If you’re tinking about getting Agile certified, you’d be forgiven for being utterly perplexed by the vast array of qualifications available. Before taking the plunge and choosing a course, it’s important that you understand what is available. Only then can you decide which course would be best for your career development.
If you’re hoping to apply for a specific job, then you should always check which specific qualification is required for the role. While Agile might be a broad concept, some companies are very specific in their requirements.
When considering Agile certification, there are three main types of providers.
1. Principal promoters of Agile
These are companies that are solely dedicated to promoting Agile project management.
2. Project Management certifications offering Agile
These are general project management certification organisations that also offer Agile certification.
3. Third party providers
These are for-profit organisations set up to offer their own Agile certifications.
For the sake of brevity and to give greater focus to the top tier qualifications, this article will only look at the principal promoters of Agile. This is not to say that the other qualifications are of lesser value. Many employers will consider any and all qualifications, the important thing is to confirm this before you commit to any one course.
In many cases, entry-level project management roles will require an accredited qualification, but if you already have work experience in project management, a third party provider course may be enough to bolster your position. Read on to discover the top Agile project management qualifications available today.
Founded in 2001, the Scrum Alliance was one of the first major organisations to promote the scrum methodology. Their certifications were soon to follow. Training with the Scrum Alliance allows you to call yourself a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and this is one of the most widely accepted agile certifications available. There are over 750,000 people with CSM certification.
Scrum Alliance is not without its critics. Their approach to agile project management has earned them some serious backlash from the development community, including from one of their own founders. This led founder Ken Schwaber to branch out and create his own certification which we will look at in more detail below.
There are different levels of qualifications, allowing practitioners to acquire basic training or go on to more advanced levels of expertise.
The first level is Certified Scrum Master, which requires a two-day training course to get certified. Those holding this level of certification can then go on to acquire the following qualifications.
- Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM)
- Certified Scrum Professional – Scrum Master (CSP-SM)
There are also different options for product owners and developers. This is probably one of the most widely recognised agile qualifications. If, however, you are put off by the controversy, you can also try the spin-off qualification…
In 2009, Ken Schwaber left Scrum Alliance to start his own agile project management certification. The courses on offer are of a similar level, but some believe that they offer better value for money and greater career development opportunities. Scrum.org offers the following courses.
- Professional Scrum Master, levels 1, 2 and 3 (PSM)
- Professional Scrum Product Owner, levels 1 and 2 (PSPO)
- Professional Scrum Developer (PSD)
- Professional Agile Leadership (PAL)
- Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK)
- Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS)
Rather than offering certification for life, Scrum.org requires recertification which means that you will be forced to keep your skills up to date. This offers greater reassurance to employers who are looking to hire someone with the latest agile project management knowledge.
Agile Business Consortium
If you’re looking for greater flexibility, the Agile Business Consortium offers agile training through APMG. They are a non-profit offering courses using the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). There are five levels of certification, including the following.
Level 1 – Agile Project Management (AgilePM) Foundation
Level 2 – AgilePM® Practitioner
Level 3 – DSDM Agile Professional
Level 3 – Agile Leader Advanced Practitioner
Level 4 & 5 – Business Analyst, Program Management
The level 1 course offers a great introduction to project management, this foundation course is required for anyone wishing to progress through the levels of training. The AgilePM Practitioner course is ideal for anyone wishing to expand their knowledge. For anyone hoping to develop their career, starting your training with the Agile Business Consortium offers a logical path of progression.
If you are working for an organisation that wants to use Agile at enterprise level, then Scaled Agile is the natural choice. The Scaled Agile Framework is a unique methodology that promotes the use of Agile to develop and deliver enterprise software and systems as quickly as possible. There are different levels of certification available.
- SAFe for team
- SAFe Scrum Master
- SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
- SAFe Product Owner/ Product Manager
- Leading SAFe
- Implementing SAFe
- SAFe DevOps
- SAFe Release Train Engineer
Scaled Agile is the natural choice for anyone heading into enterprise development.
International Consortium for Agile
If you are planning to take your job hunt international, then the International Consortium for Agile offers some internationally-recognised qualifications drawing on the experiences of worldwide agile thought leaders.
The main qualifications to pay attention to are
- ICP-APM: Agile Project Management
- ICP-ATF: Agile Team Facilitation
While the former focussed on giving you a firm understanding of the differences between traditional project management and agile project management, the latter offers great insight into what it takes to lead a team.
When choosing your agile project management certification, it’s important to consider which one will be most valuable to your career. If you already have some project management experience, a foundation agile course may be all you need to progress. However, if you plan to become an agile team leader, this may take longer and require more financial commitment.