Client Coaching Hours – what counts and what doesn’t

May 20, 2021

As part of your coach credentialing process, you must keep a record of the hours you spend coaching clients. While this log is not submitted along with your credential application, it  can be requested by ICF or EMCC and used to verify the time you spent coaching (you attest how many hours you coached as part of your application process). Coaching hours can be accumulated from paid assignments, internal coaching, group coaching and even some pro bono work.

But how many hours do you need and what constitutes “coaching hours?” Hopefully this blog will help clarify those, and other related questions. The information below focuses on ICF, but we’ve also included relevant information for EMCC and CCE.

Please note that in addition to coaching hours, all credentialing bodies have other requirements as well. We’ve outlined these on our Coaching Organizations page.

You can see up to date requirements for and explanations of what counts as coaching hours on ICF website.

Coaching hours requirements for various credentials

Depending on the coaching organization whose credential you want to pursue as well as the level of credential, the requirements for client coaching hours differ.

For example, with ICF, ACC applicants are required to have coached for 100 hours with a minimum of 75 of those hours for compensation. Your client-coaching log must reflect a list of at least 8 clients.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the requirements.

ICF Coaching Hours Required


  • Coaching log demonstrating 100 hours of coaching experience with at least eight clients following the start of your coach-specific training.
  • 70 hours of the 100 must be paid (temporary COVID-19 change through Dec. 31, 2021, will be 75 thereafter)
  • At least 25 of these hours must occur within the 18 months prior to submitting the application for the credential.


  • Coaching log demonstrating 500 hours of coaching experience with at least 25 clients following the start of your coach-specific training.
  • 440 hours of the 500 must be paid (temporary COVID-19 change through Dec. 31, 2021, will be 450 thereafter)
  • At least 50 of these hours must occur within the 18 months prior to submitting the application for the credential.


  • 2500 client coaching hours, 2250 of which must be paid (2200 if applying by end of 2021), from a minimum of 35 clients

EMCC Coaching Hours Required

Foundation – 50 client coaching hours from a minimum of 5 clients

Practitioner – 100 client coaching hours from a minimum of 10 clients

Senior Practitioner – 250 client coaching hours from a minimum of 20 clients

Master Practitioner – 500 client coaching hours from a minimum of 40 clients + 5 client feedback forms

CCE Coaching Hours Required

The Board Certified Coach (BCC) credential requires 30 client coaching hours.

What constitutes a client-coaching hour?

  • A client-coaching hour is 60 minutes of actual coaching with someone who has hired you as a coach and not in any other capacity.
  • Paid hours shall be any hours for which any kind or amount of compensation, including barter, is received.
  • Peer coaching is considered paid coaching. Coaching at the workplace is also considered paid coaching.
  • Teaching coaching classes does not count as client-coaching hours.
  • There shall be no limitation of client-coaching hours by specialization or niche.

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What isn’t a client-coaching hour?

As you can see above, there are a lot of activities that can count towards your quota. The following don’t belong in your log, however:

  • Coaching your direct reports at work
  • Any pro bono hours above the allowed amount
  • Teaching coach training classes
  • Giving casual advice to friends or colleagues
  • Participating in staged / mock coaching sessions

When in doubt as to whether something will count towards your coaching hours requirement, just reach out to your Accredited Coach Training Program trainer – he or she should be able to advise you definitively.

What goes into a coaching log?

Your coaching log may include any of the following:

  • Coaching of individuals
  • Coaching of groups
  • Coaching internally for an organization or paid for by a third party

On your Coaching Log, please include the following information for each client:

  • Client name(s)
  • Contact information
  • Dates of coaching relationship
  • Total hours in coaching relationship, paid and pro-bono

Group Coaching

  • In order to count as client-coaching hours, a coaching group can have no more than 15 clients as participants.
  • Group coaching shall be documented by listing the group name, number of group participants and full contact information for one person, who shall represent the group.
  • One hour of group coaching counts as one client-coaching hour, not the number of hours multiplied by the number of clients in the group.

Internal Coaching with an Organization/Paid for by Third Party

If coaching is paid for by a third party or done as part of applicant’s employment, it counts as paid coaching. Internal coaching hours count as paid hours toward a Credential when coaching is a designated part of the applicant’s job description. Coaching of a direct report may not be considered in the coaching hours.

If the organization or third party has a confidentiality policy that prevents disclosure of individual names and contact information, applicants should document the hours with the organization as follows:

  1. List the organization/third party name in the log with the total number of coaching hours.
  2. Select one contact person at the organization/third party and list their full name and contact in the log. The contact person should be someone familiar with your work that can verify the number of hours presented in the log is an accurate reflection of your coaching experience with the organization.
  3. The contact person should provide you with a letter of reference testifying to the information in the log, explaining your role with the organization and the organization’s confidentiality policy.
  4. Illustrate your work with individuals the organization by assigning aliases for each individual (For example, you may list each individuals’ initials or assign designation of client A, client B, etc.) and listing the start/end dates and hours spent with each individual.

Coaching Log Sample

Example Client Name Contact Information Start/End Date Paid Hours Pro-Bono Hours
Individual Client 1) Jane Doe Feb. 2020 – Nov. 2020 18 1
Group Coaching 2) ABC Coaching Group Participants: (5) Contact: John Smith Jan. 2021-ongoing 7 1
Internal/Third Party Coaching (If unable to reveal client names) 3) 123 Organization Client A Client B Contact: John Smith* *Reference letter included Aug. 2020 – Feb. 2021 17 58 0 0
Total Hours Submitted: 100 2

What happens to the information on the coaching log?

When you apply for your ICF credential or EMCC accreditation, you must attest to the hours of coaching you’ve done, as per your coaching log. Due to privacy restrictions in GDPR, you don’t submit the actual log to ICF or EMCC. You must keep it for your records should ICF or EMCC want to audit it in part or in full.

In keeping with the ICF and EMCC Codes of Ethics, you must obtain consent from your clients to release their names to ICF or EMCC and for EMCC or ICF to contact them in the event it becomes necessary. Should it be necessary to contact clients in order to confirm they were coaching client of the applicant, ICF or EMCC will not discuss the specific topics of the coaching.

Smita Raghum
Smita Raghum


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