Your Complete Guide to Earning and Maintaining ACC Credentials in Coaching

As an aspiring coach, earning your International Coaching Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential is a game-changer. It opens doors to professional growth and a thriving coaching business. Ready to unlock your full potential? Let’s embark on a journey to understand the importance of earning and maintaining ACC credentials, the steps to earn them, and how to maintain and leverage them for success.

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Key Takeaways

  • Understand the ACC credential and its benefits for aspiring coaches.
  • Compare ICF credentials to choose the right one for you, then follow steps to obtain it.
  • Maintain your ACC credential by meeting CCE requirements and paying renewal fees every three years, leveraging it to build your coaching business through marketing & networking with other ICF coaches.

Understanding the ACC Credential

The International Coaching Federation (ICF), also known as the International Coach Federation, offers the ACC credential, signifying a coach’s commitment to professionalism and adherence to ICF Core Competencies. This credential is a stepping stone for coaches, as it paves the way for higher ICF credentials, such as the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and Master Certified Coach (MCC).

An Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential, also known as associate certified coach acc, provides credibility, professional advancement, and access to the ICF coaching community. To obtain this prestigious credential, coaches need to complete specific requirements, including coach-specific education, coaching experience hours, mentor coaching, and passing the ICF credentialing exam.

Why Pursue an ACC Credential?

Obtaining the ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC) certification is the perfect choice for aspiring coaches who aim to become an ICF Professional Certified Coach in the future. It offers a variety of benefits to help them succeed. Firstly, it demonstrates your dedication to professional training and adherence to established coaching benchmarks. This helps you attract prospective clients who value professionalism and expertise.

An ACC certification provides the following benefits:

  • Entry into the supportive ICF community of fellow coaches
  • Opportunities to exchange experiences and learn from each other
  • Further advancement in your coaching journey
  • Qualification for a broader range of job opportunities in the coaching industry.

ACC vs. PCC vs. MCC: Comparing ICF Credentials

The ICF offers three credentials: ACC, PCC, and MCC. Each credential represents a different level of mastery in coaching, with specific requirements for coach-specific training, coaching experience hours, and adherence to ICF Core Competencies.

While the ACC credential focuses on fundamental coaching competencies, the PCC and MCC credentials concentrate on more advanced skills and mastery. As a coach progresses through these credentials, they showcase a higher level of expertise, experience, and commitment to their coaching profession.

Steps to Earn Your ACC Credential

To earn your ACC credential, you need to complete four key steps:

  1. Coach-specific training
  2. Coaching experience hours
  3. Mentor coaching
  4. Passing the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) exam

Each step plays a significant role in establishing a robust foundation of coaching skills and knowledge, grounded in ICF Core Competencies.

The journey to ACC certification demands dedication and commitment, as you’ll need to invest time and effort in each step. However, the rewards of obtaining this credential are well worth it, as you’ll be better equipped to excel in the coaching industry and serve your clients effectively.

Coach-Specific Training

To achieve your ACC credential, you must complete a minimum of 60 hours of ICF-approved coach-specific training. This training equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to become proficient in ICF Core Coaching Competencies, such as active listening, powerful questioning, and creating awareness.

You can obtain the required coach-specific education through one or more ICF-accredited programs, such as Accredited Coach Training Programs (ACTP) or Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) programs. These programs offer comprehensive instruction in coaching, ensuring you meet ICF standards and requirements.

Coaching Experience Hours

Alongside coach-specific training, you need to acquire 100 hours of coaching experience, with at least 70% being paid coaching hours, to qualify for ACC certification. Hours spent in coach training and ICF mentor coaching programs don’t count. Keep a separate log of all the hours you put in..

Gaining coaching experience allows you to:

  • Apply the skills and competencies you’ve learned during your training in real-world scenarios
  • Build confidence in your abilities
  • Refine your coaching techniques
  • Develop a deeper understanding of client needs and expectations through your client coaching experience

Mentor Coaching

Mentor coaching is a critical component of the ACC credentialing process. You must complete 10 hours of mentor coaching with an ICF-credentialed coach to enhance your coaching skills based on ICF competencies.

Mentor coaching serves to augment the knowledge acquired through coach training, allowing you to refine your coaching abilities under the guidance of a mentor coach. This process helps you gain valuable insight, feedback, and support to further hone your skills and align with ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) Exam

The final step in obtaining your ACC credential is passing the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) exam. This exam tests your understanding of ICF Core Competencies, as well as your coaching skills and ethical standards.

To successfully complete the CKA exam, you’ll need to apply the knowledge and skills you’ve gained throughout your coach-specific training, coaching experience, and mentor coaching sessions. Achieving a passing score on the CKA is crucial in demonstrating your commitment to professional coaching standards and obtaining your ACC credential.

Choosing the Right ICF-Accredited Coach Training Program

Choosing the most suitable ICF-accredited coach training program is key to your professional success as a coach. With numerous accredited programs available, it’s vital to consider various factors, such as program fit, cost, and accreditation type, to make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and needs.

By carefully evaluating different programs and their offerings, you can choose the one that provides the best foundation for your coaching journey. This choice will not only impact your ability to earn your ACC credential but also influence your future growth and success in the coaching industry.

Factors to Consider

When selecting an ICF-accredited coach training program, consider factors such as:

  • Accreditation
  • Expertise of trainers and coaches
  • Alignment with your values and philosophy
  • Available resources and support
  • Reputation and reviews
  • Curriculum and content
  • Cost and investment
  • Flexibility and accessibility
  • Continuing education
  • Networking and community opportunities

Considering these factors will help you make a decision that best suits your personal and professional goals. This will ensure that you invest in a program that not only meets ICF requirements but also sets you up for success in your coaching career.

ACTP vs. ACSTH Programs

Two types of ICF-accredited coach training programs are ACTP and ACSTH. ACTP programs are comprehensive, providing start-to-finish coach training and requiring more than 125 hours of training. These programs typically come with a higher cost and time commitment. On the other hand, ACSTH programs require a minimum of 30 hours of coach-specific training, offering a more flexible and piecemeal approach to obtaining coaching credentials.

In terms of value, both ACTP and ACSTH programs are recognized by the ICF and can lead to ICF credentials. The decision between the two will depend on your preferences, budget, and time commitment, helping you select the program that best fits your individual needs and objectives.

Maintaining Your ACC Credential

After earning your ACC credential, maintaining it by meeting certain requirements set by the ICF is necessary. This includes completing Continuing Coach Education (CCE) and submitting renewal fees every three years.

Maintaining your ACC credential demonstrates your ongoing commitment to professional coaching standards and ethics. It also ensures that you stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices, allowing you to continue providing exceptional coaching services to your clients.

Continuing Coach Education (CCE)

To maintain your ACC credential, you must complete a minimum of 40 hours of CCE within a three-year period. CCE helps you refine your coaching skills, keep up-to-date with industry trends, and satisfy ICF credential renewal requirements.

Eligible CCE activities include self-study and self-paced activities, coaching supervision, mentor coaching, and continuing coach education courses. You can obtain CCE hours through ICF-approved courses or programs, such as Coach Transformation Academy,, Coach Training EDU, and Leadership Circle.

Renewal Fees and Process

The renewal process for your ACC credential involves paying a fee and submitting a renewal application every three years. The current renewal fee for any ICF credential is $175 for ICF members and $275 for non-members. The deadline for renewing ACC credentials is December 31st.

It’s important to be aware of any penalties for late renewal, as these may vary depending on the organization or licensing board. For example, the Ohio permit renewal incurs a $50/month late fee, up to $300, in addition to any back fees accrued. Always check with the relevant organization or licensing board for specific penalties associated with late renewal of ACC credentials.

Building Your Coaching Business with ACC Credentials

Leveraging your ACC credential can significantly impact the growth and success of your coaching business. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Effectively market your credentials to potential clients
  • Network with other ICF coaches to establish credibility in the coaching industry
  • Expand your professional network to connect with potential clients and referral sources

By following these strategies, you can attract more coaching clients, establish credibility, and expand your coaching business.

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your coaching business to new heights, your ACC credential is a valuable asset that can help you achieve your goals. Embrace the opportunities it offers, and watch your coaching career flourish.

Marketing Your ACC Credential

Marketing your ACC credential effectively is important for drawing in clients and establishing a successful coaching business. Strategies to consider include:

  • Constructing a robust online presence
  • Utilizing email marketing techniques
  • Engaging in networking activities
  • Providing free coaching sessions or workshops
  • Leveraging client testimonials and case studies

Implementing these marketing strategies allows you to:

  • Highlight your ACC credential and its value to your coaching services
  • Attract prospective clients
  • Generate more leads
  • Ultimately grow your coaching business.

Networking with Other ICF Coaches

Networking with other ICF coaches offers numerous benefits, such as:

  • Access to resources and information
  • Exchange of ideas and collaboration
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Enhanced visibility and credibility
  • Support and mentorship

Platforms and events available for networking with ICF coaches include the ICF Events platform, ICF event calendar, and coaching associations that organize events and conferences. By actively participating in these networking opportunities, you can establish valuable connections, learn from fellow coaches, and further advance your coaching career.


Earning an ACC credential is a transformative step in your coaching career, providing credibility, professional growth, and access to the ICF community. By understanding the requirements, choosing the right ICF-accredited coach training program, and leveraging your ACC credential for business growth, you can unlock your full potential as a coach and achieve success in this rewarding profession.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are ACC credentials?

ACC credentials are professional certifications awarded to coaches with training and experience in the application of International Coaching Federation (ICF) standards. Holders have demonstrated knowledge and emerging proficiency in the Core Competencies, Code of Ethics, and definition of coaching.

How do I maintain my ICF certification?

To maintain your ICF certification, you must complete at least 40 hours of Continuing Coach Education (CCE) in Core Competencies with three of them dedicated to coaching ethics within the three year period.

What are the requirements for obtaining an ACC credential?

To be eligible for an ACC credential, you must have completed 60 hours of coach-specific training, obtained 100 hours of coaching experience (with 70% being paid hours), completed 10 hours of mentor coaching, and passed the Coach Knowledge Assessment exam.

What is the difference between ACTP and ACSTH coach training programs?

ACTP programs provide a comprehensive coach training approach, while ACSTH programs offer a more flexible, modular approach to obtaining coaching credentials.

What are some effective marketing strategies for ACC credentialed coaches?

Creating a robust online presence, utilizing email marketing tactics, networking with other professionals, offering free coaching sessions or workshops, and highlighting client testimonials and case studies are effective marketing strategies for ACC credentialed coaches.