Agile Certification Guide


The following are the most important Agile certifications:

There are other certifications available from local, or lesser known global organizations. If you like to select one of them, it’s still a good idea to give a higher priority to the ones mentioned here.

The Scope of Certifications

These certifications can be divided into three groups, based on their scope:

  • Generic, covering the Agility concept and multiple methods:
    • ASF
    • PMI-ACP
    • PRINCE2 Agile
  • Focused only on Scrum
    • PSM I
    • PSPO I
    • CSM
  • Focused on Atern
    • AgilePM

Those that claim to be covering the general Agility idea are still mainly about Scrum. After all, Scrum is the dominant Agile framework. The exception is AgilePM, which is entirely about a methodology called Atern.

Difficulty

It’s also possible to group them based on how difficult it is to get certified:

  • Very easy
    • CSM
  • Moderate
    • ASF
    • AgilePM Foundation
  • Hard
    • PSM I
    • PSPO I
    • AgilePM Practitioner
    • PMI-ACP
    • PRINCE2 Agile

AgilePM has two levels of Foundation (basic) and Practitioner (Advanced). The PSM and PSPO also come in two levels, but I’m only focused on their first level here, because their second level is a little too hard.

Cost

Just in case you’re cost-sensitive 😉

  • Very inexpensive
    • PSM I, $150
    • PSPO I, $200
  • inexpensive
    • ASF, ~€200
    • AgilePM, ~€250
    • PRINCE2 Agile, ~€250
  • expensive
    • PMI-ACP, $495

The ASF, AgilePM, and PRINCE2 Agile exams are usually provided by ATOs (accredited training organizations), and they are free to set prices. That’s why the prices mentioned here are approximates.

Credit

You naturally want to know which certification is more credible for potential clients. It’s hard to say, because the answer depends on your industry and location. Generally speaking, my personal opinion is this:

  • PSM I – They probably know it well, if they are familiar with Scrum. It’s usually well regarded, because the exam is hard to pass and guarantees a minimum understanding.
  • PSPO I – It’s not as well known as PSM I, but if you add that it’s from the same organization as PSM, and is [almost] a higher-level certificate, it will work.
  • CSM – Many people know about it. It was the most common certificate before the introduction of PSM. However, since the exam is very easy, it won’t prove your knowledge.
  • AgilePM – Most people don’t know that it’s about the project management aspects of Atern, rather than a generic project management certificate for Agile environments. Still, it seems very interesting to most people, because of its title.
  • PRINCE2 Agile – It will be interesting for potential clients that are already familiar with PRINCE2, and trying to be Agile.
  • PMI-ACP – It’s interesting for potential clients that are familiar with PMI and PMBOK Guide; e.g. more in the USA, rather than Europe.
  • ASF – It’s a rather new certificate and not many people know about it. Since it’s provided by EXIN, potential clients who know this examination institute because of PRINCE2 and ITIL will be more interested in it.

Which one to Choose?

Let me think of a few scenarios…

  • I just want to get one certificate: PSM I
  • I just want to get one certificate, and I want it to be easy: ASF
  • I want to get a few certificates without spending a fortune: ASF, then PSM I, then PSPO I or AgilePM
  • I want them all: ASF, then PSM I, then PSPO I, then AgilePM, then PMI-ACP, and finally, PRINCE2 Agile

My suggested sequence is mainly impacted by the flow of information you’re going to get, rather than the difficulty of the certificate. Also note that you have to get your PRINCE2 Practitioner certificate before PRINCE2 Agile.