ICF Credential and Life Coach Licensing FAQ’s

If you’ve been considering becoming a coach or are a seasoned coach needing an ICF credential, you are probably wondering what ICF is all about. ICF stands for International Coaching Federation. They are the self-created organization that has become the regulator of the coaching world through accrediting coach trainings and providing coaching credentials to individuals.

Does Life Coaching require a license?

You are not required to be licensed to practice as a Life Coach, and Life Coach licenses do not officially exist. However, you should obtain a life coach certification and/or credential which you would receive from a reputable Life Coach Training Organization. It is important to take a quality training if you plan to coach others so you are an effective coach and provide a valuable service.

What is ICF?

ICF, International Coaching Federation, is a coach credentialing organization. They certify coach training center courses to provide “ICF approved” trainings that meet their rigorous content requirements. ICF also provides resources for coaches such as a coach community, advertising, and free, limited educational opportunities.

ICF is a world-wide organization and have become known as the Gold Standard in coaching standards. Companies and clients can be assured that if the coach has been awarded an ICF credential they have at least met the core-competencies required to coach others ethically and professionally.

Do I need an ICF credential to practice as a life coach?

No, you do not need an ICF credential to work as a life coach. However, there are a few reasons why obtaining an ICF credential is recommended.

As life coaching has become more popular, many corporations and companies are seeking coaches to work with their employees to increase productivity and wellness. Most corporate coaching contracts require an ICF credential because the organization needs a benchmark to evaluate coaching candidates. Having at least the PCC credential may provide better odds.

Just as health coaches can now bill insurance, life coaches may soon be allowed the same opportunity. ICF aggressively lobby’s for the life coaching industry. Being a credentialed member of the ICF organization provides you access to the benefits of the legal outcomes.

ICF is known as the “Gold Standard” of coaching. They are the largest coach credentialing organization in the world. Many coaches feel more legitimate by earning a coaching credential. The credentials mean that you have put in the training, mentoring, and credentialing hours to earn the credential.

What coaching credentials does ICF provide?

ICF provides three credential levels:

  • ACC – Associate Certified Coach
  • PCC – Professional Certified Coach
  • MCC – Master Certified Coach

In the coaching world, ICF credentials would be similar to an Associates Degree (ACC), Bachelors Degree (PCC), Masters Degree (PCC).

Approved Training Hours60125200
ICF Coach Mentor Hours101010
Coach Practice Hours1005002500

How do I earn an ICF credential?

Each credential level has requirements that must be met before applying.

Once you have met the requirements, you may able to apply for an ICF credential. However, where you obtained your training will determine the application process, application price, and what other elements you need to provide to ICF, and the time it takes to receive your credential.

For example, to earn an ICF ACC credential you’ll need to complete at least 60 training hours in an ICF-approved life coach training, complete 100 coach practice hours, complete 10 hours of ICF Coach Mentoring. Once you have those completed you will apply for the ACC credential using their “ACSTH/Level 1” path. This application path requires paying an application fee and passing their online Coach Proficiency Test, submitting a coaching demonstration and transcript, and receiving a passing score on the coaching demonstration. ICF will take up to 18 weeks to evaluate your application.

This may sound daunting and complicated. But, we make it easy and fast with our all-inclusive coach trainings.

Approved Training Hours60125200
ICF Coach Mentor Hours101010
Coach Practice Hours1005002500

What are ICF Coach Mentor hours?

To earn your ACC or PCC with ICF, you must have 10 Coach Mentor Hours. You can earn those with us by enrolling in one of our Coach Trainings, or just our ICF Mentor Program. Our ICF Coach Mentoring includes 7 small group clinics and 3 private sessions with your ICF Mentor Coach. If enrolled in our Master Coach or Mental Health Coach Track, you can attend unlimited ICF Mentor Clinics.

Our ICF Mentor Coaching covers:
– ICF core competency principles and practices (1-2 per class session)
– Life coaching case scenarios for discussion and application
– Demonstration of life coaching in the class with students
– Commentary and class discussion about the coaching process and outcomes
– Self-assessment of coaching competency and feedback from the ACC or PCC mentor and other students.
– Preparation for the ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment, required for ACC & PCC credentialing.
– Help with your ICF Performance Evaluation submission.

How do I earn Coach Experience Hours?

To earn coach experience hours you must practice coaching with those around you, work with actual clients, or practice with other students.

The coaching activities in our course provide you the opportunity to practice what you are learning. When you complete the coaching activity with another student, you can record that as reciprocal (paid) coaching.

ICF requires you to complete 100 hours before applying for your ACC. According to ICF, reciprocal coaching hours count as “paid” hours and can be used toward your 75 paid Coach Experience Hours. Any coaching activities you do with friends or family can count towards your 25 pro-bono hours.

We provide, for free, as many coach experience hours as you need to qualify for your ICF credentials during your training and after.

Still Have More Questions?

You’re right… ICF is super confusing! Don’t worry, we have coach training programs that meet all their requirements that you can start at anytime! Please schedule a time to talk with us to hear about all your options:

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