Your Journey to ICF Credentials

by Alex Kudinov

We consider the International Coaching Federation ICF credentials a Gold Standard in Coaching for a reason. In the industry where anyone who reads a book about coaching or take a short coaching course and can throw together an online calendar to take appointments can call himself a coach, stringent application path ICF requires of its credential holders to follow serve as a beacon of quality service and stamp of proficiency.

Agile coaching took the world of Agile by storm and left many people confused and frustrated in its wake. While I reserve a detailed discussion of what Agile coaching is and isn’t for another article, I don’t think anyone would argue that coaching skills and proficiency, and most importantly, the coaching mindset, are essential for any professional calling herself an Agile coach. 

At the same time, confusion reigns amongst the professional coaches who heard about this new strain of coaching, called agile, and later realized that it got little to do with coaching profession, even less with high standards of coaching training, mastery of core coaching competencies, and following the high standards of skill levels the ICF credentialed coaches came expect from their ilk. While professional coaching core competencies, such as creating awareness, asking powerful questions, active listening, maintaining coaching presence, direct communication, planning and goal setting, and managing progress, to name a few, started percolating the world of the Agile Coaching recently, they are still way obscure and widely misunderstood by the majority of the agile practitioners. No wonder coaching clients are getting disappointed with the coaching service they receive in the market.

What Is Coaching ICF Credentials?

Let’s start with distinguishing coaching certification and coaching credentials. You become a certified coach by attending a class or two that might take as little as two days or as long as two weeks. There are no clear standards who can be called a certified coach and what it means to be one. Coaching credentials, which are issued by a handful organizations worldwide, one of them being ICF, are different.

While International Coach Federation standards towards both the applicants and the coach training programs are rigorous and extensive, their explanations are way too convoluted and complex for many people to navigate. Aspiring coaches get lost in the multitude of priorities, requirements, and coaching courses that promise a quick and easy path to their desired ICF credentials. Not only do they prove the coaching training, coaching experience, passing of the Coach Knowledge Assessment.

ICF Credentials - ACC

Let me start by saying there is no simple path to becoming an International Coaching federation credentialed coach, period. End of discussion. Coaching mindset is not something that you get out of a 2-day class. Coaching Certifications and coach training programs offering a variety of certificates are abundant, but few of those offer the academic rigor and core competency building capabilities the coaches need to meet the stringent ICF standards. The value of the credentials is coming from the rigor and the sheer number of requirements and different, interrelated factors which, taken together, make a competent, professional, and well-rounded coach.

ICF Credentials - PCC

As with any other ongoing learning, goal setting and creating a plan that maps your application path is crucial, maybe even more so than creating a great coaching plan for each of your prospective and new client. At Tandem Coaching Academy, we do not make promises we cannot keep. Our highly proficient, Master- and Professional Certified Coach (PCC)-level certified faculty will be with you all the way, providing live instructions that meet the highest standards of the coaching industry, guiding, and mentoring you through the lengthy and thorny process of adding the ICF credentials as a recognition of your hard work.
ICF Credentials - MCCTandem Coaching Academy’s Coaching in Agile Environments Accredited Coach Training Program (ACPT) and Approved Coaching Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) programs are the only fully ICF accredited coaching courses designed by an Agilist Tandem’s founder Cherie Silas, MCC, CEC for Agilists. To add to that, Cherie is the only ICF accredited Master Certified Coach, who is also a Certified Enterprise Coach with Scrum Alliance. If you are not ready to commit time and resources to at least a year-long journey and prefer a piecemeal approach, our new offering, Discover Coaching©, a part of The Coaching Path, might be just what you are looking for.

Cherie recognized the value of coaching skills in Agile environments. Also, she saw how those lacking these valuable skills struggled in command-and-control settings.

What Makes Tandem Coaching Unique?

Our accredited training program teaches you all the necessary ICF core competencies to enable you to become a highly proficient professional coach. Tandem’s faculty who teach the program all hold the ICF MCC and PCC accreditation themselves. Our program offers both non-certification and certification tracks.
What does fully accredited mean? It means after completing the program you will have met the training requirements to apply for either ACC or PCC credentials. By completing the entire program – not only will you earn a Tandem Coaching Academy – Certified Professional Coach (TCA-CPC) designation, but you will also apply through the ACTP track (the most streamlined ICF application track, read more about different paths in this article). Our program is already fully accredited, and we have graduated and seen several cohorts of students complete their education and continue through to gain their ACC and PCC credentials over the past few years since we’ve been in operation.
Tandem is the training provider that gives you a few great options.

If you are just after learning some new skills and looking to add some core competency and coaching techniques to your toolbox take our new Discover Coaching© class. Here we are looking into such foundational pieces such as creating a coaching agreement and an effective coaching plan. You will get a greater understanding of major strengths a professional coach of different credential levels brings to their clients. You will learn the basics and mechanics of a good coaching process. You will gain a greater clarity around each and every coaching core competency, and learn the basics and underlying concepts of various coaching methods, coaching objectives, and reflective practices. You will spend a great deal of time learning about a well-structured coaching conversation using the coaching arc.You will also practice your skills and competencies in a safe environment of coaching labs and coaching circles.

Discover Coaching© class is great for those who are not ready to commit to a year-long learning journey. If you have confidence in your abilities and commitment, look at our ACSTH program. It is an 8-month extensive program (with additional 3 months of coach mentoring) that results in a Tandem Coaching Academy – Certified Associate Coach certification and prepares you for your application for the ICF ACC credential.

If you have already gotten some coach training and want to advance your learning and competency, take our full ACTP program, where you will work with our instructors and your peer students to get to mastery of the coaching and earn your Tandem Coaching Academy – Certified Professional Coach (TCA-CPC) credentials and will be ready to apply for your ACC or PCC credential with ICF through their ACTP path

If you are curious about team and human systems coaching, consider taking our Coaching Human Systems program. In this program we take a deep dive into systems and group coaching. We investigate how groups work, what skills a professional certified coach would need to bring to the group work, how to establish clear agreements, safe, supportive environment of mutual respect, address underlying concerns, and tackle trivial and significant issues group coaches face in their daily work. This is our CCE – Coach Continuing Education program and will qualify you to apply to any ICF credential through their Portfolio path.

Both of our approved training program or approved coach specific training hours program include Mentor Coach program, and this combination will ensure you are well on track to submitting your application for ACC credentials, provided other requirements set forth by ICF are met. If you have your coach training hours under your belt and need only mentor coaching to satisfy ICF application or renewal requirements, you can take our Mentor Coaching program separately. In our coaching program we dig deep into coaching core competency, study what a great coaching session look like (and practice having those great sessions a lot!). We teach you how to build a coaching relationship, how to get the most out of coaching instructions you are given along the way to master coaching skills and competencies.

Throughout the coaching program you are also required to find and work with your own coaching clients, improving with every coaching session, and mastering the coaching process, working on your core competencies and skill levels, and maybe building your own coaching practice and coaching business in the meantime.

Those requirements include required training hours, coaching experience in the forms of coaching hours gained from your own coaching practice and coaching sessions, as well as passing the Coach Knowledge Assessment test administered by ICF.

If you shoot for the PCC level certification, you will benefit from taking the ACTP program and working with our MCC or PCC-level qualified mentor coach through the Mentor Coach program (included in the ACTP program). The reflective practice your Mentor Coach will bring to the sessions will help you improve in the major areas of your coaching skills, ICF core competencies, and practice. Your mentor will assess and provide you with the performance evaluation of your recorded sessions, which focus on PCC markers around ICF core competencies such as powerful questioning, coaching presence, direct communication, managing progress and accountability, and others. You both will be designing actions that will help you achieve your stated goals, make you more confident in a variety of coaching situations and coaching engagements, bring greater clarity around ethical guidelines and guide you through the process of training the muscle of your coaching mindset. We will work with you, ensuring you achieve a high level of coaching competency in order to pass your credentialling process with flying colors.

Your lifetime Tandem Coaching Academy membership will help you achieve your personal and professional potential, stay abreast with the development in coaching culture and professional standards, allow you to access to the ongoing support of our highly qualified staff.

We schedule our online classes at the convenient time for most time zones, including Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Americas.

For those who are after their ICF credentials, I gathered all the requirements that an ICF credential applicant has to meet to apply in the table below. I tried to make the requirements as clear as possible, as well as highlighting how Tandem Coaching Academy can help you in achieving your ICF credentials.

Still confused and not sure where to start?
Keep learning about the pathways to become a coach.

Contact us with questions you might have and we’ll be happy to have you on the road to your ICF credentials in no time!

ICF Requirements Associate Certified Coach ACC