Step-by-Step Guide: How to Get ICF ACC Certification for Aspiring Coaches

Are you an aspiring coach looking to make a meaningful impact in the lives of your clients? As the coaching industry continues to evolve, obtaining the ICF ACC Certification can set you apart from your competition and enhance your professional credibility. In this blog post, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of how to get ICF ACC Certification and its benefits, helping you unlock your full potential as a professional coach.

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Embark on a transformative journey that will not only elevate your coaching skills but also open doors to new opportunities. By the end of this post, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the process of how to get ICF ACC Certification, allowing you to take a significant step towards becoming a successful and recognized coach in the industry.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand ICF ACC Certification and its requirements
  • Research accredited coach training programs that align with your goals & niche
  • Prepare for the Coach Knowledge Assessment to demonstrate commitment to excellence

Understanding ICF ACC Certification

The International Coaching Federation (ICF), also known as the International Coach Federation, is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession. The ICF ACC Certification serves as the first level of coaching certification offered by the organization, providing credibility and recognition in the coaching industry. Gaining ICF coaching credentials is considered the industry standard, widely acknowledged by coaching clients and human resource departments.The ICF has three levels of certification.

These are ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC), ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC). Each level represents a higher degree of expertise and experience in coaching. Obtaining the ICF ACC Certification shows your commitment to professional training and your adherence to a clearly established standard of effectiveness as a coach.

Essential Requirements for ICF ACC Certification

Aspiring coaches aiming for ICF ACC Certification must meet specific requirements, including 60 hours of coach-specific training, 100 hours of coaching experience, and 10 hours of mentor coaching. These requirements ensure that coaches are well-equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide high-quality coaching services to their clients. Meeting these requirements is a testament to your dedication and hard work in the coaching field. Progressing through these crucial steps will deepen your understanding of coaching principles and practices, paving the way for a more successful and rewarding coaching career.

Coach-Specific Training

Coach-specific training is an integral part of the ICF ACC Certification process. Aspiring coaches must complete 60 hours of coach-specific education from an ICF-accredited program that focuses on core coaching competencies. This training provides a solid foundation in:

  • Coaching skills
  • Ethics
  • Techniques
  • Models
  • Frameworks
  • Tools
  • Assessments
  • Professional coaching standards

The ICF core coaching competencies emphasized in ICF-accredited programs include:

  • Demonstrating Ethical Practice
  • Embodying a Coaching Mindset
  • Establishing and Maintaining Agreements
  • Cultivating Trust and Safety

Mastering these competencies equips you better for navigating the complex world of coaching and effectively supporting your clients in achieving their goals.

Coaching Experience Hours

In addition to coach-specific training, aspiring coaches need to acquire 100 hours of coaching experience, commencing from the initiation of their coach-specific training. These coaching hours must be documented, with a variety of clients and 70% of these hours being paid. This requirement ensures that you gain practical experience in applying your coaching skills and knowledge in real-life situations.Starting your coaching practice immediately as you join a coach-specific training program is recommended. This approach not only allows you to build your coaching experience hours but also enables you to familiarize yourself with the coaching process and address any challenges that may arise along the way.

Mentor Coaching

Mentor coaching is another vital component of the ICF ACC Certification process. It involves working with an ICF-certified mentor coach to refine your coaching abilities and focus on core competencies. The mentor coaching process includes:

  • Working with an ICF-certified mentor coach
  • Receiving valuable feedback, guidance, and support
  • Advancing your coaching skills
  • Minimum of 10 hours of mentor coaching

This process ensures that you receive valuable feedback, guidance, and support to advance your coaching skills through the client coaching experience. Collaborating with a mentor coach offers several benefits, including:

  • Hone your coaching techniques
  • Open up opportunities for professional growth and development
  • Show your commitment to continuous improvement
  • Adhere to the highest standards of coaching excellence

Investing in mentor coaching is a valuable step towards becoming a better coach.

Choosing the Right ICF Accredited Coach Training Program

Selecting the right ICF-accredited coach training program is a critical step in your journey to becoming a certified coach. The ideal program should align with your coaching niche, personal goals, and professional development needs. Careful research and comparison of programs ensures that the training you receive will empower you to excel in your chosen coaching specialty.Remember to consider the following factors when evaluating different coach training programs:

  • Program structure
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty expertise
  • Program fit

A well-chosen program will not only equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills but also provide invaluable resources and support to help you succeed in your coaching career.

Research and Compare Programs

Finding the best ICF-accredited coach training program for your needs requires researching and comparing various options. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Number of ICF sanctioned coaching hours
  • Number of mentoring hours
  • Supplemental coursework offered
  • Program focus and specialization
  • Trainers’ expertise and qualifications
  • Cost of the program
  • Program duration
  • Delivery format (in-person, online, hybrid)

Consider these factors to ensure a good fit with your personal and professional circumstances.Don’t hesitate to reach out to program alumni or read reviews to gain insights into the quality of the training and the experiences of past students. Thorough research and comparison of programs enables you to make a wise decision and invest in a coach training program that will support your long-term success.

Consider Your Coaching Niche

Your coaching niche significantly influences the selection of the right ICF-accredited coach training program. Whether you aim to specialize in:

  • Life coaching
  • Performance coaching
  • Health coaching
  • Spiritual life coaching
  • Leadership coaching
  • Executive coaching
  • Business coaching

It is vital to choose a program that aligns with your desired area of expertise.Selecting a program that caters to your coaching niche will enable you to develop the necessary skills and understanding to effectively coach clients within that domain. Additionally, a specialized training program will help you establish yourself as an expert in your chosen niche, enhancing your credibility and attractiveness to potential clients.

Navigating the ICF Credentialing Process

Once you have completed the necessary coach-specific training, coaching experience hours, and mentor coaching, you are ready to navigate the ICF credentialing process. This process involves submitting an application, providing documentation of your training and experience, and successfully completing the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).Understanding the intricacies of the ICF credentialing process is key for a seamless and successful experience. By diligently preparing and submitting the required documentation, you can demonstrate your commitment to excellence and take the final step towards obtaining your ICF credential as an ACC Certified Coach.

Application and Documentation

To begin the ICF credentialing process, you must submit an online application through the ICF website, along with all the necessary documentation. This includes:

  • Proof of completion of coach-specific training
  • Documentation of coaching experience hours
  • Mentor coaching
  • Any other required materials

Ensure that your application is complete and accurate, as incomplete or incorrect submissions may result in delays or rejection. Meticulous preparation and submission of the required documentation shows your commitment to upholding the highest professional standards in the coaching industry.

Preparing for the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA)

The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) is the final hurdle in obtaining your ICF ACC Certification. This online, open-book exam consists of 155 multiple-choice questions that assess your knowledge of the ICF core competencies and ethical standards. A passing score of 460 out of a possible 600 (approximately 76%) requires extensive preparation for success in this assessment.To effectively prepare for the CKA, review the ICF Code of Ethics, compare the core competencies with the PCC Markers, and revisit the fundamental material from your ICF training. Maintain focus and remain relaxed during the exam to ensure the best possible outcome.

The Benefits of Obtaining ICF ACC Certification

Obtaining the ICF ACC Certification offers numerous benefits for your coaching career. It includes:

  • Enhancing your credibility
  • Demonstrating your adherence to industry standards
  • Increasing client confidence
  • Gaining access to the ICF coaching network, providing valuable resources and opportunities for professional growth.

Achieving ICF ACC Certification sets you apart from other coaches who have not undergone a rigorous training program. This distinction can lead to new opportunities, increased visibility, and a competitive edge in the coaching profession. Embrace the journey towards ICF ACC Certification and unlock the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of your clients.

Maintaining Your ICF ACC Credential

Maintaining your ICF ACC Credential requires ongoing professional development, including continuing education and mentor coaching. The ICF requires renewal of the ACC Certification every three years, ensuring that certified coaches remain up-to-date with the latest industry standards and practices.Continuing education activities, such as:

  • training
  • writing
  • research
  • self-study
  • resource development

are acknowledged by the ICF for ACC Certification maintenance. Committing to lifelong learning and growth not only maintains your ICF ACC Credential but also continues to refine your coaching skills, enhance your expertise, and provide the highest quality coaching services to your clients.


In conclusion, obtaining the ICF ACC Certification is a significant milestone for aspiring coaches. This certification offers numerous benefits, such as enhanced credibility, professional growth, and access to the ICF coaching community. By fulfilling the essential requirements, including coach-specific training, coaching experience hours, and mentor coaching, you demonstrate your commitment to excellence and adherence to the highest professional standards.Embrace the journey towards ICF ACC Certification and unlock your full potential as a professional coach. With the right training, experience, and passion, you can make a meaningful impact in the lives of your clients and thrive in the ever-evolving world of coaching.

Frequently Asked QuestionsHow much does ICF ACC certification cost?

The cost of ICF ACC certification ranges from $100 to $600, depending on the chosen path. If you completed an accredited coaching program and are an ICF member, the cost is just $100.

What is the easiest way to get ICF certified?

The easiest way to get ICF certified is by completing an ICF ACTP-accredited training, which offers a start-to-finish, all-inclusive approach.

What is the passing score for the ICF ACC exam?

The ICF ACC exam requires a passing score of 460 on a scaled score range of 200 to 600.

What is ACC in coaching?

The Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential is an ICF credential that signifies a coach’s knowledge and proficiency in coaching based on ICF standards and training hours.

What are the main requirements for obtaining ICF ACC Certification?

In order to obtain ICF ACC Certification, you must complete 60 hours of coach-specific training, gain 100 hours of coaching experience, and receive 10 hours of mentor coaching.