How is PMI-ACP different from other Agile certifications?


There are a number of Agile certifications around, the most popular ones are Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®). These certifications differ in pre-requisite, exam content as well as exam difficulty.

Scrum is currently the most popular Agile framework in practice. Scrum Master is a role in the Scrum framework who advocates the adoption and practices of Scrum. In order to obtain the Certified Scrum Master (CSM), one need to attend a course to understand and learn the fundamentals, terminology, practices and principles of the roles of the Scrum Master or Scrum Team Member. There is no prerequisite for Agile project experience and the role you current practice on project. The final exam for CSM is a short 25 questions exam paper and the pass rate is 100%, meaning that if you have the money to attend the CSM training workshop, you are guaranteed the CSM certification.

By contrast, the PMI-ACP® is specifically designed for Project & Program Managers, Product Owners, Scrummasters, Scrum Product Owners, Agile Coaches, Agile Trainers, Sr. Developers, Business and IT Managers with extensive experience in multiple Agile methodologies (Scrum, kanban, XP, lean, DSDM, TDD, ATDD, etc.). General project experience is required in addition to Agile-specific experience and education. The exam is designed to test both the practitioner’s level of professionalism in Agile practices of project management and professional versatility in project management tools and techniques.

The PMI-ACP® is quite different from the CSM certification. Unlike CSM is for Scrum, PMI-ACP® is about general Agile principles. The contents of the exam seem to be more “entry level” but the requirements for the exam is quite high. Not everyone is eligible to take the PMI-ACP® exam to gain certification. There are some pre-requisites for the PMI-ACP® exam:

  1. Educational requirements
  2. Working experience requirements
    • a minimum of 2000 hours of general project experience from the past five years (exempted for PMP certification holders)
    • a minimum of 1500 hours of Agile project experience from the past three years
  3. Pass the PMI-ACP® exam which includes 120 questions in 3 hours

In order to maintain the quality of the PMI-ACP® certification, PMI will carry out PMI audit for PMI-ACP® certification applicants. If selected, the applicant will need to provide documents and proofs of the education and working experiences.

After getting the PMI-ACP® certification, holders will need to obtain enough professional development units (PDU) within the 3-year re-certification cycle in order to re-new their PMI-ACP® certification status.

FAQ Category: PMI-ACP Certification Exam

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Further Reading: The PMP Certification Guide provides you with step-by-step instructions on how to get started with your PMP Certification journey. Read it now!

Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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