Laptop with a coaching journal to clock in ICF hours

Getting your ICF Coaching Hours

Apr 23, 2024 | Explore Free Coaching Resources to Be a Confident CoachCoaching

Are you thinking of becoming an ICF accredited coach but the thought of getting your coaching hours is daunting for you? You’re not alone. At our coach training academy, we get many questions from coaches asking us how they can accumulate their coaching hours.

According to the International Coaching Federation, if you’re looking to get ACC accredited, you’ll need to accumulate 100 hours of coaching experience (25 hours are allowed to be pro-bono). And if you’re looking to get PCC accredited, you’ll need a total of 500 hours. You can check on what else is needed here

How Long Will it Take to Accumulate ICF Coaching Hours?

It can take you as short as 9 months to get your 100 hours for your ACC or 2 years! It is up to you. It only takes coaching 2 hours per week to gain your first 100 hours in a year. As for PCC, it can take you 2-5 years to accumulate your hours depending on how much you are coaching. 

You may think that it’s a lot of hours, but it can happen in a way that’s exciting for you. These hours are crucial because they demonstrate your ability to coach effectively and you gain both a boost in experience and visibility for your brand. The more you coach the more future coaching clients might come your way, and you can grow your confidence in coaching. 

We encourage students to start gaining their hours from the start of the programme and to build them up consistently. In this blog, we’ll explore various simple strategies to help you achieve your ICF coaching hours target.

(1) Enrol in an ICF Coach Certification Programme 

Investing in a coach certification programme that aligns with ICF standards is an excellent way to kickstart your journey. Since gaining ICF education is already part of the requirements of obtaining an ICF accreditation, joining a programme will help you meet other students who are looking to accumulate hours as well. You can start to network and build a weekly or monthly rhythm with them and boost your confidence throughout the programme while attaining your coaching hours. 

You can start clocking in your coaching hours the moment you’ve enrolled in your coaching programme.

(2) Peer Coaching 

The quickest and easiest way to get started is to set up peer coaching arrangements with the other students on your programme. The ICF recognises peer coaching as paid coaching, as it is considered a barter system. You are paying each other with your time. You can count the hours that you are a coach in those coaching sessions. Peer coaching also creates an opportunity for you to practice and receive feedback on your coaching. Peer coaching starts for students and runs all the way through to after completing your Master Certified Coach (MCC). 

As well as finding peer coaches through your programme, you can join the peer coaching run by the ICF via this link. If you are a member of the ICF, your local chapter may also run peer coaching.

subscribe to newsletter

(3) Practice Coaching with Friends and Family 

This is the most common one we hear! Teaming up with friends, colleagues, and family and supporting each other’s growth as coaches is one of the easiest ways to accumulate your coaching hours. This approach allows you to gain coaching hours in a supportive environment with little to no judgment! If you don’t want to coach your own friends or family, you could set up an arrangement with another student to swap clients – you coach their friends, they coach yours!

You can start by creating a collateral, a LinkedIn profile account for example, that states you’re training to become a coach and are looking for clients who are interested in being coached. To fulfill the paid coaching requirements of ICF, you would need to charge a small fee for your coaching sessions. This is a good way to test the waters and sell your coaching services. 

If paying isn’t an option for them due to affordability, you can seek a barter exchange. You can ask them to buy you a cup of coffee or donate to a charitable organisation of their choice. 

(4) Offer Pro Bono Coaching through Apprenticeship or with Non-Profits

Volunteering your coaching services for free is a rewarding way to accumulate coaching hours while making a positive impact. You can reach out to non-profit organisations, community groups, or individuals who may benefit from coaching but cannot afford it. Pro bono coaching allows you to work with diverse clients and situations, enhancing your coaching skills in the process. You are allowed 25 Pro Bono coaching hours for the ACC credential.

(5) Build your Coaching Hours through Coaching Events and Communities 

Keep a good lookout for coaching events, workshops, and conferences in your area. These gatherings offer opportunities to observe live coaching demonstrations, participate in practice sessions, and network with fellow coaches. You might meet fellow coaches who are also in need of coaching hours and can partner with them to meet your requirements.

By doing so, you’ll also increase your visibility and your brand so more coaches in the area will know what your niche is and can refer people to you if they are not suitable for the job. This is your opportunity to start advertising your services as well!

(6) Explore Internal Coaching Opportunities within your Organisation

If you’re employed, inquire about internal coaching programs within your organisation. You can let your department lead know that you’re building your coaching hours and ask them who is open to coaching in your organisation so they’ll be able to connect you with them. Participating in internal coaching programs enables you to gain coaching hours while contributing to the growth and success of your colleagues. Coaching people within your own organisation counts towards your paid coaching hours. One small note – you can’t count coaching hours with your own direct reports. You can take a look at the requirements here.

(7) Join Networking Organisations and Network, Network, Network

Joining a chamber of commerce or a local business network can create opportunities for you to share that you are training as a coach and looking for clients. Within your organisation you can join Employee Resource Groups or join Corporate Social Responsibility events. 

(8) Most Importantly – Tell People about your Coaching!

When we start anything we can be shy about telling people what we are doing, after all, we are just learning. It is also daunting to offer your services at the beginning, we are still developing our ability to coach. Like any new skill and experience, we need to put ourselves out there and start. We need to feel the fear and do it anyway! You can read more about how to start your own coaching business here


In summary 

Accumulating your ICF coaching hours is a significant milestone on your journey to becoming an accredited ICF coach. By exploring these strategies outlined in this blog –  you can gather the necessary hours while honing your coaching skills and building your network and brand!

Remember, each coaching interaction brings you one step closer to achieving your goal, so embrace every opportunity to learn and grow as a coach. Be very open to opportunities and do not give up! Check out our supportive alumni network and also our FAQ pages to see how we support our community throughout their coaching process. 


At Bailey Balfour, we offer an ICF Level 1 coach certification programme designed for coaches and leaders interested in pursuing executive and career coaching. If you’re interested in learning more, you can download our brochure to review our curriculum or reach out to us for further information.

Who are we?

Learn more about Bailey Balfour, who we are, our values, and how 22 years of executive coaching experience inspired our acclaimed IFC accredited training programmes. Meet our faculty and discover why you might like to learn with us.

Free Taster

One of the most effective ways to decide whether our programme is the best for you is to experience a short taster – to see what you could expect and get a feel for the different elements of our courses including mentor coaching, our self-directed resources and our learning system. You can enjoy this taster at your own pace at any time so register now.

Book a call

Having a call with Jean Balfour, our programme director, can help answer questions about our pathways in a way that is relevant to you. How will you fit it in around your schedule? How will it speak to your existing role? How could it enhance your skillset for the future in your career? Why is accreditation important? Schedule a call with Jean and answer these questions and take the next step in enrolling.

Upcoming Events and Webinars

Join us in engaging (and free) webinars – from networking to coaching skills, and purposeful questions – there is bound to be an upcoming topic that speaks to you. Register now – and don’t worry – if you can’t make the live session we will send you  a recording so that you can enjoy it in your own time.

Making Sense of Work Podcast

How’s Work at the Moment? We all work – and yet we often struggle with work. Even very ambitious people find parts of work difficult. This podcast is for you if you’d like to build a new and better relationships with your working life. Join Jean Balfour and guests as they explore everything to do with our working lives, starting with how do we find our purpose, how do make sense of our organisations and what major movements are we seeing in the workplace today?

Jean Balfour ICF Accredited Professional Coach and Managing Director of Bailey Balfour

Jean Balfour

Founder & Programmes Director


About the Author

Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.

Read more

Get In Touch