Here are the three designations awarded by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and each designation’s requirements:

Associate Certified Coach (ACC)

60 hours of coach-specific training

250 hours of coaching experience with clients

Satisfactory completion of oral exam

Agreement to adhere to the ICF Code of Ethics

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 ICF Code of Ethics

Continued professional development to renew credentials every three years

Master Certified Coach (MCC)

200 hours of coach-specific training

2,500 hours of coaching experience with clients

Satisfactory completion of written and oral exam

Demonstrated leadership within the profession

Agreement to adhere to the ICF Code of Ethics

Continued professional development to renew credentials every three years

If a coach has not gone to an accredited school, it is more difficult to get an ICF designation, says Steve Mitten, president of the ICF, because the coach must show that he has done coursework comparable to what’s offered by ICF-accredited schools and then take an exam administered by ICF.