This question has come up several times since August launch of Agile –ACP certification by PMI, the world’s largest Project management advocacy body. I am going to try and address as much as possible about this topic which should hopefully help in choosing the right option for a better career progress.
Differences between Agile-ACP and Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
There are broadly five differences I want to point out
1. PMI Agile ACP includes coverage of the various Agile methods used in Industry. Roughly 65% of industry Agile practioners use SCRUM methodology and about 15% use Extreme Programming. Others use various Agile methods. StarPMO’s Agile content is also be roughly in the same split up in terms of coverage and content. Certified Scrum Master (CSM) on the other hand covers only one method SCRUM in complete detail.
2. PMI Agile ACP requires a minimum of 1500 hours of Agile project management experience in addition to 2000 hours of traditional (waterfall) project management experience, while Certified Scrum Master (CSM) does not require any work experience.
3. PMI Agile ACP is a highly rigorous exam (As rigorous as their highly acclaimed and valued PMP certification). On average 2/3 members are expected to pass the exam. Certified Scrum Master (CSM) on the other hand is a no-fail exam (broadly speaking).
4. Another big difference is in terms of the industry recognition and brand awareness. Agile ACP is advocated by PMI (The world’s largest project management advocacy body with huge industry brand recognition). Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is advocated by Scrum Alliance which is a smaller (and more niche) body.
5. The last difference is in terms of the exam administration and choices. PMI Agile ACP exam is administered all over the world in various prometric centers while Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is offered at a fewer locations and the exam administration itself is nowhere near the standards set by PMI.
What is a better certification then?
As with many things in life, this is a difficult question and depends on various factors. I will make a best attempt at addressing this question.
1. If you have no work experience, then your only choice is Certified Scrum Master (CSM). There is no other choice.
2. If your employer is using SCRUM methodology and wants you to do Certified Scrum Master (CSM), then it is a better choice.
3. If you have more than 3 years of work experience and you are looking for career growth and be able to apply Agile methods and customize them, then the best option is Agile ACP certification.
4. If you want to learn about the generic Agile principles and be able to apply to real life scenarios and integrate in a world of command and control (PMP style) then Agile ACP is a better certification.
Hope this helps in making a better choice.
StarPMO Instructor, Europe Region
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