The Business of IT Blog

Top 7 Agile Certifications

Stephen Watts
6 minute read
Stephen Watts

Agile has become an important methodology for enterprise organizations looking for an incremental approach to software development and project management. Not surprisingly, this has led to increased demand for IT professionals who possess strong knowledge of Agile principles and how to apply them.

Indeed, there are a number of Agile methods to choose from including:

The above list is just a sample of the variety of ways that organizations can choose to apply Agile.

For this reason, it’s more important than ever that professionals who want to grow in the field of software development or project management seek one of the following certifications in 2018.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

The PMI-ACP certification will continue to be in high demand in 2018 because it is a catch-all Agile certification that formally recognizes a developer’s Agile knowledge in a number of popular methodologies like Lean and Kanban.

Certifying Body

PMI-ACP is offered by The Project Management Institute (PMI), a global organization focused on furthering organizational efficiency and success.

Other certifications from PMI include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)®
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®

Who Should Seek Certification?

Certification is recommended for any professional who currently works on an Agile team or works for an organization that is seeking to increase their Agility.

Prerequisites include 2,000 hours of general experience on a project team, 1,500 hours experience with agile methodology on a team or otherwise and 21 hours of training in Agile.

Cost Details

The non-member cost for the PMI-ACP certification is $495. It is reduced to $435 for members.

APMG International Agile Project Management

The APMG International Agile Project Management certification, otherwise known as AgilePM, validates an employee’s ability to understand and embody Agile principles in project management. This leads to faster, more successful delivery of projects, better communication, lower cost and an adherence to Agile principles in the workplace.

Accrediting Body

APM Group International is the world’s most trusted organization for enterprise certifications. They accredit organizations, worldwide, in the following sectors:

  • Aerospace
  • Business
  • Risk and Change Management
  • Cybersecurity
  • IT
  • Project Management

Who Should Seek Certification?

The certification is offered at two levels: Foundation and Practitioner.

The Foundation level is ideal for practicing project managers with limited Agile knowledge, or Agile teams looking to become project managers.

The Practitioner level is intended as the next step for those who have already achieved Foundation level certification.

Cost Details

The cost starts at $290 and goes up to $450 depending on the level.

Scrum Alliance Certified Product Owner

The Product Owner (PO) is the visionary stakeholder on most Scrum teams. This, oftentimes, is the person who owns an idea and its delivery to an audience of the PO’s choosing. At the same time, the role is nuanced and can vary from organization to organization depending on context.

Regardless, a Certified Scrum Product Owner understands five key pillars of product ownership and can demonstrate knowledge of them. These include:

  1. Understanding the Role of the Product Owner
  2. Describing Purpose and Strategy
  3. Understanding Customers and Users
  4. Testing Product Assumptions
  5. Working with the Product Backlog

Accrediting Body

Scrum Alliance is the certifying body for this award. Their goal is to help other organizations transform their culture and become places where IT professionals have the opportunity to thrive.

The agency offers a number of other certifications that include:

  • Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM)
  • Advanced Certified ScrumMaster®(A-CSM®)
  • Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO)
  • Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner® (A-CSPO®)
  • Certified Scrum Developer® (CSD)
  • Certified Scrum Professional® (CSP)
  • Certified Team Coach (CTC)
  • Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC)
  • Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST)
  • Certified Agile Leadership (CAL)

Who Should Seek Certification?

Certification is best sought by professionals who have some familiarity with Scrum. But for those who do not, Scrum Alliance suggests a number of resources to work through in advance of applying for certification.

Certification occurs after completion of a 16-hour class.

Cost Details

In the United States, the certificate will cost new Product Owners about $1,300. The certification cost includes a two-year membership to Scrum Alliance, intended to help new CSPOs to get familiar with the Scrum community.

Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC)

Perhaps one of the more valuable certifications for enterprise organizations, the CEC has a demonstrated history working on Scrum teams as well as a deep foundational knowledge of the principles of Scrum and how they apply to enterprise organizations at all levels.

Who Should Seek Certification?

This certification is ideal for business leaders who have an intimate understanding of the principles of Scrum and enterprise transformation. More specifically, they should be savvy in the following subject areas:

  • Leadership and coaching
  • Organizational transformation
  • Agile methods for enterprise businesses

CECs are tasked with helping organizations become Agile using Scrum principles as a foundation.

There’s a long list of prerequisites for those ambitious enough to take this next step in their career, which can be viewed here.

Cost Details

The application fee to certify is $250, but an additional $750 is required each year in licensing fees. Professional Scrum Master (PSM I)

The PSM I certification is highly sought after because it allows IT professionals to display a deep knowledge of Scrum principles within the role of the Scrum Master.

It’s also recommended for those who are already in the role but who only possess the foundational concepts of being a Scrum Master. The PSM I does not require a course in advance of testing, though recommends one of the following courses to prepare:

  • Professional Scrum Foundations Course
  • Professional Scrum Master Course

Accrediting Body

The PSM I certification is accredited by, an organization dedicated to providing world-class training, certification and assessments aimed at improving software delivery.

A unique quality of is that their certifications only focus on Scrum methods. As a result of this specialized focused, the organization has fewer offerings than some of the other accrediting bodies we’ve discussed so far. These include:

  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM) ™
  • Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) ™
  • Professional Scrum Developer (D-I) ™
  • Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS) ™

Who Should Seek Certification?

The PSM I is designed for anyone who can display basic knowledge of Scrum foundational principles and apply them to real-world scenarios. After achieving PSM-I, Scrum professionals can continue to certify up to Level III by taking subsequent exams.

Cost Details

The PSM-I exam is only available via and costs $150 making it one of the more cost-effective certifications, assuming an employee has the foundational knowledge to pass the exam without additional training. If training is required, courses can cost between $1,000 – $1,500.

SAFe Agilist (SA)

A SAFe Agilist is also known as a Scaled Agilist. This is the title given to a person who has successfully attended and passed the course Leading SAFe. The two-day informational course and assessment develops and validates the following outcomes:

  • Successful application of SAFe in Lean and Agile enterprise environments
  • Recognition of Lean-Agile mindset
  • Development and empowerment of employees by way of a Lean portfolio
  • Support of Lean-Agile leadership principles that lends itself to organizational transformation
  • Continuous release software of value in a regimented cycle of continuous improvement

Accrediting Body

The accrediting body for SAFe is Scaled Agile, the organization that developed the Scaled Agile Framework known as SAFe. The idea started with a book called Agile Software Requirements by Dean Leffingwell.

As organizations struggled to apply the basic foundations of Agile to their organization, Scaled Agile diluted the principles of popular methodologies into one easy to apply framework called SAFe.

Since then, they have been training and certifying individuals who want to optimize their organizations using the framework. To see other certifications available, click here.

Who Should Seek Certification?

Any software developer who wants to learn transformational skills that help them succeed in an environment of disruptive technology should take the Leading SAFe course and become an SA.

Cost Details

The course is available through a variety of vendors worldwide and costs around $1,000.

DAC Certified Disciplined Agilist (CDA)

A CDA is a gateway software development certification that shows an individual possesses basic knowledge of Disciplined Agile principles and is ready to apply them and gain real-world experience.

Accrediting Body

The accrediting agency that offers CDA certification is Disciplined Agile Consortium (DAC). DAC is a membership organization that supports the use of a proprietary Discipline Agile framework for enterprise organizations around the world.

Certifications offered include:

  • Disciplined Agilist (DA) ®
  • Certified Disciplined Agilist (CDA) ®
  • Certified Disciplined Agile Practitioner (CDAP) ®
  • Certified Disciplined Agile Coach (CDAC) ®

Who Should Seek Certification?

CDA is an entry-level certification sought by people who are new to the field of software development or who have some experience but want to take their career to the next level and stand out to employers.

Cost Details

The test fee is $100. Interested individuals can reach out to DAC to get a hold of an instructor or locate a test location or course near them. For additional cost details visit DAC’s website.

The Future of Agile is Now

The future looks bright for Agile practitioners. There’s no time like the present to get started on your journey to Agile career success. With one of these critical Agile certifications you can take your career to the next level:

  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • APMG International Agile Project Management (AgilePM)
  • Scrum Alliance Certified Product Owner (CPO)
  • Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC)
  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
  • SAFe Scaled Agilist (SA)
  • DAC Certified Disciplined Agilist (CDA)

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Stephen Watts

Stephen Watts

Stephen Watts (Birmingham, AL) has worked at the intersection of IT and marketing for BMC Software since 2012.

Stephen contributes to a variety of publications including, Search Engine Journal, ITSM.Tools, IT Chronicles, DZone, and CompTIA.