How to Apply - International Coaching Federation
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How to Apply for an ICF Credential

Earning an ICF Credential is a big step toward achieving your goals as a professional coach practitioner. Though there are many steps in this process, ICF is here to help navigate the credentialing process. Get started with the steps below.  At the bottom of the page, there is a video that will walk you through the application paths and the credential process.

NOTE: Updates to the Credential application process became effective August 2 at Noon EDT (New York). Learn more about these changes.

6 Steps to Apply for a Credential

  • Step 1

    Evaluate Your Education and Experience

    The education you’ve already started or completed, coupled with how much experience you have in professional coaching can help you decide which Credential to pursue and what application path you will use to apply.

    Gather or otherwise make note of all the coach-specific education you plan to use toward an ICF Credential.  Locate the program certificate(s) from the program(s) you have completed, as you will need to upload a copy into your credential application.

    Ensure your Client Coaching log is current, so you have an accurate count of your coaching experience hours.  You may use the Client Coaching Log Template if desired, which may be found at the bottom of the Experience Information page.

  • Step 2

    Identify Your Application Path

    Once you’ve gathered or made note of the education and client coaching experience hours you have completed, you may complete the Credential Path Survey. This survey will walk you through your education and coaching experience to help you understand for which credential level and application path you are eligible to apply.

    At the conclusion of the survey, the credential level and path will be indicated and you will have access to review the required elements to be included in that application. Or, if you’re ready to apply, you will be able to create an application at the level indicated by the survey. Based on your responses to the survey, you will be directed to any one of the following:

    ACC Application Paths (60+ hours of Coach-specific Education and 100+ hours of Coaching Experience)

    1. ACC — Level 1 / Level 2 / ACTP: For those who completed a Level 1, Level 2 or ACTP program in full, including passing the final assessment.
    2. ACC—ACSTH: For those who completed either part of an ACTP program and/or completed ACSTH program(s).
    3. ACC—Portfolio: For those who will use CCEs or a program(s) that is not accredited by ICF to meet the education hour requirement.

    PCC Application Paths (125+ hours of Coach-specific Education and 500+ hours of Coaching Experience)

    1. PCC— Level 2 / ACTP: For those who completed a Level 2 or ACTP program in full, including passing the final assessment.
    2. PCC— Level 1 / ACSTH: For those who completed either part of an ACTP program and/or completed ACSTH program(s) and/or Level 1 program(s).
    3. PCC—Portfolio: For those who will use CCEs or a program(s) that is not accredited by ICF meet the education hour requirement.

    MCC Application Path (200+ hours of Coach-specific Education and 2,500+ hours of Coaching Experience)

    1. MCC—Level 3: For those who have completed a Level 3 accredited program.
    2. MCC—Portfolio: For those applying for the MCC Credential who have not completed a Level 3 accredited program.
  • Step 3

    Gather Information and Materials to Apply

    Program Certificate(s)

    You will need to upload into your application a copy of the program certificate(s) from the coach-specific education program(s) you have completed. The certificates may be a PDF file or an image file, such as JPEG or PNG.

    • If any of the education is not ICF-accredited, you will also submit robust documentation to demonstrate what you were taught. Visit the Education and Training Requirements page for guidance on the documentation needed.

    Client Coaching Experience Hours

    In your application, you will need to enter your total number of Client Coaching Experience hours as of the start of your Coach-specific Education. Visit the Experience Information page to learn about all acceptable experience hours and how to document them.

    For those applying through the ACC-ASCTH, ACC-Portfolio, PCC-Level 1 / ACSTH, PCC-Portfolio, or either of the MCC application paths, there are additional requirements to be included in the application. (NOTE: Those who have completed a Level 1, Level 2 or ACTP program in full will have completed Mentor Coaching and Performance Assessments as part of the program).

    Mentor Coaching Information

    In your application, you will need to document that you have received 10 hours of Mentor Coaching over a three-month period of time or longer. For each mentor, you will need to enter the mentor’s name, email address, date of first session, date of last session, how many hours of mentoring were received and if any of those were in a group. Visit the Mentor Coaching page for information on Mentor Coaching.

    Recording(s) and Transcript(s)

    At the ACC level, you will need to include one (1) recording with a written transcript. At the PCC and MCC levels you will need to include two (2) recordings and transcripts with your application. Visit the Performance Evaluation page for file requirements and additional information on the assessment process.

  • Step 4

    Create an Application and Apply for a Credential

    To create your application for a Credential, you first need to complete the Credential Path Survey as indicated in Step 2. At the end of the survey, it will indicate which Credential level and application path(s) for which you are eligible to apply based on your coaching education and client coaching experience. Below the indicated Credential level and path, you will be provided a link to create your Credential application.

    During the application process, you will be asked to provide proof of your coaching education and attest to your client coaching experience. For the ACC-ACSTH, ACC-Portfolio, PCC-Level 1 / ACSTH, PCC-Portfolio or either of the MCC application paths, you will also include information on your Mentor Coaching and upload files for a Performance Evaluation(s) to be conducted by ICF Assessors. (NOTE: Those completing a Level 1, Level 2 or ACTP program in full completed Mentor Coaching and Performance Assessment(s) as part of the program and do not need to include these elements in their application).

    Each Credential application is reviewed thoroughly and can take many weeks to complete. Before completing your application, please be advised of the estimated wait times for review. These estimates can be found on the path page of the Credential for which you are applying.

  • Step 5

    What to Do Once You’ve Applied

    Your application will be submitted once it has been paid for in full. At this point, the review process will begin.  Each section of the application will be reviewed. You may monitor the status and stages of your application’s review from the dashboard of your application.

    A link to access your application will be provided in the email confirmation. You will receive this confirmation after your application is submitted. You may access your application at any time by signing into the website.  The application will be found near the bottom of your profile page.  Click on “Continue Application” and you will be taken to the dashboard.

    If there is a question or concern about information provided in the application, you will receive an email asking for clarification and/or directions to make a correction.  In addition, the section in question will be marked in the application with the status of “Additional Information Needed.” You may visit that section of the application to view the note of what is needed.

  • Step 6

    Take the ICF Exam

    The exam is the last part of the Credential application process. The ICF Credentialing Exam is a tool designed to measure a coach’s knowledge of and ability to apply the ICF definition of coaching, the updated ICF Core Competencies, and the ICF Code of Ethics.

    NOTE: Applicants who submitted their application prior to July 27, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. EDT (New York) and have not already taken the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) with a previous ICF Credential will need to take and pass the CKA. Information on taking the CKA will be sent by email once your application review has been successfully completed. Learn more about the CKA.

More Information on the ICF Credentialing Process


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