ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) – Ultimate Guide 2024

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Are you ready to make a real difference in people’s lives? 

The ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential is the ultimate guide to success in coaching. With over 125+ hours of coaching education, 500+ hours of coaching experience, and a rigorous performance evaluation, you’ll be fully equipped to help your clients achieve their goals and live their best lives throughout their coaching journey.

Looking to secure this credential through an ICF accredited program? My guide with the Best ICF Accredited Coaching Programs will help you choose the right coaching training program for you.

icf professional certified coach


  • The Professional Certified Coach (PCC) is the second-highest ICF credential for coaches
  • You need 125 educational hours, 500 coach training hours, and 10 mentor coach hours for the PCC
  • The cost is approx. $5,900 to $15,000 USD

International Coaching Federation (ICF)

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the most recognized coaching organization worldwide. It is the global authority on coaching credentials, standards, ethics, and best practices. 

What Is An ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC)?

The Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential of the International Coaching Federation is the second highest certification level for coaches. Therefore PCC coaches have a high reputation in the coaching industry. 

If you hold one of the ICF credentials, such as the PCC, it indicates your dedication to upholding strong principles of ethical behavior in coaching and your commitment to developing and refining your coaching skills.

3 Best ICF Accredited Coaching Programs

An ICF accreditation provides proof that you have met stringent education standards and have gained a thorough understanding of the client coaching experience. 3 of the best ICF-accredited coaching programs with an excellent reputation are: 

For more details see my article about the Best Coaching Programs ICF-accredited.

How To Become An ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

The Professional Certified Coach (PCC) is Level 2 of the 3 following ICF Coach credentials. 

ICF Professional Certified Coach Requirements

To become an ICF Professional Certified Coach, you must meet the following requirements.

  • 🕰️125 coach-specific training hours
  • 🕰️500 coaching experience hours (minimum 450 paid)
  • 🕰️10 mentor coaching hours
  • 📝successful completion (passing score) of a performance evaluation
  • 📝successful completion (passing score) of the ICF Credentialing Exam

Be aware that these requirements represent a high standard, and those who earn the ICF PCC credential are widely recognized for their coaching skills and professional coaching.

PCC Education Requirements & Application Paths

The 125 hours of coach-specific training must come from a new ICF Level 2 Path accredited coaching program or one of the old Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) or Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) programs. 

For more details check out: Level 1,2, ACTP vs ACSTH Program/Pathway

If you have non-ICF-accredited education hours, there is an alternative “Portfolio Path”. If you decide on this path you must submit the program curriculum with robust documentation to ensure your education meets ICF standards.

Here you find a PCC application paths comparison and a PCC candidate Guide

PCC Experience Requirements

The 500 hours of coaching experience have to be with at least 25 clients. 50 of the 500 hours must have occurred within 18 months before the application. A minimum of 450 hours must be paid by clients.

PCC Mentor Coach Requirements

You have to do 10 hours of mentor coaching with a qualified mentor coach that holds a PCC or MCC credential.

The mentor coach hours must occur over a three-month period or longer. 3 of the 10 mentor sessions have to be one-on-one and 7 can be group mentor coach sessions.

If you are part of a Level 2 / old ATCP program, the 10 mentor coach hours come as part of your program. If you do a Level 1 / old ACSTH program you have to book and pay them separately. 

ICF Professional Certified Coach Requirements
unsplash.com brooke cagle

PCC Performance Evaluation Requirements

If you do a Level 1 / old ACSTH coaching program you have to pass a separate performance evaluation with an ICF Assessor. It will review if you use the ICF Core Competencies in your coaching process.

For performance evaluation, you have to submit one recorded coaching session (20-60 minutes) including a transcript.

If you do a Level 2 / old ATCP program the performance evaluation is part of your coaching education program. 

PCC Final Exam Requirements

At the end of completing all the above criteria, you can take the final ICF PCC credential exam. You have to prove that you can apply the following International Coaching Federation Standards in your coaching:

You can complete the 3 hours exam whether in an on-site Pearson VUE testing center or in your home or office while being monitored by an online proctor.

The online based questionnaire contains approx. 81 realistic coaching scenarios.
For each scenario, you are given 4 options you have to rank from “best action” to “worst action“. The range of possible scores is 200 to 600, with a passing score of 460.

Here you find more specific information about the content as well as exam sample questions.

ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Certification Cost

The cost for a PCC (ICF Level 2) coach training program comes in a wide price range between approximately 

  • $5,900 and $15,000 USD. 

If you finished an ICF Level 2 program, you can directly apply for a PCC credential, even if you don’t have an ICF Level 1 ACC certificate. 

The process of getting the ICF PCC credential comes with additional costs:

Level 2 / ACTP Path Application Fee:

  • ICF Members: $375 USD
  • non-ICF Members: $525 USD

It takes around 4 weeks until you will receive your ICF PCC credential.

Level 1 / ACSTH Path Application Fee:

  • ICF Members: $650 USD
  • non-ICF Members: $800 USD

It takes around 14 weeks until you will receive your ICF PCC credential.

Portfolio Path:

  • ICF Members: $750 USD
  • non-ICF Members: $900 USD

It takes around 18 weeks until you will receive your ICF PCC credential.

Here you find a PCC application example PDF

Professional Certified Coach Salary

The average life coach salary is $47,100 globally and $62,500 in North America. Because of the comprehensive experience of Professional Certified Coaches, they are usually on the higher end of the range between $80,000 and $150,000 USD.

It’s important to note that the salary can vary widely depending on factors such as location, industry, and years of experience.

How To Prepare For The ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Exam

The final ICF exam is 180 minutes (3 hours) long and delivered by a computer in a testing center or through Pearson’s OnVUE remote proctored testing service.

It is organized as follows:

  1. Exam Instructions: 3 minutes
  2. Section 1 (41 items): 87 minutes
  3. Scheduled Break: 5 minutes
  4. Section 2 (40 items): 85 minutes

ICF Core Competencies and the ICF Code of Ethics will be the main topics of the questions and scenarios. If you focus on learning these coaching competencies properly, you will be well prepared for the exam.

Here you find a more detailed breakdown of the content of the exam:

Domain: Foundation

  • 13% – Competency: Demonstrates Ethical Practice
  • 12% – Competency: Embodies a Coaching Mindset

Domain: Co-Creating the Relationship

  • 12% – Competency: Establishes and Maintains Agreements
  • 13% – Competency: Cultivates Trust and Safety
  • 13% – Competency: Maintains Presence

Domain: Communicating Effectively

  • 12% – Competency: Listens Actively
  • 13% – Competency: Evokes Awareness

Domain: Cultivating Learning and Growth

  • 12% Facilitates Client Growth

For an even better preparation go through these Sample Exam Questions.

professional certified coach PCC
unsplash.com amy hirschi

How To Find An ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

The best way to find an ICF PCC is the official International Coach Federation website. 

On their find a coach website, you can search by credential level and find your ideal mentor coaching partner to help you reach your personal and professional potential.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Is The PCC Credential Valid For? PCC Renewal

The ICF PCC credential has to be renewed every 3 years. 

In a time period of 3 years, you have to:

  • complete at least 40 Continuing Coach Education Hours (CEEs)
    • min. of 24 CCEs must be in Core Competencies.  
    • min. 3 of those hours must be in coaching ethics. (Coaches can obtain coaching ethics hours by completing ICF’s free Ethics course online). 
    • remaining 16 hours can be in Resource Development or Core Competencies. 

You can use up to 10 hours of Mentor Coaching (giving or receiving) AND up to 10 hours of Coaching Supervision (giving or receiving) towards the required 40 CCEs for renewal and count as Core Competency credits. 

How long does it typically take to become a PCC and what are the steps involved in the process?

You should calculate between 1-2 years to complete the PCC credential.
First, you have to complete a Level 2 PCC training program which alone takes at least 6-12 months.

It will take at least the same time to collect the 500 hours of coaching experience. 

Therefore I would consider 2 years as still very fast. 

What is the difference between a PCC and other levels of ICF certification, such as ACC or MCC?

The Associate Certified Coach (ACC) is the first level of ICF credential and contains 60 hours of coach-specific training hours as well as 100 coaching practice hours. 

The Professional Certified Coach (PCC) is the level 2 credential of the ICF and contains 125 coach-specific hours as well as 500 coaching practice hours. 

The Master Certified Coach (MCC) credential is level 3 and requires 200 coach-specific hours as well as a total of 2,500 coaching practice hours. 

How do I find a mentor coach to meet the mentor coaching requirements for PCC certification?

The easiest place to find a PCC or MCC mentor coach is on the official ICF website. There you can filter coaching professionals by credential.

What kind of coaching experience and training do I need to have before I can apply for PCC certification?

There are no special requirements to start a Level 2 ICF coaching program. You just need dedication and passion to help others. Of course certain personality traits like empathy and analytical thinking make it easier to succeed in the life coaching profession. 

What benefits does PCC certification offer to coaches and their clients?

Life coaches with a PCC coaching certification have a wide range of experience. You can expect more client requests for your coaching business, according to this high-quality profile. 

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.