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ACC and PCC Pathways to Coaching Certification

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: September 8, 2021


Individuals turn to coaches for a wide range of reasons, but at the most basic level, they are all looking for someone who will help take their life to new and better heights. It can be a path filled with uncertainty for the client because unlike professionals like doctors and financial planners, a coach is not required to have training or certification to practice their trade.

Who does the client choose? How do they know who to trust? Coaching requires clients to reveal very intimate and private details about themselves. Trust and credibility are key for a coach to maintain clients and build their business. The coach's main goal is to make their client’s life better.

Depending upon your coaching scope, having career, health and wellness or life coach training in your background as well as proven coach certification, will make it easier for a client to choose you to help them. There is an inherent understanding that you have recognized skills and talents and therefore may be more qualified than a coach who doesn’t.

It is that formalized proof of training that can make all the difference.

Two Optional Pathways to Coach Certification

Together with the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Ashton College has created opportunities that not only provide professional coaching training, but also lead to the eligibility for certification through ICF. With loads of training options in the marketplace for coaches, this helps narrow the choices down. Choosing a professional coaching program that leads to certification is certainly a better option than one that doesn’t. Your clients will value that distinction as well.

ICF is a self-regulated body of coaches that requires education and practice to be certified by the proven, professional network. In addition to providing certification standards, the organization also offers networking and growth opportunities as well as access to professional coaching information and research. There is both the ability to join ICF and to be certified.

There are three credential paths offered through ICF: Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and Master Certified Coach (MCC). Graduates of Ashton’s professional coach diploma program are eligible to apply to IFC for certification as either an ACC or a PCC.

Understanding the ACC and PCC Career Paths

Because the professional coach diploma program through Ashton College is 160 hours of virtual in-class training, it meets the training hour requirements of both the ACC and the PCC programs. ICF offers three options within both the ACC path and the PCC path. These options are based on your education and experience.

ACTP or the accredited coach training program option applies to those who take the Ashton program. This means that the program is considered to be all-inclusive by ICF as a “start to finish” style of training. The ACC ACTP path requires three things for credentials:

  • Completion of an accredited training program (like Ashton’s)
  • A minimum of 100 hours (at least 70 paid) of coaching experience with at least eight clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 25 of the hours must occur within the 24 months prior to you submitting your application
  • Completion of the ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment

There is a fee for the application. $100 US dollars for ICF members and $300 for non-members, which we’ll explain further below.

Similarly, in the PCC path, the ACTP or accredited coach training program option applies to the Ashton professional coach diploma program. So, those who complete the Ashton program are seen as having completed the requirement of coach-specific training. The PCC ACTP Path also requires three things for credentials:

  • Completion of an accredited training program (like Ashton’s)
  • A minimum of 500 hours (at least 440 paid) of coaching experience with at least 25 clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 50 of the hours must occur within the 24 months prior to you submitting your application
  • Completion of the ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment

The fee for the PCC application is $300 US dollars for ICF members and $500 for non-members.

Becoming an ICF Member

Membership in ICF is different from being certified by the organization. Membership fees are $245 US dollars a year and is what the organization refers to as a coaching community where new and experienced coaches can come together, interact, share and grow together. Applications for membership include documenting your credential status and/or the path you are currently on to work towards earning credentials, a pledge to ICF’s code of ethics, hours of experience and personal details.

Additionally, ICF has a number of other arms of the organization that support the community and coaches in general. This include ICF Coach Training, ICF Foundation (the non-profit/philanthropic piece), ICF Coaching in Organizations and the ICF Thought Leadership Institute.

Leaders in Coaching

Choosing an ICF accredited coaching program like Ashton’s is the ideal option because of the connection to ICF. ICF has been around since 1995 (to help bolster the credibility of coaching and provide networking opportunities), thus the organization is now the world’s largest community for professionally trained coaches.

All programs, accreditations and offerings through ICF are focused on the organization’s four core competencies of: setting the foundation, co-creating the relationship, communicating effectively and facilitating learning and results. These are the skills and approaches defined by ICF that are used in modern coaching.

More details about the core competencies can be found at

Earning Certification to Grown Your Coaching Business

Every coaching client wants to feel like they have made the right choice before the first session even begins. By having accredited education and certification through the International Coaching Federation, you prove not only your skills and education, but also your dedication to the industry and your own personal growth.

Clients will always value a coach who has the support of a professional organization behind them. Given the choice between a coach certified by the ICF and one that is not, clients will feel more supported when there are credentials behind your skills.


The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog



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