Credential VS Certification

The process of forging a career, as a coach, is a delicate one, and ensuring you stand out in the crowd is a crucial part of success, especially when training and expertise depends on it. It’s not enough to have a whole host of qualifications with no particular aim- your achievements must make sense in the context of the coach, so choosing the right qualifications is important for progression. Understanding what different types of credentials and certifications available to you are crucial and many students often struggle to determine their needs, in the context of the larger wants of their industry. Most people do not even know the difference between the two, and often find their skills being developed in a misdirected manner. Thus, they are not able to provide effective leadership in spite of workforce certifications.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) changed its credentializing process on October 1st, 2016 to address exactly these concerns in the industry to improve the ease of entry. This is of great importance not only to those seeking to become coaches but also those who are certified coaches as well. Before explaining these changes, it is vital to explain what different types of qualifications exist that are relevant to the industry.


This applies to the coaching programs themselves that provide training and expertise. It is not individuals who receive this but an organization or an institution that ensures its functionality for the sake of growth. The application process is extensive and difficult, as schools are put through a rough process through which they commit to delivering curriculum based on the ICF’s core competencies, while meeting training and mentoring requirements. The ICF has the Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) status to over 200 coaching programs worldwide.


Graduating from an ACTP program holds many benefits, but the one that holds you in good stead is the proof that you qualify as a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). It is important to note that a workforce certification comes from the coaching school and not the ICF. Though, certifications set a foundation for your career as they last a lifetime.


Credential are secondary steps that are viable to coaches in training, for the purpose of imparting additional expertise.  While this process is completely optional, it serves an important purpose. For those who desire it, it serves as an additional level of professional recognition and representative of the dedication to continued learning and understanding alongside sticking to the ethical rules. Workforce credential soultions are renewed every three years with a fee ranging from $100- $ 750. The cost depends on the current membership and the level of the credential desired.

Choose from Three ICF Credentials

Your coach training and level of experience determine which workforce credential solution is right for you. All credential applicants must pass the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA). From here, an applicant may choose from three types of credentials, according to their qualifications.

Associate Certified Coach (ACC)

60+ training hours

100 coaching experience hours

Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

125+ training hours

500+ coach experience hours (effective 10/1/16)

Master Certified Coach (MCC)

200+ training hours

2500+ coach experience hours

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