What’s New in Agile Project Management Certifications?


By Kevin Aguanno, PMP, IPMA-B, MAPM, Cert.APM

Toronto, Canada

There’s lots of buzz in both the project management and agile communities recently with the announcement from PMI that they are launching a new agile certification. Questions abound:  what are the PMI agile certification requirements, how does this compare to the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) or Certified Agile Project Manager (Cert.APM) qualifications, when can I apply, and many more.

PMI has provided some guidance on the process and requirements, but much is still currently unannounced as they are finalizing the details.  A pilot certification round is starting imminently with a full rollout this summer – the exam should be fully available through Prometric Testing Centres in September 2011 with the application process starting in May or June.  In the meantime, Internet discussion boards and chat rooms are filled with speculation.

What we do know for sure is that to become certified, you’ll need to pass a 3-hour multiple-choice exam on agile management with 120 questions, of which only 100 will count towards your score – the other 20 are experimental questions being considered for future exams.  The exams will be available via computer or paper at Prometric Testing Centres, the same as the PMP or other PMI exams.

For educational requirements, you’ll need to complete a minimum of 21 hours of agile-specific training in addition to having a basic high-school diploma (at a minimum).  So, if you are CSM who has just completed the basic 2-day Certified Scrum Master course, you’ll need to go out and get an additional day of training.  This is probably a wise thing to do anyway, as the exam will cover a lot more than just Scrum practices.  For example, the sample questions that PMI has on their web site includes questions from Extreme Programming (XP) and Scrum, plus many questions that are outside the scope of pure Scrum, such as the construction of release plans.

There are also experiential requirements.  A candidate must demonstrate 2,000 hours of working on project teams in the last five years (not necessarily as the project manager – just working in a project environment), plus 1,500 hours of working on agile projects in the past two years.  PMPs will skip the 2,000 hour requirement, but must still meet the 1,500 hour requirement.  This agile experience presents a significant hurdle that will prevent many people (including new CSMs) from earning the PMI certification.  It is not just a test of agile knowledge, but rather you’ll need to demonstrate experience as well.

How does this stack up against the other agile certifications?  Take a look at the table below:


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Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published articles or papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  This article was originally published in ProjectTimes.com in August 2009, republished here with permission of the author. 

About the Author

kevin aguannoflag-canadaKevin Aguanno

Toronto, ON, Canada

Kevin Aguanno is a principal consultant with GenXus Management Consulting, a specialist in project and programme management strategy consulting with deep expertise in agile delivery frameworks.  A Certified Executive Project Manager with over 20 years of experience, Kevin specializes in recovering troubled software development and systems integration projects and in helping companies through the agile adoption process.  Author of over 20 books, audiobooks, and DVDs on agile topics, Aguanno teaches agile methods at several universities and at conferences around the world. Learn more at http://www.mmpubs.com/catalog/Aguanno–Kevin-i-7.html or at www.AgilePM.com.