Agile Certifications: Who are the Current Contenders?
So you’ve been hearing about Agile for a while. You’ve heard some terminology (or not) and you think you understand the philosophy. No wonder it’s such an often-used toolkit implemented in business operations worldwide.
Now it’s time to consider adding an Agile certification to your skillset to expand your knowledge and increase your value to your
But which certification is the best choice for you personally?
The following will outline the various certification options, what they involve and help you identify which one may be the best choice for you.
First, let’s cover some objections you or your organization might have. Are they worth it?
A poll by Scrum Alliance found that 81% of 4400 respondents said that certification helped
improve the scrum practice. And as more and more companies are using Agile practices in some
form, this is a skill set that will transfer no matter where you go. Certification will help
you stand out from other candidates at an interview, even if your actual job experience is
lacking. As you get increased certifications, it tells your own company and future employers
that you are committed to learning and improving. Adding you to a team will create a
high-performance team due to your knowledge.
Here are the primary Agile certifications to consider:
Project Management Professional (PMP)
Overview—This is the leading project management certification. Combining predictive,
agile and hybrid approaches, this demonstrates leadership in any way of working.
It will give a head start to the career of project leaders in any industry and helps
organizations find the superstars they need to lead smarter and perform better.
Ideal Candidates—The numbers requirements are as follows:
Who else should get certified? Anyone who wants to further their career, keep up
with industry trends, make themselves more marketable, increase their knowledge
base beyond their current industry, and add value to your organization.
A 4-year degree, 36 months leading projects and 35 hours of project
management training/education or CAPM certification OR
A high school diploma or Associate’s degree (or global equivalent),
60 months leading projects and 35 hours of project management
training/education or CAPM certification
What will you learn—The exam covers areas including but not limited to managing
conflict, leading a team, supporting team performance, empowering team members
and stakeholders, training and building a team, addressing obstacles, negotiating
agreements, budgeting, planning and managing schedules and deliverables, support
organizational change and ensure knowledge transfer.
What will the exam entail—There are a total of 180 questions and there are 230
minutes to complete the exam. There is a tutorial at the beginning and a survey
at the end. There are also two 10-minute breaks.
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
Overview—This certification formally recognizes your knowledge of Agile principles
and your skill with Agile techniques. This was created by agilists for agilists.
It spans many approaches to Agile such as scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming
(XP), and test-driven development (TDD).
Ideal Candidates—If you work on Agile teams or if your organization will be
adopting Agile principles, then this is the certification for you. Prerequisites
include a secondary degree, 21 contact hours of training in Agile practices, 12
months of general project experience within the last 5 years. A current PMP or
PgMP will satisfy this requirement but is not required to apply for the PMI-ACP.
Lastly, 8 months of Agile project experience within the last 3 years are required.
If you work in a totally defined Agile environment and want the credibility of
certification as an expert in this discipline, then this is the certification for you.
What will you learn—Topics covered in this exam include but are not limited to
Agile principles and mindset, value-driven delivery, stakeholder engagement, team
performance, adaptive planning, problem detection and resolution, continuous
Exam details—The certification exam has 120 multiple choice questions and you have
three hours to complete it.
Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM)
Overview—This certification equips you to successfully lead Agile teams in a world
where Agile is fast becoming the way forward. The Disciplined Agile toolkit includes
proven practices including Scrum, Kanban, SAFe and many more. By becoming certified,
you will show your understanding of how to customize your way of working to the
supporting approach that makes sense for the situation you face in your organization
and industry. And you will become even more marketable across your industry and any
Ideal Candidates—There are no requirements for this course. It is for individuals
from any industry who are new to Agile. DASM will not only acquaint you into the
world of Agile including the Scrum but also will give the arsenal (and the choose
your WoW (way of working) guide) to implement Agility for your team and your
What will you learn—All about Agile, Agile and beyond, building and supporting a
disciplined Agile team, choosing your way of working (WoW), initiating your team:
tailoring a fit-for-purpose WoW, building a solution: tailoring a fit-for-purpose WoW,
deploying your solution: tailoring a fit-for-purpose WoW, ensuring that your team
improves succeeds and has fun, influence outside the team.
Exam details—The DASM exam is administered through Pearson VUE. The exam is an
online, non-proctored test including 50 multiple choice questions. The total exam
appointment is 120 minutes: 30 minutes for the introduction, tutorial and survey
and up to 90 minutes for completing the exam.
Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
Overview—If you’re ready to grow more Agile with scrum a CSM may be what you need.
It will show that you’ve learned the scrum framework and gained an understanding of
team accountabilities and artifacts as well as how to guide your team to apply scrum.
Ideal Candidates—Anyone new to the Agile way of work will find value from attaining
the CSM designation. Scrum is applicable across industries and potentially
cross-functional teams, so marketers, data scientists, HR reps and other professional
looking for a better way to solve complex problems are encouraged to get certified.
What you will learn—Scrum and Agile, scrum theory, scrum values, scrum team,
scrummaster, scrum artifacts and scrum events are just some of the topics that
are covered on the exam.
Exam details—The test is 50 questions with a 60-minute time limit.
This isn’t even all the choices! Just the most popular ones. There are some sub-categories and
once you pass some of the entry-level certifications you can work your way up the ladder and get
higher level certifications to increase your knowledge base. Work with your company to figure
out what makes the most sense for you and your job and career path. And good luck!