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Should I bother with coaching certification?

    Laura Franklin examines the options and benefits of coaching certification

    – 5 mins read –

    We are often asked this question by clients and professionals looking to work with us. Everyone likes to have a certificate or letters after their name to show off their skills but it’s a lot of work. Is it worth it? Here I will explain the coaching certification process in simple terms and advise you as objectively as possible on the options and benefits of a coaching credential.

    Which coaching certification is best?

    The Association for Coaching (AC), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF) all offer professional coaching accreditation. Our co-founder Sir John Whitmore was instrumental in the early stages of creation of the EMCC and ICF and a proud AC Global Ambassador.

    Our coach training is recognized by all three bodies. Our Coach Certification Pathway is aligned with ICF certification because the ICF is the world’s largest organization of professionally trained coaches. It is an independent body, awarding globally recognized coaching credentials and accrediting coaching training programs.

    “Thanks to the entire Performance Consultants team for walking the path with me to allow me to gain this certification. It is not about the piece of paper but the rigor of the process, and the learning achieved has been invaluable.”

    John Collingwood, ACC (Associate Certified Coach) and Senior Director, Global Talent Identification & Development, Tupperware Brands Corporation

    What does ICF certification involve?

    Here are some of the most common queries I get asked about the coaching certification requirements for Associate Certified Coach (ACC), the first level of ICF certification. My answers relate to the ACC ACSTH Path and ACC Portfolio Path.

    What are the requirements for ACC certification?

    60 hours of Coach Training
    100 hours of Coaching Experience
    10 hours of Mentor Coaching
    1 Performance Evaluation
    1 Coach Knowledge Assessment

    What counts as coach-specific training?

    The training must be based on the 11 ICF Core Competencies. You need at least 48 hours of live training (in-person or online) and can add up to 12 hours of course homework and assignments.

    What can I count as coaching experience?

    You need at least 8 coachees. Count all the coaching you do after you have started your training. At least 75 of the 100 hours need to be paid sessions (any form of compensation). If you coach at work as a part of your job role, those hours count as paid hours. You cannot count any hours coaching your direct reports.

    What is mentor coaching?

    You are mentored by an ICF certified coach on your coaching skills, over a minimum period of three months. At least 3 of the 10 hours need to be in one-one sessions.

    What does the performance evaluation involve?

    An ICF Assessor will review a recording of one of your client coaching sessions, 20–60 minutes long. You need to send the ICF your audio file with a written transcript.

    What is the coach knowledge assessment (CKA)?

    The CKA is an online multiple-choice test that you are invited to complete if your performance evaluation is successful.

    guide to coaching certification journey steps

    When you have completed all the elements (before the CKA), you are ready to apply to the ICF. It is an online application. Et voila! Once you pass the CKA, you are a professionally certified coach.

    executive coaching accreditation executive-coaching certification
    transformational leadership development program

    Join one of our webinars to find out more about our coaching certification pathways for leaders and coaches

    Do I need a coaching credential?

    So, it’s a rigorous process and you still want to know, is it worth doing? Below is a table that summarizes what I would generally say, according to different individual experience and interests. I don’t try to convince people either way as it’s always up to them.

    The individualThe adviceRecommended training
    Someone looking for a change of career and thinking about becoming an executive coach Definitely worth getting ICF ACC certification to give you the professional credentials most coachees will be looking for. Most organizations will only hire certified coaches Performance Coach Certification
    -includes 10-hour Mentor Coaching package
    A manager wanting to enhance their leadership style with coaching skills What’s most important here is developing strong, practical coaching skills that you can apply in the work place. An official coaching certification isn’t necessary, although many still like the formal recognition Transformational Leader Pathway
    -includes six 1-hour one-one coaching sessions and ROI Evaluation Report
    A manager who has some coaching knowledge and wants to go to the next level It very much depends on your personal situation and how you are looking to use your skills. Coaching certification isn’t necessary but may be desirable for your career development. How you improve your leadership through coaching is what will matter most Coaching for Managers & Leaders

    Coaching for Performance | Foundation
    An internal coach, HR professional or a manager who has coaching as part of their job descriptionDefinitely worth getting ICF ACC certification. You may also wish to go further with ICF PCC certificationPerformance Coach Certification

    Coaching for Transformation, Modules 4–6

    “The Distance Learning course structure was great. There was so much value doing it online over a period of time and I loved connecting with like-minded people from all around the world. I wanted to thank the team at Performance Consultants for making it possible. For equipping me with such great training, knowledge and experience through the course and beyond. I have really appreciated what has felt like a partnership on the journey.”

    Elly Simmons, ACC (Associate Certified Coach), Founder, Leading People, Australia
    ICF ACSTH coach certification

    What next?

    If you’d like to discuss which coaching certification or training options are best for you or your managers, we’re always available to help. Call one of our global offices or email

    meeting your needs

    How can you bring coaching into your organization?

    Sir John and his colleagues at Performance Consultants were the first to take coaching into the workplace and coined the term “performance coaching” in the early 1980s. We continue to lead the field in performance improvement through coaching leadership training.

    Select one of the options shown. Or get in touch and one of our world-class leadership development consultants will work with you to create a tailored program that meets your specific needs.

    • Attend a Coaching Course – experience the benefits of coaching first hand. See our Global Training Calendar to find the right course for you
    • Transformational Leader Pathway – learn how to be a leader–coach with a coaching leadership style that creates a culture of high performance for you, your team and entire organization
    • Performance Coach Certification – become a coach or take your coaching skills to the next level so that you can practise transformational leadership coaching
    • Individual Coaching (1:1) – take your leadership to the next level with a tailored, fast-track professional development coaching program
    • Team Development – unlock the next level of potential in your team with team coaching