code of Ethics. Please complete the following questions regarding your Coach-Specific training.  Note that you are required to upload a certificate or letter from each program you completed indicating the name of the program, dates of attendance, and total hours completed. Additionally for programs that have not been previously approved by ICF you are also required to upload curriculum documents that provide a summary of the content and how it was delivered.

The portfolio application then requests that you list your training for the ICF Definition of Coaching and then asks you to list all of your training for each of the following core competencies respectively:

  • Meeting Ethical Guidelines & Professional Standards
  • Establishing the Coaching Agreement
  • Establishing Trust & Intimacy with the Client
  • Coaching Presence
  • Active Listening
  • Powerful Questioning
  • Direct Communication
  • Creating Awareness
  • Designing Actions
  • Planning & Goal Setting
  • Managing Progress & Accountability

6.    For the ACC Portfolio Path, how do I get credit for my work with a mentor coach?

The ACC Portfolio application section on the mentor log states that:

You will need to complete 10 hours with a mentor coach who holds an ICF Credential equal to or greater than the credential you are applying for: Mentoring needs to take place over three month or longer period of time. A minimum of 3 of the 10 mentoring hours must be one-on-one coaching with the mentor. Group coaching may count for a maximum of 7 hours toward the mentoring requirement. The group being mentored may not consist of more than 10 participants.

The mentor log on the application requests the name of the mentor coach, the number of hours completed and the dates that mentoring began and ended.

7.    For the ACC Portfolio Path, what are the exam requirements?

You must upload a 20-60 minute recorded session in which you demonstrate good coaching techniques while coaching one of your clients who has granted their permission for you to submit the recording as part of your credential application. Uploading instructions and advice for how to prepare for your exam can be found at

This webpage advises you to study the ICF core competencies to apply to your coaching and request feedback from your mentor coach on what areas you need additional practice.

8.     For the ACC Portfolio Path, what are the minimum ACC skill requirements?

ICF assessors will evaluate you on how well you demonstrate use of the ICF core competencies. The criteria they will use in provided at