July 26

What Is ICF Certification Accreditation?


One question we receive frequently is, “What Is ICF Certification Accreditation?  Followed by, what’s the difference from ICF (International Coach Federation) certification?” While this does seem confusing, to be able to answer this, you first need to understand the difference between certification and accreditation.  These are distinct terms that mean different things but are very often confused.

Understanding the International Coach Federation Accreditation

Accreditation is a process of review that allows organizations to demonstrate their ability to meet regulatory requirements and standards established by a recognized accreditation organization such as the International Coach Federation (ICF). Accreditation reflects dedication and commitment to meeting standards that demonstrate a higher level of knowledge and client care. Also, accreditation is only applicable to organizations, not people. So it’s the organization that is accredited and the person(students) that becomes certified.

The ICF Accreditation Process

The Coach Training Academy is accredited by the ICF. To earn this specialized accreditation, our school had to complete a list of requirements including;

  • Numerous interviews
  • Pay application fees
  • Meet operational standards
  • Provide faculty and staff credentials
  • Pass performance evaluations
  • Work closely with the ICF to demonstrate our program met their standards.

At the end of this rigorous process, the ICF accredited our 24 Week Success Program. This signifies that it meets their specific standards and ensures students attending our program will receive a top professional coach training education. With all the choices in coach training for potential students, possibly you, this assurance tells you that our program will help you reach your goals and help meet your big vision in the coaching world.

Understanding ICF Certification

Certification is the formal procedure by which an accredited or authorized person or agency assesses and verifies the attributes, characteristics, qualities, and status of the individual by the established standards, which is usually attested in writing through a certificate. Professional certification tells the world that an individual has completed an educational program and is now at a particular level of professional development. Being a certified coach with the ICF means that you have pursued and completed a rigorous education and practice requirements.  Further, it gives you unquestioned legitimacy to your commitment to excellence in coaching and are part of the group of elite coaches that provides accountability to clients and the coaching profession as a whole.

Many students who discover The Coach Training Academy enroll in the 24 Week Success Program because our school is accredited by the ICF (professional status), and graduates of the program earn the right to proceed towards their ICF professional life coach certification.

ICF Certification is a Sign of Professionalism and Confidence

Having certification with the International Coach Federation does a few things. First, it’s a sign of professionalism. This certification demonstrates you have put in a significant amount of education time in an ICF accredited program, building coaching skills, and understanding a coach’s ethical responsibilities.   You have completed a minimum of 100 hours of private coaching and completed a three-month specific ICF Mentorship program as well as passing a special ICF examination, which demonstrates you are more than competent to help clients reach their goals.

ICF Accreditation Makes You Stand Out as a Coaching Professional

Second, it demonstrates to the community and organizations looking to hire a professional coach that you graduated from an accredited school and hold certification as a professional life coach. This is especially important as coaching is still a relatively new profession. With an ICF certification, you have demonstrated to management or human resources that you are ethical and possess the skills to help their organization. Getting the stamp of approval by holding certification from one of the most respected coaching organizations worldwide is often a foot in the door by automatically establishing a level of trust in your competence in the field.

In the world of coaching, the International Coach Federation is the gold standard for coach training programs to receive accreditation from as well as the gold standard for professional coaches to receive certification.  More and more organizations and governments are now requiring ICF certification for coaches to work for them.   A few include; Delta Airlines, US Department of State, Accenture, Amazon, NASA, Department of the Navy, and many more……

The International Coach Federation Sets the Bar

A coach credential is only as good as the rigors of standards behind the organization that grants it. As the world’s largest professional coaching association, The International Coach Federation was founded in 1995 and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to professional coaching with over 34,617 members in 139 countries as of December 2019. The organization sets professional standards within the coaching profession and has been called the main accrediting and credentialing body for both training programs and coaches. What makes an ICF-certified coach stand out from other coaches is their mastery of the core competencies, which were developed to support greater understanding about the skills and approaches used within today’s coaching profession as defined by the ICF.

ICF Core Competencies & Ethical Standards

There are 11 core competencies created by the ICF that are grouped into four clusters in addition to coaching ethics and standards.   These groups of competencies fit together based on how the competencies form the foundation of the coach-client relationship. This coach-client relationship and the coaching process is often called a Co-Creative relationship, which differs significantly from the traditional teacher/student, parent/child, and therapist/client relationship.

This is why these competencies are so essential.   To distinguish the professional coach and coaching process as a distinct modality that is not training, parenting, or therapy.

Before applying to the ICF, the coach must meet stringent requirements. Completing an ICF accredited coach training program awarding a minimum of 60 ICF training credits, a mastery of the ICF’s core competencies in the coaching conversation, complete a 3-month mentorship and complete 100 hours of documented coaching.  No other coaching organization offers more respected coaching certifications.

While you can find easier and less expensive ways to be “certified” as a coach, most of these certifications mean nothing.  They are simply a piece of paper with a name on it.

If you want to become a highly-skilled professional coach and recognized internationally for your abilities,  you will want to attend an accredited ICF training school and achieve your ICF certification.


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