The agile methodology has become increasingly popular in project management due to its ability to increase flexibility, collaboration, and responsiveness. As a result, many project managers are looking to obtain agile certifications to enhance their knowledge and skills and become even more marketable on the job market.
In this article, project managers who are considering an agile certification will
- learn about the top 7 certifications, and who they’re best suited for;
- learn more about the benefits of earning one or several of these certifications.
Let’s explore the top seven agile certifications to consider, and why they’re valuable to have in your project management toolbox.
Top 7 Agile Certifications
Before we get into the top 7 in-demand agile certifications, let’s learn what an agile certification is. Agile certification is a credential that validates the recipient's knowledge and skills in the agile methodology, frameworks, and practices.
It demonstrates that the individual has successfully completed a rigorous agile training program and passed an exam that tests their understanding of agile concepts and ability to apply them to real-world projects.
Agile certifications for project managers cover a wide range of methodologies, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and Extreme Programming, as well as other agile practices. They provide project managers with in-depth knowledge of agile principles and practices.
Curious about what an agile transformation looks like for an entire organization? Check out our blog for real life insight.
For project managers and team leaders looking to build and expand their careers (maybe you’ve already got the Project Management Professional—PMP—certification), these are the top 7 agile certifications to consider. Many have no requirements to become certified while others require specific steps and training in order to qualify for the certification exam.
1. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMI-ACP certification is designed to validate the recipient's knowledge and skills in the agile methodology and its application to project management.
The certification is aimed at individuals who lead or participate in agile project teams and want to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the agile methodology, frameworks, and practices.
The PMI-ACP certification is not specific to any particular agile methodology and emphasizes the overall agile mindset and the importance of adaptability, continuous improvement, customer collaboration, and delivering value. It may enhance career opportunities and lead to higher salaries.
As of February 2023, the cost of the PMI-ACP certification exam for PMI members is $435, while the cost for non-members is $495. Prices may vary depending on the country where the exam is taken.
2. AgilePM Foundation (APMG)
The AgilePM Foundation certification is offered by APMG International and is designed for project managers, team members, and other professionals who want to learn about agile project management.
The certification covers the AgilePM framework, which is a popular agile project management approach used in various industries, including IT, software development, and construction.
The certification is ideal for individuals who are new to agile project management and want to gain a fundamental understanding of the principles and practices of the AgilePM framework. It’s also a great skill set for experienced project managers who want to transition to agile methodologies from traditional project management approaches.
To obtain the AgilePM Foundation certification, candidates must pass a certification exam. The cost of the APMG certification may vary depending where it’s being taken, but the average cost of the exam is typically between $200 and $400.
3. Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) is one of the most recognized and widely accepted agile certifications for project managers, and with good reason. Teams using full Scrum have 250% better quality than teams that don’t do agile estimating.
This Scrum master certification is awarded by the Scrum Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes the use of Scrum methodology in project management. The CSM certification validates the recipient's knowledge and understanding of the Scrum framework, its principles, and accepted practices.
CSM is particularly relevant to project managers who work on software development projects.
To become a Certified Scrum Master, candidates must:
- Attend a two-day CSM training course taught by a certified Scrum trainer
- Complete the entire CSM course and demonstrate a fundamental understanding of Scrum principles, practices, and values
- Pass the CSM exam
- Maintain Scrum Alliance membership and continue to develop and enhance their Scrum skills
The average cost of a two-day CSM training course is typically between $1000 to $1500, and it does include the cost of the exam itself. Once candidates have passed the exam, they must maintain their annual membership, which is $100 per year.
Scrum Alliance also offers the related Certified Scrum Professional and Certified Scrum Developer certifications, which are intended for developers and other members of the Scrum team.
4. Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) is another popular agile certification that is awarded by Scrum.org, a leading Scrum training and certification organization. This certification is designed to validate the recipient's knowledge and skills in Scrum methodology and its application to real-world projects.
The PSM certification is available in three levels: PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III, each of which requires a higher level of knowledge and experience. Each certification level requires an additional and optional examination.
As of February 2023, the cost for the PSM I certification exam is $150, while the PSM II and PSM III exams are priced at $500 each.
5. Certified SAFe Agilist
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a widely used framework for scaling the agile methodology in large enterprises. The SAFe 5.0 Agilist certification (aka Leading SAFe) is awarded by Scaled Agile, Inc., the organization and training provider that developed the SAFe framework.
The Certified SAFe Agilist (SA) certification is designed especially for professionals who are involved in implementation, lean agile leadership, or as an agile coach at the enterprise level.
To qualify for SA certification, candidates must meet the following requirements:
- Attend a two-day SAFe Agilist (SA) training course
- Pass the SAFe Agilist certification exam
- Renew their certification annually
As of February 2023, the cost of the SAFe Agilist (SA) certification exam is $295.
6. Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)
The Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) certification is designed for professionals who are responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the development team, while working closely with the product manager. This certification is suited for those who wish to effectively manage and ensure that the Scrum team delivers a high-quality product.
Before taking the PSPO exam, candidates must have the following prerequisites:
- Attend a Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) training course
- Pass the PSPO certification exam
- Maintain and renew PSPO certification every two years
The cost of the PSPO I certification exam is $200 and is separate from the cost of the training course. On average, the cost of a two-day PSPO training course ranges from $1,000 to $1,500.
7. Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)
Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) is another certification offered by the Scrum Alliance. This certification is designed to validate the recipient's knowledge and skills in product ownership within the Agile Scrum framework.
The CSPO certification covers a range of topics, including product vision, product backlog management, stakeholder engagement, and the facilitation of agile team collaboration.
To take the certification exam, candidates must first:
- Attend a Certified Scrum Product Owner training course
- Complete the Scrum Alliance membership profile
- Pass the CSPO certification exam
The cost of the CSPO certification typically ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 and includes the course and exam. There is also a $100 fee to cover the cost of Scrum Alliance resources.
FAQs About Agile Certifications
If you’re new to the world of Agile certifications, you may have some additional questions about whether or not they are right for you and your development as a project manager. These are some of the frequently asked questions about agile certifications.
What is Agile?
Agile is a methodology for software development that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
The agile approach is based on a set of principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto, which prioritizes individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change over following a strict plan and process.
What Are The Benefits Of Agile Certifications?
There are several benefits of obtaining an agile certification, including:
- Enhancing knowledge and skills
- Professional recognition
- Career advancement
- Industry standardization
- Access to agile communities
Are Agile Certifications Worth It?
Whether or not an agile certification is worth it depends on individual circumstances, career goals, and personal preferences.
Agile certifications can be beneficial for those who want to develop their knowledge and skills in agile methods, improve their marketability, and enhance their career prospects. They provide individuals with a recognized standard of knowledge and commitment to professional development.
What is the Most Popular Agile Certification?
According to the Scrum Alliance, Scrum is the most popular agile framework, with 61% of respondents from 76 countries reporting that they use it. Due to this, it’s likely that the Scrum certifications I listed above, particularly CSM and CSPO, are some of the most popular agile certifications.
Agile Certifications Will Enhance Your Project Management Skill Set
Whether you obtain an agile certification to improve your existing skills or become more marketable to employers, it will be to your benefit as a project manager. Are you certified in one of the top 7 agile Certifications? Tell us about it in the comments below. Has it improved your career?
Share this article with your friends and colleagues in project management, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter.