What Is ICF Coaching: Understand The World of Professional Coaching

Sebastian LeBlond working with a student in an ICF certification course.
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    Whether you’re interested in contributing more effectively to your team as a manager or executive or pursuing an accredited career in coaching, ICF coaching is definitely a milestone you want to consider! But what is ICF coaching?

    If you want to know more about the International Coaching Federation, its history, what is ICF coaching, and how its different standards can help you, keep on reading this guide!

    What Is the International Coaching Federation, and What Is ICF Coaching?

    The ICF, also known as the “International Coaching Federation”, is one of the largest global organizations that is mainly affiliated with professional coaching by developing and advancing the techniques of professional coaching and overseeing the process of coaches certification worldwide.

    Additionally, the International Coaching Federation hosts conferences and provides accreditation and credentialing systems for various coach training programs that are internationally recognized.

    With that said, you should know that the International Coaching Federation is not controlled by a government. Instead, it’s a non-profit organization managed by a group of elite coaches and professionals from all over the world.

    The organization’s headquarters is in Lexington, Kentucky, but the federation has offices in various countries around the world and is established as the gold standard for coaching, thanks to the organization’s high ethical and professional standards when it comes to credentials.

    International Coaching Federation History

    Although the International Coaching Federation is regarded as one of the most prestigious organizations and governing bodies when it comes to coaching, it has only been around for a few decades. 

    The nonprofit organization was founded in 1995 by Thomas J. Leonard, who is one of the most popular coaching authors worldwide and contributed to various coaching projects and professional development programs.

    In 1996, the organization started to take its form after appointing a CEO and a board of directors, with the current CEO of the ICF being Magdalena Nowicka Mook.

    By January 2022, the International Coaching Federation had over 50,000 certified members from over 150 countries, which is a significant jump from early 2021 when the organization had around 33,000 members!

    How Important Is an International Coaching Federation Certification for Coaching?

    Technically speaking, you don’t need an International Coaching Federation certification in order to become a coach. However, an ICF certification will greatly help you advance your coaching career and unlock new potentials that would instead take years to achieve on your own.

    As previously established, the International Coaching Federation certification is considered the gold standard for being a top-tier life coach. 

    In other words, once you earn the International Coaching Federation credentials, you will enjoy a significant boost in your credibility, and you’ll hold a certificate that is recognized all over the world. 

    Additionally, many industries will prefer a coaching expert with an ICF certification to ensure best practices and core competency. In other words, being an ICF-certified coach will land you more lucrative opportunities.

    Who Can Become ICF Certified?

    Being an International Coaching Federation certified coach is a great choice for anyone who wants to help others achieve their goals, and luckily, almost anyone can become ICF certified after completing the necessary hours and mentoring programs.

    Here’s a brief look at some of the individuals who would make the most out of the ICF certification:

    • Individuals in Coaching Business: Anyone pursuing a career as a coach, especially a life coach, would benefit from the ICF certification. It provides you with better job opportunities, and increased pay, and even boosts your clientele thanks to its internationally recognized status!
    • Individuals in Managerial Positions: If you’re leading a team of employees and you want to help them achieve their best, the ICF credentials will provide you with the knowledge and experience necessary to reach such a standard

    How to Become ICF Certified?

    The ICF provides different standards of certifications, so the requirements to become ICF certified will vary depending on the level you’re applying to. 

    With that said, all different International Coaching Federation standards have a similar process that will slightly vary depending on the level. here’s a general guide that shows you how to become certified by the ICF:

    1. First, you’ll need to complete a specific amount of credit hours of coach-specific training. This can range anywhere between 60 to 200 hours, depending on the level of your certification.
    2. You’ll then need to complete the mentoring program, which includes 10 hours with an ICF-approved mentor/coach, over a minimum span of 3 months. This requirement is constant for all different ICF standards.
    3. You’ll also need to submit a log that shows that you’ve completed the required number of hours of practice. The number of hours, whether paid or free practice, will depend on the certification you’re applying to.
    4. Complete a performance evaluation and level assessment that will both vary depending on the certification you’re applying to.

    What Are The Benefits of Becoming ICF Certified?

    The ICF certification offers a wide variety of benefits to its holders, so here’s a brief overview of these advantages:

    • Gain Credibility and Recognition as a Coach: Since the coaching industry is highly unregulated, a lot of people put their trust in the quality of ICF standards when they’re looking for coaches, so holding ICF accreditation boosts your credibility and international recognition.
    • Shows Your Commitment to the Best Practices and Ethics: To become ICF certified, a coach needs to conduct all their practices under the ICF code of standards and ethics, which guarantees core competency and best practices while training.
    • Improve Your Salary or Rates: Although there’s a huge demand for coaching, industries and clients are only interested in paying more in return for high-quality coaching. By securing your ICF certification, you’ll be able to ensure that, and therefore, you’ll be able to increase your pay!
    • Learn from the Best: On your journey to become an ICF-certified coach, you’ll undergo close mentoring sessions and a heavy review process by some of the most elite coaches on the planet, which will help you to increase your knowledge and hone your skills!

    What Is ICF Coaching Three Standards

    One thing you should know about the ICF is that it doesn’t actually provide coach training. Instead, it provides the independent certification that ensures that you’ve been trained and mentored at the highest standards.

    The ICF offers three different standards of certification, and in the following section, we’ll take a quick look at each of them:

    Associate Certified Coach (ACC)

    The easiest way to become ICF certified is to apply for the entry-level credential, which is the ACC. As of March 2021, there are currently over 18,600 ACC-certified coaches worldwide.

    The holders of this credential have over 60 hours of coach-specific training and more than 100 hours of coaching experience, where 30 of these hours can be pro-bono, but the rest must be paid. The ACC is renewed every 3 years 

    Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

    The PCC is the intermediate-level coaching credential, and it builds on the same format as the ACC but with improved numbers. There are currently over 13,300 PCC-certified coaches 

    The holders of this credential have over 125 hours of coach-specific training and more than 500 hours of coaching experience, where 440 of these hours must be paid coaching. The PCC is renewed every 3 years.

    Master Certified Coach (MCC)

    The MCC is the highest level of certification by the ICF, and there are only around 1,300 MCC credential holders out there.

    The holders of this credential have over 200 hours of coach-specific training and more than 2,500 hours of coaching experience, where 2,200 of these hours must be paid coaching. The MCC is renewed every 3 years.

    What Does an ICF Certification Qualify You to Do?

    Reaching full potential needs a person who thrives to become their best version every day, and luckily, many of the skills needed for personal development can be a lot easier to acquire with the high standard ICF credentials.

    As a holder of ICF certification, you hold credentials that allow you to practice coaching at the highest level. Additionally, the ICF certification training will help you with the following aspects:

    • Better management of your business
    • Enhancing work performance
    • Building a more efficient work environment 

    Become ICF Certified Today

    As you can see, getting the ICF credentials can be a valuable milestone in your career, whether you’re a coach, manager, executive, or even a business owner who wants to ensure core competencies and best practices in their firm!

    Luckily, even if you don’t have any prior experience in coaching, you can start your ICF certification journey today! Click here to find out more about the ICF Approved Certification training offered by NLP Top Coach!

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    Sebastien Leblond is the Founder of NLP Top Coach, a leading NLP Coaching and Leadership Development Company. He is among an exclusive group of American Board of NLP Certified NLP Master Trainers in the world. More than 40,000 individuals across 30+ countries have been trained and certified by Sebastien to become world-class coaches and trainers. Sebastien is originally from Québec, Canada, and now lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife and children.

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