ICF Accreditation Explained: The Differences Between Level 1, Level 2, and CCE Courses

difference between coach training course accreditations

ICF Accreditation Explained: The Differences Between Level 1, Level 2, and CCE Courses

Understanding the various types of coaching courses and their respective accreditations can be challenging. This article aims to simplify this process, enabling you to distinguish between these courses and make informed decisions based on your professional coaching career stage.

First, it’s crucial to clarify the differences between accreditation, certification or qualification, and credentialing. Accreditation refers to the approval process conducted by a professional coaching body, such as the ICF. This body assesses a coach training course against high standards, competencies, and ethical frameworks. We strongly recommend considering this accreditation as a hallmark of credibility in the coaching industry when researching coaching courses.

Upon completing an accredited training, a coach achieves certification or qualification. Given the stringent standards enforced by the ICF, this qualification is highly reputable, validating you as a certified coach who has completed an ICF-accredited training program.

To clarify, although this certification comes from the school you trained with, it does not mean you are credentialed or accredited by the ICF.

If you aspire to earn a specific credential from a professional coaching body like the ICF, you can pursue this after gaining your qualification by fulfilling additional experience-based requirements.

Before embarking on a credentialing pathway, it’s essential to understand the following requirements:

  1. Education: Obtain an ICF-accredited training, be it Level 1, Level 2, or CCE hours.
  2. Experience: Accumulate a certain number of hours, relevant to the desired credential. It’s important to note that coaching hours begin counting only after you’ve commenced an ICF-accredited training.
  3. Mentor Coaching: Receive mentorship to enhance your skills, aligned with the ICF. Level 1 and Level 2 courses typically include mentoring; however, CCE courses do not.
  4. Performance Evaluation: Undergo an assessment of your coaching skills against ICF standards, usually completed during your Level 1 or Level 2 courses.
  5. Exam: Pass a written exam designed to test your understanding of ICF competencies and ethics. This exam will be administered by the ICF once you’ve fulfilled the above requirements and applied for the credential.

Now, let’s briefly distinguish between the different courses:

Level 1 courses require between 60 and 124 contact learning hours. Graduates may apply for the ACC (Associate Certified Coach) Credential via the Level 1 application path, provided they meet the credentialing requirements.

Level 2 courses require between 125 and 175 contact learning hours. Graduates earn the PCC (Professional Certified Coach) Accredited Education designation and may apply for the PCC Credential via the Level 2 application path, subject to meeting the necessary credentialing requirements.

Importantly, completion of a Level 2 course also qualifies you to apply for your ACC credential once you accumulate 100 hours of experience. This is a popular choice, as it provides a quicker route to gaining a credential. After accumulating 500 sessions over time, you can then apply for your PCC without incurring additional training or mentoring costs.

CCE courses serve as supplemental and continuing education for coaches looking to acquire new learning, professional development, or renew their ICF Credential. They do not teach foundational coaching skills.

Credentialing using CCE courses requires submitting the program curriculum, additional documentation to verify the education meets ICF standards, mentor coaching verification, the recorded coaching session for the performance evaluation, and program certificates alongside coaching experience hours. This makes the credentialing process using CCE less straightforward.

In conclusion, we advise individuals beginning their coaching journey to consider Level 1 or 2 courses. For those dedicated to long-term growth and attaining professional credentials, a Level 2 course—such as the Accredited Diploma in Transformative Coaching offered by Animas Centre for Coaching—serves as a streamlined pathway to both the ACC and PCC credentials.

Author Details
Adie an experienced coach and one of our Coach Consultants here at Animas. She comes from a psychology and education background having taught hundreds of children aged 4-16, something she been doing for over 10 years.

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