Why Hire an ICF Credentialed Coach?

by Amy Ruppert, MCC

Certification from the International Coach Federation (ICF) is extremely important when considering which coach to hire. It means the coach:

  • Has received professional training from a program specifically designed to teach coaching skills in alignment with the ICF Competencies and Code of Ethics
  • Has demonstrated a proficient understanding and use of the coaching competencies as outlined by the ICF
  • Is accountable to the ethics and standards set forth by the ICF

The ICF is a consortium of professional coaches and organizations that have joined together under it's auspices to shape and govern the profession of coaching. The skills sets, competencies, ethics and standards are a collective agreement between coaches from all over the world who have made the commitment to maintain the very highest standards you would expect from any other profession.

Since coaching is a new profession (about 10 years formally) and certification and licensure are not yet required in most states in the U.S. or in other countries, there are many individuals who are calling themselves coaches today. Many who call themselves coaches have not been formally trained in specific coaching skills and are transferring skill sets from other professions into their coaching. Often this results in an inadequate or ineffective coaching experience for clients.

Coaching has its own unique skills it employs and for many coaches "unlearning" old skill sets from other professions has to occur before they can competently pick up the new skill sets used in coaching.

There are three levels of Coach Credential from the ICF. We have briefly outlined the differences below and the basic requirements for each level:

  1. Associate Certified Coach (ACC)
    • 60 hours of coach specific training
    • 100 hours of coaching experience with clients
    • Satisfactory completion of oral exam
    • Agreement to adhere to the Code of Ethics as outlined by the ICF
  2. Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
    • 125 hours of coach specific training
    • 750 hours of coaching experience with clients
    • Satisfactory completion of written and oral exam
    • Agreement to adhere to the Code of Ethics as outlined by the ICF
    • Continued professional development to renew credential every three years
  3. Master Certified Coach (MCC)
    • 200 hours of coach specific training
    • 2500 hours of coaching experience with clients
    • Satisfactory completion of written and oral exam
    • Demonstrated leadership within the profession
    • Agreement to adhere to the Code of Ethics as outlined by the ICF
    • Continued professional development to renew credential every three years

If you are considering hiring a coach, be diligent in asking the coach if they have been specifically trained in coaching skills and currently hold or are in the process of acquiring an ICF credential. Don't be misled to think a coach is a competent coach because they have other professional credentials or set high fees.

When choosing a coach, the ICF recommends:

  • Educate yourself about coaching. Hundreds of articles have been written about it in the last 3-5 years.
  • Know your objectives for working with a coach.
  • Look for coaches who hold an ICF credential (ACC, PCC or MCC) or who are certified by an ICF Accredited Coach Training Program
  • Interview three coaches before you decide on one. Ask them about their experience, qualifications, skills, and ask for at least two references. Remember, coaching is an important relationship. There should be a connection between you and the coach that "feels" right to you.

For more information on hiring a coach see also:

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