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My Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Journey

Coach (PCC) Journey

I was so confused when I started my coach training in 2020, not just because of the ongoing global pandemic, but because of the new language I was learning. Here’s a breakdown of what I know, in the simplest way possible.



The certification is the first level you will achieve as a coach. Under the trusty wing of Radiant Coaches Academy, I obtained my certification within five months. This is pretty fast. I needed to get in 60 hours of live zoom trainings, complete the online syllabus, do 20 hours of coaching (practicums), and do various other exercises. My day job had halted due to COVID so I had time on my hands and hope in my heart for a new career. This certification meant I could proudly call myself a Certified Holistic Coach and solidly demonstrate that I adhere to ICF’s Code of Ethics.


Some coaches will stop there, and that is absolutely fine. Others continue with further qualifications via ICF credentials. These are Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Master Certified Coach (MCC). Don’t be confused by the word “certified” in the description, it is different from the certification you already have, this kind of certification is better termed a credential. (Still following?!)

For me, I knew I wanted to eventually do my MCC. You do need to have a PCC before you apply for an MCC. But you don’t need an ACC before you apply for a PCC. I decided to skip the ACC for two reasons. Firstly, I was happy to wait for a credential. Secondly, it didn’t seem worth paying for an ACC and then later paying for a PCC, when I could just wait, and save the money. I also joined ICF as a member just before applying for my PCC to take advantage of the reduced PCC application fee. ICF membership also demonstrates my commitment to continued professional development and I have already enrolled onto some brilliant (free for members) online conferences. Which brings me on to CCEs.


A CCE is a Continuing Coach Education unit of training. Your credential needs renewing every three years, and over that period of time you need to do further training. These can be via CCE units, which are logged on your ICF profile each time you attend training.

Talking of which, I am doing an ICF Webinar on March 15th 2023, ICF Life Vision & Enhancement Coaching CP – Setting and Maintaining Boundaries – ICF Events (icf-events.org)

One of the differences between the three credentials (ACC, PCC, MCC) are the number of clients you need to have seen for each level. With ACC it is 100 clients (70 hours paid) with at least 8 different clients. PCC is 500 hours (450 hours paid) with at least 25 clients. MCC is 2500 hours (2250 paid hours) with 35 clients minimum. I highly recommend coaches from day one to keep a clear record of your coaching hours, even if you aren’t thinking about progressing just yet. And remember coaches who coach each other can count these as paid hours.

For all three credentials you need to do an online exam, more on that shortly.



Accreditation refers to the training school. Radiant Coaches Academy is an ICF accredited training institution. Radiant is also a (brace yourself for more letters…) Level 2 (formerly called ACTP) school and also a Level 1 (formerly ACSTH).

Level 2 Accreditation (formerly ACTP: Accredited Coach Training Program)

Level 1 Accreditation (formerly ACSTH: Approved Coaching Specific Training Hours)


Although I didn’t need to submit transcripts, going over a selection of coaching sessions should be part of your continued professional development. Even better if you can employ a mentor to check in with. I recorded two sessions and used the brilliant Transcription & Assessment platform (raenotes.com) where you simply convert a zoom audio file into a script within minutes. It does handy things like measures the amount of time you talked and your client talked. You can view the transcript with just your script, or just theirs, or both. Then comes the faffy bit, you can mark up your script, line by line, in accordance with the PCC Markers, the key points you need to hit to demonstrate the level of your coaching skills. This really helps you tune in to hitting those markers. I submitted my transcripts to my coach, and she confirmed they were both PCC standard.


All three credentials do the same credentialing exam (CKA). This was updated on 1st February 2023 so I was one of the first to do the new version. It comprises 81 questions that you must answer in 3 hours. You get a 5-minute break half-way though. There are several test questions on the ICF website here: Coach Knowledge Assessment – International Coaching Federation. This brilliant video gives great advice on the new test: 5 Keys to the Updated ICF Credential Exam (podia.com)

For each question you are given a coaching scenario (of differing complexity) and four possible courses of action. You choose the best solution and the worst solution. To study for the exam, I went over the following:

  1. ICF – Core Competencies
  2. ICF Code of Ethics plus I watched all the associated videos Video Series: ICF Code of Ethics and read the Interpretive Statements
  3. Updated PCC Markers from the ICF – Hawthorne

I spent around 6 hours studying. Most of it was a refresher because I teach these topics for Radiant, but some of it created new ways of thinking about the concepts.

You can do the exam in person or online. I chose online and the whole experience was curious for sure! You get the link and there are procedures to help you check your system’s suitability. They check your audio, speakers, video. You also have to make sure Zoom and Teams and Skype and any other video programmes are not running, because of course you could cheat via them. I am not technically minded but fortunately Google is, the trickiest part was turning of something called “Zoom Sharing Service” (still no clue what it is) but I soon found the answer.

Half an hour before the exam you have to log on and, using your phone, take photos of your face and your ID (passport, drivers licence etc.) for verification. Then you take photographs of your workspace and have to put all books and devices out of reach. I emptied the bookshelves next to my desk and put my phone in the kitchen.

Then an invigilator (as a disembodied voice) comes online and checks your space, and off you go! You are not allowed to move from your desk and you see a recording of your face throughout the exam as they monitor you. All was going well until the cat decided to get involved, but a gentle nudge removed her from my desk! Later, just into the second half my alarm went off, on my phone, in the kitchen. I set a regular reminder to contact family and had forgotten to turn it off! The ring was LOUD and I sat frozen for five minutes, which was lucky because I knew I couldn’t move anyway, not wanting to blow the whole exam by getting up. There is a text box where you can contact an invigilator, but nobody replied to my dilemma! Fortunately, after five minutes the alarm stopped, or tired itself out, and I was able to continue.

You get the results instantly. It is a pass/fail plus the score, but no other feedback on the ones you didn’t get right. I passed! And am still a little in shock. I can hear my business coach in my ears asking me how I am going to celebrate… There is some ice-cream that needs buying from the village shop.

Fortunately, there are regular classes for Radiant students to get a handle on all the terminology, and students are encouraged to reach out to the tutors for support and guidance anytime. Are you still really confused?! It’s ok, and understandable! Post your questions below or reach out to me and I will attempt to unconfuse you!

Ali Hendry, Education Director (Europe)
Radiant Coaches Academy



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