Many software development teams use the Agile project management approach to break down large, complex projects into smaller tasks that are easier to tackle and manage. And since the Agile methodology offers many benefits, such as increased flexibility and speed, higher quality software, and better communication, knowing how to apply it to your team’s practices can make you a highly valuable project manager.
How can you acquire and advance your Agile project management knowledge and skills? Through various Agile certifications, which can also improve your career prospects, salary, credibility, and more. This guide will reveal the top five Agile certifications to help you and your software development team reach your potential.
Best Agile PM Certifications
The following Agile project management certifications are the most well-respected and highly sought-after in the software development field. While they are not the only Agile certifications available, this list should serve as a solid starting point for your search in your quest to advance your project management career and enhance your skills and knowledge.
ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP)
The ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP) certification is geared toward project managers of software development teams who are new to Agile and want to develop a mindset in the popular methodology. Learning outcomes from this certification include:
- The history of Agile and how it came to be
- The tenets of the Agile Manifesto
- Agile practices outside of software development
- Agile culture and mindsets
- How to developer “soft skills” and understand communication barriers
- Techniques for shared understanding, better collaboration, and knowledge sharing
- Principles of value-driven development, such as incremental development and value-based work
- How to create a WIP (Work-in-Progress)
- Project planning and process adaptation
No previous experience is needed for this PM certification that teaches the origins of Agile and its values, principles, and concepts, how to establish the Agile mindset, incremental development, Work-In-Progress, collaboration techniques, product adaptation, and more. Instead of focusing on a single framework, the certification teaches students how to “be Agile while doing Agile.”
Although timing varies by class, expect to invest a minimum of 14 hours to complete the ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP) certification. Remote learning is available, and the certification’s timing, location, and cost depend on the ICAgile Member Organization.
AgilePM Foundation Certification
The AgilePM Foundation certification from APMG International is ideal for members of Agile teams looking to move up to project management positions. It is also suitable for practicing project managers. Receiving this certification will help you:
- Apply AgilePM philosophies and strategies in a project
- Configure the lifecycle of Agile projects
- Apply Agile techniques like MoSCoW priorities, iterative development, and timeboxing to projects
- Better understand how to define and assign roles and responsibility in an Agile environment
- Understand how to test, estimate, and measure progress and success
- Learn how to describe and apply Agile approaches to fit management’s specifications and requirements
Some key takeaways from this certification include core Agile philosophy and principles, the Agile lifecycle, and the benefits and limitations of different techniques used in the methodology. You will also learn about the various roles, responsibilities, and products in an Agile project.
The exam for the AgilePM Foundation certification is closed book and contains 50 questions. Students have 40 minutes to complete the exam and must answer half the questions correctly to earn the certification. The cost of the certification depends on the provider you choose and whether you take the exam in person or online. Pricing can range from $275 to $599.
AgilePM Practitioner Certification
Once you get your AgilePM Foundation certificate, you can set your sights on getting the more advanced AgilePM Practitioner certification. It is for Agile team members looking to become project managers, AgilePM Foundation certified professionals, and experienced project managers looking to show their expertise in the following areas:
- Applying Agile practices to workshops, project modeling, and project priority definitions
- Testing, estimating, and evaluating profit delivery in Agile projects
- Support mechanisms
- Managing and prioritizing requirements
Key topics taught in the AgilePM Practitioner certification include the Agile approach to managing and prioritizing requirements, plus facilitation and support mechanisms. You will learn how to apply Agile practices to projects and how to estimate, test, and evaluate profit delivery.
The exam for the AgilePM Practitioner certification is open-book and 2.5 hours long. The objective exam involves four questions. You must get half of them correct to pass. The cost of the certification depends on the provider you choose. Invensis offers training for $1,095 and the exam for $320.
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) enhances the versatility of project managers. It covers several Agile approaches, including Kanban, Scrum, Lean, test-driven development, and extreme programming. The certification is designed for project managers leading Agile development teams or those in organizations looking to adopt Agile practices.
Prerequisites for this Agile certification start with a secondary degree and 21 contact hours of Agile practice training. Within the last five years, you should have 12 months of general project experience. Within the last three years, you should have at least eight months of experience with Agile projects.
To earn the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification, you must pass a 120-question online exam within three hours. The exam costs $435 for PMI members and $495 for non-members.
Certified SAFe Agilist – Leading SAFe
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) includes enterprise-level Agile practices. Product managers, executives, and business owners can become certified in SAFe to increase team collaboration and productivity and optimize product quality. Attendees will learn:
- The benefits of SAFe
- Establishing team and technical agility alongside the flow of value
- Aligning large organizations with clear objectives
- Conducting SAFe events such as PI planning
- Adopting a customer-centric mindset and culture
The Leading SAFe course teaches how to help your entire organization align on clear and common objectives, how to develop a customer-centric mindset, how to instill team and technical agility, and more.
Some Scrum experience is helpful before taking this course, as is five-plus years of project management, product management, or software development experience.
The online, closed-book, 90-minute exam consists of 45 questions. You must score 80 percent to pass. Training for the Certified SAFe Agilist – Leading SAFe certification costs around $500, depending on the provider. The first exam is free.
Agile Certification Benefits
Those working in project management for software development teams can reap several rewards from Agile certification, making it a worthy investment of their time, money, and effort.
Getting an Agile certification can make you a better and more effective project manager by increasing your knowledge and skills and helping you understand the Agile methodology’s principles and practices on a deeper level. It can also help you improve communication skills to better connect with team members, stakeholders, and customers. Other benefits of Agile certification include:
- Demonstrates knowledge of – and commitment to – your field
- Enhances credibility
- Increases team performance via the implementation of Agile practices
- Improves career prospects and salary potential
With a project management certification in Agile, you can enhance your credibility by not only showing you have the advanced knowledge and skills in the methodology to complete projects, but that you are also more committed than others in your field without such credentials. This enhanced credibility can extend to your software development team members, stakeholders, and even customers.
Agile PM certification can also improve your software development team’s performance. By implementing and following Agile principles, project managers can increase team efficiency, accelerate project delivery while improving quality, and stay within budget. And since Agile adds a sense of flexibility to projects, you will be able to manage change effectively, which can help your team adapt to changes seamlessly as obstacles appear.
Improved career prospects are another benefit of Agile certification. Having that credential on your project management resume can attract potential employers and help you stand out from the crowd, as it signifies added skills, knowledge, and drive. And with those improved career prospects also comes the possibility of a higher project manager salary. According to an Indeed study, having an Agile PM certification can help you earn $10,000 more annually than project managers who lack it. Lastly, becoming Agile certified can increase your confidence. Adding skills, knowledge, and credibility can help when leading your team, making informed decisions, and answering questions from those in and out of your circle.
What to Look For in Agile Certification
There are several Agile certifications to choose from, so how do you know how to pick the right one for you? You can filter through the certifications and narrow down your options by first determining your experience level. Each Agile project management certification is geared toward different experience levels, so you need to decide which applies to your current situation. If you are new to Agile, you can choose a basic certification such as the ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP). And if you have experience, you may decide on a more advanced Agile certification, such as the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).
Something else to consider when choosing an Agile certification is your goals. If you are really serious about having a lengthy and prosperous career in Agile project management, advanced certifications will show employers that level of commitment. If currently employed, consider your organization’s needs. For instance, if your organization relies on the SAFe Agile framework, you may want to look into getting the SAFe Agilist certification.
And, while many Agile project management certifications cost a few hundred dollars, some may cost much more. As such, keep your budget in mind when choosing a certification if money is tight.
Final Thoughts on Agile Certifications
The top five Agile certifications in this guide can all increase your marketability and efficiency as a project manager for a software development team. Before choosing one, be sure to consider your experience level, career goals, organizational needs, and budget to make the ideal pick for your current needs.
Next Steps for Project Managers of Software Development Teams
Looking for more information about project management certifications? We have a list of some of the Top Project Management Certifications with more generalized options, as well as a highlight of the CAPM Certification Training to help you get certified.
We also have a list of some of the Best Project Management Software for Developers if you are looking for project management tools. If you are looking for Agile-specific tools, then we recommend checking out our Top Agile Tools for Developers round-up.