ACC, PCC, MCC? Differences Between Coaching Certifications

One of the most common questions asked by people who are interested in coaching certification is “What is the difference between ACC, PCC, and MCC?”

While the ICF doesn’t provide training for coaches, they do provide accreditation for coach training programs. The ICF recognizes three levels of credential: Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC).

When you enroll in an ICF-accredited coaching program, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge you need to earn your ICF credential.

While not all coaches seek ICF certification, many are still curious about the distinctions between the ICF’s three credentialing levels.

Here is a quick overview of the differences between ACC, PCC, and MCC:

ACC: Associate Certified Coach

The ACC (Associate Certified Coach) credential is the first-level coaching certification offered by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

To earn the ACC credential, coaches typically must complete at least 60 hours of coach-specific training, have over 100 hours of coaching experience, and pass an ICF-approved exam. An online ACC Training Program can help you meet these requirements.

If and when you wish to advance your coaching career after reaching the ACC level, you can pursue the ICF’s PCC (Professional Certified Coach) credential.

PCC: Professional Certified Coach

The PCC (Professional Certified Coach) credential is the second-level coaching certification offered by the ICF. To earn the PCC credential, coaches must complete at least 125 hours of professional coach training, have at least 500 hours of coaching experience and must pass an ICF-approved exam.

If you’re serious about making a career out of coaching, pursuing the PCC credential by enrolling in an online PCC training program is a great way to show your commitment to the profession. PCC-level coaches can earn higher pay and have more opportunities for career advancement than those with lower-level credentials.

MCC: Master Certified Coach

The MCC (Master Certified Coach) credential is the highest-level coaching certification offered by the ICF. To earn the MCC credential, coaches must complete at least 200 hours of intensive, professional coach training, have at least 2,500 hours of coaching experience, and 10 hours of mentor coaching, as well as pass an ICF-approved exam.

The MCC credential is the gold standard in coaching certification, and is the ICF certification held by the smallest number of coaches worldwide. Thus, MCC-level coaches are in high demand and can command premium pay rates. They can attract high-profile clientele and typically have the most successful coaching practices.

However, becoming a Master Certified Coach is not for everyone. Not only does it require a significant investment of time, money, and effort, but many coaches achieve happiness and success in their careers without pursuing the MCC credential.

Given the total amount of training and hours of experience required for ACC, PCC, and MCC accreditation, you have plenty of time to decide whether becoming a Master Certified Coach is ultimately right for your coaching career.

Coaching Certification Programs: Overview

An easy way to think of these three coaching levels is to compare them to college degrees. The ACC credential is like an Associate’s degree, the PCC credential is like a Bachelor’s degree, and the MCC credential is like a Master’s degree. Not everyone wants or needs to pursue a 4 year degree or a 6 year degree, but those who do may be able to enjoy benefits in terms of career advancement and earnings potential.

In the same way, not every coach wants or needs to pursue the PCC or MCC credential. As each level of credentialing requires more training, experience, and knowledge than the last, ultimately it is up to the individual coach to decide which level is right for them. There is no “correct” answer for everyone; every coach’s situation and goals are unique.

Online Certified Coach Training Programs

So, which—if any—coaching certification is right for you? It depends on your goals and aspirations as a coach. If you’re just starting out and seeking certification, the ACC credential is the first step on your coaching journey.

If you’re looking to further your career, increase your skillset, and earn more money, the PCC credential is the next step. And if you’re seeking the highest level of ICF-accredited coaching certification, and are willing to make a significant investment in your career, the MCC credential may be for you.

Now that you know the differences between the three main types of ICF-accredited coaching certification, you can decide which one is right for you and your career goals.

Whichever type of certification you pursue, make sure to do your research and choose an online coaching certification program that’s right for you.